And the Game Changes

by · June 9, 2015

June 8th proved more challenging than most anyone expected and there’s no relief on the horizon. Winds were unexpectedly strong throughout the day, with racers reporting more than 20 knots out of the northwest and six-foot seas, and now forecasts are calling for gale warnings off and on through the week in Johnstone Strait.

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Conditions were challenging enough today that several teams (see previous post) facing mechanical difficulties dropped from the race completely, and many others like Soggy Beavers in their OC-6 and Team Barefoot Boats in their open monohull tucked into harbor for extended rest.

Team Hexagram 59, Piper and Norton’s Hobie 20, up near the front of the pack all day, struck a rock in the boisterous seas, damaging a hull, but made it safely to shore. After some repair work they tried to launch but discovered the boat was still leaking and have decided to stop for another attempt at repairs—probably staying overnight at Schooner Cove Marina north of Nanaimo.

Meanwhile Team Elsie Piddock managed to stretch their lead and eventually to make the biggest move in Race to Alaska’s young history, blasting through the tidal rip at Seymour Narrows with moments to spare. The next nearest competitors—all of whom are still down below Comox—will need to wait for the next fair tide conditions.

Team Elsie Piddock going through Seymour Narrows. Photo Debra Colvin

Now the interesting part is see whether team Piddock pushes through another hard night against possibly gale force winds to take advantage of their tidal gate advantage. Should they decide to (or be forced to)stop and rest,their lead could evaporate quickly.

Discussion23 Comments

  1. Bob Triggs says:

    This is fantastic coverage!

  2. Kris Horrocks says:

    Thanks for the details!

  3. George says:

    Piddock should turn and burn when the tide starts to Ebb past Chatham Pt in an hour or so. They probably wont see more than 20 knots wind until 10 or 11 am tomorrow morning…then look out for the NW gales.

  4. ronp says:

    Thanks again for the great updates! Can you do a daily podcast? Something short and simple would be fine. You could just chat about the SPOT tracking map status, weather, etc.

    Looks like a trimaran with a cabin for resting is going to be tough to beat. Has the Elsie Piddock rowed anywhere else than Victoria Harbor? Will there be periods of no wind in the week?

    • Andrew Moizer says:

      The wife of an EP crew said in a fb post that they rowed all through the first night! It’s exciting stuff to follow, and all this context really helps when you’re watching with great interest from Eastern Ontario.

      cheers, Andrew

  5. Jimi Wright says:

    Awesome coverage.Makes you want 2 b there, but then again?

  6. Karl says:

    It looks like they stopped at Blackrock for part of the night anyway. So I suspect they are running fully fueled. This is not a “lead will evaporate quickly. NOT ONE of the other boats is through the tidal gate yet, and EP is 1/2 way down Johnstone straight.

  7. Karl says:

    Team EP has gained 10% of their lead in the last 9 hours. and there still is a tidal gate for the others to get through…the turn to neutral is in roughly 2 hours and the nearest boat is about an hour out. So they are going to basically stall at Campbell River until noon while EP gains another 10 nm

    Then they (por Favor and Bordema) are going to gain a bit of a jet through and will probably catch about 6nm on EP but that still leaves them 50nm astern. with EP having about 150nm to go. So imagine that you were late to the Swiftsure start. and you were at sherringham having to get to Victoria, while everyone else was already starting.

    that’s the challenge PF and B have in catching EP

    • admin says:

      Good analysis, Karl. Agreed, EP has only piled on since yesterday. 350-plus miles to go, but it looks like a race for steak knives.

  8. Hugh says:

    Congratulations to the amazing Elsie Piddock – so far – superb equipment – smart sailors – a bit of luck = success more often than not – sailboat racing’s metaphor for life.

  9. Hugh says:

    Congratulations to the amazing Elsie Piddock – so far – superb equipment – smart sailors – a bit of luck = success more often than not – sailboat racing’s a metaphor for life.

  10. Sinn Fein says:

    As I’ve never sailed north of Port Hardy, maybe some with more experience can answer: Is Team EP likely to sail east or west of Calvert and Hunter Islands after the long open water stretch? East offers protection, of course, but more potential for adverse tidal conditions. West is open and unprotected water. Is this a decision they’ll make based on imminently-forecasted weather, or is it a strategy call they’re likely to have already made?

  11. Karl says:

    Well I was wrong on Por Favor… they seem stuck where they were. I wonder If they anchored and fell asleep. Golden Oldies is the third boat through the gate and Por Favor seems stuck until the next gate.

    By the time it all sorts out and Bordema enters Johnstone Straight EP is going to have about a 50nm lead on them with about 150nm to go. For Bordema to catch them, they would either need a catastrophic failure on EP or Bordema has to sail at 4x CMG to EP.

    so if EP takes it really conservative and sails at 5knots – Bordema has to turn out 20 knots for the next 10 hourse straight to catch them and that’s CMG. Which is upwind right now and up current

  12. admin says:

    Karl, more like 350 miles to go to Ketchikan, right?

  13. Karl says:

    Sorry my bad on the milage. Pilot error with Google maps

  14. Carlo says:

    Good stuff, this. Challenging course, challenging seas and weather. Cheers to all the hardy sailors out there on the course!

  15. Karl says:

    Ok so EP is now clear in Queen Charlotte Sound reaching or running at 10.9 knots with about 200nm left to go.

    Time to start warming up the engines of the sweep boat. because it looks like they will be finishing around 24 UTC tonight if the wind holds. So by sundown today the race should be well over

  16. Karl says:

    Meanwhile Team Steak Knives is puttering along at 1.5 knots just past Cape Caution. They still have to make it in to Bella Bella.

    Heck at this rate, the sweep boat might DNF even the 2nd place finisher

  17. Allen says:

    I thought the rules called for the sweep boat to start June 24 or after the first finisher which ever came later. As I read it June 24 is the earliest the sweep boat can start.

  18. Hugh says:

    Seems well sailed Farrier and Hobie Designs dominate the speed and most amazing feats categories – so far.

  19. Russell Moore says:

    Cut off should be around 4th July, assuming the sweep boat leaves on the 24th June and takes 10 days to get to the finish.

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