PNW Tulip Regatta
April 2-3, 2016
The Northwest Viper Fleet converged on Anacortes, Washington for the Tulip Regatta, a contest far more spirited than the name implies. In addition to fervent competition between Vipers, Saturday’s racing saw a battle between a prevailing southeasterly breeze and a punchy thermal from the west. Sunday saw sunny skies and morning zephyrs from all around the compass eventually submit to a relatively stable northeasterly. Above average race management allowed the Vipers to duke out seven hard fought races in winds that ranged from four to fifteen knots.
Race one began with a battle for the pin end, with Rafe Beswick’s Dragonfly nailing the start while Timeline crossed the rest of the fleet on port tack. Oscillations favored those who could hit the shifts and rapidly generate speed out of the tacks. It took several well-timed facials from Timeline to hold Kaa – whose skipper Steve Orsini has been sailing in Anacortes since North America separated from Pangaea –in second place.
Race two was much a repeat of race one until the final downwind leg, when a hard westerly came charging over Fidalgo Island like Hannibal’s elephants. Most of the fleet found themselves on a tight port tack reach in line abreast, scorching along the ragged edge of control at thirteen knots and pointed nowhere near the finish line. Nimble crews managed impressively rapid weather douses, and the fleet planed through the finish line under main and jib for a solid photo opportunity.
The stronger winds for race three and four shook up the finish order, with John Leyland’s Moistened Bint fetching a second and Dragonfly finishing third. Puffy conditions rewarded those who resisted the urge to heat up and plane, as the boats who soaked low gained positions downwind. The breeze turned fickle at the end of the last race, including instances of boats on parallel tracks but opposite tacks.
Once ashore, the Canadian team of Moistened Bint treated the fleet to a healthy ration of rum during the post-race debrief. The conversation centered on upwind speed and pointing, with crews exchanging ideas on rig tune, sail trim, and low-camber foils like Albert Einstein and Enrico Fermi with Solo cups full of Mount Gay. With the debrief complete, the group shuffled indoors for a local treat of grilled salmon and oysters accompanied by video from the committee boat. Fortunately for some crews and the children present, the organizers muted the audio.
Sunday began with a postponement afloat, but patience proved virtuous as scattershot puffs coalesced into a solid six to eight knots of breeze with a stable direction. A wide restricted line posed an interesting tactical challenge as trailing boats split from the leader. The snakes also dodged significant traffic from the PHRF A fleet, as the light winds swept the Vipers in amongst all the floating furniture stores that started five minutes before us. Freshman helmsman Will Holden on Wise Asp scaled the learning curve and turned in a three – four – three. Orsini, Garrett Johns and David Way on Kaa kept up the pressure in three close races, but Timeline’s crew of Dustin Johnson, Kent Morrow and Trevor DiMarco held on to post a picket fence, winning all seven races.
Overall, the regatta was a smashing success for the Vipers, with three new snake sailors on the water and tight racing in myriad conditions. Anacortes Yacht Club proved a great host and venue, and the Vipers will return for the Windermere Regatta on June 17-19.