Snowbird Series Race 1

Image raced the first race of the SBYC Snowbird Series on 11/15. This was only our second race and we were excited to try out the new sails and running rigging.


We competed in the non flying sails class and shared the start with a group of cruising boats. Unfortunately, Boadicea did not make it to the race. Rating wise we were the second fastest boat, probably because of our PHRF credits for a smaller headsail and fixed prop.


Frog Prints Dufour 34 Performance 192
Breeze Sweden 36 150
Image Catalina 38 164
Akari II Dufour 38 176
Boadicea Ericsson32-2 192



Course and conditions

In the morning, light and variable winds were forecasted and the forecast proved accurate. We saw about 2 hours of 0-5 kts true wind speed.

The course was set outside of the Shilshole Bay Marina breakwater as  NENMN2, which is start line, C1 buoy at the south end of the marina, start line, Meadow Point buoy and back to start, 2 laps.

We recorded our track using the GPS and uploaded it to RaceQs.

Snowbird 2015 2016 Race 1 RaceQs


Started in class 1, 1st warning at 10:55 for an 11:00 start. We had a really good start, crossed the line first only a couple seconds after the signal on a port tack, Breeze just to windward of us. Akari II crossed about 2 mins after the signal, Frog Prints was very late, and ended up crossing the line about 10 mins into the race.


1st upwind leg

We stayed close to shore together with Breeze at similar speed and pointed about the same. Akari II went way off shore. Wind was flaky during the entire leg which lead to Akari II catching up and actually rounding the top mark between Breeze and us on a port tack. Kudos on a very nice maneuver.


1st downwind leg

The wind got very light.  We tried poling out our genoa wing on wing but did not see lots of gains, wind was super light, we ended up being parked close to the downwind mark together with the rest of the fleet, including Frog Prints who had caught up by going way off shore. Akari II went about 2 miles off shore, found the breeze and got to the downwind mark first. They also caught the breeze first after rounding the downwind mark and started their upwind leg first, followed by breeze. We got stuck in a lull around the downwind mark. Frog Prints was fighting current and crossed the mark last.

Image in light air at the first Snowbird Race 2015 / 2016
Image in light air at the first Snowbird Race 2015 / 2016

2nd upwind leg

Wind was still light and fluky, Akari II dropped out after crossing the finish line. Breeze had a solid upwind leg and got to the top mark first. Frog Prints made huge gains, rounded 2nd. We had a good upwind leg, caught some lulls and ended up rounding the mark 3rd and last in our class.


2nd downwind leg

The wind came up to about 8tks and we ran down wing on wind with the genoa poled out. Breeze was clearly in the lead, however, we gained on Frog Prints.

Image with the genoa poled out at the first Snowbird Race 2015 / 2016
Image with the genoa poled out at the first Snowbird Race 2015 / 2016

Final upwind leg

When we rounded the bottom mark, the wind had come up to about 12kts, Breeze was already at the finish line. Frog Prints rounded and in front of us, we hardened up and hit our top speed for the day. Frog Prints finished in front up us by about 2 mins – however, we owed them time.

All in all we had a solid race. No close calls. We improved crew work setting the spinnaker pole as a whisker pole.


Here is what we learned:

  • Early on we decided that the tides weren’t going to be that important.  However, looking back at the wind speeds that .5 knot could have been significant.  We might have gotten a better push from the tides further off shore.
  • After our first rounding of the mark we chose a straight line to the leeward mark.  Sailed slower but a much shorter distance.  This makes sense helps when we can go wing-on-wind at similar speed as a broad reach but sail straight to the mark.  The advantage was that we arrived rather close to the leeward mark and did not have to battle the current coming out of the channel as much as some other boats.  The disadvantage was that we were at the mercy of the wind and lost steerage. A broad reach would have allowed us to chase the puffs a bit better and might have paid off even though it would have been a longer course
  • We did not pay enough attention to where the breeze was filling in.  Despite rounding the leeward mark over 5 minutes ahead of Frog Prints, we lost the upwind leg because we sailed ourselves into a lull, granted we remembered we had to pass the start-finish line pretty late.
  • Poling out the genoa using the spinnaker pole is nice when we have some breeze.  It worked much better on the second downwind leg.  In light air is seemed to limit our maneuverability, especially since the wind was very flakey.  Poling out also did not work when the angles get too high.  So it’s very situational.
  • Keeping boat speed up seems especially important for Image as she packs a few pounds.  We pay dearly for tacks in light air.  Also our tacking angles get rather large in light air, this can be observed nicely on the RaceQs replay.  Crew work can help us a lot.
  • Crew weight played a much more important role than expected given that Image displaces almost 16000 pounds.  At the very least we were able to point better when the crew was on the leeward side because the genoa would come off the shrouds and we could trim better.


Detailed results are available on the STYC Snowbird website. The next race of the series is on 12/12, we will be there and report back.

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