Thursday, May 14, 2015

R2AK Team Ellie Piddock (Formerly known as Team Kotuku)

Just a quick shout out to those who may not have heard:  Al Hughes, Graeme Esarey, and Matt Steverson have entered the Race to Alaska.  We leave June 4th, have one stopover in Victoria, and then take off for Ketchikan, Alaska.  Non-stop, hopefully.  No motors allowed, no outside assistance.

Skipper Al Hughes
 Graeme Esarey

Matt Steverson

"It's like the Iditarod, but with a chance of drowning."  Or so they say.  We think it sounds like great fun, and we have borrowed the Alan Trimble's F-25C (formerly known as Makika) so that we can get up there as fast as we can.  Apparently there will be $10,000 nailed to a tree for the winner.  Second place gets a set of steak knives.

Image result for makika f-25c (Elsie Piddock, back when she was Makika)

There is a tracker, and a wonderful website.  Please follow us and visit the site for updates:

Monday, January 20, 2014

Happy New Year! Planning for 2015 Already...

Kotuku likes to have plenty of room to change her mind.  So we often have to plan our maneuvers a ways out.  Lately Janna and I have been talking a fair bit about races we'd like to do again and the VanIsle keeps coming up.  Unfortunately for me, that is a year and a half away.  Not too early to mark your calendars and to start angling for a crew position though, is it?

The other bit of good news is that there are plenty of interesting races on the calendar for this year, and we will be looking for friends and family to join us in Canada and in the States for several longer distance races.  The first race is Southern Straits, which has turned into a bit of a tradition for us.  We love the hospitality of the West Van Yacht Club, and really enjoy the challenge of this one.

I expect Race To The Straits to allow us to smuggle children aboard one more time.  Talia is getting bigger now though, this could be her last race as baggage.  She might be driving next year...if so you might want to give Kotuku a bit of room at the mark.  Something that is always a good idea, come to think of it.

Then there is Swiftsure, an old favorite of mine.  Janna and the girls will be enjoying the city while we are bobbing around in the dark, drifting in the wrong direction most likely.  But when the wind does fill, the romp down through Race Passage is always a memorable one.

After that, we are interested in the Border Run concept.  And we will definitely be cruising this summer, killing fish when we can.  The year will finish with Round The County.

Come join us on one or more of our adventures!  Happy New Year from the Kotuku Family!

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Round The County

Quick post:  We had a heck of a lot of fun, with some old crew, and some Thistlers.  And Janna joined us for a multi-day, crewed race.  That has never happened but she had a lot of fun and may well be lured back again.

So how did the race go?  We had a great time and battled hard both days but the lack of wind and adverse tide conspired against us.  Matt made wonderful salmon burgers, as usual.  Chris, Eli, Matt, and Al attempted to keep me honest in the back of the boat--we had our moments, both good and bad.  We didn't finish either day, but a good time was had by all.  Thanks to Bob, Chris, Al, John, Matt, Eli, and Janna for joining in on the festivities.  And thanks to all who help take care of the old girl, couldn't do it with out you!

Results are here:

Photos are here:

Jan's Marine Photography

And of course, a wrap-up from our good friend Ben:

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Ballard Cup 1

Have a very nice day of racing yesterday, with the wind blowing hard!  Committee Boat said they saw 50 knots of breeze before they left the dock, but most of the racing was done in 20-30 knots.  We were shorthanded with just Al, John, Kenyon, and I having experience, but we rounded up Sterling and Ashley just as we were leaving the dock.

Nice sailing with #4 and no reef in the main.  Could have used one at times, but didn't have the reef line led.  Oh well.  We started exactly 5 minutes early, then got set up for a re-start by sitting on Beltane and forcing them to start directly behind us in dirty air.  Luckily there was plenty of breeze to go around!

We followed the fleet up to the L mark, rounded, went wing and wing directly at Meadow Point, gybed the main, rounded beat up to the mid-channel mark in about 5 minutes, went wind and wing again, rounded and finished.  The whole race took something like 40 minutes.

First in class, First overall.  Kotuku takes care of business when the wind blows.

See you next Monday!

Race to the Straits Photos

We had a wonderful race up to Port Townsend and back.  We had very favorable uphill conditions on Saturday, the girls were wonderful and watched movies all day while I grunted and sweated and tacked.  And tacked.  And tacked.  Double-handing is hard work, and all my time loafing behind the steering wheel hasn't exactly built up the strength I needed to tack the old girl a hundred times in 30 miles.  Janna seemed to be having fun though!

We ended up second, behind Westerly, the beautiful old yawl sailed by a couple of wily veterans.  We were also the second monohull to finish--out of 110 or so--so that took the sting out of losing a bit.  And we won the Jack and Jill class for the day.  Then we had a wonderful dinner featuring a 70lb halibut that my dad and Janna's dad caught the day before.  Life in the PNW is good!

Day 2 was downwind, not great for Non-flying sails class, but we did our best.  We managed to get ahead of Westerly and Breeze, our toughest NFS competitors, and then we just tried to keep our boat between them and the finish line.  It worked.  Results are here:

We had a great weekend.  Thanks to everyone from the Sloop who made it possible, and to Tom and Marie for hosting us in PT!
Photos taken by Jan's Marine Photography.  Thanks Jan!

Also, a very interesting review of the race here:

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Blakely Rock Benefit Regatta--3 Generations aboard

Blakely Rock Benefit Regatta is a fun race, and it is a nice easy way to take friends and family out racing.  So we had invited Talia's school friends, and asked the grand parents to come along and supervise.

Breezy conditions made it tough for the 70+ crowd and the 7- crowd that populated our rail on the upwind bash, but the kids were smiling big time when we turned to corner and blasted off south wing and wing with a poled out jib.  Grandma and Grandpa did their best to stay aboard, as did guest crew Leif (age 7) Katie (also 7) Talia (7) and Savai (4 going on 14.)  We were ably assisted by Leif's parents (Peter and Keturah), and Katie's dad Alan. 

Wind was puffy, maybe 25 knots + so we were well up into the wind range where Kotuku shines, but the forecasted rain was no where to be seen.  So for most of the race it was just us, in the sunshine, out for a sail with friends and family. 

We had a decent, but not spectacular start.  We luffed up a boat trying to squeeze in at the pin and bullied them into spinning, so we had a clear lane and were the only boat close to the line when the gun went off.  Before long we tacked onto the long port tack to West Point, crossing our fleet easily.  We took one hitch in a bit before the point, then carried across to the far shore in a progressive header. 

By this point we were ahead of all the boats in the NFS fleets that started ahead of us, and the spinnaker boats and the rest of our fleet were way back too. 

It was probably best that no one was watching too closely because our tacks went something like this:

Ok, all kids down Below.  You too Grandma!  Dad, hold on the the hand rail! 
Helm is down.  Release.  Grind.  No the other way! 
Ok, all set. all kids on the rail.  One hand for your juice box, one for the boat. 
Hard work for everybody!

Still, it was fun to have 4 kids and a couple of grand parents on the rail.  And Kotuku is safe and dry even in a blow.  Meanwhile, we were so lifted once we flopped over that we were basically pointed at the Rock.  It only took one or two tacks on the west side, one of which was more about staying clear of the ferry coming out of Eagle Harbor than anything else and it was time for our only manuever, the jib change.

Rounding Blakely Rock is always fun, and I joked that the last time we did this race I let Janna's dad drive, so this time I was going to have Janna drive instead.  She took the helm at the top of the beat and I went forward to rig the pole with Peter's help.  Down came the #3.  Grandpa sat on it, and then up went the #1 (we are required to sail bare headed during sail changes in NFS racing).  Normally we use a shorter pole if we aren't flying the spinnaker because it is easier to manage, but I didn't bring it.  So Peter and I clipped on the big beast, and away we went, wing and wing.  Not bad for a bunch of dads who don't do foredeck.

And Wing and Wing is Fast!  Apparently dad saw speeds to 12 knots, but Talia says that the fastest she saw was 11.2.  Regardless of which generation was right, it seems pretty darned fast to me without a kite up. 

We kept looking over our shoulders, waiting for the fleet to overtake us.  No one did, the closest boat was Eye Candy, but we had put them behind us at the start and they didn't have the horsepower to run us down.

Gradually, it dawned on us.  We were looking pretty good...we'd be first to finish out of 104 boats, and winner of the class and the NFS division.  You should have heard the cheering when our little bunch crossed the line and got the gun.  The fleets behind us never caught up, so we did a long beer tack out enjoying the sunshine and waving at friends as they came blasting back.  Dos looked great planing off, as did Little Blue Dune Buggy and More Uff Da with their bows up and new kites pulling.

Fun ride!  Thanks to friends and family, and to the Sloop for putting on such an epic race, with all proceeds going to support kids sailing programs at Sail Sand Point.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Southern Straits 2013: Surprises including Fog, Code 0s, and the Easter Bunny

                            (All photos by Lin Parks.  Thanks Lin!)

Everybody who will listen to me knows that I like Southern Straits.  Occasionally I brag about the cowardly way we sailed directly from Pt. Atkinson to the bar in 2010--the fastest ride of our lives at that point!

Usually I then wax insufferable about the beautiful views and the close racing we have with our Canadian friends, the battles with Kiva, Mojo, Cinco de Mayo, and Rubato will not soon be forgotten.

And I never forget to mention how damned hard and frustrating this race can be.  
2013 was no exception.

Unfortunately, at the start we, um, didn't get off the starting line.  We mangled the start signals, and so ended up too far from the line in the light breeze to start with our fleet.  So we crossed about the same time that the next fleet did.  Those of you watching the tracker would have seen Kotuku in dead last.

We beat out past Point Atkinson into a building breeze, and before we knew it we were starting to trade tacks with our fleet again.  We had some big gainers tacking out, then the inside seemed favored.  Briefly.  Then the boats on the outside took off and left us inside.  We beat stubbornly up the north side of the Strait, finding gains against the fleet, but feeling like we were out in right field.  The wind was light, and the water was glassy.  But it was beautiful, and the mountains were glorious.  (OK, we were still in last place.)

This race has awesome re-starts.  The next one occurred in the dark at Balenas around 10:30PM.  After trading tacks with the very slippery Peterson 35 Windyfeat we slipped around the island just in front of Farrari with most of our fleet ahead of us, but only just.  Up went the spinnaker, gybe gybe gybe gybe gybe.  Staying in rivers of pressure gave us lots of passing lanes.  Kotuku is at her best in the dark I think, because about the time the sun came up at Halibut Bank, we were just putting the moves on the rest of our fleet, which had stalled out to the north of us.  We rounded in a big bunch, but got the Code 0 up.  And off we went.

The reaching legs were fun, fast, and rewarding.  By the time we got to Entrance Island we had legged out on a lot of the fleet (Code 0, blistering reach, good stuff!)  But the 5 boat pass that we pulled off at Entrance Island by slipping due north along the beach where I swear there was no breeze to be seen at all, now that was magical.  Soon we were dueling with Time Bandit, and M Power, both of whom were attempting to catch us after we had passed them at the mark rounding.  But we rounded ahead of them both at Halibut Bank, and that's where the race to the finish began.

(Night Runner, hot on our tail.  Taken from Cinco de Mayo, I think, who was passing on the outside)

The last leg has decided the race for the last couple of years, and this year was more of the same.  We were stuck trying to fend off Night Runner, who held the north coast, and Cinco de Mayo, Zulu, etc who went outside.  Let's just say the middle didn't pay.  As we got to the final few miles the boats on the outside slipped the worst of the negative tide, and had better breeze.  We watched as the fleet pinwheeled, outside boats marching to the finish with inside boats slowing, and eventually almost grinding to a halt.  

With our hopes almost dashed, we gybed out and followed Cinco.  Night Runner and Bravo Zulu were stuck inside, and Dominatrix was passing us on the outside but close.  Morale was down.  But I was pissed, and not going down without a fight.  Up went the jib, down came the jib, up went the A3.  Down came the A3, up went the jib.  Belay that!  Damn!  Up with the A3, breeze on, finally!  The finish was neck and neck, with Dominatrix nose to nose with us.  But the bigger sail carried the day, and our Red, White, and Blue spinnaker powered us across the line just ahead of them.  And there on the shore was our faithful support team, with little Savai, Talia, and Janna cawing and doing the Kotuku dance for all they were worth.  What a finish!

Results and details are here:  

2nd in class, 5th overall for the Medium Course.  Congratulations to Cinco de Mayo for sailing a great race.  As for us...Not bad for an old girl with an out of shape crew.  I feel good about the race and think we did a nice job of rallying back to be in it by the end.  Good work team!  (I am still wiped out, but happy.)

Thanks to Al, Ashley, and Eli for the help with the deliveries, and to Becca, John, Kevin and Alan for being rock star crew who made us look good, even when we weren't!  

Fun race, we'll be back...