3rd Time Lucky: And Size Still Doesn’t Matter
The 2018 Edition of the Round Bowen Island Race
Written by Michael Clements
For the 3rd time in 12 years (with about 5 near-misses during 2007-2017), Michael Clements and his Too Wicked team of Adrienne Mennell, Justin Hall, and Ken Machtley won the PHRF Overall trophy and the Martin 242 Division in the 2018 Round Bowen Island Race, beating 127 other boats.
Other Martin 242’s came 2nd Overall (Dirty Dog – Matt Collingwood), 5th Overall (Back in Black – Phil Cragg & Reto Corfu), and 6th Overall (Whippet – Craig Strand).
Round Bowen this year was epic, with one of the best wind conditions and favorable current ever experienced, albeit possibly not quite so epic for the 100 or so boats that got caught in a massive hole at the start line for well over 30 minutes, waiting for the westerly to fill in as the flood current kept building.
Too Wicked got a perfect start at the inshore end of the line (see photo), followed closely by Dirty Dog and Whippet, with Back in Black also getting a great start at the offshore end. Along with a small pack of about 10-15 other boats, they collectively broke free of the light air zone that enveloped the start line and chased the westerly zephyrs up the eastern Bowen shore as it struggled to curve around Cowan Point and make its way into Howe Sound. Swinging way wide of Cowan to stay in the strong westerly puffs seemed like a good move for some boats, but they ended up sailing much more distance due to the huge progressive starboard tack lift, whereas other boats that stayed closer to shore playing the shifts sailed much less distance but at generally lower speeds, so it all somewhat evened out.
The south side of Bowen saw a ½ knot flood current along its entire length, and quite a few boats short-tacked all the way along the cliffs to Roger Curtis, making excellent time via being aided by the current. Immediately after turning the corner at Roger Curtis, the Fleet found that the westerly was strong enough in Collingwood Channel to enable chutes to be flown right away on a very tight reach, and the breeze kept building, compressing, and swinging aft as the Fleet moved down the Channel, with most boats passing thru the Hutt Island gap on a dead downwind heading where the wind was at its strongest at about 10-12 knots.
Amazingly, the wind stayed attached almost all the way along the north Bowen shore, and the Fleet kept their chutes flying for most of the distance leading up to the dreaded Finisterre Island. From Too Wicked’s vantage point a few miles behind the lead big boats it appeared that they walked into an extended parking lot at Finisterre (no surprise there – it happens most years to everyone), which enabled the smaller boats to compress the distance and wipe out any gains the big boats had made on the prior four legs of the race. You always know you’ll have a good race if upon exiting the Hutt gap you can still see an OD 48 (Vic Bishop) parked at Finisterre…
The strategy for dealing with Finisterre this year seemed to be to aim about 100 feet north of the Island and let the flood current and occasional wind zephyrs carry boats into the Sound, where the wind was blowing about 10-12 knots. Too Wicked had one of its fastest transitions ever at Finisterre, which was a major contributing factor in its overall performance in the race.
The final beat was somewhat anti-climactic as it generally just involved short-tacking up the beach in the inflow breeze and not doing anything (stupid) that would cause precious time to be lost against the lead pack of boats.
In closing, Team Too Wicked was pleasantly surprised to have won the PHRF Overall trophy again for the 3rd time, and it was nice to share the experience with many other Martin 242 sailors who also placed well Overall. We look forward to competing in the event again next year, when the conditions will almost certainly be different (once again). We’d also like to thank Martin Marine, all the other sponsors, and the Bowen Island Yacht Club and Union Steamship Marina for their continued support of this excellent event, which is our favorite one of the whole year.
Photo by John Culter, PRO
Photo by Adrienne Mennell