Full Blast at the Wind Machine Gorge
Published on July 26th, 2015
By Jonathan Weston
This year we used the 2015 Gorge Dinghy Invitational to host our Weta West Coast Championships on July 24-26, making it a fair distance for our Seattle contingent since it is usually held in the Bay Area or last year, in Santa Barbara. While this made it difficult for the bulk of our fleet to make the 12-20 hour trek northward, those that made the haul were rewarded with everything the Gorge had to offer.
Friday was our warm up knock the rust off day, and with gusty, shifting winds ranging from 20-28, knock the rust off and a bit of solid metal as well. I was the first to venture out, later joined by Bruce and Tim 2-up. We had some epic runs downwind, and according to Tim, their Speedpuck ran upwards of 15 kts. Later that afternoon, the wind tapered off and the rest of the gang enjoyed the warm water and exceptional light.
Saturday broke with some rare clouds pushing through, a light drizzle that tapered the wind yet seemed to smooth out the radical shifts. I got off to a good start and met Christophe Allie at the weather mark. It was a tight battle to the finish, where I just managed to take the starboard advantage at the finish line. I learned a few new French words, and how to say, “I’ll get you next time.”
The wind increased to 10-18 for the next couple of races, as we all learned how to play the river currents, stay in the gusts, and out of the way of the I-14, 505, and Aero fleets. The final race of the day was the whopper, and as we rounded the weather mark, the Gorge wind machine turned to full blast. I waited for Bruce and Tim to round before I set my kite, and as they did, their prod exploded. I thought their kite had a funny shape to it! All fleets set ashore and I was feeling pretty good with four bullets.
Sunday, the weather could not decide what to do with our fleet, so it gave us everything it could think of. Race one was a tame affair and tightly grouped at the weather mark, before the less seasoned sailors learned some lessons in downwind angles. Race two found me pissing off the back of the boat as they shifted the starting order, so I had some catching up to do. The wind completely shut down and drifted back up the river, so I was able to salvage a second as Christophe finally got me! Races 3 and 4 were even more contested as the shifts started to play in what seemed like everyone else’s favor. Again, I was able to pick the right angles and downwind layline to finish ahead.
The wind then cranked back up, and we got off one more race to see who would be faster, the one up 3x West Coast Champion or the two up National Champion (Bruce). It was very close upwind, but it was actually Andrew Cannard, finally getting the boat wired, marching away to the weather mark. Unfortunately, it was the wrong mark, but with Bruce right on my transom, I high tailed it to the finish.
All in all, it was a great regatta, and for moi, a large dose of Weta therapy after having driven a calamitous 6,000 miles around the country in search of my soul, which was right there on a hull and two amas all along. Big thanks again to Mike Wright for organizing the regatta and getting me back on a Weta, and to Terry for finding my keys!
Side note: While I complain a lot about all of my injuries, Terry is a full reconstruct, and Tim, just blasting out of chemo, so life is good!