WA360: Learning more about more

Published on June 9th, 2021

The WA360 is 360 nm of Washington race course which would melt the most scholarly race officer. No windward-leewards, no perfect start line, no robot marks to shift. This is the kind of sandlot sailing that teaches you more about more, not less about less.

Starting June 7, the entrants signed up for either the speedy Go Fast class, the cruisey Go Hard class, or the Human Power class. Otherwise, the only caveats is to do it without planned support or an engine, and within two weeks. Here’s the Race Boss update on June 9, 2021:

Song of the Sail
Oh complicated sea, you mischievous imp. You always know our weakness and like an untutored child, needle us where we, most vulnerable, have nothing left but wild screaming at the jellyfish as they undulate by, whose mocking ripples intermix with our desolate tears. Because everything in the world is moving faster than us, and you’ve broken all our shit.

Song of the Oar (paddle, pedal, whatever)

Oh somnambulant sea, you docile cupid. A rhythm held in time by the vanishing cadence of our blades’ perfect immersion and exit. These rippling footprints following our rapid journey, unencumbered, but for the precious beads of perspiration, sacrificed willingly from our body of water to your own. For must you not love us, and present divine days–immaculate synchronization–to our simple and human endeavors.

Yeah, Puget Sound bred a fleet of dichotomies in our racers and those that came already eschewing the reliance of wind—the human-powered—spent the last 24 hours mopping the floor with the hapless sailors.

Those teams who never even considered spending 360 miles grabbing pine, carbon, or plastic and bodily shoving themselves up and down the race course tossed together some combination of backup propulsion, and that backup spent the last 24 hours failing.

It was a day of straight-up calm weather; pedals broke, oars snapped, and parts twisted themselves into unrecognizable geometry. The phrase of the day from the sailors was, “We MacGyver’ed it.”

All day the lead remained with the double kayak team, BendRacing, who humbly laughed about their crushing start, and Team Boogie Barge who, after reflecting that he had crossed central Puget Sound three times in two different races (ahemm, SEVENTY48) in the last 5 days, simply said, “It’s time to see something new,” before pedaling at 5 knots into the greying sky.

The Chase Pack (patent pending, so back off) comprising a nasty bunch of hungry sailors putting on their best impression of a patient person, eyed the clouds and “MacGyver’ed” their broken gear, waiting for redemption.

A brief reward was found at 6 PM in the Narrows when a system blew hard and dark, sending a strong sudden southerly that let the sailboats show their strength, or at least until the call went out of a reported capsize under the Narrows.

What happened next? At least two teams, Sargasso Saviors and Team Felicity-Farkle, glanced briefly at the first good chance of wind in the entire race, then let their hand drop to the bright orange WA360 zip tie. The rules state that if that zip tie is broken, you can no longer prove that you didn’t use your motor during the race. A broken zip tie can mean disqualification.

If it isn’t obvious already, they snapped the tie, dropped their sails, and immediately began search patterns. (No sign of a capsize was ever found and it’s believed to be a mistaken sighting). When the two teams called later, they simply asked, “Are we disqualified? It’s okay if we are.” To which we replied, “Your zip tie may be broken, but your integrity is stronger than ever.”

So we dedicate this day to the world of split personalities and those people whose rules that govern them shall never be smarter or stronger than the ethics they live.

24 Hour Fact Sheet
• 2 Broken pedal drives
• 1 Broken rudder
• 4 Racers responding to USCG emergency call
• 2 Who snapped their zip ties right away for that call
• 35 Teams Southbound through the narrows
• 15 Teams Northbound through the narrows
• 20 Teams who have rounded the first mark
• 2 Confirmed showers taken
• 28,470 Days of oldest racer
• 1,460 Days of youngest racer
• 6 Total oceans sailed by the crew of Old Salts (missed Indian)
• 4 Teams DNF in the last 24 hours
• 1 Number of DNFs caused by a capsize that ripped off the mast and broke it in two (Team Fully Insured). We know… the irony.

Starting in Port Townsend on June 7, from there it’s a dash south to Olympia, back up to Skagit Bay—where you must choose the rapids of Deception Pass or the shifting mud of the Swinomish Channel.

After rounding a buoy in Bellingham Bay and running past the most northern Washington territory of Point Roberts, the course turns south through the San Juan Islands to cross the finish line in Port Townsend.

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