J/105s Enjoy Battle to the Finish at Oregon Offshore Race

The 43rd Annual Oregon Offshore International Yacht Race, sponsored by Schooner Creek Boatworks, started on Thursday, May 9 after a postponement that was waiting for the 5.5 knots ebb tide and current to begin to flow out of the Columbia River and over the Columbia River Bar just offshore. The 193-mile race started at 9:25am at Buoy 2 off the Columbia River entrance off Astoria, Oregon and finished at the entrance to Victoria, British Columbia harbor in Canada. After the start, everyone took off on starboard, heading offshore, apparently following the information gained at the skippers meeting. Wind was a light northeaster, blowing offshore at the start. As the race progressed, it appeared the predicted northwest shift would hit the fleet overnight, then the teams would have to contend with light winds in the Straits of Juan de Fuca and avoid adverse currents. The fleet enjoyed decent winds for most of the race. After rounding Cape Flattery at the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, teams sailed down to at least Clallam Bay on the USA side before heading across the Juan de Fuca Straits to the Canadian side to the north to play that shoreline into the finish at Victoria. The Portland J/105 fleet had a one-design start, producing a three-way battle between Dough Pihlaja’s ABSTRACT, Dennis Sibilla’s ESCAPE ARTIST, and the trio on FREE BOWL OF SOUP (Doug Schenk, Eric Hopper, Matt Davis). It was Pihlaja’s ABSTRACT that snagged PHRF A2/ J/105 honors, knocking off three-time winner of the race, FREE BOWL OF SOUP, by over 2 hours. As a result, third was Sibilla’s ESCAPE ARTIST, just eight minutes behind. ABSTRACT’s big move was to continue way offshore on starboard tack until late midday on Friday, over 20 hours after the start. The initial leaders both tacked away at 6pm on Thursday, and both dueled going up the shore, tacking on shifts headed to Cape Flattery, the first major turning point. 33 hours into the race, ABSTRACT rounded Cape Flattery at 7pm, just before sunset, with neither of their competitors in sight. For more Oregon Offshore Race information, visit http://www.oregonoffshore.org/.

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