CYC Race Committee Statement
On Abadonment of
2020 Blakely Rocks Race
As all participants are aware, the 2020 Blakely Rocks Race was abandoned by the RC. As the first boats reached the north mark (mark N) scheduled to be located 1 NM East of VTS lane marker SF, the RC was informed that the mark was drifting. The RC immediately dispatched a whaler to check on the mark, but before the whaler arrived on station, subsequent communication from the fleet indicated that the mark was, indeed, in the shipping lanes.
As the whaler was dispatched, approximately 4 miles south of the mark, a Matson container ship was northbound, moving at roughly 20 knots. As Principal Race Officer, I made the decision to abandon the race for safety and USCG permit compliance reasons.
As conditions were ( clearly ) ideal for racing, our initial thinking was to stage an abbreviated race with a course like SWNF or SWQF. Unfortunately, the Sailing Instructions precluded any starts after 1400 hours. This situation was unanticipated in the SI's.
Both CYC and I are always learning from conditions and situations that arise to ensure better race experiences for the community. We are aware that the N mark has posed challenges in the past, and have been able to address them. Saturday it did not work out in our favor. The sound is very deep in that area, more than 700 feet in many locations, and that combined with scope means that there is 1,000 or more feed of line between the mark and the bottom weight (a 30lb lead ball). That much line itself creates a lot of drag in the current, and kelp or other things also get caught on it, breaking the anchor free and causing unpredictable movement. We are discussing moving the location of this mark further east into shallower water.
We will explore maintaining a whaler in the area to observe the mark. There are significant challenges with this that we will need to work through. The whalers are exposed, and 2 or 3 hours minding the mark in this location can be conditionally challenging. Out of prudence, approximately 1 hour before the abandonment, the RC dispatched a whaler to confirm the status of N, which was confirmed. In the interim, the mark must have moved. Action items from lessons learned include:
Altering SI for this event to allow for restarts post-1400 hours.
Utilizing alternative locations to the North in more manageable locations.
Altering anchor configurations for deep water deployment.
Maintain whalers on station at said marks to ensure SI and safety compliance.
You have my personal apologies, and on behalf of CYC, for the outcome of Saturday's race. We look forward to seeing all of you on March 21 for the Scatchet Head race.
Charley Rathkopf, CYC Senior Principal Race Officer
Matthew Wood, CYC Race Fleet Captain