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Henri-Lloyd 2020 HLRC LEADERBOARD

43rd Annual Oregon Offshore International Yacht Race in the Columbia River

by J/Boats 17 May 2019 15:12 PDT 9-12 May 2019
43rd Annual Oregon Offshore International Yacht Race © Event Media

The 43rd Annual Oregon Offshore International Yacht Race, sponsored by Schooner Creek Boatworks, started on Thursday, May 9th, 2019 after a postponement that was waiting for the 5.5 kts ebb tide and current to begin to flow out of the Columbia River and over the infamous Columbia River Bar just offshore, a place notorious for massive standing waves and flipping over even the hardiest US Coast Guard Patrol boats!

The timing was smart, since the weather was somewhat benign and all boats made it across the bar without any issues, just some of the usual cascades of water over the deck!

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 avoiding adverse currents; the big decision being when to go for one shore over the other, USA to the south or Canada to the north while heading for the Victoria, BC harbor finish line.

As anticipated, leading the fleet out offshore the first night was David Raney's RAGE; a huge, skinny like a rail, ULDB 70 footer. However, the pleasant surprise was that second boat overall was Scott Campbell's beautiful new J/121 RIVA and his merry bandits from Portland, Oregon; chasing RAGE hard all night and all day long on Friday keeping them in sight most of the time (giving away 30+ feet of waterline, too)!

The fleet enjoyed decent winds for most of the race and the hot angles were very much enjoyed by the J/121 RIVA. After rounding Cape Flattery at the northwestern tip of the Olympic Peninsula, RIVA and all other J/Teams sailed down to at least Clallam Bay on the USA side before making the "escape" across the Juan de Fuca Straits to the Canadian side to the north to play that shoreline into the finish at Victoria.

After waiting a few hours for other boats to finish, Campbell's J/121 RIVA crew were ecstatic to find out they had won the Oregon Offshore, both PHRF A1 Class and PHRF Overall! Their corrected time for the race was 40 hrs 9 min 31 secs, enough to win by over an hour on the second place team (a 4.825 kts average). Third in PHRF A1 Class was the J/42 Velocity skippered by Thomas Keffer.

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 of course, the trio on FREE Bowl Of Soup (Doug Schenk, Eric Hopper, Matt Davis, their sixth time)!

After the smoke and fog cleared on the race track, it was Pihlaja's Abstract that snagged PHRF A2/ J/105 Class honors, knocking off a three-time winner of the race- the "Soupers", by over two hours. As a result, third was Sibilla's Escape Artist, just eight minutes behind the Soupers; indeed, it was a battle for the silver between those two boats to the very end.

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, the Souper's and Escaper's, 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, and they continued on their merry way to the class win.

Meanwhile, it was a complete "dust-up" behind them. It was not until 10pm did the Escaper's lead the Souper's around Cape Flattery. In the ensuing gybing duel to the finish with their A2 spinnakers flying all night, it took the Souper's until 7:30am on Saturday morning to pass the Escaper's, leading their exhausted friends into the finish line.

Replay the entire race here to see how all the boats got around the race track

More information at oregonoffshore.org

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