The third running of the Hood River Yacht Club’s Double Damned race brought unexpected conditions but first class racing. After three weeks of westerly breeze in the high twenties or better, the weekend brought blazing heat and moderate east breeze to the Columbia River Gorge. Usually a 42 mile downwind adrenal “stress test,” this year’s course was amended to a 30.2 mile windward leeward starting and finishing at Bonneville Dam (still “Double Damned”) and rounding a turning mark east of the jutting Mitchell Point promontory. Racers saw winds on the starting line in the low twenties and breeze in the low teens further up the course.
Nineteen boats surged of the line together to compete in two separate scoring classes (Moore 24 and PHRF) and for first to finish and first overall. The beat to Mitchell Point was described by some as “like sailing up the San Francisco city front for 15 miles”, and indeed one boat logged 99 tacks before rounding the weather mark! While the short tack strategy had a bit of the city front feel, the 70 degree fresh water and 95 degree air told a different story. Add to that the absolutely ridiculous scenery that many race veterans were finally able to look up and see for the first time this year, and the vibe was getting really good.
At the weather mark the racing was so tight that groups in the Moore fleet rounded like it was a buoy race. Those that rounded with some distance ahead extended their leads as they set the chutes into a following river current. The run offered nearly perfectly flat water, and although there was a little less pressure on the course than there had been earlier in the day, there were still plenty of puffs to keep things interesting and sweep racers to the finish line. Maybe best of all was the fact that the sun in the west left crews in the shadow of their kites. Absolute bliss in the afternoon heat.
Off the water the Hood River Yacht Club parties were down to earth and friendly. Skippers, crew and family all enjoyed a free salmon BBQ Friday night hosted by Robichaud Batten Systems. No store bought salmon either, but fish pulled from the river the day before and grilled by RBS owner and HRYC Member Romeo Robichaud! RBS also threw down for a keg on Saturday night, race swag, and a full set of carbon battens raffled to a lucky winner. A huge thanks to RBS, and also to the Moore 24 fleet for a Saturday night keg, Da Kine for raffle prizes and swag, and Malibu Rum (yes, seriously) for swag and a rum punch tasting that got Saturday night’s party off to a great start!
Anarchists Doug and Greg Archbald