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2016 Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race, Take 1

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2016 Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race, Take 1

Post Point often delivers the biggest waves and best surfing. Today was remarkable. 

This weekend was supposed to be the Bellingham Bay Rough Water Race, but with gail winds blowing into the 70's, the race was postponed until the 19th. So a few of the local Bellingham surfski, OC and SUP paddlers decided instead to do a Wildcat downwind run to blow off a little pent up energy. Conditions did not disappoint, and at the very tail end of this run my GPS registered a maximum speed of 18.5mph. 

As good as good gets in Bellingham Bay: Big, fast waves with smooth faces and wide periods for ripping downwind surfing. 

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A curious, furious fall.

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A curious, furious fall.

Finally back in the swing of things here in Bellingham and enjoying a fast start to fall. We were treated to a very unusual (as in never before) summer windstorm that produced winds over 70mph, toppled trees and made for very big, testing conditions. It got our local paddlers fired up and provoked a lot of healthy discussion around safety in big water.

The Rosario Straight and San Juan Islands in full tilt tantrum mode. 

A few brave souls managed to sneak out for a downwind run in Bellingham Bay before the show got fully ramped up. There was some debate as to the wisdom of this, but to their credit they did it right. Small, experienced group, with good planning and the right gear with a clear course of action if things didn't go well. Personally I am a fan of pushing it when the time is right as a learning experience. Not many times will a paddler be afforded the opportunity to paddle in such wind with warmish water and a clear line of drift into the shore. You can't choose your emergencies, but you can choose your training. They learned a lot, namely that the standard logic around rafting up for a remount assist in that much wind isn't even remotely feasible, and that not all leashes are created equal. In particular there was a sentiment that the cockpit mounted leashes were a liability because the ski broaches in the wind and requires a beam remount. The general consensus is that it's better to go with a well designed stern leash attached to a waist-belt so the ski points downwind. Personally I prefer remounting beam because once upwind of the ski, I can time my reentry to the waves a little bit better, but I haven't tried to do so in that much wind. 

Local paddler Bill Cirino's bomber leash set-up. Note that the bungees have been replaced with full strength dyneema cords with the load shared by 4 boat anchors. NICE!

Wish I could have joined in the fun, but my daughter and I headed instead to meet my folks on their sailboat in the San Juan Islands as they weathered the big storm. We had a great ferry ride through the romping waters and raging wind. A Hybrid Prius loaded at the front of the ferry did not fare so well after being dowsed by the waves smashing the bow of the ferry. 

The best seat in the house is rarely a seat. 

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