The forecast for the Columbia River Gorge was for light westerly’s this past Saturday in the sub 20 knot category, but as dawn broke Saturday wind gusts up and down the river were already climbing and gusting above that threshold. It was becoming apparent, the 2015 edition of the legendary Double Damned Race was going to be a fast one, but know one could guess how fast.
Rufus Sjoberg had gathered his daughter Allie and a few guys from the Richmond Yacht Club, JV Gilmour, Chad Freitas and Reuben Gabriel to come sail the event. For the first time for all of them. On a boat none of them had sailed together before.
The Melges 24 Rufus had acquired a while back had been meticulously gone over by Rufus, who is one of the best boat repair technician/ modifiers/ composite molders currently grinding glass and carbon in the Bay Area these days, making sure that every component, mounting, line, was as bullet proof as possible.
The crew sail together on a semi regular basis, usually on high performance rockets, multihulls, skiffs and most recently on Rufus’ other Melges, his modified 32′, also named Rufless. To say the crew are high wind junkies is an understatement, and the harder it blows, the more they like it!
The conditions were playing right into team Rufless’s hands as the 10:00 AM start with wind at Cascade Locks already 12-15, and increasing to 20 -30 just a few mile up stream at Wind Mountain. The Melges broke free of the pack with Bill and Melinda Erkelens on their Wylie Wabbit Jack in hot pursuit. ‘It was really fun conditions’ Bill later said’ Probably the best we have sailed in up here.’
This was Jack’s fourth Double Damned, having dismasted the first time, they returned and, employing a spinnaker snuffer to reduce crashes on jibes, unlocked the key to success and Jack won the following two visits, albeit in less gnarly conditions. ‘We had a great ride and only had one minor hiccup in the very steep swell at The Hatchery, where we just plowed into the back of a wave and stuffed the bow pretty hard’.
Back on Rufless, the RYC crew were in heaven, pushing the fun meter to the high teens and a couple of 20’s. The wind continues to build up river, with the strongest winds east of Hood River, with Dougs Beach seeing gusts to 40. ‘ We were playing the edges, attempting to stay out of the biggest chop and not slowing the boat down’ Rufus recalls ‘ It was full on and we must have drifted a bit too far inside the channel markers, when we plowed into the shoal, soft at first, then boom, solid rock! We bounced along the top of it for a moment then finally slid off.’ Rufus adds. With Jack nipping at their heels, the crew went straight back to the task at hand, damn the torpedos, full speed ahead!
The wind on the Columbia River Gorge can quite often die up stream, as it near the Dalles and the canyon widens, but in 2015, that would not be the case, with nice pressure all the way to the finish, Rufless would cross the line at 13:59:16, four minutes and 18 seconds ahead of Jack, (who would correct out into first overall) and 40 minutes and change ahead of the third boat to finish, the Moore 24′ Snafu sailed by Karl Robrock and crew from the SCYC. Their elapsed time would be 5m:53s off Morgan Larson’s record set in 2007 the first year of the Double Damned. Race organizer Douglas Archbald finished fifth overall, on his Moore 24 Morjito has competed every year noted that while this was a great year for wind, in the top three for sure, but 2007 had a bit more breeze at the bottom of the course, so there is room for improvement, record wise.
And what does Rufus and company say about that?’ We’ll be back. Definitely. We want that record!’
|1||19||Jack||144||william erkelens [PHRF]||RYC||02:37:10||1||1||1|
|2||1764||Fayaway||227||Gay Morris [PHRF]||CYC Edmonds||02:59:23||2||2||2|
|3||717||Rufless||84||Rufus Sjoberg [PHRF]||Ryc||03:08:52||3||3||3|
|4||121||Snafu||150||Karl Robrock [MOORE 24]||SCYC||03:10:05||4||4||4|
|5||111||Morjito||150||Douglas Archbald [MOORE 24]||HRYC||03:14:42||5||5||5|
|6||89||mooretician||150||Peter Schoen [MOORE 24]||Tiburon YC||03:15:38||6||6||6|
|7||26||More Uff Da||150||Ben Braden [MOORE 24]||Port Madison Yacht Club||03:20:00||7||7||7|
|8||145||Electric Mayhem||150||Brian Petros [MOORE 24]||HRYC||03:20:15||8||8||8|
|9||83||Moxie||129||Bill Sumerfield [PHRF]||HRYC||03:24:41||9||9||9|
|10||40316||Monster Express||129||Ted Lohr [PHRF]||Hood River Yacht Club HRYC||03:27:09||10||10||10|
|11||109||Evermoore||150||Rhys Balmer [MOORE 24]||SYSCO TCYC||03:32:51||11||11||11|
|12||57878||Zipper||141||Alexia Fischer [PHRF]||WYC||03:41:55||12||12||12|
|13||42269||Shazam!||141||Bob Tollenaar [PHRF]||Styc||03:43:54||13||13||13|
|14||72||Morphine||150||Kandace Glavick [MOORE 24]||STYC||03:51:40||14||14||14|
|15||59580||Tilted Kilt||126||Jon Copper [PHRF]||HRYC||03:52:26||15||15||15|
|16||133||Rushmoore||150||Edward del Val [MOORE 24]||CGRA||03:57:55||16||16||16|
|17||333||El Puerco Verde||258||Bart Vervloet||HRYC||04:08:12||17||17||17|
|18||97074||Wicked||-1||John Spurlock [PHRF]||Orca||04:08:24||18||18||18|
|19||101||Fogslobber89||174||Tony Carr [PHRF]||Richmond||05:48:53||19||19||19|
|20||103||Gamma||150||Sarah and Geoff Raymoure [MOORE 24]||SYC||NO TIME||23/DNF||23T||20|
|20||101||Fun Oh’ One||150||Michael McCarthy [MOORE 24]||SCYC||NO TIME||23/DNC||23T||20|
|20||97478||B Team||129||Lance Staughton [PHRF]||HRYC||NO TIME||23/DNF||23T||20|