As we ease into November, October and the true Winter months descend, many opt to tackle indoor project with a cozy fire in the fireplace or gear up for some serious skiing in the snow-covered mountains. This is definitely not the case for many Pacific Northwest sailors who have rallied to the islands for over thirty years to participate in one last weekend of racing. Round the County Sailing Race has established itself as the most successful races in the area. Hosted by the Orcas Island Yacht Club and Friday Harbor Sailing Club, the event invites racers to the islands the second weekend of November for a two-day race around the islands.
November can bring some pretty steady winds, the scenery is amazing, and the Saturday evening festivities at Roche Harbor are not to be missed. Indeed, this race has become one of the most popular events in the Pacific Northwest. With limited moorage at Roche Harbor Marina, the number of entries is limited to the first 100 registered boats. This is not typical and makes the race special to be sure.
The course essentially goes around San Juan County alternating direction from year to year – even-numbered years the course is clockwise and odd-numbered years are counter-clockwise. The Round the County Sailing Race start is always in Rosario Strait at Lydia Shoal.
It is really spectacular to follow the race from shore and especially this year as they head north Saturday with Lopez and San Juan Island to starboard. Many on Lopez are known to watch as well as on San Juan staring at Cattle Point and up the West Side. Some opt to take their boat out to follow the race and some even fly over!
Obviously there are no guarantees about the weather, but definitely worth bundling up to watch. Don’t forget your binoculars – or, your camera!