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2024 Yellow Island Race Instructions

Race Instructions             

Twelfth Yellow Island Wooden Sailboat Race

(2020 race not held) 

(Non-wood boats are allowed but are ineligible for prizes.)

Saturday May 18th, 2024


See Ward Fay (sloop AURA; cell 360-376-5581) at the skipper’s meeting or sooner for race entry forms.


Skippers’ meeting:

The Skippers meeting will begin at 9 am or shortly after, on the pier by the office of the Deer Harbor Marina. Dock Store will be open for coffee at 9 am. Entry forms/waivers must be filled out, signed, and submitted with the $25 entry fee (yes, the fee has gone up) by 10 AM.  Otherwise, you are not in the race. If you don’t have a PHRF number, an imaginary one will be provided. Start is at NOON.


Start Line:

The Line will be SE of Fawn Island, running roughly east and west, with the committee boat on the west end.  The committee boat will be a Grand Banks motorboat.  The pin end of the line to the east may be a buoy consisting of a red flag on a pole attached to a traffic cone on plywood on a foam-filled tire, placed not too close to the shore. Or it may be another buoy supplied by the committee. Pass between the committee boat to starboard and the pin buoy to port, and head for Bird Rock to pass it to starboard. In a north wind, the start will be a downwind start. Whichever the wind direction, we will proceed from the line towards Cliff Island. In any event, know rights of way, and avoid collisions when jockeying for position at the start. Or hang back and let others mix it up on the line. Let’s all avoid damage to our nice boats.


Finish Line

The finish line may be changed from the starting line. There will be two laps of the course, unless the committee shortens the course after the start, or Jones Island is included in the course. If two laps, round the committee boat to port when you cross the line the first time, unless the committee boat has changed the location of the line, then pass between it and the pin buoy, with whichever end of the line is more west to port.

If we use the long course around Jones Island, the finish line will be between the committee boat and the buoy, with the committee boat to port unless it repositions east of the buoy.


If short course one lap, committee will fly the short course flag, and give you a horn as you cross the line. If two laps, they will record the times at the end of the first lap, in case the wind dies on the second lap. If we go around Jones Island, the short course flag will not be shown.


 Monitor Channel 69.  Do not hail the committee boat during the starting sequence. Any changes to the course described in these instructions will be announced by the committee.

Flags Explained:                                                   

The Short Course Flag is a white square with a blue square in the center.  If the committee boat is flying it, or if the committee flies it from the marina at the finish, the short course will be in effect.

The Individual Recall Flag is white with a blue cross.  It will fly if a boat is over the starting line early and must re-cross the line, avoiding all other boats.

The Postponement Pennant is long and tapered with vertical red and white stripes.


The Starting Sequence

Sequence will begin around NOON, unless postponed.

Before 11:55, come by the Committee Boat, or hail them on Channel 69, to identify your boat, or your time may not be recorded.


About 1 minute before a yellow flag goes up to begin the starting sequence; there will be three or more blasts on the horn, and the postponement flag will go down.

The horn will blast once as each flag goes up or down.


Yellow flag goes up:  5 minutes to Start.

P flag (blue with white in center) goes up:  4 minutes to Start

P flag goes down:  1 minute to Start

Yellow flag goes down:  Start                                                                                                                                             


The committee may change the finish line to shorten the course after the race starts.  If you see them stationed somewhere on the course flying the short course flag, assume it is the finish line, and pass the committee boat to starboard. Monitor Channel 69 for any course-change announcements during the race.


Note:  Inclusion of Jones Island on the course will be determined at the skipper’s meeting. This will increase the distance of the course by about 3 miles. Jones Island will be kept to starboard. If we include Jones Island, there will be only one lap of the course.



New Instructions:

We ask that you contact the committee boat on Channel 69 as you approach the finish line, to make sure the race committee knows which boat you are.


Because of boat identification problems in the past, this year we are beginning a race finish form for you to fill out, which is attached to these instructions. On this form you will report your boat’s name, the time of your finish, the name of the boat ahead of you at the finish, and the name of the boat behind you. If you do not know the boat’s name, describe it. If the boat is too far away to identify, put that on the form.  




Keep to Starboard:

1.    Committee boat at starting line, with red flag buoy to port.

2.    Bird Rock (Not too close!)

3.    Coon Island

4.    Red buoy southwest of Yellow Island

5.    Underwater rocks 200 yards west of Yellow Island (N 48 35.49 and W 123 2.17).  Look for kelp there and stay a stone’s throw away from it.

6.    OPTIONAL:  Jones Island, if we include it

7.    North end of McConnell Island (Not too close!)



Keep to Port:

8.    South end of Reef Island (Not too close!)

9.    Committee boat at finish, unless it moves east of the buoy, then pass to starboard.


There will be a time limit of five hours, so if the race starts at 12:05, and you are still on the course at 5`:05, come on in.



NOTE: HAZARDOUS AREA. All rocks and shallow areas are charted. Study and consult your charts!  The use of GPS units with charts downloaded on them is strongly encouraged. The north end of McConnell Island and the south end of Reef Island are marks of the course and have underwater rocks extending off them. Especially beware underwater rocks located 200 yards west of Yellow Island and 300 yards northwest of the red nun buoy. The approximate location of these rocks is N 48 degrees, 35.49 minutes, and W 123 degrees, 2.17 minutes. The rocks may be marked by kelp, less likely in the spring. Rocks off the east side of Jones may be submerged.

As stated in the entry waiver you signed, you the skipper are responsible for your boat and crew. If you are navigationally challenged, do not enter this race.

Current will be a factor in this race. At noon the current will be flooding strongly (for this area) to the north. The maximum flood of 1.83 knots is at 12:24 PM. Slack before ebb is at 3:06 PM.

NOAA Predictions from Spring Passage south entrance which is the channel between Jones and Orcas islands.


Racers are on their own for a meal after the race. Island Pie (pizza)will be open across the road, and Matthew’s Smokehouse (BBQ) is a half-mile walk to the north. Printouts of the results will be available from Ward in slip B16 at 7 pm, if not sooner. He will hand them out to boats still in the marina and will email the results to participants. Prize burgees will be handed out to the top three finishers, and perhaps others.




1.    Avoid collisions.  Give other boats room to go around buoys, islands and underwater rocks.  Study charts closely.

2.    Know and follow the rules of the road. Know which boat has the right of way in any situation.

3.    No protests will be allowed.  Let your conscience be your guide.

4.    If you foul someone, execute a 360-degree turn, while avoiding all other boats. Running aground is its own penalty. Don’t do it!

5.    If you touch a buoy while rounding it, you must round it again, avoiding all other boats. Otherwise, you disqualify yourself. If you touch it again on the second rounding, keep going.

6.    Be safe and have fun!  


Prizes (Wood boats only):  Burgees with the Wooden Boat Society of the San Juan Islands logo on them will be awarded to the first (blue), second (red), and third (white) place finishers based on PHRF corrected times.  Green participant burgees may be awarded for special cases. Additionally, handmade ceramic plates may be awarded, courtesy of Mike Douglas,

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