If you didn’t return to the dock with a smile on your face it’s time you quit sailing and take up horse riding! It simply does not get much better than the two days of racing that showed up for this year’s Puget Sound Spring Regatta, hosted by Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle. 55 boats made it out April 12/13 for two of the most stellar days of the year for sailing in the Pacific Northwest.
Fifty five boats split up on two different courses with 4 One Design and 4 PHRF classes. Up on the North Course, set just North of Meadow Point, they had the fast PHRF class with ratings from -21 to 36, a one design Farr 30 class with 6 local boats, a 9 boat PHRF class with ratings from 57 on up to 87 and a burgeoning J/105 class with 9, count em, 9 local boats on the line. Down on the South course, set off the Shilshole Bay Marina, there was the always active Melges 24 fleet with 8 boats, a PHRF J/70 & J/80 class, an 8 boat PHRF class with ratings from 114 to 129 and 5 boat San Juan 24 fleet rounding out the racers.
The forecast wasn’t great for wind Saturday, but it wasn’t bad. Thank God, once again, the foreguessers had it all messed up and what was supposed to be 10 knots of breeze turned into 12 to 16 with some gusts recorded at 18 to 20! The sun was out, the wind was blowing, the pink skins were thronged on Bikini Beach and the race committee rolled off race after race in the solid Northerly breeze.
As the day went on, the flooding current combined with the strong Northerly to create some river-like conditions in the middle of the sound. Way far over on the right corner you could find some current relief on the South course, way, way far over. Boats had to over stand the mark by what felt like 50 boat lengths before tacking over to layline. The driver then lined up the mark on the leach of the jib, yes the leach, and then powered along to weather as they crab walked over the mark some half a mile away. Still just barely getting around the mark after the biggest over stand anyone had ever seen. But if you made it around cleanly it actually paid off to hit the far right corner!
Up on the North course there was no relief from the current to be had and the safe move became coming in on port approach to the weather mark. Safe on laying the mark and not hitting it, but not safe on starboard traffic. Boat after boat didn’t lay the mark on both courses and many were seen spinning their circle just below the weather pin. Consider yourself in the minority if you didn’t hit a weather mark at PSSR, the current was that strong.
5 to 6 races Saturday for everyone on both courses and as the procession began the long reach into the marina, the smiles were seen all across the fleet. Unfortunately not everyone had the stellar day off the water though, the Melges 24 Wiggle Room had a close morning meeting with a light pole requiring a fire department escort to the ramp once all the electrical wires were removed from the mast – They still made it out sailing… Up on the North course Voodoo Child had the accident every foredeck sailor fears, a fall through the hatch with the ensuing broken leg, ouch. Even though, the stoke level was high in the clubhouse on Saturday night, even with the sore muscles and bruises from a 6 race day in 12 to 16 knots of breeze.
Sunday dawned looking way better than the forecast 0 to 5 knots out of the North and as the first horns blared away on the committee boats it actually built up into the 10 to 12 knot range! Up on the North course the One Design 35 Shrek had a solid hold on PHRF 1 with 5 first place finishes. Barring any unforeseen changes Shrek will continue their lead throughout the day. The Farr 30 class, on the other hand, had a tight race going throughout the group. Patricia had the lead, but only by a point, and behind them it was anyone’s game for 2nd and 3rd. Patricia needed to keep sailing hard and fast to control the win. PHRF 3 had another tight race going on with Different Drummer in first after Saturday’s solid breeze. But with all the fast boats and great sailors in Class 3 everyone has a chance. Class 4, the J/105s had a close battle going between Delerium & Jaded and with 7 other boats pointing at their transoms they each need to reach down and keep sailing hard.
Down on South course, Matt McGregor and crew on TBD had a solid hold on the Melges 24 fleet. Sailing consistently on the day is all they need to do in order to win, but behind them Brio & Trophy Wife have a battle going on to see who takes home second place. The Sail Northwest Crew on the J/70 Just Listed had an equal hold on the J/70-J/80 class with Crazy Ivan solidly in 2nd and DaSpencer & Periodot battling it out for 3rd place. Class 7, the PHRF 30’ers was led by Madame Pele going into Sunday’s racing with Here & Now and Slick battling it out for 2nd and 3rd. Everyone’s favorite rolly little 24’ers was being led by Grauer Giest just a couple of points in front of Return. They will have to battle it out Sunday to decide the winner.
So with winds way better than forecast, once again the sausage course racing commenced and with less current than Saturday the way far corners didn’t play into the game as much on the South course and the current and wind lanes were shifting all over the Sound. For a while the far left worked well to get to weather, then it shifted to right middle for just as long. The sailors really had to pay attention to the wave action and the color of the water to find the strongest winds with the least adverse current. Those who did this the best could make up for the worst start in the history of sailing and round the weather mark in front of their competition. Peaking out at 12 knots the winds eventually settled in to the 8 knot range with the lightest winds at the end of the day for the final races thrown off just before the time limit ran out on racing for another amazing day at PSSR.
There is never any wind in Seattle, and it always rains – remember this while your finishing this article and looking at Jan Anderson’s amazingly sharp and colorful pictures. It’s too bad we have to live here and deal with these conditions, somehow we make it through… After another 5 to 6 races Sunday, class one was taken home by John Hoag’s OD35 Shrek by 10 points over the big blue J/145 Jedi owned by John Tenneson. Class 2, the Farr 30’s, was won by the consistent sailing of Chris Tutmark and crew on Patricia. Just behind them in second, by 2 points, was Jon Henderson and crew aboard Project Mayhem. Class 3 was stolen by the big fast rumbling Benneteau 40.7 Bravo Zulu owned by Denny Vaughn. Even with a perfectly executed sideways spinnaker set they dominated Sunday’s racing taking 1st for the weekend by 6 points over Stuart Burnells J/109 Tantivy. That big one design class, the 9 local J/105s, was once again sailed away with by the fast crew aboard Jerry Diercks Delirium. 10 points behind them, but just three points in front of the third place Jaded, was Erik Kristen’s well sailed Jubilee. It’s great to see the resurgence in this fleet – a perfect PNW platform.
Down on the South course Matt MacGregor and crew aboard TBD continued their dominating performance in the Melges fleet and took home the trophy by 11 points over their competition on Brio. In class 6, the consistent sailing of the crew on the J/70 Just Listed (often seen on a boat called More Uff Da) left them solidly in the lead by 10.5 points over the shiny blue J/80 Crazy Ivan. Class 7 was also dominated by the amazing Davidson 29 Madame Pele with their consistent winning performance. 11 points behind them in second was the J/29 Here & Now. Class 8, the Rico 24’s, had the battle of the weekend going on between Grauer Geist and Return. Trading 1st and 2nd place all day had them just one point apart going into the last race. Once done they were tied with 15 points a piece on their 11 race weekend. Relying on the tie breaker to decide that Grauer Geist takes home this year’s trophy with Return just inches way in second place.