Wild Ride at PSSC
The brief post-summer break in racing ends as racing fleets return to the waters of Shilshole Bay for the fall racing season. Corinthian Yacht Club’s Puget Sound Sailing Championships marked the end of the summer short course racing, but with nine classes of boats racing on two courses, the October 13-14 weekend was a perfect send off to the fall season.
Saturday morning welcomed racers to a bit of a blow with a northerly breeze and sunshine. The blow combined with the ebb tide and steep chop wreaked havoc on the smaller boats, making it essential to keep sheets unloaded with crews hiking hard. The wind speed was steadily into the low twenties and the starts were challenging as boats ripped around, jostling for a clean spot along the line. Bryan Rhodes’ recent experience racing in high wind at the North American Championships helped him secure victory in the J/80 fleet, and Ben Braden, once again, led the way in the high-wind loving Moore 24s.
There was no shortage of drama on the water with the excitement flirting uncomfortably close to catastrophe as the fleets dealt with numerous near misses including torn sails, broken spinnaker poles, and most unfortunately, a legitimate man overboard. Thanks to the quick action from skippers and crews, everyone was quickly and safely pulled from the water with spare time for responding boats to finish racing.
With other racers, the race committee, and even a passing dinghy sailor all rapidly responding to the sailor in need, the crisis was resolved and near tragedy averted. The race committee stepped up by granting scoring redress to those involved in the safety efforts, setting a precedent that no one should ever put racing above safety.
Sunday began with a slightly more manageable tone to the relief of sore bow teams ready for a change of pace from the day before. A pleasant ten knots of wind settled in, again from the north, bringing sunshine and warm air to the race course.
The dramatic change in pressure from the day before shook up the leaderboard, with many of Saturday’s top boats struggling to find the fast gears. Some boats that were barely hanging on or forced to retire with broken boats the day before rose to the top. With steady winds throughout the day, the race committee on the north course could finish an impressive five starts to round out the series with a solid nine scored races for each fleet.
In PHRF 2, Darrin Towe and his crew on Wicked Wahine continued their dominating summer, taking home another win to go with his Pacific International Ton Championship and Whidbey Island Race Week trophies. Meanwhile, Erik Kristen in More Jubilee took home the win in the hotly contested J/105 fleet with an impressive 5.6 points ahead of the next boat in a very tough one design fleet.
Next up on the racing calendar is that the big boat fleets are back in Shilshole Bay for the Grand Prix Invitational Regatta hosted by the Seattle Yacht Club. The event crowns the Puget Sound racing calendar as the ultimate test for skippers and crews as the regatta encompasses both short course buoy racing and geographical point to point racing. With historic winners of this event including national champions and Olympic medalists, it is no wonder why this regatta is a focal point on many skippers’ calendars every year.