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Ben’s Bold PSSC Predictions

by Ben Braden

Northwest Yachting Racing Editor Ben Braden looks into his crystal compass for this weekend’s big Corinthian YC – Seattle PSSC Regatta. Final class breaks weren’t available, but Ben forged ahead anyway! If any of you readers have some thoughts, share them in “comments” below. Don’t forget to look for Bruce Hedrick’s weather brief Friday and our wrapup and Jan’s pix next week. And if you’re racing, good luck and have a great time!

Last year's PSSC had great conditions and lots of races.

Last year’s PSSC had great conditions and lots of races.

The Puget Sound Sailing Championships, that first fall weekend regatta that can bring everything from big winds and currents, to no wind and swirls – this year’s weekend should bring a little of both, but nothing extreme. I’ll let Bruce delve into the weather more in-depth than I but a quick gander over to the weather sites and brush through the tide tables tells me a few things that the racers should be looking for – current escalators and southerly winds moving to the left as the day goes on. But watch the clouds because as the system moves in and through our region, it won’t follow what the foreguessers planned for. The escalators won’t be easy to find in the swirling monkey tides that follow the big morning flood, especially on the North Course, but they will play a significant role in the standings.

CYC-S has done a great job of promoting the weekend and bringing out the fleets with, as of today, 78 boats on their registration with six one design classes, a small IRC fleet and a good number of 30 to 40 foot PHRF boats. Mostly boats rated from 18 to 120 with a few boats rated over 130. Where are the 160+ raters this weekend? How has PSSC missed bringing them out? Tough questions that no one has a good answer for.

Now there is the also tough question of which boats are actually coming out and which just paid for the year and have no plans to show up. But let’s assume everyone is showing up for this overly worded assessment of the competition. Breaking up the PHRF boats into classes will be difficult. Figuring the RC wants about 10 classes that leaves just three groups for the almost 30 PHRF boats and a rating band from 18 to 181 and boats ranging from the light and nimble Sierra 26 to the modern J/111, the classic IOR boats, the always tough and well sailed J/35’s and J/109’s on up to the consistently raced Catalina 36 and lovingly sailed Harbor 25. Where do you make the breaks? Not a decision I envy the RC making…

But, who do you pick in that group to stand out? I’ll start with the easy one, Uno, owned by Brad Butler. A well prepared and smartly crewed boat that has the advantage of turning the corners and changing sails quicker than anyone out there. Shrek will be out and as tough as always with “Crash Petersen” listed as the skipper (don’t know the story there but it makes me want to tack away!) but with White Cloud and Ballistic giving them a run for their money any one of those boats could shine if the conditions lean in their favor. The J/111 Adalgisa, owned by Lynn Adkins, will be making a Puget Sound showing after their time in the San Juans but with their short time in the area may have a tough go of it finding the escalator lanes. Which class will Bravo Zulu & Sachem end up in? Bringing up the rear in the fast boats could have either of those boats winning the weekend with clear air behind the leaders and their smooth crew work each shows on a regular basis.

Jump into the 69 to 90 raters, where Uno will be sailing, and I’d watch the J/109 Tantivy, owned by Stuart Burnell, battle it out with the old IOR 1 ton Absolutely, owned by Charlie Macaulay – each knows the area and brings out experienced crew. Look for the Schock 35 Schock Therapy, owned by Ransom Burford, to be the dark horse in the fleet, an experienced sailor with a well prepared boat, but new to the area and may have the same trouble that Adalgisa might have.

For the higher rated PHRF boats I’d watch the newly listed (@ Sail Northwest) J/33 Corvo, the always fast J/29 Slick and those wily sailors from Edmonds on Kiwi Express, but don’t count out the Olson 911 Kowloon and the Catallina 36 Mata Hari if the conditions favor them. All in all a tough call on the PHRF boats but if I had to drop money on one boat to get a first for the weekend it would be Uno.

The IRC fleet you ask? Four big boats racing around the buoys, the J/160 Jam, the OD48 Flash, the SC70 Neptune’s Car, and the most modern in the fleet, the TP52 Glory. It’s going to come down to who has the best crew work, and the most stamina. Getting those big sails moved around, hoisted and doused cleanly will be the biggest challenges for them. Glory has the least time in the saddle, Neptune’s Car and Flash are machines both through the water and in their crew work, but I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the J/160 is going to surprise people and if they can keep their crew work smooth will come out shining at the end of racing on Sunday.

Now for the one design classes, six of them to be exact – six Farr 30’s, eight J/105’s, 13 Melges 24’s, eight San Juan 24’s, 6 SC27’s and a combined J/80 & J/70 class. For the Farrs it’s the first time all six have been together racing for awhile but once again I think Chris Tutmark and his experienced crew aboard Patricia will put together a winning weekend, but not without Nefarious and Bat Out Of Hell giving them a run for their money.

The J/105 fleet will be out in force again this year.

The J/105 fleet will be out in force again this year.

It’s hard not to be impressed with the re-emergence of the J/105 fleet here in the Pacific Northwest and I don’t think anyone has shined more over the recent past than Jerry Diercks on #272 Delirium. It’s a strong fleet, but watch out for #621 Reboot, the always fast #212 Last Tango and the quick #89 Allegro Vivace on their farewell tour. Take a moment to shake Jerry’s hand on the way out of the club and admire the new Gill watch on his wrist – provided by Sail Northwest and the Seattle Sailing Club as 1st place prizes in the two J Boat classes.

The Melges 24s, those quick and powerful little trailer sailors are coming out with the biggest fleet of the weekend and the boat to watch and bet on is the practiced and fast #824 Mikey, owned by Kevin Welch. But, the word on the street is they’re not showing up for this dance so my interest shifts over to the three way battle between #675 12happythoughts, #401 Judo Chop & #498 Just the Tip. Now everyone knows how good Herb Cole and crew are, but I think there might be just a tip of advantage leaning towards MacGregor and crew with their time in the saddle this year, but that could only be one thought of 12 happy ones…

Then there is those nostalgic little 24’ IOR designs that everyone loves to watch sail downwind in a blow – the San Juan 24s. Who doesn’t want to vote for Sweet Jesus? It’s just fun to say! But seriously I’d watch out for them and Grauer Geist for the podium finish.  Eight San Juan 24s out for PSSC, how can you not be impressed?

Then in a boat almost as old and just a little bit bigger is the Santa Cruz 27’s. This one is an easy pick as it will be a battle between the women aboard Wild Rumpus and Zipper and I’ll put my money on age beating treachery with a win for the young crowd on Zipper followed by Wild Rumpus and Giant Slayer.

Finally, the combined J/80-J/70 class;  I expect the bigger J/80s to shine this weekend and although Fearful Symmetry took the weekend last year I don’t think they’ll be able to get out in front of Bryan Rhodes’ Crazy Ivan nor Mike Poole’s Skye Rocket fresh off their win at Foulweather Bluff.  Crazy Ivan will have the crew work and will end the weekend on top and will be walking out of the club with their brand new Gill Watch graciously provided by Sail Northwest and the Seattle Sailing Club for the two J Boat classes.

I don’t think Prisim Graphics will be printing these boats names on the trophies they helped CYC-S provide for the weekend but it’s my best guess as to what’s going to go down this weekend – got an questions or comments on any of this?  Stop by Sail Northwest and hit us up!

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1 comment

SYC Sailing October 10, 2014 - 14:38

Great predictions, Ben!
PSSC is also a qualifier for the Seattle Yacht Club Grand Prix Regatta! 1st, 2nd, and 3rd in class will qualify. Current list of qualifiers up at http://www.seattleyachtclub.org/regattas, and registration is open. We’ll have PHRF, IRC, Cruiser/Racers (Sat/Sun only), and one-design. We are expecting a great turnout!


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