Thursday, October 25, 2018

Blustery Puget Sound Sailing Championship

J/105s sailing on Puget Sound (Seattle, WA)- The Saturday of CYC-Seattle’s PSSC regatta this past weekend was one for the ages– 18-22 knot winds, big waves, bright sun, grins galore, and at least one tragedy averted.

When Stuart Burnell J/109 TANTIVY realized crew member Brian Perry fell overboard, into the spinnaker, there was a moment of panic. “Where in the hell is Brian?” he thought. “If he’s wrapped in the chute, in the water,. . .” It was one of the those sailing moments that gets etched in a skipper’s mind, even skippers just reading this. What had started as an irritating, slow chore of clearing a wrap in a spinnaker after a gybe gone wrong, became a potential tragedy.

Brian, it turned out, was sitting in the spinnaker in the water after the boat apparently rolled. A few seconds later he squirted out from the spinnaker behind the boat, relatively unharmed. But that wasn’t quite the end of it. It turns out that as a member of the cockpit crew on the J/109, Brian wasn’t wearing a PFD. He’d come forward to help clear the wrap. And TANTIVY wasn’t exactly set up for a quick takedown and man overboard retrieval, with the spinnaker half down and the crew all out of position.

Enter Scott Malone. Malone, who makes a habit of heading out when it’s blowing hard, was out bombing around in his 13′ RS Aero, enjoying blasting around among the big boats. He was near TANTIVY as they rounded the weather mark and thought he would make a go of keeping up with them. They started to scoot away, but wrapped their chute in a gybe, and he thought he saw his chance to catch up. Instead he saw a head pop out of the water.

J/105s sailing off Seattle, WA“I took a land sight behind him and went over. But I actually lost sight of him. It’s amazing how hard it is to see a guy in the water.” When he located the MOB again, Perry waved him to sail in and help. Brian hung on to the side of the Aero until TANTIVY, now under power, and a CYC Whaler, turned after about 5-10 minutes. Perry wasn’t eager to let go of Malone’s Aero, but eventually made it to TANTIVY where he was retrieved.

Burnell, who wrote about a previous man overboard recovery a couple years ago here on Sailish, said, “we are re-thinking TANTIVY’s life jacket policy!!!” And Malone, who’s crossed oceans singlehanded, came away struck by how difficult it is to actually see a person in the water. There was at least one other MOB, ironically on the other J/109 SHADA.

This all seems like a great reminder how important it is to wear a life jacket in gnarly conditions and how vital it is to do regular MOB drills. And it doesn’t hurt to have a skilled dinghy sailor trailing right behind you.

Once in a while, not nearly often enough, Seattle comes through with Saturday’s conditions. Puget Sound was carpeted with whitecaps, and you can see from Jan Anderson’s photos the day made for some great sailing. A total of 56 boats actually sailed the event, with three PHRF classes and five one-design classes, four of which made up the south course right off Shilshole Bay Marina. Once again, CYC somehow set the courses in the deep water and waves and got in 9-11 races for all the fleets. Kudos.

If Saturday was a day for the boats that could plane, Sunday was sailed in equally perfect, if somewhat more sedate sunny conditions. The 9-boat J/105 fleet reveled in the conditions, with Erik Kristen’s MORE JUBILEE team winning easily.  Second was John Aitchison’s MOOSE UNKNOWN and third was Chris Phoenix’s JADED.  Rounding out the top five were Jerry Diercks’ DELIRIUM and Jeff Pace and Philiippe Le Mouel’s LIFTOFF in 4th and 5th, respectively.

The increasingly active J/80 fleet saw John Sezer’s RECKLESS win the class with seven bullets in his 11-race scoreline!  Second was Bryan Rhodes’ CRAZY IVAN and third was Mike Gridley’s RAVEN.

In the PHRF handicap racing world, Stu Burnell’s J/109 TANTIVY managed a 4th in PHRF 3 class and Pat Denney’s J/29 HERE & NOW virtually eclipsed PHRF 5 class with seven bullets in 11-races to take the win.  For more Puget Sound Series Sailing information Add to Flipboard Magazine.