Corinthian Yacht Club’s (CYC) Puget Sound Sailing Championship (PSSC) Big Boat regatta delivered, as it almost always does. One day of very big breeze and another of light-to-moderate conditions offered a representative mix of fall sailing in the Pacific Northwest for ten fleets, who were racing either one-design or handicap on two different courses outside of Shilshole Bay in Seattle. There was carnage, rippin’ rides, dumping rain, sunshine, pleasant sailing, mind-bending shifts, and of course, there were a lot of happy sailors.
I was sailing with the TP52, Glory, an incredibly cool ride with some very good sailors. It had been about two years since we last competed in a buoy race, so we knew that it would be a different kind of workout for equipment and crew.
At the dock before we went out, we discussed where to set the rig tension – the NWS did have a small craft advisory with breeze building throughout the day, but the models that many on our team had seen seemed to indicate more like high teens than the high end of the 15-25 knot forecast. When we rounded the breakwater with our main hoisted, we already had almost 20 knots. By the time we put up the A4 and started flying north toward our starting area, our anemometer was registering puffs in the high 20s. It was reminiscent of last year’s PSSC, which saw a squall with puffs near 40 knots blow through. This year’s forecast also undershot the reality.
The TP 52 is a little insane. On the way to the course, we felt like we were coasting at 19 knots, and hitting speeds in the low 20s (topping out at 23) in the puffs. To be clear, it takes a lot of preparation and more than a dozen good sailors to get to that point, but the boat just feels comfortable at speed. Alas, this was to be the most fun we’d have that day. Midway through the first beat of the first race, we had breeze above 30, which was enough to make both ultralight and powered-up TP 52s pull the plug and head for the docks before we started breaking stuff.
Speaking of breaking stuff, there was a bit of carnage, unfortunately. I promise that many, many boats came home fully intact and exhilarated after a fantastic day of heavy air sailing, too. I’m happy to report that I’ve confirmed with CYC Commodore, Jerry Diercks, that indeed all sailors are accounted for and nobody got seriously injured. You may have heard about several incidents already, a person in the water off of one the Sierra 26s, Uno, J/29 Here & Now’s epic round down, and broken booms, parted lines, and jib tacks torn out. Hats go off to Jan and Skip Anderson on the photo boat who jumped in, as they so often do, to assist as a safety boat. CYC’s Whaler drivers were on point as safety boats, too, bringing one person to shore for medical attention, and abandoning mark-set responsibilities to assist with boats in need.
One boat even lost her rig – the Dibley 250 sport boat, Carbon. I spoke with that boat’s owner, Iain Christenson, this morning and got the full story. Frankly, it sounds about as undramatic as dropping a rig could be.
The boat is new to Iain. He only bought it about a month ago. He and his crew had sailed it a half a dozen times. Carbon has a big main and no backstay, though it is set-up to use a backstay for coastal races. They went out and set the spinnaker to head to the north course. Iain guessed breeze was only about 15 knots at the time, and they were cruising along. He said the breeze was building slightly, but not to the degree that it eventually would. Iain described the incident, “we just stuffed a wave and the boat stopped, but the rig kept going.” All of the crew were in the back of the boat in planing mode, so no one was in harms way. He told me, “there was no panic or chaos in the moment.” Immediately after, the crew tried to assess what they could salvage from the rig that broke about 10″ above the gooseneck. The situation was complicated because both the headsail and the spinnaker were on furlers, and thus bringing them down was not easily done by just releasing halyards. Ultimately, they had to cut the mast away, taking both of those sails with it. They recovered the boom and the main sail, in hopes of sailing the boat with a new rig someday soon. He can’t say exactly why it went down, but did note that the carbon mast was eight years old, and mentioned that carbon can have issues with delamination and can also react badly to stainless steel parts if they’re not epoxied in.
Jan and Skip were on the scene for this one, too. Jerry Diercks’ crew aboard his J/105, Delirium, were too and dropped sails and shadowed Carbon back to Meadow Point. In what would turn out to be the most concerning rescue of the day, the Delirium crew left Carbon to assist with a standup paddleboarder who was at the end of his physical capabilities, exhausted and freezing, drifting out of control in the direction of Kingston. They pulled him aboard and he is, thankfully, ok. Sometimes you’re just in the right place at the right time. Well done, Jerry and crew!
Seriously, though, people were having fun despite all of this! Fleets got between one and four races completed in Saturday’s honkfest. Among the happiest in the breeze (this is always true) was the Moore 24 fleet. Eventual winner of the regatta, and thus the Pacific Northwest regional Moore 24 Champion, Ben Braden, wrote about the weekend and their unique little boats for his blog, ballardsailor.wordpress.com.
We had a hell of a time, a good amount of tomfoolery, a large dose of Yee Haws and some great camaraderie and laughter. But the experience got me to thinking about the people, the boat, and the class that has kept this boat not only viable but downright fun to sail and race over 40 years after the concept first hit the water – it’s time for a public service message.
Moore 24 sailors have a bunch of hairball stories of taking these boats offshore, out in big breeze venues and planing across finish lines in front of much bigger, faster, and more expensive boats. Most look to be sane and normal sailors, but I know the truth and you should too – before it is too late.
There we are, 11 little 24’ers beating up to the weather mark at the start of day and above our course sails the two TP52’s, dropping their sails and heading into the marina – Huh, that’s odd. But whatever, we each round the weather mark and pop out chutes, catching some killer puffs, boats launching up over their bow waves – Wahoo! Followed by the struggle to drag the boats back to weather through the big waves and solid puffs back to the finish.
But let’s get back to the public service message – Don’t ever get fooled into believing that Moore 24 sailors are in any way normal or safe to be around. The race committee, between stints of chumming over the side Saturday, looks up and sees us popping our spinnakers and taking off with big smiles on our faces. They must be having fun so let’s give em’ what they want and do another race. But what they don’t know is these are not normal, sane sailors; that they are feeding the disease – we don’t know any better. Many have competed in multiple big breeze areas and some even racing their Moore’s to Hawaii. Each sailor in the class is contracting or have a disease that is highly contagious, and [even though a few had to head in, the] five boats left out racing Saturday have a very serious form of the disease and are considered incurable. [That disease was dubbed “Moore Dimentia Syndrom” by Moore 24 sailor Marc Hersch].
Corinthian Yacht Club of Seattle’s Puget Sound Sailing Championships showed all in the fleet why we take the time to modernize and maintain these little old oddball boats – so we can go beat them up in too much wind and waves and have a heck of a time doing it while sailing with and against a group fun loving and supportive sailors. No matter the conditions, the course or the venue, fun will be had.
-Ben Braden, Moore 24 #26 “More Uff Da”
Sunday saw a much more tactically demanding day with breeze in the 6-10 knot range all day. Shifts were the order of the day and, at least on the north course, the shore side of the racetrack paid for most of the day. It was a pleasant day of sailing aboard Glory, except in an ideal world, we would have been winning. The accomplished crew of the other TP 52, Smoke, had other ideas and sailed a terrific day, besting us in three out of four races to take the win in the big boat fleet. Jedi, the J/145, sailed a great regatta as well finishing just behind us in third, and were the only boat in our fleet to get scored with a completed race on Saturday!
Light or heavy air, rain or sun, I am grateful to have the opportunity to share the water with such great people. There’s a ton more sailing to be done this fall, so don’t even think about hanging up those foulies! The stories from this great PSSC weekend could go on and on, from the San Juan 24s on up. Jan’s pictures tell oodles more stories than I can deliver, so be sure to check them all out at janpix.smugmug.com. Results are at cycseattle.com