Spanning two weekends, and bringing out hundreds of sailors across 14 varied classes, PSSC was an autumn highlight in 2023!

When Seattle starts to turn autumn gold, you’ll find the region’s sailors taking to the waters outside of Shilshole Bay Marina to contest the Puget Sound Sailing Championship (PSSC). Divided into two weekends of racing in October — one for “Small Boats” and another for “Big Boats” — the regatta is a buoy racing extravaganza and one of the capstone events of the year. It’s a heck of a lot of fun, too! 

The 2023 edition of PSSC brought the smaller boats together on September 30 and October 1, while the larger boats were out October 14 and 15. 

PSSC Small Boats saw awesome turnout and superb competition in one-design keelboat classes — J/24s, J/70s, San Juan 24s, and VX1s — as well as dinghy racing in RS Aeros, Melges 15s, and Tasars.  

Tight racing in the rapidly growing J/70 fleet in beautiful conditions. Photo courtesy of Ron Rosenberg.

The Big Boat event had more variety, with boats ranging from 24 to 52 feet sailing in seven classes both one-design (Melges 24s, J/105s, and J/80s), PHRF, ORC, and one class using both PHRF and ORC. 

Sunny skies and a mild northerly breeze meant that Saturday of PSSC Small Boats left everyone smiling. J/70 Fleet leader, coach and J/Pod founder, Ron Rosenberg said this of Saturday’s racing: “What a spectacular day of racing out of Shilshole!” As many as six racers were scored that day in some classes — can’t beat that!

The breeze lightened up a bit on Sunday, still allowed for some excellent racing, as many as four races were scored in some classes.

Reflecting on the weekend as a whole, Chris Roberts who was sailing on the J/24 Suspense, “Great weekend of sailing!” Notably Suspense wound up 3rd in the J/24 fleet, but that was enough for them to snag a berth to the 2024 J/24 World Championship in Seattle. Rosenberg summed up PSSC Small, “That was some great, close quarters racing.”

When the dust settled on PSSC Small Boats, the top spots on the podiums went to Trevor Tunnecliffe on the VX1 Bee, Keith Hammer sailing his RS Aero Magic Man, Steve Trunkey took nine straight bullets on his Megles 15 Vehicular Spray, the dynamic Jackson duo their Tasar Maple Sugar, Jacob Lichtenberg’s Hair of the Dog in the J/24 class, Andrew Loe’s Dime in the J/70 fleet, and Remmert Wolters’ Grauer Geist crew among the San Juan 24s. 

While the PSSC Small fleet got in two great days of racing, the Big Boat fleets had to settle for one after a no-wind Sunday. But Saturday was a lovely day for racing, under gray skies rather than blue. A total of 55 boats were out on Saturday, and they were primarily rewarded with breeze that started as a 6-12 knot southerly, before shifting to a lighter westerly and back to a stronger southerly to finish the day.

The J/105s boasted the biggest fleet in the big boat group, with 13 registered and 12 boats on the water. Al Hughes had this to say of the J/105 competition on Saturday: “Light southerlies greeted the 12 boats out on Saturday. After a modest delay waiting for the wind to settle on a mostly consistent direction, the RC got the boats started. Insubordination started the day off right with a solid bullet, showing a good start and good choices on the course, which had a lot of light spots and shifts. Jaded also showed good smarts and speed to come up to second. Creative rallied to just nip Moose Unknown on a highly skewed finish line. The second race was more of the same from Insubordination but this time followed by Puff and another good showing by Jaded and then Moose. The third race shuttled the standings a bit with Moose leading right from the start holding off Peer Gynt, Jaded, and Puff. There was a little wind intermission before a slightly stronger southerly filled in at the end of the day. The race committee got in one more race, which Peer Gynt won wire to wire followed by Creative and Puff.”

Great sailing and good times in the J/80 class, from the front to the back of the fleet. Photo by Judy Ibanez.

In other classes, the racing was tight and enjoyable, with close crossings and roundings throughout the fleets. John Padgett, sailing the J/80 Jalepeño said, “We sailed well but far from the podium, had a ton of fun and met a lot of other great J/80 sailors.”

Peter Nelson was sailing with the Farr 39CR Tachyon and said, “Congratulations to Nicholas Leede and the crew of Tachyon for 1st place in the PHRF Division and 2nd place in ORC in a very competitive fleet. The boat was moving well, and our crew work was nearly flawless.” 

That group of fast boats between 35-45 feet sailed sailed in two classes under ORC and PHRF respectively, and the top two podium swapped under the two scoring systems, with Tachyon taking 1st ahead of John Hoag’s 1D35 Shrek under PHRF; while Shrek beat out Tachyon when the ORC handicap was applied to the same racing. Interesting!

A close leeward mark rounding between Annapurna, Tachyon, Shrek, and Absolutley in the hotly contested group racing under both ORC and PHRF. Photo by Joe Cline.

Around the rest of the fleet, top honors went to Michael Fagundo’s Farr 30 Bat Out Of Hell, Herb Cole’s Judo Chop (who beat Matt Macgregor’s Good Enough on a tiebreaker) won the Melges 24 class, Sarah Hampson’s High Five came 1st in then J/80 fleet, and Ben Towry’s Capri 25 Little Wing won PHRF Class 7 and John Buchan’s TP52 Glory won ORC 8. 

Predictably, PSSC delivered some terrific racing and brought together a wonderfully wide range of classes and sailors. The regatta is an autumn tradition, and 2023 certainly carried that torch well.

Full results for PSSC Small (North Course, South Course) and PSSC Big.