Hi, I wanted to report briefly on the Olson30 fleet's large weekend regatta, PSSR, out of Shilshole, run by the CYC. PSSR (Puget Sound Spring Regatta) is one of the larger events in the Spring, and this year was no exception with over 100 boats going around the buoys for an entire weekend of often sunny and warm, exciting racing. 12 boats were registered and came out for this weekend.
The forecast was ideal for this weekend, with partly sunny skies, a predicted Southerly 10 knots, and not too much current both days. Olson 30s were on the N course with the big boats. Because there were so many races (6 total, 3 each day), I will only comment on each race briefly.
Saturday: started off a bit choppy with the Race Committee not being ready by 10am warning. The wind was fine, however, so once they were set the starts got off in fine order. There were 8 starts on the N course, and Olsons were last - either a blessing or a curse, however you look at it. The first race was fairly uneventful but extremely long, with and MOF from Victroria and local boat Roadrunner immediately asserting that it was their private regatta. The first race took the better part of two hours, as wind came and went. Many boats (including my own) were sporting brand new sails, tuning them up for Nationals in June.
The second race started same as the first, but the velocity went way down mid race. On the last leeward leg, the wind died on the outside. Barnstormer and Orcrist, at the back of the fleet after poor weather legs, saw the split breeze on the right and took a long long gybe to the inshore side of the course, burning up alot of ground to get there. But the breeze was much better and with a hot angle to the mark these two boats passed about 6 others dead on the outside to take a 3rd and 5th respectively in an extremely crowded finish that saw about 6 boats finish within half a boatlength of each other!
The third race ended up an exercise in patience, as the wind velocity was fine at the top of the course, but went competely dead at the critical leeward mark rounding. About 8 boats were set adrift on the course on the finishing upwind leg with no breeze and a very slight counter current. The breeze went Westerly, and filled from the outside and the south...so those boats further up the course towards the finish and further out got to it first. This was a case of the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer...Enigma, Apacalypso, Lunchbox all got hammered on this leg, while Wyewacket, sailing their best race of the regatta, took the bullet. This was really competetive racing, with many lead changes and anything could happen. At the end of day 1 the top 8 spots were all quite close, with a three-way tie for 7th. This was a very tactical day of sailing.
Sunday: more of the same, sunny skies, great wind which ranged from about 8 to 16 knots and was slowly building all day. The racing got off promptly at 10, and the Olsons had great breeze in race one. Sunday featured much more aggressive driving for many of the boats, as everyone realized that the start was much more critcal with these large fleet starts than when there are only 5 boats on a long line. Indeed, the first start was a complete CF, and several boats tried to hold a line position but untilmately got stuffed. Everyone went to the left side of the course and set up for a long port tack layline. At the top mark, however, The Gauntlet of Death (TM) was revealed in all its glory: all the big boats from the first 6 starts were converging on the top mark at once, parading in on starboard with rights. With J120s, J35s, J105s, the 1D48 and TP52 bearing down, Olsons did a mad scramble just to get through the stbd tack layline and not loose miles by continuously ducking doing it. It was truly an amazing site to behold, let alone driv through. Many Olsons got "the shaft" at this first mark rounding, and leads changed again. The rest of the race went much better, as we didnt see the big boats at a mark again.
The second race featured winds about the same, with a really nice course: short windward, short leeward, short windward, long leeward, finish. All the Olson 30s are exhibiting almost even upwind speeds in this regatta, so the top mark rounding was unusually tight! In fact this race and the next were the closest of the entire regatta. The first leeward mark rounding saw a real stack of boats within inches of each other - Enigma, Orcrist, Lunchbox, Wild Turkey. After this race MOF and Roadrunner were still holding their own private regatta, separated by only 1 point! It would come down to the last race.
The third race saw winds building to the top of the #1. With 4 minutes left to the start, we decided on Orcrist to do a sail change down to the #3. We figured if it built any more we would make out like bandits, if it stayed the same we wouldnt loose anything, and if the wind dropped...oh well, we take the hit. It stayed about the same, and the #3 proved only marginally slower than the #1 in these conditions - we lost probably about 3 or 4 boatlengths on the upwind leg by flying our #3. Thats not bad, but wasnt making us win the race either. Aliens crossued us closely on port. Because the leeward leg was so short we didnt want to change up to the #1, but did so on the last leeward leg as we were still in the hunt with Enigma and some other boats. The wind stayed up while boats finished and sailed S for Shilshole.
We couldnt have asked for better weather this weekend, or closer racing. Roadrunnner ended up taking 1st overall after MOF went over early and had a slightly off pace last race to finish 6th! These two boats really set the pace by never finishing worse than 4th (except MOFs last race), but the fleet was sailing evenly with 5 different boats taking bullets out of 6 races, Aliens sailing a good regatta and taking 3rd overall after Barnstormer DSQed in one race. One thing is for certain, and that's that the "slow boats" have caught up to the pace considerably in the last two years, making a great showing this regatta and making the playing field much more even than it has been. Great racing in the most competetive one design fleet on the sound - in fact, the Olson30 start was the largest start in PSSR this year!
Next stop: SOCKS in May!