Squall Punctuates PSSR Small Boats

Squall Punctuates PSSR Small Boats

CYC’s Puget Sound Sailing Regatta (PSSR) last weekend was of the small boat and dinghy fleets, and there were plenty of options from which to choose, including both Hobie 16s and 18s! Saturday it blew in the teens (except for the last-race-of-the-day squall) and Sunday it was light. Life on the committee boat on lumpy Saturday wasn’t the most comfortable and rumor has it there was some mal de mer going around.

The largest fleet in both size boats and numbers was the J/24 class. In 2015 only six J/24’s sailed and last year it was eight. This year it was 14, which is a good sign the fleet has embraced the idea of coming out of Lake Washington for this event. Wayne Pignolet’s Joy Ride won the class with an extremely consistent performance, followed by perennial top boats Self Abuse and Tremendous Slouch.

All photos by Jan Anderson:

Mats Elf won the six-boat 505 fleet in a tight battle over Cody Kowalski while Paul Evenden, Eric Ledbetter and Jay/Lisa Renehan won the Hobie 18, Star and Tasar classes. Results here.

Only two Lasers showed up for the regatta, and were basically absorbed into the RS Aero fleet. Many new faces dotted the Aero fleet, which is great to see. It was Todd Willsie hanging on for a narrow win, especially after a satisfying last race on Saturday when a squall packing around 30 knots rolled through race course. After three firsts and a second on Saturday, Willsie watched his lead start to disappear as Eric Becker, Randy Shuman and David Rogers all showed light air speed.

It was interesting for me to watch the fleets assemble on Sunday from Golden Gardens Park. About 300 yards away from the CYC committee boat the SYC team, with a healthy number of kids Optis and Laser Radials, where happily doing drills with a coach leading the way in a RIB. While Willsie and the others were waiting between starts, the kids were drilling, practicing, MOVING. I understand the Tasar fleet decided to peel away on Sunday and have their own rabbit starts to get more sailing in.

Personally, have a hard time waiting between races, even when a RC is on top of it. I get impatient and cold. And today’s kids are used to pretty much constant engagement of one sort or another. I can’t imagine my 10-year old sitting for 20 minutes between races unless he had an iPad, and then he’d miss the next start for sure.

As we contemplate moving  kids moving into adult dinghy sailing, one of the things we should perhaps look at is how we can reduce the wait time between races or find another way to keep everyone engaged, even when there are multiple classes and challenging logistics. Nowadays I’m usually happy for a bit of a rest, but I didn’t need or want that 40 years ago and I’ll bet neither do kids today.

Youth Sailing Heats Up at Frigid Digit

Youth Sailing Heats Up at Frigid Digit

I was headed downwind passing about 10-15 boatlengths from the Opti’s weather when I heard the jawing. Two Opti kids, one was Dieter Creitz and the other I assume was Jack Carroll, rounded it nearly overlapped, and there were words. Oh oh, I thought, the plague of my racing generation’s yelling has infected the kids. But something different was going on. As they eased off onto the run, I’m pretty sure I heard singing coming from both boys. Singing. How great is that?

There was a distinctive youth movement at this year’s Frigid Digit Regatta. Seven Optis sailed their own course, and as Matt Wood noted, “They were great. After every race they thanked the committee, and they had a great time!” I asked one kid, swishing up the dock bundled up in a drysuit and seemingly carrying more gear than his own body weight, “Did you have fun out there?” Bright eyed, he looked at me and said “Yes! Did you?” How great is that? If I hadn’t had fun (which I did), seeing his enthusiasm would have made the whole weekend for me.

But it wasn’t just the Optis. Ten Laser Radials were out as well, with kids from Portand to West Vancouver coming to Seattle for a weekend of great camaraderie – err – competition. Grant Gridley of Portland managed to beat locals Owen Timms and Abbie Carlson. As the beautiful hat-trophies were handed out, the tightness of this group of Radial sailors was evident.

Of course it was pretty hard not to have a good time out there. On Saturday the wind was light but the air was warm, and on Sunday a good breeze, building to hiking conditions in the last few races, definitely cleared some of  those winter blues from our sailing psyches. Ten races were sailed, except for the Aero class which got an extra race in.

Here’s a sampling of photos from the event. I’m going to try to get some videos up as well. Thanks to Cameron Hoard, Eric Arneson and Erin Timm for taking photos and making this happen.



This was a sea change for Frigid Digit. It’s been a Seattle Laser Fleet event for 40 some years, managed by the Laser sailors. It’s been held several different places, from Union Bay at UW to Shilshole Bay on the Sound to Sail Sand Point to Leschi. Its history is profound, from the days of 60 boat fleets to barely surviving the down cycles. This year, the fleet decided to give up much of the race and food management of the event to Corinthian YC. Laser sailor Mark Ross worked with Matt Wood of CYC to produce a spectacularly successful event, helped no doubt by the sailing conditions. PRO Geoff Pease took our pleas for lots of races, little downtime, to heart and races got reeled off one after another even  through 55 degree windshifts.

The RS Aeros have certainly taken root in Seattle, and drawn in many top sailors. Carl Buchan managed the win over Jay Renehan in final race. Third in the 13 boat fleet was the mightily-bearded Dan Falk, but only one point ahead of Derek Bottles, who had recently placed third in the Aero Midwinters. Libby McKee is back on the water in her new Aero, and was fourth after the first day but had to miss day two.

A dozen Lasers raced, and it was Dalton Bergan showing that even after Moth sailing and fatherhood, he still knows how to make a Laser go ridiculously fast. Second, but always big in Dalton’s rearview mirror, was David Brink. Blake Bentzen won a race and finished third overall. Carlos Abisambra, who just announced he was leaving Seattle for a new job in Colorado, was fourth and left us all a reminder about just how on it he always is by being the only one to sail the correct course in the last race. (btw, the results at CYC have it as race 8 when it should really be race 10)

Rumor has it that a number of our young Radial sailors are headed to Laser Radials Midwinter East, and that should be yet another milestone in their development. I’ll track what they’re up to there and ask for on-the-scene reporting. I understand that youth no longer do emails. Maybe I can get them to text some reports.

Yeah, I hope they tear up the fleets back east. But mostly, I want them to keep having fun.

Miami Wrapup: Seattle Sailors and Lessons Learned

When last we checked, our four teams at the Sailing World Cup Miami (aka Miami Olympic Classes Regatta) had finished the first day. Derick Vranizan was the top US Laser sailor and Hanne Weaver was battling in the midst of a really competitive Radial fleet. Talia Toland and Ian Andrewes were learning their way around a Nacra 17 cat, and Kate Shaner and Caroline Atwood faced tough competition and a learning curve in the 49erFX class. Results here.

Thanks to the Sailing World Cup press officer Stuart Streuli  for helping get these photos. All photos are ©Jesus Renedo/Sailing Energy/World Sailing.

When all was said and done, Derick was the third US sailor, and reports lessons learned and more sailing plans to come. We’re going to hear more from him in a few days. I’ll try to get Talia to give us another report on her foray into the cat class, and who knows, we might even hear from Kate.

Hanne Weaver

For Hanne Weaver, this is another important step in her sailing career. Her positive attitude and enduring focus on learning have made her a great sailor (and a great fellow competitor). Here’s her regatta diary, borrowed with her permission from weaversailing.com. She’s headed back down to Miami for a US Sailing team clinic, and has plans to train harder in the coming months and has more clinics planned. Go Hanne!!

Miami OCR

Day 1

Moderate winds from the NW. The waves were about 1-2 feet tall. I started the day off pretty good. Had a decent start and then went left. This was the way to go for the whole day. I got stuck in bad air which pushed me back. My downwind sailing was good though and I caught a few boats. But I couldn’t make them back for that race. The next race had three general recalls. Started at the boat and had a good start. But the wind went more right than I and I couldn’t keep up with the fleet. Ended that day in the 30’s.

Day 2

Having had a tough day the day before, my goal was to keep pushing through. I knew I still had nothing to lose. But I over-thought today. My head wasn’t out of the boat and I kept second guessing myself. We also only had two races today. It was one of my harder days.

Day 3

Today was one of the tricky days. The wind was coming south, south-west. This made the chop at an angle and harder to carve. I didn’t have great starts and rounded the top mark in last.

But I didn’t give up. I passed boats and made it back into the 40’s. I wasn’t pleased on what I got but was better on how I worked the boat.

Day 4

Today I worked on keeping up my boat speed. I was sailing against world class sailors. We had one start that had 10 boats over early. I was happy to know that I was not one of them. This was one of my better days. I worked the boat hard with winds about 5-10 knots. I was keeping up with the other girls. Moved up a few spots and was ready for anything.

Day 5

Today was the last day. They started us later about 1:30pm. The boys went first and had light wind but when we came out the wind was about 10-15 knots. I started at the pin end every single race and nailed each start. I even won a start. Was around the top mark in the to 10 and finished in the top of the fleet.

Even though I started the event not on a good foot, I still ended it on a good one. I have some things I need to work on. I will be back in Florida in about a week! I can’t wait to better my sailing.

“Kids” Win: 505 North Americans in Bellingham

“Kids” Win: 505 North Americans in Bellingham
All photos by Jan Anderson. Check out the rest on her Smugmug site.

I got the chance to see the last race of the 505 North Americans, and wouldn’t you know, it was the worst of the series, or so I’m told. The light wind everyone feared had held off pretty much the first three days, but this last penultimate race was the kind of Bellingham Bay Race that leaves a little to be desired. It was, however, fun to watch. Douglas Hagan got off to a commanding lead after being the starting rabbit and getting all the way out to the favored right side of the course. Carl and Carol Buchan worked from a disastrous start and you could almost hear the drums beating as they moved their way up through the fleet. In the end they came up a bit short and Hagan held onto a well-earned victory.

In the end, young Riley Gibbs and Reeve Dunne edged Howie Hamlin and Jeff Nelson for the top overall spot. Hamlin couldn’t be too disappointed or surprised, as he set up Gibbs with a boat and a great deal of mentoring along the way.

52473XLBut the bigger aspect of this event was its success as an event. 50 boats (well, 49 on the water but who’s counting) competed, and by all accounts it was one of the best regattas in a long time.

The Bellingham Yacht Club faithful got it all right. They promoted early and got the club and class excited about the event. They lined up sponsorship without sponsorship being the focus of the event. The race committee did a great job. There were plenty of shoreside activities. They set up a spectator boat. Kudos to Mike Poulos, Paul Pihl and I’m sure man others who pulled this off.

53990X2For those of you who don’t know, not only is the 505 the sexiest (IMHO) boat around, it’s one of the most cohesive set of sailors around. 2406X2They love helping each other find new speed, they love promoting the class to other (including new) sailors, and they appreciate the spark plugs in the class that keep it going. Any class that has annual food fights as part of its history has got to be a lot of fun.


I’ll be writing up a short piece for Sailing World on this event, which will appear in the magazine sometime later this year.




Corinthian Yacht Club’s second annual POD (Pacific One-Design) Regatta proved a great success with Stars, a healthy pre-nationals 505 fleet, Melges 24s, J/24s, J/80s, J/105s, three 6-meters and RS Aeros on hand. A couple of Lasers snuck into the Aero fleet as well, but clearly the lack of a Laser class was a disappointment to the District Secretary (me).

The conditions were awesome for Sunday’s races. Cool and breezy, with the courses out far enough to get some waves. There must have been some tired sailors when all was said and done. Kevin Welch and the Mikey team put together an exceptionally strong regatta in the Melges class, while Carol and Carl Buchan won the hard-fought 505 class. Dan Falk continued his winning ways in the RS Aero class with David Brink putting together a strong first regatta in the boat to finish second.

It’s great to have a viable spring one design regatta, and equally great to have Jan Anderson’s photos to look at. Go to her smugmug site and support the great work she does. In the meantime enjoy these photos:

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