January 25th, 2021
Charles “Pooch” Pucciariello defends his lead on day three to win the 2021 Bluster on the Bay.
Charlie, man of few words, summed up his performance “When the wind blows, hike hard and win. When the wind goes light fat boys go slow”. The 2021 version of the Bluster lived up to it's name. With breeze covering the complete range of sailability, and then some. It was a gear changing challenge. Friday's 4 races went off in a steady 8-12+ kts, and decently warm temps. The course was on the short side which rewarded good starts, and hitting the upwind shift.
Charlie also noted that his consistent first leg performance into a Southern breeze was aided by the Clapotis wave emanating from the Northern seawall. “For those who were able to identify the Clapotis waves, it was possible to sail nearly directly upwind for a moment when the transom lifted. We learned this at the Naval Academy when sailing upwind with a long, straight seawall near behind.” Rick Sylvester gave valiant chase but was just off the pace on Friday. His attempted gibe/furl at the leeward gate in race 4 resulted in a snarl foiling his chances at a comeback, at least for the day. Cliff Peshek sailed consistently mediocre enough to make the top three. Proving that shifts do happen, he missed a big lefty in race three and had to work hard to get past Kim Higgs and the beautiful Lady in Red. Kim Higgs noted that Friday's conditions were not his favorite, with a bit of foreshadowing. Eliot Clauss, a highly experienced sailor, is new to the class and going good in #508. He sailed faster in every race, and had an outstanding start in race 3. Kim and Eliot flashed big smiles when discussing the close racing.
Saturday was forecast to have heavy air. We sailed one race in the light stuff and then all heck broke loose. Kim Higgs wasted no time heading for the beach, followed, one by one, by the rest of us except for Charlie. He stayed out until racing was finally called off for the day. Had it not be cancelled I believe he would have stayed and raced. Measured wind speed was 27kts sustained. I did not feel in control at that wind speed. As for the first race, Kim Higgs took it in a wire to wire win. He got off the line and stretched out a 10 boat length lead or so, and held off everyone for four legs, never giving an inch. He does like the lighter air.
Sunday was very light air and we just barely got two races in on a mini-course. I mean short, like a 7 iron shot. Rick had good starts and kept his boat moving very steady in very little breeze to win both races. A fascinating start in race two was set up when Charlie lined up deep, pinching right up to the RC boat's transom with a well-executed block against the Hobie Waves who had been barging starts all weekend. I think he had enough of it because he started barking at them when it became obvious what was going to happen, “NO BARGING, WAVES GET OUT”. They did and weren't happy about it either. To windward of
Charlie was Cliff and then Rick was ahead and to windward. At the gun Rick turned down, found a VERY narrow opening and sailed right over the stalled out Cliff and in front of the wide-eyed RC to nail the start. Kim got buried and could never find the breeze to break out. I would like to see the video replay of that mess.
When the boats were set up on Thursday, I measured each one's mast rake.
Charlie - 96.2
Rick 19 - 93.0
Eliot 508 - 95.3
Kim 1191 - 96.5
Cliff 1186 - 96.0
This is the angle from the foredeck a couple inches in front of the mast to the front of the mast about 8” up from the base. I used a digital angle finder, the Bob Hodges method.
Charlie and Rick made changes to their rake a couple times during the regatta. Rick ended up at about 93 degrees for his wins in the final two races. We also discussed the effective use of the main cunningham to control the power in the main. It was agreed by all that this is a very important sail control to master in the Weta especially in changing conditions.
By Cliff Peshek
Early morning in the Weta section by Rick Sylvester