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SSS season trophy winners, l-r: Andrew Dura, Greg Nelsen, Ben Mewes. ©2010 norcalsailing.com
SSS Season Wrap-up
October 30, 2010
The Singlehanded Sailing Society held their final meeting of the year at Oakland YC on Wednesday. Vallejo 1-2 awards were handed out first, then the awards for the overall Singlehanded and Doublehanded season winners. Greg Nelsen's Azzura 310 Outsider has won the Doublehanded trophy, after having won the Singlehanded trophy last year. Greg is no stranger to SSS season trophies, having won the Singlehanded trophy with his Black Soo Starbuck in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2004, and the Doublehanded trophy in 2005. New to the series was Greg's crew Andrew Dura. "Greg says he's going to sail doublehanded again next year, and I hope to God he doesn't change his mind," said Andrew, as he really wants to crew for Greg again. "Hanging out with you guys made everything he put me through worthwhile." Most of 'you guys' are quite a bit older than Andrew - it's always flattering when younger people want to hang out with you.
Repeating his performance of 2007, Ben Mewes recaptured the Singlehanded trophy. This despite the distraction of putting together a Singlehanded TransPac campaign, and starting that race three times before accepting that his boat, the Black Soo Mirage, was just too leaky this summer to sail to Hawaii in gale conditions. Ben, his wife Lucie, and 2010 SSS TransPac vet Adam Correa were hanging out together during this summer's Delta Doo Dah cruising rally and came up with an idea for a T-shirt, which they handed out to the folks who'd helped Ben with his TransPac attempt.
Other business conducted at the meeting included Commodore Bill Merrick handing that responsibility back over to recidivist Max Crittenden, who took a year off from the board to put together his own successful Singlehanded TransPac campaign. 2010 SSS-TP co-chair Bob Johnston reported they had 21 entries and 15 starters, the same as in 2006. Eleven were first-timers. Usually about two-thirds are veterans. Ten were local sailors. The fleet had a rough first couple of days (those sick-making gales), a light middle part without trade winds, and a Mexican hurricane hurling rough seas toward Hawaii for the last bit.
Max, who took his Martin 32 Solar Wind, said that his best mileage day was the one where he worked himself to exhaustion with sail changes. Then both of his sleep timers fell in saltwater, so he got caught up on his sleep. AJ Goldman, sailing on the Cascade 36 Second Verse, never set an alarm once. During the gale, he would fall on the floor in exhaustion and sleep until the motion of the boat didn't feel right. He had one night when he had to jibe five times. Then he just sat at the chart table sobbing.
Ronnie Simpson borrowed Don Gray's Jutson 30 Warrior's Wish. "If you haven't done it go do it," he said. "It was the best experience of my life. I kept trading leads with Adrian - in three knots of wind!" (Adrian Johnson of Seattle sailed the Olson 30 Idefix to an overall monohull win.) Ronnie hopes to acquire a Mini for 2012, and then do the Transat with it.
"Who in their right mind would take a late model Catalina," said Sam Burns, who sailed the Catalina 309 Southernaire, "with hot and cold running water and a refrigerator on a race to Hawaii? I battled AJ for last place, and I thought those gales were normal."
Paul Nielsen of the Olson 34 Culebra said that the best part was the last ten miles when he could see Kauai. He finished in squalls early in the morning. "It was the most elating time of my life. The camaraderie at the end was worth it all."
Some suggestions for next year's SSS season were bandied about. Max hopes to simplify the season scoring system, as he is the only one who understands it. AJ suggested a cruise to Drake's Bay with a raft-up. The date for the next race was agreed upon: the 2011 Three Bridge Fiasco is scheduled for January 29.