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            “Bruce Nelson Secures WCSS & Orca Bowl Wins on Final Upwind Leg of the Series” 

After 4 events and 26 races, Bruce Nelson secured wins in the WCSS (West Coast Spring Series) and the Orca Bowl in dramatic fashion on the last windward leg of the final race of the 4 regatta WCSS.

Going into the Orca Bowl, Tom Carruthers (USA 1000) had a 3 point lead over Bruce Nelson (USA 986) for the WCSS. Saturday had overcast skies with light winds from 255 degrees. Bruce Nelson got off to a quick start with a win in race 1. Keith Whitmore (USA 1152) and Alex Camet (USA 1216) played the left side advantage for wins in races 2 and 3. At the end of day one, Bruce Nelson was at the top of the leaderboard for the Orca Bowl with finishes of 1, 4, 4 and potentially gained 2 points on Tom Carruthers for the WCSS scoring.

A Catalina Eddy spun up Saturday night so Sunday’s wind were out of the south at 15-18 kts with choppy seas. In the first two races of the day, Tom Carruthers had finishes of 3, 3 versus Bruce Nelson’s finishes of 6, 1 so Tom expanded his lead on Bruce again for the WCSS scoring. Bruce dropped to 2nd on the Orca Bowl leaderboard behind Alex Camet who won races 3 and 4.

Going into last race of the Orca Bowl, after figuring the effect of the throw out on WCSS scoring, Bruce Nelson needed to place 1st or 2nd in the Orca Bowl and put 2 positions in between him and Tom Carruthers in the Orca Bowl. Otherwise, Tom Carruthers would get the WCSS win.

On the first weather leg, Tom Carruthers decided to work the left, which had been working all weekend. That paid off and Tom held the lead at the 1st weather mark. He was followed by Alex Camet and the Sinks/Davis team (USA 1066). Bruce Nelson, who was forced right after the start, found himself in 6th at the windward mark and it looked like his prospects for an Orca Bowl/WCSS win were fading although he was still in striking distance.

Coming into the leeward gates, the fleet split with Tom Carruthers rounding in 1st taking the right gate and headed left. Alex Camet and the Sinks/Davis team took the left gate and headed right. Bruce Nelson gained on the downwind leg and was close behind the leader group and as he came into the leeward gate he made a last minute decision to go for the right gate and his crew executed a flawless jibe/takedown and mark rounding and came out fast and high.

Mid-leg, the left side was working better again and Tom Carruthers held his lead and Bruce Nelson moved up on Alex Camet and Tyler/Davis. As they neared the top mark of the leg, Tom Carruthers crossed Bruce Nelson on starboard and then tacked. Bruce had to make a quick decision and decide to foot through the cover and continue on port towards the starboard lay line to maintain contact with Camet and Sinks. As Bruce converged on Camet and Sinks/Davis, who were coming from the right, he was able to cross both of their bows by a slim boat length and then tack and round the weather mark in 2nd. As they headed down to the finish, Bruce jibed first into pressure and was able to extend on Camet and Sinks/Davis and crossed the finish line in 2nd behind Carruthers.

Although Tom Carruthers did all he could do to secure the series win by sailing a great final race, unfortunately he did not fully control his destiny. Bruce Nelson’s 2nd place finish was enough to give him the Orca Bowl win by 1 point over Alex Camet and he was also able to put two positions between himself and Tom Carruthers which also gave him the WCSS win by 1 point.

“As is often the case in Etchells racing, mark roundings are key,” commented Bruce Nelson. “It all came down to the fact that our team was able to pull off a perfectly executed jibe/rounding at the last leeward gate and that translated into a couple of boat lengths near the top mark and that is what gave us the margin of victory”. Bruce’s crew includes his son Bobby Nelson on bow, and Chuck Sinks and Melissa Denman in the middle. Bruce also had Ty Reed and Nico Landauer on board for some of the other WCSS events.    

The race for the WCSS Corinthian title was dominated by Charlie Mann (USA 1138) who was top Corinthian finisher in 2 of the WCSS events. Charlie sails with longtime crew JC Langlois and Bill Jenkins who joined the team last year. Charlie and his team put a lot of extra practice in over the past two years and in addition were rewarded with the Top Corinthian for the Orca Bowl as well as 5th overall for the WCSS.

Orca Bowl Results

1. Bruce Nelson                      USA 986           12 pts

2. Alex Camet                         USA 1216         13 pts

2. USA Sinks/Davis                  USA 1066         13 pts

3. Tom Carruthers                  USA 1000         14 pts

4. Keith Whittemore               USA 1152         20 pts

Top Corinthian - Charlie Mann USA 1138     

Full Results

WCSS Overall Results

1. Bruce Nelson                       USA 986           8 pts

2. Tom Carruthers                  USA 1000         9 pts

3. Sink/Davis                           USA 1066         13 pts

4. Snow/Rodi                           USA 1018         16 pts

5. Charlie Mann                      USA 1138         28 pts

Top Corinthian - Charlie Mann USA 1138

Full Results

WCSS Individual Event Winners

Bill Bennett Cup / NOOD                    Keith Whittemore       USA 1152

Midwinters West                                Steve Hunt                   USA 873

Pacific Coast Championship                 Steve Hunt                 USA 873

Orca Bowl                                           Bruce Nelson               USA 986

2017 will be a busy year for Etchells sailors on the West Coast with the North Americans in San Diego in late summer followed the Worlds in San Francisco in the fall. Fleet 13 invites all Etchells sailors to make the 2017 WCSS the 1st stop on their West Coast regatta circuit.