Monday, August 24, 2015

First "47th Annual Smackdown" a Success

Who will win the coveted Smackdown Trophy Belt?!
Bronson (left) and Ben talking trash
Looks pretty good on Bronson!

Well, the first 47th annual Illinois Smackdown was a success. This past weekend was part two of the challenge and four boats came up from Carlyle to participate in the Clinton Lake club races. In addition, Geoff Endris and his crew, Tom Moore, came west from Indianapolis! We went out in the morning for some practice races. Ben got on John Cassada's boat with his crew, Adam, and coached them a bit. I think John appreciated the coaching because when he trophied at the end of the day (3rd in the challenger division, yay John!) he offered half the trophy to Ben, which I guess meant he was going to split the other half with Adam!

Here are Fleet 135 Captain Eric Bussell with John and Adam
 A couple CSA sailors came up the night before to join us for Venetian Night and a steak cookout. Here you see Chris Tesdal manning the grill, with Bronson Bowling "coaching" him on the left.
(right)Chris Tesdal, Grillmaster. (left) Bronson Bowling, kibbitzer

Sunday morning sailing we had moderate conditions, but some steady misting rain, which we had not counted on. It did not dampen our enthusiasm! After four practice races we came in and our tireless social chair, Debbie Yeagle, had a hot lunch ready for us. It was unseasonably chilly, not to mention damp, and the warm food was yummy and much appreciated.

By the afternoon winds had really picked up. No white caps, but those who ate a lot at lunch did not regret it. Unfortunatley, I got a migraine and had to withdraw, but luckily Bronson had a
spare crew and so Carrie, a newbie sailor, jumped on Ben's boat. From what she said and what Ben said, they both had fun. It was very sporting of Carlyle's team to lend us a sailor, that's for sure!

Rod Bussell and Dick Hanson very capably ran four good races and everyone came in about 3 pm, as the winds built to the point that the kite boards came out. Although Carlyle came out ahead last weekend, Clinton's home lake advantage proved enough to make Fleet 135 the overall winner.

Here is the famous belt made by Bryan Hunt! 
In addition, in terms of overall standings just for the day Eric Bussell and Tom Yeagle came out on top. 

Fleet captain Eric Bussell and Tom Yeagle

I just gotta say that this interclub challenge really spiced up our club racing and made for some really great times. Thanks to Linda and Gregg Vitt, Eric Sutton and Emilio Tellini, John Cassada and Adam, and Bronson and his crew, who somehow I never met (Luke, maybe?) for making the trip to Clinton this weekend and joining in the fun! Hope we can do it again next season!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Carlyle/Clinton Rivalry Begins

Carlyle Sailing Association Race Committee Boat

Thanks to an invitation from Bronson Bowling, who sails at Carlyle Lake, several sailors from Clinton Lake headed down the highway to Carlyle this weekend to take part in their club races. Even though the Midwest District is huge, stretching from Minnesota to southern Illinois, Bronson realized that Carlyle and Clinton are not too far away. He figured we could create a little friendly rivalry.

 Here are the friendly rivals at dinner on Saturday night......

So this weekend three Clinton Lake boats (Ben and me on Sophie, Eric Bussell and Tom Yeagle on Windtalker, and Angie and Bryan Hunt on Quicksilver) headed south and west, and next weekend as many Carlyle sailors as can make it will head east and north. In addition, next weekend, some sailors from the Eagle Creek Club will join us at Clinton, so it'll be a three-way friendly rivalry!

At first it looked as if there would be no wind. It didn't help that the day before Carlyle's club held a distance race that ended up being a 3.5 hour drifter. The race was called because time ran out. As far as I could tell, no boats had yet rounded the windward mark by that point. Lots of sunburn and dehydration, but spirits were high, helped probably by the other kind of spirits....Just sayin'  !

Anyway, with that as a background, it didn't look too good for Sunday. Much to our delight and surprise, by about noon some light winds had arrived and we managed to get three good races in. There were at least 11 Scots on the line and 11 Lightnings as well. Each class had a separate start.

  Here is a close finish between Eric Sutton, Eric Bussell and Bronson Bowling....

As these friendly rivalry go, spirits ran high and silliness ensued. Bryan and Angie Hunt of Clinton Lake have created a belt similar to a Heavyweight Medal, that the (fleet) winner of the series will receive. I have not seen it yet, but based on the conversations I was party to (and I do mean "party") it will be pretty darn fabulous. Clinton Lake might have a few other ... trophies ... on hand next weekend. Time will tell...

Only problem is, we haven't yet worked out how to score the competition!

 Tom's wife, Debbie, helps the Hunts pack up Quicksilver at the end of the day....

It was great to have a reason to head down to Carlyle. It gave Ben and me a chance to visit some old friends, since we sailed Lightnings at Carlyle for many years before we moved away. And it added a little spice to the club racing scene. I'm looking forward to next weekend for the same reason. We'll have some guests, maybe they'll come Saturday to camp and take part in our Venetian Night, or maybe they'll just zip up Sunday morning, but either way it'll be yet another chance for some camaraderie and fun ... oh, and some sailing, too!!

Monday, August 3, 2015

No Racing Sunday as Door County is Pummeled by Storms; Fleet 135 Shines

The weather patterns Sunday were so dramatic that describing them is even more complex than describing a race!

Not that we ever doubted him, but after all was said and done, Dan  ("The Blob") Goldberg was looking pretty darn smart to cancel the days' racing. He called the racers together Sunday morning to explain his thinking, which ran along the lines of "a big blob is coming and after that there is a small gap and then another developing blob. In addition, we have a large proportion of junior sailors who are less experiences and only one rescue boat. So we will watch the second blob to see if we have time to squeeze some racing in before it arrives. Stay tuned."

Shortly after that the first cell came through, with high winds and rains. At this point Dan cancelled the racing officially. Even the die hards who love heavy wind didn't complain. The air got surprisingly calm as we began to pack up our boats. And then, a huge wind from the opposite quadrant (SW instead of NE) came in so hard that you had to really lean into it. Luckily no one was taking their mast down at that point because it would have flown away into the drink. Calm prevailed for the next 45 minutes or so and everyone got their boats packed away. The awards ceremony was held.

At this point, I have to break away from my narration to say, WAY TO GO FLEET 135!!!! Not to brag or anything, but Fleet 135 snagged three of the top four places. Eric Bussell and Chris Tesdal, who finished fourth, took home their first-ever Ephraim trophy. Woot! Woot! Frank and Marianne Gerry continued their outstanding sailing streak with a strong third-place finish. Ben and I won two races and came in second overall behind Larry Taggart from New Orleans, who sailed the most consistently of the fleet.

You can see the results here

Anyway, just after the sailors collected their trophies, we posed for the annual group photo and pulled out from the club, here came an enormous front over the bluff across the harbor. You could see the rain coming like a white mist it was falling so hard. One minute you could see that advancing, the next minute you could not see even a single boat in the water, the rain was so heavy. You can imagine how happy we all were to not be out in that!

As if that weren't dramatic enough, later on our drive (after our traditional stop at JJ's Mexican restaurant in Jacksonport with Eric and Chris, the Benners, and Brett Eickenberg and Jeff Gilman from Chicago's Sheridan Shores club), yet another cell came through this one with hail and winds so high it knocked over a telephone pole. There was not any place very safe to pull over so we slowly drove as far as Sturgeon Bay, where we were finally able to pull over. It only took another 15 minutes for the storm to pass. Meanwhile, Ryan Malmgren texted me to say that a microburst had hit the Ephraim Yacht Club, knocking over several boats and a tree. What a mess!

After that we had a few cells, but nothing ever quite as bad as all that. Nothing like a ferocious storm, though I really prefer to experience them in the comfort of my own home!

Travel Series
This was the third eligible regatta in the Traveling Series (it turns out Sheridan Shores Race Weekend was July 25 &26. Although it counts in the series, no one knew about it.... sorry Sheridan Shores!). We have just two more: the Egyptian Cup/Districts on Labor Day weekend and the Glow in the Dark September 25-27. If you have done at least one district regatta you are still in the running, so lace on your boating shoes and come on out!

p.s. I have heard some people express concern about going to Carlyle Lake Labor Day weekend, but I'm here to tell you, we did it last year (and the year before that?) and we had no trouble with motor boat traffic at all. So don't let that dissuade you from coming!!

p.p.s. Scott Roberts was taking tons of photos and as soon as I track them down I'll post 'em

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Three Great Races in Moderate Conditions

The wind came down quite a bit from yesterday, but we still got three good races in. It was a highly competitive fleet, with only three boats with all single-digit finishes. The starts were very challenging, with 27 boats on the line creating an enormous parking lot effect. But once the boats cleared the line the fun began!

PRO Dan Goldberg did a fantastic job and had tons of great support from the Ephraim Yacht Club, including Ryan Malmgren and Stacey Rieu. Ryan's daughter, Chloe, and Chloe's friend Julia helped on the boat and also took the photos that you will see/enjoy below!

Clinton Lake sailors had a great showing!! Three of the top four boats are from Clinton Lake. Go team!!

Tomorrow promises to be a lot more windy, so we'll have to eat extra portions at tonights bratfest.

Here are the results as of tonight.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Plenty of Wind for Ephraim Clinic

Ben and I made it to Ephraim by 1 pm, instead of 5 pm which is when we typically arrive. We discovered that arriving just a few hours early makes a huge difference.  We felt a lot more relaxed and had a lot of fun visiting with people.

 It was very, very windy; probably about 15 with gusts higher. Lots of white caps. Ryan Malmgren and Larry Taggart ran a great racing clinic, even though the wind was a bit higher than desirable for a clinic. First they held a chalk talk and 20-30 people attended. They had a very thorough handout that Larry's crew, Carrie Berger, created, that touched on everything from jib trim to "be nice to your crew." I definitely learned, or was reminded, of a few things I'd forgotten, including the importance of windward sheeting.

Then about eight or 10 boats went out for some on-the-water coaching. I decided, instead of helping Ben rig the boat (sorry Ben!) I'd go out in one of the motor boats to see if I could watch and learn. I started out on a pretty big boat with Ryan and Mike Faugust (and Ryan's daughter Chloe and her friend Julia). Then Larry and Jennifer Faugust came out in the dinkiest dinghy you've ever seen! They were so low in the water they were almost swimming! Boy, was I glad not to be in that boat...but then Jennifer needed to switch with me because she was video-ing and couldn't do that in the little boat! Ack! I had to clamber into that little boat, that was rocking in all the waves, but it all worked out okay in the end....

It was very instructive to watch the boats as they adjusted their sails according to Larry's pointers. Especially to watch how the main sail changed shape when they pulled on more vang or let it off, for example.

After a little more than an hour we all came back in. Meanwhile, Ben, with help from Mark and Maria Benner, had rigged the whole boat, including putting up the mast, so it was all good. The coaches held a second chalk talk highlighting the things they saw on the water and then spent a good hour answering questions from the sailors. All in all, a very productive afternoon.

Tomorrow, it looks like the wind will come down a bit to about 10-12. Skippers meeting is at 9:30. Stay tuned!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Time to Head North to Ephraim!

Okay, well, Midwest sailing has been a little quiet the last few months, at least as far as district-wide events are considered. So now we head to Ephraim, WI, for the second regatta in the Midwest Travel Series. I know we have at least four boats coming up from Clinton and I know that Carlyle sailors have really been traveling a ton too, so I expect to see many familiar faces!

Tomorrow starting at 1 pm Ryan Malmgren and Larry Taggart will be running an on-the-water sailing clinic. Boy, do I wish we could make it for that! But we have an 8-hour drive in front of us and we did not budget enough time to get there that early. BUMMER!!

Weather looks good so far, with plenty of wind. We've been having great, relatively mild July weather in Urbana, and it looks about the same in Ephraim: highs in the mid 80s, low in the high 60s.  Good weather to enjoy the great outdoors!

I'm packing my camera, so stay tuned for a few photos and news....

Monday, July 20, 2015

Ephraim RegattaJuly 31-August 2 Features Racing Clinic

Please join us in beautiful Eagle Harbor, Door County, WI for the 110th Ephraim Regatta. The regatta typically draws ~30 boats, including some of the best sailors in the Midwest. Registration is now open, with early registration ending July 26, 2015. To register, go to You will also find information at the Ephraim Yacht Club website:

New this year is an off- and on-the-water racing seminar/ tune-up starting at 1:00 PM on Friday August 31, featuring Ryan Malmgren and Larry Taggart, fresh off their 6th and 7th place finishes in the highly competitive 2015 NAC. Details are below. This pre-regatta event is free to Ephraim Regatta registrants who are members of the Flying Scot Sailing Association; other registrants may participate with a $25 donation per boat to the Flying Scot Foundation.

Nancy Claypool (Regatta Co-chair):
Bjorn Hooper (Regatta Co-chair):

Pre-Ephraim Regatta Flying Scot Racing Clinic
Date:  Friday, July 31, 2015
Time:  Dockside presentation begins at 1:00 p.m.  (PLEASE have boats launched prior to this time).  The clinic will conclude by 5:00 PM
Fee:  Free to Flying Scot Sailing Association Members; all others, $25.00 donation per boat to the Flying Scot Foundation.

Please join us in a pre-regatta, off-and-on-the-water racing clinic and Ephraim Regatta warm-up, featuring Ryan Malmgren and Larry Taggart. The clinic will begin with a brief dockside presentation on boat set-up.  Ryan and Larry will then be on power boats, observing and videoing racers on short W / L courses.  If conditions allow, they will provide immediate feedback, summarizing in a post-race, on-shore debriefing. Topics that will be addressed may include:
- Boat setup
- Sail trim
- Boat handling
- Boat balance
- Starts
- Mark rounding

- Racing as a team

If you have any questions, please contact the regatta co chairs listed above! See you there!!