Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Several Midwest District Boats Sailed Down to Chattanooga This Weekend...

Sometimes I have to remind myself that the Chattanooga Choo Choo is not a Midwest District event because so many Midwest District boats have come to it over the years. It is not a terrible drive for many of us. Certainly not any further than, say, Ephraim!  This year the event had 24 boats and by my count four of them were from the Midwest: Bronson and Rachel Bowling, Bill Vogler and Eric Sutton, John Cassada and Kerrie Seven, and Ben and me. Often more boats come from Clinton Lake but the stars did not align so well this year.

The stars aligned well for many of the sailors, however. with Bronson and Rachel finishing fifth in a highly competitive fleet, and Bill Vogler and Eric Sutton in seventh, both ahead of the locals who typically clean up at this regatta!! The event was full of not just Dixie Lakes sailors, but those from Texas, Florida and the Carolina District. 

As usual, the hospitality was marvelous and the food was out of this world! i don't know how someone can cook salmon for so many people and have it come out so flavorful and moist. I want that secret!! 

The food was PHENOMENAL. Really stellar. Still thinking about it. YUM!!!

Anyway Saturday the wind was supposed to fill in from the south/southwest. There wasn't much in the morning and the race committee postponed to 1:30 hoping it would show up. All I can say is, it was a kind of frustrating day. Last year the regatta consisted of one two-leg race and Sunday it rained like a monsoon. This year we had 2.5 races (the last shortened also to two legs). Granted, it could have been worse, but on our boat it seemed like the kind of day that had miscellaneous streaks at various parts of the lake and if you were lucky to be in one you were golden. Otherwise you sat and watched others sail by. But having said that, Tom McNally, who flew up from Orlando and sailed with Bill Bruss, managed to win two of the three races and several other racers also had consistent performances so maybe it was just us.

Our best moment was taking off from the entire fleet in the last race. We managed to find one of those private puffs that lifted us right to the mark, at least 1/2 leg in front of everyone else. This is a vulnerable position in these conditions and we were fully prepared to have the entire fleet come down on us with some fresh wind. Although that didn't happen, Sandy Eustis and Tom McNally both made a play but we held them off in just a whisper of wind. The race committee thankfully called the race after two legs. The sad thing for Ben and me was that because it took all but four boats more than 20 minutes to finish behind us, they all were given a 5th place finish. So any chance for us to recover from our 23rd place finish in the first race was lost! I understand the need for that rule, it means when something goes wonky with a race there isn't such a penalty. Still, that hurt!

Bruce Kitchen, from Ohio Districts, usually
sails with his wife, Lynn. He wanted to make sure everyone knew Jim Blackburn was just a place holder!!
The race committee did a great job with the wind they had. It's just that the wind could never quite decide where it was going to come from. The high point for me of the event was seeing Chris Czapleski (the late Tom Hohler's crew/wife), who came to crew for Sandy Eustis, whose normal crew/wife Keith, had other plans for the weekend. I hadn't seen her since last summer when she and Tom came up to Sandusky for the NACs, so that was marvelous. Hard for her, to sail with someone other than Tom, but good overall, I think.

Sunday we woke up to a cloudy, grey, quiet day. The race committee watched the radar hard and decided to send us out since there were no thunder/lightening predictions. Just as the race started the rain came and with it, the wind died completely. Completely. We ghosted along for about 3/4 of a leg before we heard the welcome sound of the race committee abandoning the race. We then de-rigged in pouring rain. Maybe next year the conditions will be different!!

This seems the best illustration of Sunday. Can you see how wrinkled my fingers are? That's just from sailing and then putting the boat away in the rain!! The pouring rain!!

Bottom line, the race committee and the entire group of volunteers at Privateer did an amazing job. It was so fun to see Lynn and Bill Bruss, Patricia and Rob Fowler, Scotty Cline, Tom Clark, Hannah Ginese from Privateer and the Florida sailors, Mark and Michele Taylor, Tom McNally and Charlie Clifton. It turns out it's not much further for them than for us to get to Chattanooga which is good to know. It confirms for me that Chattanooga is a great location for the Women's NAC which will be held there September 15-16. Put that on your calendar!

Monday, April 2, 2018

The Flying Scot Community Has Lost One of its Brightest Lights

Greg Vitt of Carlyle Lake died yesterday after battling a fast moving cancer. Even before Greg got sick, the Vitts were always a couple who seemed to live life to the absolute fullest.

And Greg made the most of his last days, surrounded by family and friends and even getting to the beach. Greg and Linda are some of the most enthusiastic and high energy sailors I know. They energized the Carlyle Fleet in a way that I hadn't seen in many years. They were so much fun to be around. I remember they came to Ephraim two summers ago and spent extra time going to wineries and taking boat tours and everything. They enjoyed it so much we all made a plan for all of us to do the same the following year. That plan ended when Greg was diagnosed. We will miss Greg terribly.

More Accolades for the Midwest District

This might not qualify as an entire post, but I wanted to pass along some other achievements from our Midwest District. I was reading the US Sailing newsletter and learned that our very own Delavan Lake Yacht Club received the National One-Design Regatta award for "developing, promoting and managing the year's most outstanding one-design regatta." I'm not sure what event that was (not a Flying Scot one, unfortunately!), but still! Yay Delavan!!

I think this might be the same award Ephraim won the year they hosted the NAC. And that WAS for a Flying Scot event.

Anyway, just another reminder that our Midwest District is going strong! And there is hardly any more snow on the ground, so that's great news, too!!

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Reflections on Midwinters

Dear Universe, I'm not amused. We now have at least one inch on the ground. Grrrr.
Now that I'm home, I'm thinking about the big take aways from this Midwinters.

My first one is how proud I am to be part of Fleet 135. As you hopefully read elsewhere, our newest member, Jim Colegrove, won the Sportsmanship award for all the help he gave others at the ramp. And last year Eric Bussell won for all the hard work he's put into the publicity/video for the class. Not to mention our fleet winning fleet of the year in 2017. All in all, an incredible group of people, with more incredible people joining us every day. In fact, the last day of the regatta, Mark and Michele Taylor, who are based in Florida but have no home club, joined Clinton Lake Sailing Association.

The Colegroves also are not based near the lake, really. But they needed a club and they loved the energy of Fleet 135. They joined to show how much they appreciated that. Maybe our fleet will be the fleet for wayward sailors or something! Anyway, a fine and wonderful group of people!!

Another big take away is to try to think outside the box on the racecourse. The first race on Wednesday we were on fire. But in the second and third races, that same approach didn't help us. We let the wind confuse us and then I just threw up my hands. I want to practice this season taking a moment to think to myself, okay, that's not working or that is confusing, what else can we focus on? For example, on Wednesday, perhaps we could have registered that whatever the wind was doing, tacking on the "shifts" was not going to help. Let's pick a side - based on possible current or land mass or pressure or something - and just sail fast on that side. Ryan's theory also was that perhaps the wind was extra disturbed in the middle of the course.

Remember, we are talking 40 plus boats just in the championship fleet. That's a lot of boats. There was never any really clear air or section of the course. You had to always be watching out for others. In regional events, if you can get out near the front you don't have the same kinds of challenges. So I'm going to work on that this season. Getting my head out of the boat and thinking of a new approach if our current one is not working.

I guess that's all I had to say about this event. But I'm happy to be home, despite the stupid snow on the ground and I'm determined to continue to work hard and get better at sailing.

Signing off.

Thursday: We Tried , We Really Did!

Well, the executive summary is: we didn't sail on Thursday.
Rick Wojnar thinking deep thoughts
But it wasn't for lack of trying. I know the forecasts were for high winds, but at the dock it seemed about as windy as Wednesday...maybe a bit more, but nothing we couldn't handle. The fleet postponed putting in for a very long time, trying perhaps to see what the wind was going to do. Finally, at 11:15, there was nothing to do but take off and head to the course. The sail out was fine. Windy, but certainly within the guidelines. I was thinking it was likely the wind would lie down a bit just like it did on Monday, and even on Wednesday.

Unfortunately, that is NOT what happened. Quite the opposite. As we reached back and forth across the line, just trying to conserve our energy, the wind built and built. The gusts were bad. In between it was barely manageable. Finally, about five minutes before the start, I'd had enough. Just then the class president (Bill Vogler) and the National Championship Committee Chair (Carol Claypool) both got on the radio to the race committee. As soon as they started talking about wind speeds (20.5 knots) and class guidelines, I was done. Ben did not argue with me, surprisingly. We headed in and about five minutes later the race committee abandoned racing for the day. The sail in was quite challenging, and one boat went over but quickly righted itself. So although we sailed more than two hours, we had no racing to show for it.

Boats ready to go, but not sure about the wind

Still, that's how it goes sometimes. This regatta was a challenging blend of lion and lamb (you remember that saying about the weather in March, don't you?) By rights, since it was the end of March the weather should have been as docile as a lamb, but I'd say we had lamb/lion/lamb/lion conditions for the week.

All was not lost, at least not for Fleet 135 sailor Rick Wojnar who took advantage of the winds in the morning to windsurf. Eric Bussell took some amazing drone footage of that which you can find online on youtube if you search for blown out at Sarasota.

Tyler Andrews sailing Sophie (our old boat!) and Andrew Fox from Birmingham Sailing Club as his crew

Ryan and Stacey, who finished fifth!

Hard to believe this gorgeous weather. We came home to 30 degrees and snow!

Two very experienced drivers on tractors made putting in at the ramp easy peasy
Jennifer and Michael Faugust spend a fair chunk of the winter in Sarasota, but they are headed north any day now

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Midwinters Continued

With all the activity and visiting that Ben and I do at any regatta, it’s hard to keep up with these reports. So once again, I’m several days late and I’ll try to summarize all the fun we’ve been having! It’s hard to keep the days straight, though…

The wind predictions have been all over the map and every day we head out anticipating lots of hiking and pulling of the vang. Monday the wind was coming in really strong right down the docks. Getting almost 60 boats in the water in time for the start was made all the trickier by that wind direction. No one was in a big rush to get out earlier and get beaten up but eventually we all left and headed to the racecourse, which took about 30 or 45 minutes.

The race committee got us in sequence twice before putting up the postpone flag because of the change of wind direction. Then we had a general recall, after which they put up the Z flag. Finally, I think on the fourth try we all got a clean start and had an hour-long race. Sadly, I can’t remember much about it…

We had two long races and at the end of the day Ryan and Stacey were tied for first with Zeke and Jay Horowitz and Tyler Andrews and Andrew Fox.  That night we had a lasagna dinner at the club.

Tuesday the wind was gusting to 30, and still a few people put their boats in. I decided ahead of time that if they ran a race I would mutiny. Many crews were feeling the same way and so there were no complaints when the race committee canceled racing for the day. Some of us (Ryan, Stacey, Ned Johnston, Amy Linton, Greg and Diane Kampf, Kate and Roger Sharp and John and Connie Eckart) headed to the Mote Marine, which is so much fun! The three otters were feeling very playful. The manatee seemed to enjoy swimming back and forth and then bonking its nose straight into the glass. All we needed was a sound effect “BOING!” 

We saw some gorgeous art made of ocean debris. I was wishing I could have a piece or two for my living room. I guess you could argue that it was great to make something beautiful out of garbage, but it still made me feel really sad that there was so much garbage. 

That evening several of the Midwest sailors headed to the house rented by the Chattanooga sailors, Lynn, Bill and Lauren Bruss, Rob Fowler and Scotty Cline, Tom Clark and Dave Bergevin for a cookout. There was a huge crowd there and, as Scotty said, this was (in some ways!) one of the most fun parts of the regatta!

Yesterday, Wednesday, we got in three races. Again, the prediction seemed to be quite high and also with lots of gusts, but the wind settled much lower than that. There were times we were both hiking, with both the vang and then cunningham on, but there were other times where I was on the low side and we had barely a puff. I would say the conditions were just perfect. I’m going to try to remember this because in my mind Sarasota always blows stink.

The first race the wind was out of the east/southeast.  I will say, that was Ben’s and my best race. We got a slow start and had trouble getting the boat going in the chop, but then we just started focusing and Ben got the boat moving really well. We made a few really good calls. It was one of those races where every time we tacked we were lifted. I love those kinds of races! We finished fourth and that made the whole trip worth it for me, I admit it.

The next two races the wind shifted right, to about 230, but it seemed so unsettled that we never could find the groove again. Other Midwestern sailors were going gangbusters, however. Ryan and Stacey ended the day in fifth place and the Faugusts performed consistently and are coming into the last day at 17th.

The most remarkable thing that happened yesterday (other than our fourth place finish!) was that Alan spotted a manatee and a few minutes later I think Ben and I accidently bumped it. We were sailing along in the channel very near shore with our board up and suddenly our bow popped up so dramatically that I sung out like an opera diva. It felt like we hit a big pillow, not like we hit sand or rock or anything. When I looked behind us the water was really churned up, though I didn’t see anything. When we compared notes later, I was really sure that was what happened. I’m happy we didn’t have a propeller and I’m convincing myself we couldn’t have actually hurt the big guy, so I don’t want anyone telling me any different!

In the racing, Eric and Alan are having some good moments and I gather Alan is getting more and more smooth in his crew work. In addition, Eric has been doing an incredible job getting video footage and photos and posting things, I believe at the Facebook page for Flying Scot or maybe also at the fssa.com website. I’ll have to check. He and a few others were interviewed by the local TV stations and the part I heard Eric say was just spot on. He talked about how we have Rolex Yachtsmen of the Year sailors, intermediate sailors and even some just beginning. He’s a great spokesman.

Also from CLSA, Rick Wojnar and Susan McIntyre, are learning a lot. It’s hard to compete in a 40–plus fleet — there is never any clear air!! Our newest CLSA members, Jim and Jennifer Colgrove are having a good time, except the tent is loud when the wind is honking at night. Surprisingly that has happened for at least three nights… But they and also Jim Moyle from Wisconsin are learning a ton.

Meanwhile, in the Challenger fleet, Carlyle Lake sailor Bill Vogler, with crew Peg Woodworth and Carrie Seven, won the first race and did well enough in the other two races to move into first place overall.

I'm sure I’ve overlooked someone and as soon as I figure out who, I’ll add an addendum!

Today as I write this I hear people worrying that the wind is predicted to continue to build. Winds of 18 with gusts to 26. That’s not really great sailing conditions for the Scot.

Monday, March 26, 2018

MidWinter Regatta About to Start

Ben and I have been in Sarasota for a few days now and we’ve mostly been socializing, though we’ve gotten some sailing in, too! There are 60 boats signed up, which is a great turnout. As for the Midwest District, our numbers are strong! We have Ryan Malmgren and Stacey Rieu, and Jennifer and Michael Faugust, from Ephraim,  Eric Bussell and Alan Shaklee, Ben Williams and Deb Aronson, Jim and Jennifer Colgrove, and Rick Wojnar and Susan McIntyre from Clinton Lake and Jim and Mike Moyle, who I think are from Delavan but I’ll have to ask them.

Today is the Charlie Fowler Memorial Race, which is a practice race but comes with a trophy. This helps northern sailors shake out the cobwebs and recognizes long-time class stalwart Charlie Fowler, creator and founding district governor of the Dixie Lakes District.

Tomorrow the racing starts for “real.” Because this venue has a strong afternoon sea breeze, racing will begin about noon. That gives off of us a chance to sleep in and/or drink tons of coffee to counteract the effects of the adult beverages consumed the night before. Of course, with 60 boats and not that much dock space, we will have to start putting boats in a little early, too. …

Anyway, check in for more soon!