Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Snowbird Series Part 2/4 - Gator Bowl at Rudder Club of Jacksonville

Number of Boats Registered: 17

Jacksonville was the second leg of the four part regatta Snowbird Series.   This was my first real test of trying Tampa as my storage hub for the winter racing series in Florida.   I would have to fly into Tampa, drive to Jacksonville, and then get back to Tampa and then catch my direct flight on Allegiant to Bloomington, IL.  If you missed my last post, here’s how the Snowbird Series breaks down:

One reason I was looking forward to Jacksonville because not only were Ryan Malmgren and Stacey Rieu coming to race in their new boat, they were also dropping off my new Mad Sails main and jib.   This was their maiden voyage of the FS#6177 Scotty McFly and I was super excited for them.   I would be racing with Trent Johnson and Heather Johnson also was making the trip as they planned to make a vacation out of it.   Scotty McFly is a play on the movie Back to the Future.  They didn’t quite hit 88mph, but the boat was fast and they had a solid regatta finishing 5th and missing second by just two points.   Congrats Ryan and Stacey on a solid Top 5!

There was no racing on Saturday due to no wind.   It was rainy and it would have been very wet sailing conditions, but it just wasn’t meant to be.   Our hosts provided a keg, had a full service bar and there were plenty of fun people around.   Nobody was complaining!  Making an appearance were Tom and Debbie Yeagle from CLSA who moved to Jacksonville in early 2018.  Tom and Debbie were very active in the Flying Scot fleet at Clinton Lake before making the move south.  It was great catching up and updating them on all the the CLSA gossip.   Heather surprised Debbie and Tom with a signed gift from many club members.  After wiping away some happy tears, everyone was composed enough to capture the memory.  

On the race course, school was in session and I was the student.  Jacksonville has a major current because it is located on the St. John's river, which is greatly impacted by the tides.  The race started at 9:55am on Sunday with wind direction of 180.   High tide was +/- 7am and low tide was at 1:47pm. 

During the racing we had our own private air show as four F-15s flew passes over our racing area for almost an hour.  It was worth the price of admission!

During the first race and I wasn't sure I had the correct read on the current, so we planned to keep a close eye on the Florida hot shots just in case.  The current should have been going out and I anticipated we'd be fighting the current upwind.  I went right after starting near the boat and found myself next to Charlie and noticed Mark Taylor was also going right up the first leg.  This was a confidence builder.  In theory, being closer to the shallow shore would help us and hurt those closer to strong current in the center of the river.   Turns out the left paid nicely on the first leg as the wind shift and pressure must have trumped the effect of the current, so that didn't go so well.   I played the left on the second leg and the right seemed to pay.  I noticed my boat felt funny and would later learn that Lynn and Bill Bruss had the exact same conversation on their boat.  Was it the current making my boat feel weird?   The wind gradually died after the first leg and we were worried they would not race any more.  That race sucked, but Trent and I seemed to be sailing well and the boat seemed fast when we were near other boats.  

 Had a good start in the second race towards right-middle of the line and we quickly tacked over to the right in clean air.   Linton, Malmgren and Taylor all started at the boat and went right immediately and were further below me.   I figured I'd be a solid top 4-5 if I followed.   Then I saw this huge puff coming down the right center about half way up the course.  I tacked into it for about a minute and then tacked back over thinking I'd come out ahead.  Nope.  I was confused because it was a glorious puff that I had all to myself.  Turns out I lost several boats and lost a lot of ground to the leaders.  I know you are not supposed to break from the lead pack, but I wanted to be the leader of that pack coming around the windward mark.   I would later learn that others noticed the current was speeding up with lighter air, so I should have stuck to my game plan from the first race and went right and avoid the current.   I confirmed on Google the current does speed up as you get closer to low tide.  Duly noted!   We held our own and passed a couple of good boats to finish a decent 8th. 

At the start of the third race, I was very confused.  I was going for a boat start and everyone was positioned 3-5 boat lengths above the boat and it looked to be a big fight to win the boat.   I figured I'd move down a little bit and avoid that fight and get a good start on the right center of the line in clean air, go right, and finish strong.  I thought was going to make the line in plenty of time but was struggling to get to the line and it felt like a big lefty.  Turns out the current was cranking at this point and everyone was positioning for a sling shot start so they could ride the current down and around the boat.  I never knew that was thing until I witnessed it with my own eyes.   I was pushed half way down the line because the current and actually started a boat length short of it.   It's very frustrating when you think are doing the smart the thing by avoiding all the drama at the boat and then get penalized for it!  I would later learn that everyone was monitoring the variable current strength by watching the ripples at the buoys.  When I tacked over after the start, I was looking at a wall of boats in front of me.   I either had to suck it up or tack left and fight the current.   At least we had a decent second race.  

Thankfully, spirits were positive on the boat in spite of our position in the standings.  Usually when I do bad in a race I know why.  It's frustrating when you suck and you are not sure what exactly went wrong.  Boat speed felt fine.  Trent was doing great.  Our starts were pretty good except for that last one - even then I thought I was playing smart and conservative.  I thought was making good moves based on what I knew and saw on the water but clearly I wasn't.  Afterwards, Mark and Michelle Taylor graciously offered to let me crash at their place in Tampa with Bill and Lynn Bruss.  I was finally able to piece everything together after talking to other racers and getting their perspective on things.   I went to a coffee shop the next morning and spent about an hour studying and updating my notebook while the races were fresh in my head.   

Even though things didn't go our way, I like how the current adds whole new and fun dynamic to sailboat racing.   I race in regattas to get better and to gain experience and this was certainly a productive trip.  I would highly recommend a visit to the Rudderclub of Jacksonville.  Donna Mohr, Jon and their team run a great regatta and they are amazing hosts.   Camping is permitted.  Showers on site.  And the full service bar is very nice when the weather doesn't cooperate.  

Looking forward to Tampa in January! 

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Snowbird Series Part 1/4 - Jeff Penfield Memorial Regatta

30 Boats on the Line!

Team Florida was very smart to organize a Snowbird Series to encourage us Northerners to fly south for the winter.  The Snowbird Series consists of four races (1) Jeff Penfield Memorial Regatta at Sarasota Sailing Squadron (2) Gator Bowl at the Rudder Club of Jacksonville (3) Davis Island Yacht Club and (4) George Washington Birthday Regatta at Lake Eustis Sailing Club.   An entire write-up explaining the series can found in a recent Scots N Water.   It's not easy to say no to sailing in Florida to begin with, but the Florida District Governor sweetened the deal by promising free boat storage for both the boat and tow vehicle in Tampa.  After confirming Allegiant Airlines flies directly out of Bloomington and Indy at affordable rates I was sold!  

Driving to Florida is pretty grueling, even for me, when there is nobody in the passenger seat.  The only downside to the first leg of this trip is that I would have make the long drive to the Jeff Penfield all by myself.   Fueling me was the prospect of warmer weather, friendly faces, and looking forward to racing with Tyler Andrews from Flying Scot Inc.  I feel my sailing has continued to improve over the past couple seasons and I can use all the help I can get if ever hope to compete with the best sailors in our class.   The Florida fleet is hyper competitive so I was excited to see if we could hang with the top dogs.  

Before we get into the racing, let's first appreciate Sarasota.   After picking up Tyler at the Tampa airport, the first non sailing priority was a stop at Columbia Restaurant on St. Armands Circle.  I love me some Cuban food and traditionally order a 1/2 cuban sandwich and 1/2 1905 salad to kick off every Sarasota trip.  That restaurant is one my happy places and is where Steve Hartman and I hung out every day during my first visit to a Midwinters regatta.  There are many happy memories at that place and the food and atmosphere is quite amazing.   St. Armands Circle has a unique vibe and is just a fun place to be.  

On Friday night we were invited to the unofficial welcome party next the RVs.   Earlier that day Jeff Linton and Bill Bruss caught a delicious Pompano fish which they cooked up and shared with the large of group of racers as we hung out and enjoyed nice selection of great food and cold beverages.  The scene reminded me of the Glow Regatta, except there were palm trees everywhere.  It was fun hanging out with the Florida sailors and catching up with people I haven't seen in a while.  

Photo by Amy Linton

30 boats on the line!  The Flying Scot class has so many big fleet regattas in addition to the nationally sanctioned regattas.   We always have another big regatta just around the corner and not too many classes can say that.  It's great to see regattas in different parts of the parts of the country continue to grow in popularity.   This is yet another example.  Sarasota is once again home to the upcoming Midwinter Championship and I absolutely love the venue.  If you are not familiar with the venue, I created a video that might help give you an idea.  I think I can say with confidence that Sarasota may be my favorite place to sail.    

Racing conditions were just about perfect both days with some decent chop.  It didn't show in the standings, but we had the boat moving very fast and pointing very well.  Had to battle back from some bad starts and got to mix it up with the top of the fleet in multiple races.  I met young Greiner Hobbs on the race course on Saturday who felt the need to lee bow me every chance he got in the third race.   He even slam dunked me one time time when I was trying to duck him.  Turns out he's an accomplished college racer who must be accustomed to an aggressive style of sailing that we don't typically see at Flying Scot regattas.  It probably didn't help either of us in the end, but it was an awesome opportunity to improve my point mode sailing.   In the process, with a little coaching from Tyler, I turned a glaring weakness into a freaky-good strength.   No matter how hard he tried, drag race after drag race, he couldn't outpoint our boat and I feel this development could be a game changer for me going forward.   He made it a point to compliment our pointing ability as we returned to the dock and I felt really good about the improvement to my sailing game. 

The final race on Sunday was memorable as we were competing in top 4-5 for most of the the 5-leg race.  The wind had died significantly and we were now sailing in Jeff and Amy Linton's favorite conditions and we happened to be competing with them for the 4th place spot.  We were hanging with them both upwind and downwind and I must say that felt pretty good.  On the last leg of the race, we broke off and went right hoping for to pass some boats and watched helplessly as a big lefty came in.   We ended up a frustrated 9th in the final race, but once again I had the opportunity to test my skills in lighter air with one of the best in the business.   I felt I passed the test and hope to build on the momentum from Sarasota and maybe even generate some more before the winter is over.  

Fellow snowbirds Lynn and Bill Bruss from Chattanooga raced on their new boat FS#6158 Hang on Sloopie for the first time.  It was was like watching kids at Christmas with their new boat.  Super happy for those two!  They didn't have their boat dialed in on Saturday, but they made some adjustments to the rake and had the boat moving great on Sunday.  I have a feeling we'll be crossing paths plenty during the upcoming season and I'm looking forward to it.  

It's not too late to make plans for Florida!  

Thursday, November 15, 2018

37 Boats at the Lake Norman Fall 48

 Ben and I also went to the Fall 48 in Lake Norman (Charlotte, NC).This year’s event also was the ACCs/Carolina Districts since that event got … errrr …  blown out by Hurricane Florence from its originally scheduled location of Black Beard Sailing Club in New Bern, NC. Apparently the Fall 48 traditionally is more lightly attended than the Great 48 in May. But not this year! Instead of the usual 25 or 30 boats, there were 37. Those 37 boats included some of the top sailors in the class who traveled from as far away as Massachusetts, Tennessee and Wisconsin.

Stacey and Ryan Saturday morning

Tight Racing

The other twist in this event is that Ben crewed for Ryan on our boat and I spectated.  I did it for the greater good; we both thought Ben could learn a ton from being on the boat with Ryan and he did.
On Saturday, although the temperatures were very chilly and the wind started white capping (in fact one boat capsized in the first race Saturday), conditions moderated as the day went on, with temperatures rising and wind speeds falling. 

The race committee ran three six-leg windward-leeward courses on Saturday (though one was shortened). Six is a lot of legs and I have rarely seen that many but given the wind direction it was understandable. I find it hard to keep track of that many legs, but the competitors seemed to take it in stride. Because Ben, was crewing for Ryan, in preparation for their teaming up for the Midwinters this coming March (2019), I was in the unusual position of being ground crew and spectator.
Ben as crew! "Get that pole up!!"
 I hitched a ride on the judge boat. Ben lent me his fancy camera with a big zoom lens and I spent most of Saturday trying to find their boat in the crush.

Winds, as usual, were shifty. Everyone complained about them, but Tyler and Carrie Andrews showed everyone how it is done. They not only earned four bullets (Saturday and Sunday combined), but in each race they led almost wire to wire, sometimes stretching out leads of half a leg in length.

Unfortunately for them, the universal joint on their hiking stick broke after the start of the second race on Saturday, forcing them to go to shore for a repair. Because of some boat gymnastics that are not interesting to the reader, that tiller actually happened to be the one from our boat, Catitude. Ryan had offered Tyler and Carrie a spare joint to carry on their boat and Carrie demurred. All the way back to the club she was regretting her decision to put that key piece of equipment in the truck instead of on the boat!

John Kreidler with tactician Joe Brake
I was reminded of the old ditty, “for want of a nail the shoe was lost, for want of a shoe the horse was lost,” etc, all the way to “a kingdom that was lost” all for want of a nail. Anyway, let that be a lesson to other sailors to carefully consider what replacement parts they might want to carry with them on the water.

While dinner was being cooked (chicken on the BBQ), Sean O’Donnell did a marvelous job MC’ing a great de-brief session, smoothly picking the brains of the top sailors. The entire clubhouse hung on the observations offered. I will mention, and perhaps I am biased, but I find Carrie Andrews one of the best at describing what they were doing and thinking on the water.

Meanwhile, regatta chair Carol Sandke and her team did a marvelous job decorating the club house with Halloween decorations. Many people dressed in costumes. We did not get that memo, and I felt bad about not participating but it did not diminish my enjoyment of the chicken hot off the grill and the brownie sundae for dessert. We went to sleep in our tent with full bellies and a couple borrowed blankets (thank you Bruce and Lynn Kitchen!) to fend off the chilly night.

Other racers filled the void left by the Andrews’ equipment failure, and competition was fierce between the top dozen sailors. In an indication of the challenging conditions, every boat had at least one double digit finish. Mark Swanson, the eventual winner, leapfrogged the competition Sunday with the second-place finishes, making up an 11-point deficit from Saturday’s results. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen that kind of second-day recovery.

The wind Sunday was more northerly and the angle was such that the legs were longer, so there were fewer of them. I stayed on shore and the angle was such that I couldn’t see anything, but when all was said and done, Mark Swanson was crowned the winner of the Fall 48 and the ACCs.

Chris and Gabe Herman claimed the title of the Carolina District champions. The Hermans (father and son) have not been sailing all that long, but they are regular participants in both the Great 48 and the Fall 48, traveling from Lake Townsend (Greensboro, NC) in their re-built 1975 Chevy Suburban. They have steadily improved over the years (again, they travel. Coincidence? I think not!) and this year they had a very consistent performance. Congratulations to them!

As the season now winds down for us northerners, I’ll take a moment to remind sailors that there is a Florida circuit they can sail through the winter if they aren’t quite ready yet to put their boat in storage.

Lining up before the start

Ben and Ryan trophied!

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Goin' To Jackson

Regatta chair Jim Leggette welcoming sailors
Can't have a national Flying Scot event without bagpipes, right?!
With as much traveling as Ben and I do, we often are returning to clubs we've sailed at many times before. But it's also fun to go to new venues, and this year's Wife-Husband in Jackson, MS, was a new one for us.  Jackson is a mere eight hours from us, straight south on 55 and it was an easy drive.
 So easy, in fact, that we were a couple hours ahead of schedule. Because of that, I was inspired to pull off on an exit that had a little brown sign: Johnny Cash Boyhood Home. I am not typically the kind of person to pull off for roadside attractions, but I've always wanted to be that kind of person. So I was inordinately pleased with myself. Also, the site was only five miles from the highway, so there was a low investment. The town was called Dyess Colony. There is a tourist center and museum and a tour, which we didn't do. What was even more interesting to Ben and me than it being Johnny Cash's home was the fact that this was a Depression-era resettlement community created by the government to help tenant farmers in Arkansas who had lost everything. Each family received a home and between 20-40 acres. They were expected to pay for the home over a 20-year span.
I bought a book about the project and have been enjoying learning about it. I had never heard of this aspect of the New Deal and I find it intriguing.
Lots of hugs at the Wife-Husband

Anyway, Jackson! We arrived Friday and there were lots of back slapping and hugging as is typical of this event. We had a very good Midwest representation: Ryan and Stacey (who placed SECOND! spoiler alert), Bronson and Rachel Bowling, Frank and Marianne Gerry, Jack and Janet Markwick, Ben and me and a couple that was new to me, Chuck and Sarah Lamphere from Delavan Yacht Club.

Friday was chilly.
It reminded me of the year we did the Wife-Husband in Alabama, Joe Wheeler State Park and it was so cold we were all shelling out tons of money buying every stocking cap we could find. I learned my lesson and had packed for every kind of weather this time. 
In front of the fire at the 2012 WH in Alabama

Sandy and Keith Eustis bundled up in 2012 in Alabama
Happily, in Jackson by Saturday the conditions were perfect: not too hot, not too cold and moderate (to light) winds.
The thing about the Wife-Husband is that it brings out the top sailors from around the country. This is no romp in the park, as you can tell by looking at the participant list. I will say that Ben got great starts every race but we got outfoxed by the wind every race. As Frank Gerry put it, we zigged when we should have zagged, and ended up on the wrong side of the fleet for every major wind shift and there were many in the 30 degree range.

As I mentioned, Stacey and Ryan had an amazing regatta and even when they started out mid fleet with us, they somehow caught the leaders the next leg. Kudos to them! It was also fun to sail against the Lampheres. We got to chatting between races on Saturday since the water became glass for more than an hour and we waited on the lake to see what might happen. I hope we see them a little more in the Midwest circuit!

Stacey and Ryan get the job done
 A quick recap of the races; Saturday the wind was light and after the first race it died entirely. After waiting around for a good hour, the entire fleet began inching toward the harbor when the wind finally filled in and we got ourselves a second race. Each one was four legs with downwind finishes. I notice that we've been finishing downwind a lot this year. Seems hard for the race committee, but since they are making the call, more power to them.
Saturday dinner was outstanding Southern cuisine, including turnip greens, fried chicken, gumbo and the like. Also, there were both Bushwackers and a special regatta drink called a Highland Sling. Both good and potent!

Sunday the wind was supposed to build but it did not. Still, we got three four-leg races in. The challengers did two-leg races for two of the races and then the last race they did four legs as well. The wind had shifted a bit to the south and we hoped that meant we'd be able to figure it out a little better than the previous day, which did not turn out to be the case. But Brenda and Bob Twinem from Florida— great sailors who rarely leave their state — showed the fleet how it was done by leading wire to wire in the last race.
Brenda and Bob Twinem lead the fleet in Eightball. The fleet was "Behind the Eightball" (ha ha)
 The wind did come in stronger as we were putting our boats away, but I think the conditions were pretty perfect for the wife husband: very little hiking, moderate temperatures and lots of great sailors. The final standings are here
Next up? A few hardy Midwest sailors will be at the Fall 48 next weekend and in Sarasota, FL, the following weekend. Stay tuned!

Friday, October 26, 2018

Road Trip to Jackson ....

So here we are in Jackson, MS, for the Wife-Husband event. Lots of Midwest sailors here. It is worth remembering that it is not a terrible drive to get here and other venues south; a straight shot downI55 and here you are! My only complaint is Arkansas. Don't get off the highway if you can help it. I've complained before about the access ramps, they can't be legal because they seem to be an accident waiting to happen. You have about 100 yards or less and then you run right into a frontage road with ZERO traffic signals warning oncoming traffic that you are coming, and certainly no yield sign for you, barreling off the highway. Anyway, watch out.

(Stepping down from my soapbox)

Midwest teams include: Ryan Malmgren and Stacey Rieu, Frank and Marianne Gerry, Bill Vogler and Jill Rendleman, Jack and Janet Markwick, Bronson and Rachel Bowling, Chuck and Sarah Lamphere (who we haven't met yet) and Ben and me. Not bad!

There is already lots of coverage on the FSSA facebook page. I'll put a link here where you can see some photos, etc, and that you you don't have to be a member of Facebook to see some of the fun.

Also, Eric Bussell is here preparing to do a livefeed and I think I heard that there will be some commentary by Bill Draheim, but that might be a rumor I made up.  You can try to click here and see where it takes you!

The wind is predicted to be moderate. The weather is on the chilly side, but you don't notice if you have one of the signature drinks, the Highland Sling. Scotch is involved, not surprisingly. Yummy. One is enough. Just sayin' Also, it is supposed to warm up and even be in the 80s on Sunday.

In other regatta news, Lynn and Bill Bruss are taking delivery of their new boat at this event. Tyler and Carrie Andrews are delivering it. I'm excited to see Carrie, especially, since we haven't seen her since before their second baby was born this year. But of course a new boat is cool, too!

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Glow: Perfect Wind, 35 Boats & Rum Punch!

I remember, not too many years ago when I occasionally posted something each day of a regatta. Now I'm lucky if I write something in the same month as the event! Ah well, try not to beat my self up!  It's been about 10 days since the 2018 Glow in the Dark regatta. I'm still trying to figure out how to post results to fssa.com but meanwhile they are here.

Starting line. Did I mention more than 30 boats?!
This year was remarkable from my perspective, because even though we had more boats than ever (YAY!), I was less stressed than ever! No rush of adrenaline as I cooked potatoes and mixed corn bean salad or shopped for dozens upon dozens of brat buns, napkins and plates. No exhaustion from the adrenaline that had me in my tent by 7 pm on Friday. None of that! Partly (mainly?) it was because I knew we were in such good hands; Heather Johnson was my "partner in worry;" because she was worrying and planning for every possible need I didn't have to. That was awesome! She thought of things like mowing a much larger area in the parking field for both boats and campers, plus she ordered all the meat for both Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch. A MA Zing! And that does not minimize the help of Trent Johnson, Bryan and Angie Hunt, Eric Bussell, Corey Wicker and my very own skipper, Ben Williams. I didn't worry because I knew I could count on each of them to not only do what they said they would, but do other things as the need arose. What a team!

The Michigan Crew (with Eric Bussell photo bombing)
Okay, the event. As I might have mentioned a time or two, we had more than 30 boats attending.
In fact, we had officially 35 boats registered, even though they didn't all sail every race. This is a number we could only imagine 12 years ago when our event started. And even just a couple years ago I thought that was just pie-in-the-sky thinking. But then along came Kerry Pebbles, from Michigan District. He came last year and had such a great time that he got an entire Michigan contingent to join us this year. This is precisely what pushed us over the magical 30-boat number. In addition to Kerry, this year we had Brian and Suzie Hawkins, Paul Lee and Gabrielle Cockell, District Governor Steve Rajkovich and Tami Avin, and Garrie Hankins and Sherry Newood, all from the Michigan District.  Not only did they all decide as a district to come join us, but they brought their own Glow sticks and paraded around wearing them, making a very grand entrance into the pavilion area! The question now for the Midwest District is, at what Michigan event should we return the favor? I lean toward Portage Lake, but only because I've been there before!

In addition, Andrew Fox, Dixie Lakes District Governor from Birmingham Sailing Club, took delivery of a brand new boat from Tyler Andrews, who also crewed for him this weekend. As you can see from the standings, they had a MARVELOUS weekend!
From left, Tyler, Andrew, Deb and Ben (check out that moustache!)

Last year (2017), for those of you who might have missed it, was the pits. It was more than 95 degrees both days and virtually no wind. The weekend, in my memory, was mostly about ice management and figuring out how to entertain our guests; it was too hot to even play bean bag toss. We managed a few races on Sunday but it's really best forgotten. So this year, we really appreciated our weather. Friday brought a cool front, which was great except the gusts meant we canceled the scheduled single-hand race (no one minded!) and Saturday was so chilly that Dan Goldberg, our stalwart PRO, postponed by an hour in the hopes the weather would warm up to at least 50 degrees!
We are all bundled up at the Saturday skippers' meeting. First-timers are raising their hands!
The wind was out of the ENE, which is an unusual direction. The wind was steady-ish, meaning no holes, but very much up and down in velocity, which meant from a crew's perspective that there was a lot of moving around on the boat, not too fast as to upset the balance, but hurry-up-and-get-up-here in the puffs.

The fire was the most essential element to our successful weekend and my thanks go to Rick Wojnar, Chris Wojnar and Corey Wicker for keeping it going!

One concern I had about 35 boats, aside from how to feed everyone, was how we'd fit a starting line that long on Clinton Lake. And I was also worried that the line would be too short. We discussed this possibility last year and considered creating a  separate challenger fleet with its own start. But in the end, for various reasons, we decided to have everyone start together but to designate themselves as championship or challenger for the results. Our wonderful fleet member, Marianne Gerry, made trophies for both challenger and championship divisions, even though this was a last-minute decision. I'd be curious how everyone thought that system worked. From my perspective, the line seemed a perfect length and it was fun for everyone to race together but also for the challengers to trophy, but that's just me.

Speaking of feeding 35 people, for Saturday dinner we've traditionally had each person grill their own steaks, with the operation being watched over by a grill master. This year Paul Lee offered to help and the next thing we knew he was just grilling steaks and putting them up when they were ready. Boy! Did that move things along faster. It's one of those things I wonder why we didn't think of it sooner? Mainly, we were worried people would want more control over their steaks but Paul just cooked them all on the rare-ish side and then if people wanted them cooked more they just brought their steak back. Easy Peasy and also much quicker. Such innovation!

But before we had steak, we had ... rum punch. Heather Johnson, it turns out, has a sneaky side. She decided that what the Glow needed was rum punch. So without checking with anyone (what's to check? She saw a need and she addressed it),  she set up several jugs at the top of the dock for people to enjoy as they came off the water. And boy, did they! You know the thing about punch like this is that it goes down very very easily. People drank so much punch we didn't finish the Wisconsin beer that Deb and Luther Torgerson have been bringing for the last 12 years. I believe that is a first! The rum punch might have also amped up the party a bit more than usual, either that or the Michigan folks  ;-), but honestly I couldn't tell because I'd drunk too much punch.

here Mark and Michele (M&M, get it?!) are leading Hugh Haggerty and Allison Chase (red spinnaker). Frank and Marianne Gerry, who also trophied, are the red and blue chute.
But probably you want to hear more about the racing. Hugh Haggerty (Ephraim) and his crew, Allison Chase, pretty much dominated on Saturday, but Mark and Michele Taylor, Fleet 135 members who fly up from Florida every year for this Midwest District event and others, gave them a run for their money. You can't tell from the final standings, because on Sunday M&M were over early and didn't realize it until half way up the first leg... That's sailing!

We finished the event having gotten every race off, and our guests were able to hit the road about 2 or 3 pm, having had a hot lunch (burgers and left over steak), and applauded the trophy winners. We also took a few minutes to celebrate our Midwest District travel trophy. Every year we have more and more qualifying boats (have to be a member of the Midwest District) and this year was no exception. We had 21 boats sail at least two of the four district events. District Governor Bronson Bowling gave everyone a mini-bottle of their favorite liquor as a trophy. It was really gratifying to see how many people had traveled this year! Hopefully next year that number will continue to go up!

Next up for Ben and me is the Wife-Husband October 26-28 in Jackson, MS. It'll be nice and cool, I bet!! And the following weekend is the Fall 48 at Lake Norman (Charlotte NC). It's a long trip but the turnout will be huge, since it is also the make up regatta for both the ACC and the Carolinas District regatta. Hope to see you at one of those events!

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

So Much News....

Boy oh Boy have I been bad about posting on this blog! There’s the women’s event, of course, which was fully documented on Facebook, etc, but that I’d like to talk about. And then there is this weekend’s event, the Glow in the Dark Regatta. This year we have 33 boats. I’m quaking in my shoes because the most we’ve ever hosted is about 28. Doesn’t sound like a big difference does it? We shall see…And then, also at the Glow, we give out the traveling trophies. This year we have 20 boats that qualified, up from 17 last year, so that is great!

So I guess first thing is the Women’s event, held September 14-16 at Chattanooga’s Privateer Yacht Club. I know a few people (looking at you, Bill Vogler!) were worried that no one would come to a stand-alone event. Well, this was more a case of, “if you build it they will come.” With 15 boats, three times the number we used to get (if we were lucky) for the event tacked on to the front of the standard NAC, the event was a success before it even got started.

Here is my crew, from left, me, Ben, Angie, Bryan and Susan

From the Midwest District perspective I was so happy we had six boats representing. Granted, Jennifer Ikeda was kind of railroaded into skippering when her skipper had a family emergency, but still, it counts! So there was Jennifer skippering, also Nancy Claypool, who calls Ephraim home (as well as New Orleans) and her crew Stacey Rieu, also of Ephraim. A true diplomat, Nancy’s other crew, Debbie Huntsman was from Southern Yacht Club in New Orleans, I think. Then we had two boats from Carlyle: Shirley Bild with crew Christine Beutler and Judy Allen; and Linda Vitt with crew Rachel Bowling. From Clinton we had Jamie Rimovsky with crew Erin Bauer and Christina Nordholm and then there was my boat, with crew, Angie Hunt and Susan McIntyre.
We don't look too bad here! I know there are other photos of Midwest boats, just haven't found 'em yet....

The winds were more than I’d ever sailed in; 15-17 with plenty of whitecaps. Just going around the course was a big accomplishment — for me, at least! I think the best thing about those conditions was that it showed the men spectators (and there were lots of them!) what good sailors there were out there. I heard there was some side betting about how many boats would capsize, with the general consensus being three. I am happy to report that Bryan Hunt, ground support/spouse of my crew, bet zero and won the bet! There was real money. I think the men were humbled, happy and inspired to see such good sailing out there.

I heard several men talk about how very much fun they had. A big shout out to Barry Hambrick, who trailered his motorboat up from Birmingham to serve as a rescue/spectator boat. His wife, Tracy, crewed for our very own Jennifer Ikeda, so she is an honorary Midwest District sailor! Organizer Rob Fowler was saying it was his favorite regatta ever! Of course he was sitting on the top deck of a house boat, drinking something with rum in it…. But seriously, I was impressed at the level of enthusiasm and support the men exhibited, not just my husband/skipper, Ben Williams, and Bryan Hunt, but every single man who came to support his spouse and there were many of them: I can think of Robert Cummings, Tom Miller, Bill Draheim and Ryan Malmgren, just off the top of my head.

Another very cool thing is the amount of coverage. Several guys took photos, posted here. thank to Diane Kampf. Then someone had a drone, at least on Saturday and the entire event was livestreamed on Facebook from the clubhouse! You can find that footage at Privateer's facebook page, I think.

The racing was fierce at the top, though Marianne Hopper, with crew Jennifer Draheim and Melissa Miller won every race, the rest of the fleet was not far behind.  Kate Gomes, who traveled to Chattanooga with a new boat almost caught Marianne in the last race of the day.

See this? We are 6144!! yay us!
For myself? I learned a TON! I not only sailed in those conditions but got good starts, we had good mark roundings, great spinnaker legs. I could not get the boat to go well upwind and had so much weather helm I sometimes had to hold the tiller with two hands. That was frustrating, but I have an idea about what to do (less vang, per Bill Draheim). Considering I had never in my life skippered in those conditions, much less at a major event, I took great pride in our performance. I was sorry to retire on Sunday, but it seemed to me the wind was building and I had the will but not the physical stamina. Too much fun on Saturday!

Our team is already planning for Massapoag next August. From my perspective one of the absolute best things about the event was the bonding on Jamie’s boat. Those three women were smart and worked together like an amazing team. They continued to race even after the outhaul on their boat broke. They refused offers of help, fixed it on the water and were ready for the next race. Kudos to them! They have already sailed together since the Women’s event and I expect we’ll see a lot more of them in the near future.

Now that is the sign of a wildly successful event!
i promise next chance I get to post more photos of other boats. But if you don't feel like waiting, you can see the thousands of photos