Tuesday, September 29, 2015

RaceQs Race Replay: 2015 Glow Regatta

What is RaceQs?  From their website: The raceQs’ tracker app records sailing data with your phone and creates a 3D replay of your race online. The 3D replay will show your boat and any other boats who were recording in your area. Select anyone in the replay to learn from the top performers in your fleet.  

At the 2015 Glow, we provided all participants a free waterproof cell phone case and encouraged everyone to download the RaceQs app and record the race.   We also set up a public regatta broadcast and were provided a dedicated URL . Although we did not take advantage of the live broadcast feature, many of the racers enjoyed the race replay after dinner.   

Using the application is very simple!  All you have to do is remember to hit record.  If you are worried that you will forget, you can schedule it to record ahead of time.   After some previous issues with the Roll,Pitch, Yaw setting, we encouraged people to turn that to off.   After the race, Bruce Kitchen offered to set the lines, marks, and race start times.  

To learn about how to get the most out of RaceQs, you can read the Replay Your Races to Sail Smarter article from the most recent Scots N Water magazine.  Here is the link to that article: http://www.fssa.com/files/scots_59_5.pdf

Click HERE (http://raceqs.com/regattas/46444) to watch the replay on RaceQs:

Monday, September 28, 2015

Lots of Boats, Plenty of Wind at the Glow in the Dark Regatta

We had another wildly successful (if I do say so myself) Glow in the Dark this past weekend. With 26 boats registered, we beat our all time record by one boat, and everyone came ready to have a good time. This year we had mostly boats from our district, except for Mark and Maria Benner, who came from Moraine Sailing Club (outside Pittsburgh), Bruce and Lynn Kitchen from Cowan Lake (Ohio), and Carrie and Tyler Andrews, who came from Deep Creek in western Maryland. We also had Chuck and Denise Hollman, from Delavan Sailing Club in Wisconsin. Even though they are in our district, we have not seen many Delavan sailors over the last few years, so that was wonderful to have them here!!

Unfortunately, Luther and Deb Torgerson, from Madison, who have NEVER missed a Glow had to stay home this year because of an emergency (now mostly fixed) surgery. Even though they couldn’t come, they still sent a six-foot long cooler full of Madison beer for the event. Thank you Deb and Luther! We missed you!

We had Goldilocks conditions this year; two years ago we had too much wind (cancelled Saturday races), last year we had too little wind (couldn’t sail Sunday) and this year it was just right! Saturday was maybe a bit hefty, with winds topping out at 18 and some gusty conditions out of the east/northeast (unusual direction).  Sunday was about 6-8 and was very civilized, and we got all five scheduled races in.

Race committee, headed by the very able and patient Dan Goldberg (also from Moraine Sailing Club) ran three WL races on Saturday. The first two were five legs each. After the second race Dan took a partial poll of the racers: should we do another five-legs or a three-legs? I think most people he checked with must have said “three” because that’s what he ran for the final race of the day. Thank goodness! There was enough fun on the water to make it exhausting, and I heard several skippers later talking about cramping forearms. I also noticed that all the bananas got eaten this year! Coincidence? I think not!

Anyway, everyone stayed upright, though there were a few breakdowns: one mast came down due to a missing pin on a sidestay; one sailor got hit in the head by an uncontrolled gybe so hard that he got towed in (he was okay to sail the next day); and one vang broke but was jury-rigged by the third race.

I want to mention here, in case there are other nervous sailors out there (specifically crew). That I definitely whimpered on the boat Saturday. I begged Ben to not put up the chute. It was so gusty. Remember the ACCs? I did not want to be scared. I did not want to capsize.

I have always been a nervous sailor. It took me five years at least of racing with Ben to not be absolutely terrified every time I went out in any kind of wind. Eventually I learned to love it, but it took a long time and a ton of trust in Ben. It also took capsizing a few times to realize it just really is not a big deal, especially when you have good rescue boats nearby. When you capsize everything slows down. In fact everything stops! But after the ACCs, even though I was absolutely NOT scared during the event, I have been feeling skittish again.

But Ben insisted we put up the chute on Saturday, calmly reminding me that these conditions were nothing we couldn’t handle, that we’d sailed in them plenty of times. There were no storms anywhere in the whole Midwest, it was going to be okay. And he was right. We put up the chute and everything was fine. He let me whimper, which might have helped. I think this is known as desensitization therapy!

Racing was really competitive throughout the fleet and by the end of Saturday many boats were separated by only a point or two.  The top six boats were separated by only 8 points. Those sailors were: Ben Williams, Ryan Malmgren, Bruce Kitchen, Mike Faugust, Frank Gerry and Bronson Bowling.

Once we all pulled our boats we started the grill for the annual steak cookout. Our primo grill master, Chris Tesdal, was ably assisted by Bronson (our new district governor and all around good guy). Heather Johnson, a new member of our club, helped big time this year by making all the desserts and the green salad.  We also had potato salad and a corn bean salad, so no one went hungry. Both nights someone, I never saw who, started up the bonfire and we all relaxed around its glow. It was perfect camping weather, with the temperatures dropping into the 50s. A few Scots sailors went out with Rick Langlois and Perry Biddle (CLSA club members) on a cabin boat and enjoyed the lake in the calm of the night. It was cloudy, so I’m not sure if they could enjoy the full moon, by then I had collapsed in my tent!

The next morning it was up at sunrise to make the coffee and start on the hot breakfast, another great Glow tradition. Once again, tons of people stepped up to crack eggs, cook and cut up steak, chop onions, cube potatoes. I didn’t think these sailors were much for breakfast, but they descended on the feast like locusts and within minutes everyone had a full-ish stomach and the food was gone, gone, gone!

Time for more fun on the water: Even though the start was scheduled for 10 a.m., it took a bit of time for all the boats to come out and the start was postponed for maybe 15 minutes.  The wind was much calmer and a little patchy, but really pretty darn good. It had also clocked a little more southerly so Ben and I decided we liked the right side. We separated quite a bit from the pack by going this way the first race and we were pretty nervous about it, but by the time we got close to the windward mark we could tell it had paid off for us. We rounded near the front of the fleet. We stayed to the right the second and third upwind legs as well, and finished second behind Bill Vogler and Jack McClurkin who found some private wind in the middle of the course and pulled ahead of everyone. After that race, Ryan, Mike and Bruce were all tied for second with 14 points. Ben and I had 10.

That felt like a pretty good cushion. All we had to do was not tank the final race….. Well, you know how this ends!! The first start of the last race we were absolutely buried with nowhere to go. The wind had died, we had no boat speed and we were stuck. Thankfully we heard two horns and looked up to see the general recall. Praise be!! Okay, that was it, Ben had a plan, he was going to redeem himself and he did. The next start we were at the pin with speed and got off the line perfectly. But…what was that?! ANOTHER general recall?! What the heck!! GRRr GRRRR, this time the two horns was not such a welcome sound (especially when it turned out the race committee had meant to only sound one horn, for individual! But no matter, these things happen.).

Okay, third time’s the charm. Let’s get it going! Once again Ben lines up at the pin, we had good speed, the horn goes off, and … we get caught in the ugliest snarl I have ever witnessed! The way I saw it, a boat came in on port and tried to muscle in where there had to have been at least 5 boats on starboard. We all got so wedged together no one could move!! One sailor’s tiller got stuck in another’s side stay, boats knocked together like so many ducks in a pond. It was epic. Meanwhile, although some of the boats we had to keep track of also got stuck in the mess, a few did not and kazowee, there they went off the line, neat and clean. I heard later that a similar, though not quite as bad, snarl took place at the boat end. It’s kind of like the grand finale at a fireworks show….but the only colorful thing was the language!

Okay, we had five legs to at least catch up enough that we didn’t lose our four-point lead. That meant Ryan, Mike and Bruce could beat us, but not by too much! Ben shook off the chaotic start, tacked us away and got us going. We slowly worked our way through the fleet, tack by tack. It did seem like this weekend the wind gods were with us. Every time we tacked we were beautifully lifted! It does not always happen like that and I never ever take that for granted.

Long story short, we managed a fifth place finish, with Tyler and Carrie finishing first, Ryan and Stacey second, the Faugusts third, Bill Vogler and Jack McClurkin in fourth.

Final top five standings:
Ben Williams
Ryan Malmgren
Mike Faugust
Bruce Kitchen
Tyler Andrews

Results are here

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Travel Trophy Decided At Glow in the Dark

Your Name Here! Join us at the Glow and see who wins this year's Midwest District Travel Trophy 

There is one more regatta for boats to qualify for this year's Travel Trophy. This year, as I mentioned earlier, sailors only need to compete in two regattas to be eligible for the trophy. The last two years they needed three regattas. So far we have 10 boats qualified and it looks like several more will qualify this weekend at the Glow. It looks like the competition will be fierce. Come to the Glow and find out who wins!!

Monday, September 21, 2015

Another Weekend, Another Regatta!!

September always seems to be the busiest month for sailing and this year is no exception. We've been on the road every weekend since the Egyptian Cup. This past weekend we went to Lake Arthur, in Portersville, PA, for their regatta, the Sail for the Grail. Lake Arthur is in Moraine State Park, which is 30 minutes north of Pittsburgh. This is the home lake of our friends Mark and Maria Benner, and the home lake, when they aren't in France, of Tom Hohler and Chris Czapleski. This year the fleet captain, Paul Rowan, and his wife, Jean, hosted us at their home, which is about 20 miles from the lake.

It's a long drive, almost 9 hours, but it's always fun! This year we had 18 boats, which was about 5 more than last year. It was a crowded course!

I admit that I am still jittery after last weekend (see blog post: Argh, that's Pirate for Holy Cow!). Winds at Moraine State Park were predicted to be between 9-14. Doesn't sound like a lot, and there certainly were no white caps, but because there were lulls and then big puffs, or at least big in comparison to the lulls, my adrenaline was pumping in a way it hasn't for many many years. I admit there was even some whimpering involved, especially when the spinnaker was up.

Still, the only way to recover, I think, is to get back up on the proverbial horse. So that's what I did! Up and at 'em!

Lake Arthur continues to confound us, with its puffy shifty wind. I know we lake sailors don't mind shifty wind, but this was pretty crazy. We just could not figure out where the best spot on the course was. We started at the pin the first race, thinking that end was favored, which it was, until about 30 seconds before the start, when the wind shifted right!. Never mind, we took a deep breath and tried to sail hard. After all, Harry and Karen Carpenter were right by us, how bad could it be? And we did make it to the windward mark about sixth or seventh, I think. Not terrible. This year the line was open, which made life a little easier. The downwind leg was uneventful, except that Ben accidentally (who ever does it on purpose?!) dropped the tiller and BAM! We hit the nice fluffy marshmallow of a mark dead on!! If it was a boat that would have been major damage! Several helpful sailors pointed out we'd hit it. I was laughing because it wasn't like a minor tap we might have missed! Anyway, we did our circle and away we went.

It has been my experience that, occasionally, after a kind of .... bonehead move... like that something girds a sailor's loins and they bounce back better than ever. Perhaps mistakes like that force the mind to focus? In any case, we did something very special and secret (ie I have no idea what we did) and made it to the next mark in the lead! Now it was downwind and then up to the finish! if only we could hold our lead. Happily for us, the cluster of boats behind us got tied up together at the windward mark and we were able to pull out nicely. Our lead stretched to a comfortable margin, but it was all thanks to that mysterious second upwind leg!

The second and third races did not go quite as wonderfully for us, but we had fun racing some very very good sailors. The Kitchens (Bruce and Lynn, from Cowan Lake) were on fire! In the second race they led the pack, including Harry Carpenter.  That's hard to do! Especially in this case, when I saw Harry pressuring them very very hard at one of the leeward roundings. The Kitchens fended him off and finished in the lead. The third race is a little more blurry for me....I guess I was getting tired! I do remember that the Kitchens once again looked very strong, as did Mark and Maria Benner, who had at least two very strong finishes on Saturday.

Saturday night we had dinner at the Red Rock restaurant, which was lovely. The best part of the dinner was the thrill of seeing our good friends, Tom Hohler and Chris Czapleski, surprise!! Back for good from France!! Gosh! Was it good to see them. I don't mind admitting that I got a little choked up. I knew I had missed seeing their smiling faces, but seeing them this way, out of the blue just added a big emotional punch. Hopefully we'll see them some next year on the circuit!

Argh! Can you believe it, I forgot to take a photo just of them! But here's one of our whole table.
from left, Ben, George, Rachel, Tom, Chris, Stephanie and Marty

Sunday is the dreaded Bridge to Bridge race. I do not know why that race makes me so stressed out. It was not nearly as gusty as last year, but still, there are so many unknowns. It's not like you just have to point, which we all know how to do, and then fly the chute. Sometimes, often, it's a reach and someone finds a little finger of wind you don't have. Yesterday it was an almost entirely upwind race. how can that even be?! But when we were at the second bridge mark, anticipating putting up the spinnaker, the wind began to clock, lifting us around and around and around the mark, to the point that we almost didn't even need to tack to get around it and return back the way we came!! I kid you not, we only flew the spinnaker for the last five minutes in the cove. Once out of the cove and heading for the finish, the wind suddenly veered hard up and we were stuck with our spinnaker flapping. We had to do an emergency take down. More whimpering.

Meanwhile, the one boat we wanted to cover, Shadowfax, which is sailed by Mark Schaefer out of Deep Creek, snuck up on us. We kept between him and the mark, but when we had the little spinnaker mishap, he took advantage and sailed right by us.   Nice race, Mark!

Then it was hup! hup! Grab the trailer, pack up the boat, clap at the awards ceremony and hop in the car. Back home and back to the office. Boy, having fun sure is hard work!! Next weekend is the Glow and then we have a break until late October, when we'll go to the wife-husband.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Bit More info about Saturday's Weather...

Ben and I visited with his parents and then headed to the club to pack up. We heard a few more details. That the RC clocked the winds at just under 60 KNOTS; that 10 boats damaged their masts; that 13 motor boats went out to help. Thirteen!! That is just magnificent. Before the storm, there were six on the water and another seven went out immediately to help. And, by my count, four boats stayed upright: Joe Brake, Dave Neff, Joe Price and Jim Leggett. Other peoples' description of the storm matched what Ben remembered seeing. That there was only a little yellow dot on the radar and then, without warning, a big purple blog. Purple!!

Apparently, someone on one of the boats was taking photos and gave them to Joe. Maybe once Joe recovers a bit he'll post some. I'd kind of like to see those photos. Does that make me a sicko?! Also, it is kind of weird that we've had two experiences like this this season (the other was in Indy when we lost our mast) and Ben's gone his entire sailing career never getting hit by a microburst. I'm going to try very very hard not to obsesses about this but just get back in the boat and sail again.  Thank goodness no one got too badly hurt.

Joe decided not to award trophies, but to cancel the event. Given the extent of the damage and the fact that the race wasn't over (though a few had finished) when the storm hit, that makes a lot of sense.

The club, Blackbeard, was lovely, by the way. I'd love to go back!
I'll post photos when and if I get them.
Signing off, continuing the drive home.

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Blackbeard Sailing Club, Argghhhh!

That's Pirate speak for, holy cow, what a day!

Scots down. Here are six of the nine dismasted boats waiting to get pumped out and pulled onto their trailers... photo courtesy Mike Funk

Ben and I decided at the last minute to drive to New Bern, NC, for the Atlantic Coast Championships. We had always wanted to participate in that event, one of only four national events the FSSA sanctions. Plus, we've always wanted to sail at Blackbeard, since it is near Ben's parents' home.

As you can imagine, it's a long drive. Total drive time was at least 14 hours. We pulled in Friday night and had a nice dinner with Ben's parents. This morning we were up with the birds and headed to the club to rig our boat. We were happy to catch up with several North Carolina sailors we know, including Joe Brake, Dave Safirstein, Joe Price, Charlie Buckner and several others, not to mention Rob Whittemore and John Wake from Maryland.

After the race committee meeting, Ben and I headed out. It felt strangely familiar to sail here, even though we'd only ever been on these waters with Ben's parents' motorboat. Winds were predicted out of the southwest at about 13. A gust line showed up when Ben looked this morning, but nothing to get too worried about. In fact, before the race began, the wind seemed to come down quite a bit.

Things changed after that. By the time the first race started (a four-leg race with a downwind finish), winds had picked up a bit and it looked like we had a good day of sailing ahead of us. And the first three legs were great. The fleet was really competitive, and we counted 22 boats on the line. Ben and I had a crummy start when a boat tacked right at the pin on top of us. We tacked and footed across the fleet to try to get clear air. That seemed to work okay and we were probably about 8th around the first mark. We managed to catch a few boats and lose a few boats the next couple legs. The sky off to the north started to look ominous, but we thought it would scoot by us. Unfortunately, Blackbeard had his revenge.

Just about the time Ben and I finished and dropped our chute, all hell broke lose. Even though we knew we were getting some more wind, we thought with the spinnaker down we'd be fine. Wrong! Someone said someone on the race committee boat clocked the winds at 50 mph. We thought we could outrun it, but we miscalculated and were just overpowered. Over we went. Next came storm and winds like we've never been in. We mostly just took cover on the lee side of the boat, but twice the wind picked up our mast, righted our boat and over we went the other way. Finally we were able to get our sails down, the winds and rain let up and we were able to take stock.

We were lucky. We only broke a boom. I am not exaggerating when I tell you I saw nine dismasted boats get towed in. Based on a very informal survey, I think three of the 22 boats managed to stay upright. Carnage, baby!!

Having said that, however, no one was injured. Everyone chipped in and helped everyone else. The support boats were fantastic, very experienced and extremely helpful. And I just have to give a shout out to Joe Brake, who organized a fantastic event. You can't control for Mother Nature!!!

With the amount of damage, it was decided to end the event today. Ben and I went out to dinner with his parents. We'll pack up the boat tomorrow and start our journey home.

Smooth sailing all!!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

New District Governor Elected

In other news from the District, Bronson Bowling, of Carlyle Lake Sailing Association was elected unanimously to serve as the Midwest District Governor.  He replaces Ben Williams, who, in my biased opinion, served as a superlative governor for many years. Ben traveled extensively throughout both the district and the country to keep in touch with other fleets and other sailors, he established this blog, and he created a Midwest District Travel trophy (and even built the trophy). Ben is happy to pass the torch to Bronson, who has served as a wonderful, energizing influence on the Carlyle Lake fleet and the district in general.

Welcome aboard Bronson!

Bronson and his wife, Rachel. Watch out if you sail near them in light wind and between races. They are often armed with water cannons!!