Monday, February 18, 2019

Snowbird Series Part 4/4 - George Washington Birthday Regatta (Lake Eustis)

The George Washington Birthday Regatta at Lake Eustis was held this past weekend and was the fourth and final regatta of the new Snowbird Series.  This entire series was an exceptional experience and I'm definitely hoping to do it again next year.   Lake Eustis was a blast with 37 Flying Scot teams racing.  Representing the Midwest District were Michael Faugust and Jennifer Ikeda with a solid 7th place finish.  Well done!  Ryan and Stacey not only raced but helped Tyler Andrews with a sailing clinic on Thursday and Friday and even donated a free jib to the cause.  Rick Wojnar crewed for me for the second regatta in a row.  I arrived on Friday night around 6:30 and Rick was already waiting after making the drive himself because he has plans to windsurf for an an extra week after the regatta.





The temperature was 72 degrees at the club  upon arrival and I received an immediate text informing me people were already hanging out the Oyster Troff, a fun Friday Night tradition at the George Washington Birthday Regatta.  Hanging out with friends is one of the key attractions to these large regattas.   I got to catch up with Jody Smith (Dallas Corinthian) and Obie Smith (Miami).  I finally put it together they were brothers because nothing gets by me (sarcasm).


Sailing on Saturday was awesome with 8-12mph wind that jumped to 11-15 in the second race with some larger gusts.  Racing with 37 boats with racers of that caliber is exciting and humbling.  Rick and I sailed very well with solid starts, but couldn't keep up with the front of the pack for one bad decision or another.  Things got a little exciting between the second and third races when a distress call came over the radio.   A boat had capsized and Rick and I responded and could tell that a couple older gentlemen needed immediate help.  After hearing, "Go get 'em", Rick jumped into the lake (without hesitation) and helped one of the sailors get their feet untangled from their sheet.  Panic quickly turned to relief and Rick proceeded to help the race committee right the boat as it was completely turtled.  To say that the race committee and fellow racers were appreciative of Rick's help would be a huge understatement.  Super proud of Rick!   Three cheers for Rick!  Thanks for being awesome.  By the way, Lake Eustis is infested with alligators.


(Rick at the Tampa Regatta)




After three long races and a 45-minute rescue effort, Rick was exhausted.  I was exhausted because the night before (Friday night) some rowdy drunks were looking for trouble and woke me up at 2:30am before my hangover from the Oyster Troff even had a chance to set in.  These guys were belligerent and shouting and taunting the people sleeping in camper row.   I was one of those people and decided to go out to introduce myself.   After some snarky remarks from the troublemakers looking for a confrontation, I just kept being nice and maintained friendly conversation as if nothing was wrong before they finally realized they weren't going to get under anyone's skin.  When I told them I am from Champaign-Urbana, the snarky guy proudly said he was from Chicago and pointed to his White Sox shirt.  I laughed because things suddenly made a lot sense.  Turns out these guys were parents of kids who were sailing at the regatta!  Ha!   I thought about telling him my go-to White Sox joke (see joke at bottom of post) that seemed applicable given the situation, but I held my course and decided it was not a good idea to escalate the situation.   As a die hard cubs fan, this is not the first obnoxious White Sox fan looking for a confrontation that I’ve encoutered and will probably not be the last.  I just didn't expect to run into one at a Florida regatta where everyone is always so nice.  What are the odds you find a jerk in Florida and he happens to be from Illinois?  Ha!  I struggled to get back to sleep.  Later on Sunday morning I happened to notice the troublemaker’s truck was listing to starboard.  The poor guy had a flat tire.


Racing on Sunday was also great!   It was glass (no wind) when we woke up in the morning and outlook looked questionably light, but finally filled in just enough to have two good races.   After patiently waiting out a postponement as the wind stabalized, racers were eager to get back to racing.  So eager, in fact, that we had two general recalls and were shown the black flag in both the third and fourth race to contain our enthusiam.  It's the first time I've ever raced with the black flag shown.  Luckily, we had three bad starts and five good ones during the regatta, with all three bad starts being a general recall.  Sometimes things go your way.  Rick and I almost finished in the top 10 in the last race.  A key highlight is that we were racing with Zeke Horowitz up the right side on the first leg of the second race. We passed him and rounded the windward mark in front of him in the top five.  Zeke is one of the three finalists for the Rolex Yachtman of the Year Award.   So yes, we didn’t stay in front of him for very long, but that was still cool.  It was very nice to finish the regatta and the Snowbird Series with a solid finish that we can carry with us to the Sarasota Midwinters.  I feel Rick and I are becoming more competitive as a team and we have good chemistry so I'm optimistic we can continue to improve.  

At the awards ceremony, Jay Horowitz pointed out that that among the five trophy winners were two father and son teams, a husband wife team, a father daughter team, and then there was John Kreidler and his partner Joe Brake.   Jay is a jokester (John and Joe aren't partners) and John and Joe finished an impressive third and I'm super happy for them for having such a great regatta.   To Jay's original point, the Flying Scot is a family-friendly boat with a very competitive and deep fleet of racers. 


Looking forward to Midwinters...


Oh yeah, here's that White Sox Joke:

A first grade teacher explains to her class that she is a Chicago White Sox fan. She asks her students to raise their hands if they were White Sox fans, too.
Not really knowing what a White Sox fan was, but wanting to be like their teacher, hands explode into the air. There is, however, one exception. A girl named Mary has not gone along with the crowd.
The teacher asks her why she has decided to be different. "Because I'm not a Cubs fan."
"Then," asks the teacher, "what are you?"
"Why I'm proud to be a Chicago Cubs fan.", boasts the little girl.
The teacher is a little perturbed now, her face slightly red. She asks Mary why she is a Cubs fan.
"Well, My Dad and Mom are Cubs fans, and I'm a Cubs fan, too!"
The teacher is now angry. "That's no reason," she says loudly. "What if your mom was a hooker, and your dad was a hoodlum, What would you be then?"
A pause, and a smile. "Then," says Mary, "I'd be a White Sox fan."

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Snowbird Series Part 3/4 - Davis Island Yacht Club (Tampa)


We are three races into the Florida Snowbird Series.   Read about Sarasota here and read about Jacksonville here.   





The extent to which local regatta hosts go out of their way to welcome and accommodate travelers continues to blow me away.  During the snowbird series, the whole Florida team has taken things to another level.  Thanks to Mark Taylor and Jeff Linton, our boats were at Davis Island Yacht Club with the masts already rigged.  Andy Hayward graciously allows us snowbirds to park our boats and vehicles on his property just outside Tampa of all winter for free.   To help with logistics, Mark Taylor offers to have our car and boat at his house waiting to save on Uber costs and travel time.   They’ll always let us crash on the couch if we need to stay until Monday to catch our flight.  This past weekend, Jeff and Amy Linton hosted a football watching gathering on Sunday and offered us burgers and beds.  How do you return the favors?   


 
                                     Thursday (Before)                         Friday (After)

Turns out Michelle Taylor (from Kankakee IL and a fellow Cubs fan) is a huge fan of Monicals Pizza from Central Illinois so I smuggled 10 frozen Monicals Pizzas to Tampa in a cooler bag.   I planned to buy a handle of Captain Morgan for Andy and Lisa Hayward on Saturday before the racing, but Melanie McNally insisted she could go out Saturday and grab that for me while we were racing.  So even while I’m trying to repay my debt of gratitude I end up going deeper in the hole.  These people are just awesome.  Even the local PRO (not a Scot enthusiast) was gushing over how awesome, friendly and easy going our group was.  Rob Whittemore drove down 12 hours from Fishing Bay YC and finished an impressive second.  When accepting his trophy, he emphasized how special the Florida group is and how the Florida circuit is great for our class.   I couldn’t agree more!  Word will certainly keep spreading and I noticed last night that 20 boats were pre registered (with a month to go) for Lake Eustis with a large contingent of snowbirds planning to make the trip south.  I suspect we’ll have more than 40 boats on the line.



Michelle posing with the Monicals pizzas, and the red dressing of course.


                    
                          Photos from the hop on hop off taxi boat ride on Friday night

The atmosphere at Tampa was amazing.  Amy Linton and her team hosted a great regatta from start to finish.  The atmosphere at Davis Island Yacht Club is paradise, especially to those of us escaping winter storm warnings.  The Yacht club allows us vans to park and camp and they have a full service bar and restaurant so you don’t have to leave the club if you don’t want to.   Multiple hoists and plenty of dock space make getting in/out smooth.  On Friday night, we took a hop on hop off water taxi through downtown Tampa to a fun bar with live music.   So much fun!   Bill Bruss and I loaned our jackets to Tom and Melanie McNally who were struggling in the “cold” temperatures as we sat there comfortably in short sleeves.   It was a great night and we looked forward to having 28 boats on the line on Saturday.  With big wind expected for Sunday, we heard rumors that we would be getting all of our races in on Saturday.   

Rick Wojnar and I would be racing together for the first time, even though he is an accomplished sailor from my home club at Clinton Lake.  Rick usually sails with his dad Chris at the Midwest District regattas and has recently started to travel more outside the district.  I picked him up at 5:30am on Saturday from the Tampa airport as he flew in on the red eye out of Denver.  I had rock star crew and the weather was looking perfect for the day with winds expected to be in the low to mid teens with gusts up to 20.   Hugh Haggerty and Allison from Ephraim also flew down for this regatta so we had multiple boats from the Midwest District representing.   

The racing was incredible in a competitive fleet that reminded me of sailing in a NAC because of the fleet was so deep with talent.   We sailed very well and had a great day finishing mid fleet in the standings.  There would be no racing on Sunday.  For finishing mid fleet we came home with a huge Mad Sails flask in recognition of that milestone.   It was the type of fleet where if you slow down or get out of rhythm just slightly, you quickly fall back in the pack.   The winds weren’t quite as strong as predicted with moderate pressure and the chop since the wind blowing across the bay.  After the top 5 or so boats, it was a hornets nest of 20 boats in every race.   The mark roundings were action packed and could be treacherous if you made one bad move.   We had many good ones and couple not-so-great ones.   When we made a minor mistake, we’d lose 5 boats just like that.   The boats in front of us never seemed to make those mistakes, but many were within reach in most of the races even thought our score may not reflect that.   Rick and I kept our focus and made adjustments and feel we improved our boat speed, breaking into the top 10 in the last race.   We would finish 13/28 oats while Hugh and Allison finished 9th on a borrowed boat.  It was a solid day in beautiful conditions in a big fleet of very friendly but very formidable competitors.   It just doesn’t get much better.  

                 
                           Rick and I photo bombed the "trophy winner" photos


Lake Eustis is coming up next on the weekend of Feb 16-17.   Register here:  http://www.regattaregistration.com/Default.aspx?page=regattalist

(22 and counting at the time of this blog post!)

It’s not too late to make plans!








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!