Tuesday, June 21, 2016

And Here's Really the Most Important News : Travel Trophy

I have been remiss in reminding people about the Midwest District Travel Trophy. Indy was the first regatta that qualified and this weekend's Egyptian Cup at Carlyle Lake is the second. Other qualifying regattas are Ephraim, the Glow and the Districts, which are being held at Delavan Lake in mid-August (check fssa.com for details).

This year , because the Districts are not connected to a regularly occurring regatta, you have an extra opportunity to qualify for the trophy. Start planning your race schedule and get out there on the road!! As this blog is trying to show you, it's fun fun fun!!!

Berlin Regatta

Only photo so far from Berlin. Thank goodness my mouth isn't hanging open like it usually is.  More photos coming...
This past weekend Ben and I drove six hours to Berlin Lake in Ohio, near Akron. Berlin is a multi-class regatta, with Thistles, Highlanders, Scots and a Laser/Force5/Sunfish division. This weekend I remembered why I don't love multi-class regattas. Several times one fleet was starting while another was finishing. At one finish there was a Sunfish stalled at the line, which blocked us. We ended up in irons trying to avoid him and another Flying Scot and sat there while a couple more Scots finished ahead of us. (Sound of teeth gnashing).

Still, it was a fun weekend. Again we saw Bruce Kitchen, met his son, Nathan, who was sailing in Lynn's place, and Mark and Maria Benner, Frank and Marianne Gerry (Berlin is really their "home" club, where their kids grew up), plus several sailors from Berlin we see on the circuit, including George and Rachel, Tom Dawson, Marjorie (sailing with her dad), Rick Banning (sailing with his wife), and Jim Diffily, whose wife, Paula, we also met.

In addition, this event is clearly a "family" reunion for the club. So many people who grew up there, returned, with their kids in tow, and visited all weekend. Jim Diffily proudly talked of his kids and his 8 grandkids, several of whom were there this weekend. Did I mention there were tons of kids? That made the meals very enjoyable.

Saturday the wind was ghostlike. I don't like to speak ill of the race committee, but there was so little wind I sat in front of the shroud trying to hold the jib out to make some kind of surface. Even the Thistles were dead still. You know there's no wind when you see that! And I shouldn't complain since Ben and I eked out a win, with Bruce and Nathan accelerating with some fresh breeze they found just 100 yards from the finish! Thankfully race committee called it a day after that.

That evening Berlin Yacht Club outdid itself with appetizers that stretched over two tables and included shrimp, cherries, some crazy yummy dips and more. It was a feast ... and then came dinner!!

The funniest part about Saturday were these kids next to us ... maybe 4-years-old? 5? Who were munching on these cheese balls, like Cheetos but spherical. Bruce Kitchen first asked for one. Naaaah, said the little boy. Bruce begged. Then some more of us started to beg. The boy shook his head, grinning, no no no. They were his! But soon, he shyly offered them around. Then the adults were trying to toss them in their own mouths. I confess both Ben and I fell off the picnic bench trying to catch them, but no luck. It's true that Nathan, Bruce's son, showed us how it was done, but the funniest moment was when a second little boy sidled up to see if he could play. He offered a cheese ball around and Ben accepted the offer. The little boy threw it toward Ben's mouth ... and it went RIGHT IN!!! High point of the night, IMHO!

Sunday didn't look good, but miracle of miracles, at the appointed start time of 9:30 the wind had filled in nicely from the south and we had three fine races. Definitely a full regatta. Bruce and Ben were battling down to the last race. At that point we had two firsts and two seconds and so did Bruce. We realized we had to keep Bruce from winning the last race in order to clinch the regatta. Luckily the last race was a single lap, so we stuck to Bruce like white on rice, as they say. We were so busy covering Bruce and trying to slow him down that we both ended up mid-fleet at the windward mark. No worries, just keep Bruce from the front and it's all good! Anyway, in the end we finished 4th and he was 6th I think, so mission accomplished. It definitely gave me a taste of what's to come at Carlyle Labor Day weekend in their match racing event. Yikes!!

More Catching Up: Wife-Husband and Berlin Lake (Ohio)

Boy, June is a hard month to keep up with! No sooner had we sailed Cowan Lake's Pig Roast Regatta, than we "had" to drive 15 hours to Deltaville, VA, and the annual Wife-Husband Regatta. I've always wanted to sail at Fishing Bay and it lived up to my hopes and more. First of all, it's on the Chesapeake and gorgeous, plus the club is on a spit of land so they have water on both sides. You pull into the club and on the left are slips for big boats and a hoist and to the left is a club house and a ramp. Something for everyone! Did I mention the pool?

With 32 boats, turn out was good and competition was fierce! As you can see from the results (go to fssa.com and click on regatta results) plenty of good sailors had at least one finish in the double digits, with the exceptions being the top two finishers - the Lintons and Roger and Kate Sharp (congratulations you all!). And we'd include Tyler and Carrie Andrews in that list, except that when the wind built significantly on Sunday, they came in before the third race...
Carrie is expecting in September, after all!!


Cupcakes and more courtesy of Diane
The happy couple!! They were surprised.


This is Lynn, the mastermind
Speaking of the expectant parents, Lynn Bruss (Chattanooga) and Diane Kampf (Massapoag, Mass.) organized such a thoughtful baby shower for Tyler and Carrie. They lured the couple upstairs after dinner Saturday, where they'd decorated and Diane had made cupcakes and everything. The only hard part was that not everyone had heard about it ... considering the plans were made on Facebook and they were trying to keep it a secret, it was hard to send out a global message.

Anyway, sailing, sailing. Saturday the wind started out nice but by the time the race started it was light and shifty. Still, it was race-able. Then the wind died entirely and we sat for a long time hoping for the sea breeze. It came, and that was nice, but it only established itself further out into the bay. The race committee was convinced they had breeze where they were and started a second race. But then something happened I'd never seen...the morning's breeze not only stayed around but conquered the sea breeze. Chaos ensued. We started the race, then the morning's breeze came back and not only overtook the sea breeze but made such a shift of direction that the race committee abandoned the race. After that they were so discouraged they sent us in. We had a lovely sail in, but no more racing.

Sunday the wind was more steady and even built significantly so that by the second and third races we saw lots of whitecaps and other excitement. But the puffs built steadily so there were few surprises. The race committee managed three races for the championship fleet in these marvelous conditions and we all came in completely and totally wiped out.  The challengers held two races, so they were entirely pulled out and packed up by the time we got back to the dock, which worked lovely for everyone.

It was a very long drive for us and I think  I think Ben and  I might have been the only Midwest District sailors. We hung with our friends Mark and Maria Benner (Ohio District), who also camped...I think we were the only two camping couples. At least in tents. We also saw Bruce and Lynn Kitchen, also from the Ohio District. Ryan and Stacey were going to come but Chloe, Ryan's daughter decided she would attend her high school graduation ceremony. Sailors still all enjoyed the Mad Sails-sponsored keg!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Just Because I Forget to Post Doesn't Mean Things Aren't Happening!! (Indy and Cown)

Sailing season is in full gear now, which of course makes it harder to post regularly. Though, to be honest, there is also some laziness involved! I'll play some quick catch up ~ We had our first Midwest District regatta the weekend of May 21 and 22 at Eagle Creek Sailing Club in Indianapolis. The regatta was ably hosted by Geoff and Myra Endris and was lovely as usual. For those who might remember, last year Ben and I got caught in a microburst that snapped our mast. The majority of the fleet escaped by not putting up their spinnaker and the monster just swept by. I confess I had a tiny bit of PTSD this weekend. But the weather cooperated beautifully. We had just lovely breeze and nice, cool temperatures.
This photo is not from Indy b/c I forgot my camera, but I like this shot of our spinnaker. This was in Chattanooga...

Carrie and Tyler came back from Deep Creek for the regatta and Frank and Marianne traveled from the Chicago suburbs as well. In addition, Bruce and Lynn Kitchen traveled from Cowan Lake to defend their title from last year. There was a bit of a snafu in scheduling the regatta this year and I did not help matters. The regatta will generally be the second weekend of June, right before Father's Day weekend. But this year it turns out that is when the Wife-Husband regatta is. So Geoff checked with me to find another date that might work. Unfortunately, I didn't think to check with our district governor (sorry Bronson!) or the Ohio District (sorry Hoover Lake/Buckeye Regatta), so we managed to reschedule in such a way that it conflicted with Carlyle Lake's Open House, which the Flying Scots were hosting, and the Buckeye Regatta, which was in Bruce and Lynn's district.

All of which is to say, the fleet was on the small side for the Indy regatta, but boy, was the competition stiff! Ben and I were really pleased with our performance; it's not every day we beat Carrie and Tyler, much less Bruce and Lynn and Frank and Marianne!! I'm looking for the results and having no luck...so I'll have to track them down and post them later.

That's Harry Carpenter's Pittsburgh Steelers spinnaker


Next up was Cowan Lake, which was this past weekend. Cowan Lake is in Ohio, so not part of the Midwest District but an easy four hour drive, so we often go. Cowan's regatta, which used to be called the Pig Roast but now might be the Flying Pig, based on the tshirt I got, has a Hog fleet and an Oinkers fleet. There were 8 boats in the Hog fleet, led by Harry and Karen Carpenter and Bruce and Lynn Kitchen, and six boats in the Oinkers fleet. For some reason I did not take any photos, but I did see someone on a safety boat with a nice looking camera, so maybe photos will be forthcoming.

The conditions were pretty nice on Saturday. Cowan often has fairly shifty winds, but they were manageable. On Sunday the wind picked up and, to my mind at least, it felt more and more like a roller coaster: not just up and down in velocity but side to side to a dizzying degree! Still, Harry and Bruce held it together, sailing steady and strong, to take first and second, respectively. Nice sailing!

We'll be seeing Bruce and Lynn, as well as other friends, at this weekend's Wife-Husband, being held in Deltaville, VA, at Fishing Bay Yacht Club. I'll try to be better about photos, etc. for that adventure!

The regatta organizers (thanks Mike Conrad!) already posted the results to fssa.com, so they are here

and also here:

Monday, May 9, 2016

42 Boats: Can't Think of a Better Way to Spend Mothers Day!

There were 42 boats at Lake Norman this weekend, which is pretty impressive all by itself. Factor in that it was Mothers Day weekend, and it's extra impressive.  I counted only about six wife-husband boats,  so an awful lot of sailing wives were on their own on Sunday....


Joe, Beau, Stacy and Beckett Brake

But Stacy Brake, sailing with her husband, Joe, (below, right) and their two boys, Beau and Beckett had a pretty much perfect weekend. They sailed all together as a family for the whole regatta, and it was blowing stink!! This was the first regatta for Beau and Beckett, though they sail constantly with their parents. I'd say both days the steady winds were about 10-13 with gusts in the low 20s. BOTH days. Whew! They got multiple ovations during the awards ceremony, not to mention several top five finishes.

And speaking of cute family things, check out this sweater!! That's Joe Brake on the right, whose friend, Laura Bolin, knit it for their boys, Beau and Beckett. Joe is passing it on to Tyler - and Carrie- Andrews. Carrie couldn't come to Lake Norman, but Tyler was a happy recipient of the little treasure!

Joe Brake (right) passing on a treasured handknit sweater to Tyler Andrews, whose wife, Carrie, is expecting their first child. The sweater was knit for Joe's boys by Flying Scot sailor (now of the Pacific District) Laura Bolin. and has been outgrown by them. Can't wait to see it on the soon-to-be-born Andrews, Harry and Karen Carpenter's first grandchild, btw. Also, apparently it's been worn by several other Flying Scot sailors' offspring, which I hadn't realized!!
The race committee this weekend was masterful. They got races of promptly, with no messing around. They communicated well with the fleet over the radio. They probably did well with flags and horns too, but it was so windy I never heard them and I was too busy hiking to see the flags!
Sean O'Donnell hosted the event and it was his first time. So, in addition to running the show he somehow had energy to also place second overall in a very decisive performance. Way to go !

In addition, the fleet hosted a clinic Friday afternoon with both Brian  Hayes and Bill Wiggins. Although it was gusty Friday also, they managed to do some on the water video-ing and then analyze it exhaustively back on land.

And speaking of videos, Sean O'Donnell's son took some great videos that are really fun to watch!

As for Midwest representation, we had three boats I think: Eric Bussell (Windtalker) with Geoff Endris (Blown Away) crewing for him; Frank and Marianne Gerry; and Ben and me. Frank and Marianne  made it in time for the clinic, only to tip over. In all the years I've known them, that's the first time they've capsized .. and they didn't even turtle. Marianne said the water was nice and warm, so they washed their boat out nicely. I think they capsize  once per decade, so the two CO2 cartridges we were able to give Frank (we don't have that kind of vest anymore) should last him for quite a while! Seeing that, Eric and Geoff decided to wash out Windtalker, too. Only they did it the last race Saturday. Did I mention how gusty it was? They also didn't turtle. Nice job! Eric calculated they were in about 10th when they went over and I know they had several other very good finishes, so all in all it was a very successful weekend for them. Ben and I were also very happy with our performance, except for a poor start in the third race on Saturday. Those were pretty trying conditions and we are both still a little sore. How awesome is it to be able to go away for a weekend and have such an exciting and challenging experience?

Results are already posted at fssa.com.....some day we'll even get host clubs to include crew names!!

Speaking of results, I have to give an enormous shout out to Bob Fields of the LNYC Flying Scot fleet, who made these gorgeous, one-of-a-kind Lazy Susans out of reclaimed wood. To hear him describe each type of wood and point out the nail holes was just fabulous! I will treasure these forever!!
There is Bob Fields, who made these beautiful trophies, in the background.


Attention Midwest District members: next race up and the first in our travel trophy series is the Indianapolis regatta May 21-22. I'm sorry we've conflicted with Carlyle's Open House, but hopefully others will be able to make it!!great video

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Headed to the Great 48: Caught in the Derby Crush

Just on our way to the Great 48 and putting a few hours in Thursday after work. Little did we realize that even starting in Indianapolis, hotels are all booked solid - Derby traffic!! We had one option, but they were charging $250! At that price, Ben and I will sleep in our car. But we finally squeezed into a La Quinta in Columbus, IN, for a mere $139. Feels like a bargain! Plus the woman on the phone was so friendly and she had such a calming voice. Just what I needed.

In other news, some of you may know that I have a book about racehorse Rachel Alexandra  coming out this time next year. Well, tomorrow is the Kentucky Oaks, the race that is the filly equivalent of the Derby. In 2009 Rachel won it by more than 20 lengths, and tomorrow her daughter, Rachel's Valentina, is the  favorite at 7-2 odds. Hope I get to Lake Norman in time to watch her race on television. I would NOT want to be at Churchill Downs this weekend. It'll be an absolute mob scene.

The Oaks is at 5:45 pm, 11th race of the day. Tune in, if you can!

Monday, April 25, 2016

Chattanooga, What A Hoot!!


The fleet! gorgeous, right? The orange spinnaker belongs to Rob Fowler's new boat photo: Jim Davis


Well, Chattanooga sure was a blast again this year!

With 29 boats, about double the typical turnout, it was as if all the stars aligned: Birmingham Sailing Club, one of the largest southern fleets outside of Florida, decided to start traveling and three or four boats came from there; Lynn and Bill Bruss from Chattanooga spent the winter racing in Florida, and so Mark and Michelle Taylor returned the favor, traveling up from Tampa for the weekend; Lake Keowee sent three boats; and the Midwest District continued to support the event with five boats from Madison, Carlyle and Clinton.
Part of the Midwest crew ~ from left, Stacey Rieu, Ryan Malmgren, Rachel & Bronson Bowling, Eric Bussell, Linda & Gregg Vitt

Pretty darn awesome!

PLUS, two new boats made their debut at the event. Lynn and Bruce Kitchen from Cowan Lake, Ohio, brought their Ohio-State-red, brand-new boat, Kitchen Sink III, and Chattanooga Fleet Captain Rob Fowler took delivery of his lovely gray and white, brand-new boat (with bright orange, Tennessee spinnaker!) the evening before the event. Harry Carpenter not only brought the boat down but sailed with Rob for the regatta.

And we had fabulous weather. Plenty of wind on Saturday allowed us to get three races in. There were many hard-fought contests: at the end of the day the top three boats (Mark and Michelle Taylor, Harry Carpenter and Rob Fowler, and Richard Wade and Jim Leonard) were separated by three points. Deeper into the fleet there were numerous clusters of equally close contests.

Saturday night, in addition to a delicious dinner (thank you to Linda Lind and her tireless crew of kitchen elves) we had a corn hole/bean bag contest.




Lo and behold, it turns out the Midwest District had a ringer in its midst! John Cassada, who had never played before, was, in any case, an experienced horseshoe player. Once he got the rules down (not all that complicated, of course!), he and Eric Bussell took the day, beating outAdam and Peyton 21-0 in the final round. I gather John's steady consistency and Eric's occasional flash of brilliance carried the day. This was particularly amazing considering most rounds were taking 30 minutes or more and John and Eric dispatched their rivals in about 5 minutes!!

Sunday brought much lighter winds, but we still managed to get one race in before it died. Race committee did a masterful job, planning a five-leg WL course and quickly adjusting, with a shortened second windward leg and finish leaving all sailors, no matter where they placed breathing a sigh of relief. The standings definitely got scrambled some, with some strong finishes from deeper in the fleet (I'm looking at you, Sandy Eustis!).




29 boats pretty much filled up the Privateer docks. But there will always be room for one more...You may have missed this year, but put Choo Choo on your racing calendar for next year.


Bruce and Lynn Kitchen, and others, admiring their new boat, Kitchen Sink III

Meanwhile, I'll post results as soon as I can create an Excel spread sheet that includes CREW!! Grrrrrrr!!!!