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 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!!!!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Next Up, Chattanooga Choo Choo!

For those of you dreaming of the sailing season starting, consider traveling to Chattanooga this weekend. The Privateer Yacht Club hosts the Chattanooga Choo Choo Flying Scot regatta every year and this year promises to be a doozy. Organizers think maybe 30 boats will be there, and I happen to know that several boats from Clinton and from Carlyle will be coming, along with Ryan Malmgren and Stacey Rieu from Madison, Bruce and Lynn Kitchen from Ohio District, and even Harry Carpenter, who will be delivering a brand new boat to Rob Fowler. Often Corky and Molly Hadden from Bay St. Louis, MS, often come north for the event as well. There will be tons of outstanding competition!
You can find a little more information at
Hope to see you there!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Jennifer and Mike Faugust Make Midwest District Proud!!

View of the club from the water
After Wednesday's lay day we ended up with fabulous weather on Thursday. Winds were about 8-10, temperatures were moderate and all was right with the world. We started an hour earlier to squeeze in races before the end of the regatta. It was one of those days where I pinch myself. We're so lucky to be able to do this!

We saw a loon near our boat and John Cassada said a pod of dolphins followed him to the race course. Shangri La!

We had two good races, each four legs, WL. Ben and I got to the upwind mark in first place in the first race, which made us very happy! And we were neck and neck with Larry Taggart the whole rest of the race, with Ryan Malmgren sneaking up at the very end to snatch the win. We grabbed second and Larry got third. What a fun fun finish!

But it was Mike and Jen Faugust who carried the flag for the Midwest District. They finished sixth in that first race, just one point ahead of Crazy Love. They needed to beat Crazy Love (Ned Johnston and Ryan Donoghue - top notch 470 sailors) by three points in the final race to sneak by them in the standings. In the last race Jennifer and Mike finished second and Crazy Love finished in a cluster behind them. They couldn't tell, had they put enough boats into Crazy Love to grab second place in this national event? It turned out they did!

Yay Faugusts!!
I know it's terribly back lit, but trust me, Jennifer and Mike are grinning very widely!!
Randy Adolphs trophied in the Challenger fleet, which we were also very proud of. I hope he comes to more national events!!

Next up for many Midwest District boats is the Chattanooga Choo Choo 4/23 and 24. For those who haven't been, I highly recommend it. Great lake, great club! Two or three boats from Carlyle will be there, Ryan and Stacey from Madison,  and at least three Clinton Lake boats, not to mention several boats from Ohio and probably down south (I'm looking at you, Corky and Molly!)

Wednesday a Blow out, Thursday Fabulouso

Well, we are back home after a wonderful wonderful week, but I have some catching up to do, considering I never posted after the postponement on Wednesday. Bottom line, the wind continued to blow with steady winds at about 26 mph, with gusts in the 30s, according to various verbal reports I heard. There never was any question, it appeared, about going out. It's nice when the decision is so clear.

Gordy's tent. Looks hobbity to me!

The rest of the day we hung around, especially around tent city. I should have mentioned sooner, there were about a dozen tent campers at the club which made the week very fun. We met some sailors new to us from Cowan Lake Sailing Association (Sean, Andy, Scott and Julius, among others), visited with fellow Midwest District sailors Bronson and Rachel Bowling, and Craig Rost and Rob Parker, plus Gordy Roberts from Ephraim, and renewed our acquaintance with Paul Lee from Detroit, who sailed with his kids, Rhys and Adrianna. Tent city was a fun subculture to the regatta and had the added appeal of being FREE and within easy walking distance of the bar where I discovered that my current favorite drink is a dark and stormy - ginger beer with rum. The first one I had I liked best and I think I need to do some research about rum types in the future. But it's all good!

Tent City and its inhabitants. See all the tents?

Tents City and its inhabitants, you can see the people better here

From left, Bronson, Rob, Scott, Julius and Sean
On top of the wind, the late afternoon brought some dramatic squalls that sent us all running to close up our tents and then dashing for the bar. That night was also the banquet, so I put on some relatively clean clothes and we headed over to the main building. We heard a little bit about each upcoming national event, first the Wife Husband at Fishing Bay (no one here to give it a plug), the NAC at Newport (Diane Kampf gave us a preview) and then next year's Midwinters. For that Larry Taggart and Carrie Berger handed out all kinds of bling, as you can see from this video of Paul Lee...


The fun never stopped!!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Blowing the Hairs off the Bears...sitting on chairs?

Well, today it's blowing about 26 or 28, depending on when you ask, so we are all on shore. I have not heard a single solitary complaint. It is just too darn much! Bronson Bowling says it's blowing the hairs off the bears, but Dave Thinel says that's wrong, it's blowing the dogs off the chains. Either way, you get the picture! I have heard some people saying it won't peak until about 3 pm, so I don't know if we'll sail today or not.

That gives me time, at least to write a bit about yesterday and the event in general.

So yesterday we had two races, one four-leg and one five-leg. The breeze stayed in the north and the seabreeze could not overcome it. Meanwhile the current was ebbing, which I think meant we should stay on the right side going upwind. We got a great start at the boat end and headed to the right, as we planned. Then the wind shifted about 20 degrees to the left and I thought that was a sign the seabreeze was coming in. So we went left. Did not pay off! Note to self, don't get suckered by a fake seabreeze. And in a fleet like this, don't separate from the smart guys!
Ben and Deb hoisting the spinn

Overall, the Midwest District sailors are holding their own. The Faugusts dropped a couple places, as did Team Sophie. In the Challenger Division Randy Adolphs is still in the trophy race!
Jennifer and Michael Faugust adjusting their rigging

I will mention that this is John Cassada's very first national event and he is having a blast! Before the event, he was figuring he'd just do this event and skip Chattanooga Choo Choo (in two weeks) and Ephraim in August, but now he's trying to figure out how to work his calendar to do them all!

John's crew Adam blocking the waves like a good crew does

This morning John realized his goose neck had sheared off (from yesterday's blow perhaps?) and I know Craig Rost has had a few equipment troubles, including a rip in his spinnaker, but we have enough sailmakers and boat builders to come to the rescue!

Craig tuning his boat

But back to yesterday's racing: the second race the current was even stronger and we paid the price at the windward mark. We were doing pretty well that race until the second upwind leg. Even accounting for the current taking us down, we tacked too early and hit the mark. Ugh! Then, in trying to get out of the way to do a circle, we hit the OFFSET mark. Argh again! So, two circles later we were back in the race, but in a fleet like that you can't make those kinds of mistakes and not pay the price! We didn't feel too bad since we heard of several other people hitting the mark and one boat even dragging it a significant distance before being able to unhook it from their rudder.

That's about all I have to report from the racing. Sadly, each race becomes a blur even before it ends. If I had a better memory I'd be able to provide more details. But maybe some of the other sailors will be able to contribute their stories. I'll go ask.