Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Link to Nice Midwinters Photos

Some great photos from the midwinters are posted on the Florida District blog:
click here for photos

All of the photos on Picassa.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Deb's Midwinters Wrap Up

Banyan Tree at Ringling Museum

Ben and SSS cat - very friendly (the cat, that is)

Jeff Linton and Amy Smith "King
and Queen of the Flyweights"
wearing their crowns

Well, the wind gods were not interested in letting us get a last day of racing in. Friday dawned quiet and sunny and Ben and I were psyched for a day of light-wind racing. We had visions of everyone being able to participate and maybe even squeezing three races in. We were about the third boat in the water, energized by our optimism. But, sadly, as soon as our boat got to the end of the dock, WHAM!, the wind came in. It seemed like the wind went from about 3 to 18 knots in the blink of an eye and never let up. Big, fat bummer.

The wind did prompt Ben to just double check the official maximum wind guidelines, which are on the fssa.com website. They are: 20 knots with gusts to 22 or 24 miles per hour with gusts to 26. Here's the link to the word document from fssa.com: condition guidelines.

So the Sarasota Sailing Squadron put out food and handed out awards and everyone packed up their boats and hit the road. We headed north. It is 35 degrees in Illinois today. I am faced with mountains of dirty laundry, mail and work..... Sarasota, 80 degree, sunny days and Caribbean blue waters are just sweet memories.

Links to the the 2011 Midwinter Championship Results

Championship Results

Thursday, March 10, 2011


This morning a monster storm came through and we stayed snug and dry in our new tent. Ben and I made a dash for the car in a lull but when we got there, the car – all the cars — were sitting in a pond. Since my feet were already sopping wet and I had capris on, I volunteered to get the car. I figured the puddle was just a few inches deep. Instead I went in up to the edge of my capris and my shoes practically floated off my feet! Still, I hopped in, picked up Ben and we headed to town for breakfast. We found our new favorite breakfast place, the Blue Dolphin, which has awesome breakfast food. My spinach and feta omelet was the best ever and the coffee was perfect. It must be a good place because we bumped into Jay Lott, fellow Scot sailor from Ephraim, who had discovered the spot a few days earlier. Coming back to the club, bellies full, we ran into other tent campers who were headed out to find a hot breakfast and dry off. We sent them to the Blue Dolphin.

Meanwhile, the race committee consulted the oracles and decided that the front coming in would make for unpredictable winds and that we should wait and finish the regatta on Friday. We have had five races so far, so we're in good shape. Now Ben and I will go to the Ringling Museum, where you can learn about the circus and see the amazing Ringling mansion and estate.

Day Two of Midwinters

Boy Howdy! Yesterday was some fun, with winds of about 18 with gusts to mid 20s or more. It was gorgeous weather; the water was Caribbean blue, and the sun on the white caps made a lovely sight, like the cover of a travel brochure. There was a spectators’ boat with a deck that was really high above the water. It had about a dozen people on it and I imagine they had great fun watching the action.
Behind the scenes, however, my fingers were puckered and my drawers were droopy with the drenching I got as front crew. I was smiling — or occasionally grimacing — the whole time.
Ben did a good job of keeping the boat flat, considering we were pretty light (320 lb). Jeff Linton has inducted us into the “fly weights club” and we are in good company, between him and his crew/wife Amy Smith and Mike and Amy Miller, who are less than either us or the Lintons.
We sat back in the boat and Sophie seemed to like that a lot. On the spinnaker legs our light weight occasionally paid off. One time we had what seemed like a three-minute continuous plane right down the rhumb line to the gate, passing a few boat on either side.
We’ll see what today brings, but we’ve got five races in already; two on Tuesday in moderate wind (that post got lost in the ether) and three in yesterday’s blow. This morning a huge storm came through, which I’ll write about shortly.

My First Midwinters...So Far So Good

This is my first post to the Midwest District Blog. I sail FS 5631 Wind Talker and started sailing last year. I am a member of Fleet 135 (Clinton, IL). This year I want to learn how to sail fast and hope to be able to keep up with some of the faster sailors.

This year I am attending my first Midwinters Regatta in Sarasota, Florida with Steve Hartman. The host this year is the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. Wow! That was my first impression of the host club, the welcoming committee, the organization, the facilities, and all the friendly sailors from across the country.

60+ boats are competing and it has been fun to watch. Unfortunately, the windy conditions (15-20 mph) are a little too much for my experience level. Steve and I decided to hitch a ride aboard Jerry Hartman's cruising boat Charisma and watch the action.

I wanted to be racing, but how can I complain when I'm drinking a cold Miller Lite on a boat in sunny Sarasota, Florida? Here is a video of the second start of Day 2 Championship Division:

The racing was great to watch! After reading some books over the winter break, it was interesting to watch the starts from our vantage point. I think I learned a thing or two from watching the pros, but we'll find out this spring when I get back in the boat.

While on board Charisma I heard story after about about many past regattas and particularly the Glow in the Dark Regatta. Steve and Jerry were former Fleet 135 regulars in Clinton, IL and highly involved with "the Glow". The Glow in the Dark was a regatta hosted annually at Clinton Lake. From what I gather, anyone who has been around Flying Scot sailing for a while has heard of The Glow. If you are like me and new to Flying Scots, apparently we missed a hell of a good time (and great sailing).

After returning to the harbor (and towing in a broken boat), I grabbed a beer with fellow Fleet 135 sailor John Heizer. While at the bar, we heard Nautical Bob on the microphone referencing The Glow and telling those gathering for the top gun briefing how he earned his nickname at the Glow in the Dark. I thought this was very interesting because (1) I just heard several stories about The Glow and (2) The Glow regatta will be the venue for the Midwest District Championships. I tracked down Nautical Bob and he explained how he got his nickname:

I'm appreciating that regattas can provide great sailing and great company. I'm taking notes because the the Sarasota Sailing Squadron and the racing committee is doing a great job so far. The Clinton Lake Sailing Association will not be hosting The Glow until September, but I'm already looking forward to hosting these great sailors at our club. Hopefully a few of them will make the trip.

There are still a few days left at the Midwinters. I'm sure Deb will fill you in the details. As a newbie attending my first national regatta, I'm already looking forward to my next Midwinters.

Hopefully the wind will die down so we can get out on the racecourse...

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

First Day at Sarasota

Yesterday was the first day of racing at the actual Midwinters. The club, Sarasota Sailing Squadron, has two ramps with long docks, and one hoist. The organizers developed a pretty creative system to help get all the boats in the water. We have one number that goes on our bow and on our trailer and also matches our parking spot number. They have a posse of young men driving several tractors that put us in the water, then return our trailer to its designated spot. Coming in, they see our bow number, drive off and get the trailer in that spot, arrive at the ramp with our trailer, help get our boat on the trailer and then drive off to drop it in our spot before zipping off for the next boat.

At least eight boats from the Midwest district are here: Jay Lott and Cain Gottleman, Ryan Malmgren and Carrie Carpenter, (both from Ephraim) Shannon and Mark Wilfert, Chuck Howting and Luther Torgerson (Madison), Larry Klick (Medicine Lake), Eric Bussell and Steve Hartman, John Heizer and Jen Liu (both from Clinton Lake), Felicia Bamer (Carlyle Lake) and us.

We had nice light wind yesterday, which Ben and I really enjoyed. Gotta run! I see the tractor coming with our boat on it and I gotta go help put it in.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Davis Island, MidWinter WarmsUps

Well, hard to believe but it has been 80 degrees down here in Florida! Saturday and Sunday we did the Davis Island warm up regatta. We had 29 boats - our Midwest fleet was nicely represented with Jay Lott and Ryan Malmgren from Ephraim, Shannon and Mark Wilfert from Madison, and Ben and me from Clinton Lake.

Saturday night was Hawaiian shirt night, though the dress ranged beyond shirts to dresses, flip flops (mine but no one else saw them!), doo-rags and more. The organizers had almost a dozen sponsors, so there were tons of prizes, both for best Hawaiian outfits, farthest distance traveled (our own Jay Lott, who drove three days on his own from Ephraim!!) and closest, Jeff and Amy Linton, who I believe can walk to the club if they are so inclined. Carrie Carpenter won best Hawaiian outfit for women with a lovely dress in an exotic Hawaiian print. Sandy Eustis, of Keowee Sailing Club in South Carolina, won for men. Our table helped in the voting, since he was sitting with us and with Tom Hohler and his wife, Chris. Since voting was a voice vote and Tom has a really loud voice, I'm telling you, really loud!, we pushed the voting to Sandy!

The race committee was tough, "promising" us 10 races over the two days. No one I talked to was thrilled at that prospect, I can tell you! We never got that many races in, which was a relief. Still Saturday we had four races. That's a lot for those of us who haven't sailed for more than six months. The winds settled a bit and clocked right as the day went on, not counting some dramatic flip flops the last race.

Today we woke to really high winds and white caps everywhere. Jeff Linton announced he wasn't going out in those conditions and all the crew that were nearby cheered him. But an hour later the wind came down, so that we all changed our mind and headed out. We were looking at a nice, mellow day of 5-7, though there were still waves. Unfortunately, by about halfway up the first windward leg the wind built to the point where we ran one race and then race committee sent everyone in. I think there were a few breakdowns but everyone stayed upright and came off the water smiling.

The regatta committee did a great job; it was really well run and out-of-towners were made to feel really really welcome. On to Sarasota Sailing Squadron!!

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Hitting the Road for the Midwinters

Running around trying to both pack up for the trip to Davis Island (for the Midwinter warm ups) and Sarasota Sailing Squadron for the Midwinters, and tie up loose ends at work. I need another 10 hours!! Ah well, once we hit the road none of that will matter, and whatever doesn't get done can be dealt with later. If we can just remember sunglasses and sails we'll be all set. The snow has just melted here in Urbana, Illinois, and it's kind of hard to get my head around packing for sunny and 70-degree weather. Sigh, life's tough, isn't it?!

Who else is headed south from the Midwest District? Will we see you on the road?