Sunday, March 23, 2014

And then there were the rest of us!

Committee Boat bearing down on us as they shift the course on the last day

Eric and Chris accept their trophy!

Okay, if Ryan had a pretty memorable regatta in not-always-positive ways, I'd say Bill Vogler had a highly positive regatta. Bill had recruited longtime Flying Scot sailor Jack McClurkin to crew for him. Jack flew in from Chicago Monday and we were all very glad to see him. It had been too long. It turns out his "retirement job" driving the water taxi in Chicago really cuts into his sailing time. That's a big bummer.

Anyway, every time Ben and I looked up from out boat, there was Bill, sailing fast and high and looking really really good. We saw a lot of his stern! He told Ryan that he was really pleased with how he was sailing. Maybe Jack is lucky crew and you should consider trying to get him to join you more often, Bill! I can't remember if Bill got new sails at the Midwinters, but he was looking quite spiffy. The last day may have been, at least in some ways, his best day. The first race he finished 6th. In this crowd any single-digit finish is something to be proud of. The second race, alas, he was second to the windward mark but, due to some unfortunate course choices, ended up almost second to last at the finish. Still, he was smiling at the end, and that's really what it's all about!

We saw Mike and Jen Faugust in the back of the fleet more often than we should have. I think it is safe to say they had some very good races, including a 5th place finish the first day, and some finishes they were not so happy about. They finished 13th, one place ahead of Bill Vogler.

Actually, I just realized that the three Midwest District boats (not counting Ryan) finished in a cluster. Faugusts, then Bill Vogler, and then Ben and me finishing 15th. Okay, speaking of finishing 15th, team Sophie did not have their best regatta. We could not get the boat going those first three days. In retrospect, I would say the first day we protected the right all day, anticipating the wind, which started out in the north, would clock right and end up coming in from the south/southeast. That never happened and the right side was NOT the place to be. The locals said afterward (of course!) that the left and out in the lake is always the place to be when the wind is in the north. Maybe one day we'll learn that lesson.

Ben and I got our groove  on in the third race that day. Unfortunately, we were about third place when they abandoned the race due to lack of wind, and perhaps dramatic wind shifts. Drat!

On Wednesday we had three races and the winds continued out of the north/northeast, but we had no boat speed at all. We were really scratching our heads and trying not to feel too discouraged. The same for us on Thursday. We had a great start and, although there were several major shifts, the race committee was on the ball with regard to moving marks and announcing changes. For some reason, however, they abandoned the race after four of the five legs. Ryan was in the lead, but we were definitely in the top 10 in that race. Our best races this regatta were definitely those that didn't end up counting. The ran a second, long race and Ben and I had our hats handed to us. Ugh!

Anyway, finally on Friday, we decided maybe our sail was the problem and we shifted mainsails. Granted the sail we used most of the week was two years old, but that didn't seem too bad. It was only on reflection, when we realized we'd raced in at least two regattas per month for six months each year that we realized just how "used" that sail probably is. Our newer sail is supposed to be for heavy winds, but we decided we had nothing to lose. And we performed much better, as our standing shows. Lesson: old sails hurt!

Anyway, that's an awful lot of talking and I've probably lost everyone who came by, but there it is, the Midwest report from the Midwinters!

Ryan's Regatta

Apologies for not writing more regularly. Not sure too many people look at this blog, but I should have done a day-by-day report. The problem was, due to my responsibilities for publicity for the Flying Scot class, I was writing a race report every day for other outlets (especially Scuttlebutt). Somehow that was enough for my feeble brain. And these posts, to my mind, should have a Midwest district bent. If you'd like to see daily reports, however brief, you can go to

I'm glad to see Eric Bussell posted a bunch of information about his racing experiences. I will try to write about those experiences of Ryan Malmgren, Bill Vogler, the Faugusts and Ben and me. I am going to do this in several installments. This is the first one.

First, let's talk about Ryan's regatta. Ryan had longtime sailor Joe Brake as his crew. Joe is young, fast and strong. Unfortunately, he was felled by some food poisoning, which took him out of action the second day of the regatta.

The first day he and Joe had a 4th and a 5th, so they were definitely in the hunt. When it looked like Joe was out of commission, another Flying Scot sailor, Kim Thinel (from Sarasota, FL) offered to crew for Ryan. That would put Kim and her hubby, Dave, out of the running, but they were willing for Kim to do that. Incredible, right? Well, it turned out that the judges insisted on someone closer to Joe Brake's height and weight, so Dave ended up crewing for Ryan and Kim stayed on show.

That act meant that Kim was awarded the Douglas Sportmanship award at the end of the regatta. But I am getting ahead of myself. So, where were we? Ah, yes, day two. It turned out the second day, which was Wednesday, had such nice conditions that we had three races.

Ryan and Dave did fine the first two, finishing 3rd and 9th. But in the third race they had a rogue boat come in on port at the windward mark where they had no room and forced Ryan to hit the mark (plus I think Ryan hit the guy's boat. He had nowhere to go). In the process they lost a ton of boats and finished 19th. Boy! Was there some yelling!! The other guy withdrew from the race, at least. But Ryan was still steamed. He might have been able to get redress from the judges, but it never dawned on him to ask for it, so there he was, with a 19th place, which knocked him pretty low in the standings.

After that  Joe came back, fitter than ever, and they continued their campaign. On Thursday the race committee set a longer course, and added a leg, so we had a five-leg windward-leeward course. There were some dramatic wind changes but the race committee adjusted the course cleanly and quickly. For some reason that, quite honestly, is still unclear to me, the race was abandoned at the end of the fourth leg. Ryan was in the lead. We were not far behind, so I can easily imagine (as can you, no doubt) how he felt. When the actual race took place, Ryan, pretty shaken from all his bad juju, came in 16th.

Next came Friday, with southern winds that acted more like lake breezes, Ryan had two decent races with 8th place finishes both times. A good showing, but not enough to recover from his earlier races. Still, Ryan was looking forward to spending the weekend in New Orleans with his wife, Stacey, who flew down Friday to be with him, so all's well that ends well! We may see Ryan in Chattanooga, which would be great fun!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Midwinters Races 1&2

[Intro Video] The weather looked perfect for Day 1 of racing. After battling the cold, wind, and waves in the Warm Up regatta (there was nothing warm about it), we welcomed the sunny skies are warmer temps. Chris and I hoped that all the bad starts (there were many) were behind us. We finished a respectable fifth even though we were over the start line in race 1 and hit the pin at the start of the third race. We were doing better in each race and getting the rust out from the long, cold winter. We were eager to see how well we sailed vs. the other 6 boats in the Challenger Division. We were confident that we can keep up with the faster sailers. Ryan Malmgren and Joe helped us measure our mast and ensure that were rigged corrected. It is awesome going to regatta the sailmakers help you personally and Ryan's always willing to help! Unfortunately, I made a horrible mistake at the start of the first race and was slow in bad air. Now there are only 6 boats on a huge line, so why end up behind two boats behind the line? Good question, right? The wind had died down and was shifty. I am not good in those conditions and the horrible start were pretty much nails in the coffin. We had a good port tack start with plenty of speed in the second race. I was determined to be fast at the start and you can see us moving pretty well in the video above. The boats to the left went further left and the wind was favorable over there, but we were in a solid third place until I somehow rounded the wrong downwind mark. Not only did we lose a spot or two, but I didn't know I sailed the wrong course until I was summoned by the judge. He apologized for breaking the bad news to me and I had to apologize to my crew for being a dumbass. Ugh. We were sailing fast and confident at this point, so we decided were going to go out and win the third race. We nailed the pin end start. We let two boats go left and I should have covered, but we were in contention for the lead in a solid third place. We were telling ourselves we could pass them and give them and make it a fun finish, but the wind died suddenly and they abandoned the race. I suppose that is a fitting end to our day, but there was ice cold Miller Lite in the cooler and trip to Bourbon Street planned for the evening. It's hard to get too bummed out when you are racing in New Orleans. I'm happy that the sailors in the Challenger Division are fast. I feel we can win any race and end up DFL in any given race, so the competition is solid. Check out for race results. The regatta has also been picked up on That is pretty cool! Hopefully we can start putting together some respectable finishes. Here is video of our solid pin-end start that ultimately didn't matter because the race was abandoned. [pin end start video] Thanks for reading! Eric

Monday, March 17, 2014

Warm Up Wrap UP

Well, it turned out the wind came down and the temperatures went up (a little)  so Ben and I headed out to do the warm-up regatta. They scheduled three short races, windward-leeward twice around. The whole event lasted about two hours. The water was quite lumpy but the wind had come down so much that I was on the low side as often as I was playing the vang.

 Ryan tried out his new radial main sail.

 Committee boat  with Eric and Chris (5631)

Joe and Ryan setting up

Ryan and Joe head out to the course.

Eric and Chris tried out their new spinnaker (which I don't have a photo of) and Ben and I worked the kinks out since we hadn't sailed since last September.

About 11 boats started the first race and a few came in as the afternoon went by, and we were all in by 2:30. We'll have a top gun event at 4:30 and the competitors' meeting (with lots of yummy hors d'oeuvres) at about 6 pm.

Then the fun really begins tomorrow, with warmer temps and maybe some sun!

Chilly, Windy Weather

Yesterday (Sunday) was warm with light breezes as we set up our boat,  greeted all our old friends and made some new ones. Other Midwest sailors here: Ryan Malmgren, sailing with Joe Brake (of Carolina District), Eric Bussell and Chris Tesdal, Mike and Jen Faugust, Bill Vogler and Jack McClurkin and us...hmmm, I thought there were six boats, but maybe I mis-counted!

We walked from our bed and breakfast and ate a great dinner at a new restaurant, Brisbi's. I had fish tacos and Ben had shrimp with grits. I love New Orleans food!

Today dawned very cold and windy. We are about to have the skippers' meeting for the warm up regatta. People are gathering, but I confess that I am not enthused about the sailing. The wind doesn't bother me at all, but the cold....BRRRR!!

MidWinters Begins!

 At least six boats from the Midwest District are in New Orleans to take part in the Midwinter Regatta. Here is a short video one sailor, Eric Bussell (Clinton Lake Sailing Association) posted!