Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Choo!! Choo!!

We had two Midwest District boats at the Chattanooga Choo Choo this past weekend. This is a regatta Ben and I go to every year: the sailors at Chattanooga (Privateer Yacht Club) are incredibly talented; they are incredibly friendly; and the lake is gorgeous. In addition, this is the very first Flying Scot regatta we ever went to back in 2005. We showed up one week after buying our boat, not even really knowing how to rig it, and everyone from the club came and introduced themselves, showed us how to rig it, rescued us when we got T-boned and then capsized. It was a memorable weekend....!!! And so, we come back every single year....we have been teased that maybe we should become members of the Dixie Lakes District, too...That is silly, of course, though we are considering going to a race at Muscle Shoals over Memorial Day weekend....

This year the club had rebuilt its club house and it's almost finished. When it IS finished, it'll be amazing! They have a gorgeous deck overlooking the lake; that's the best part of the whole building...
Here's the deck, with a bunch of people heckling us as we sailed by!  :-)  

Anyway, about the sailing ~ Eric Bussell  (Clinton Lake Sailing Association) brought a new crew, a buddy of his, Luke, who lives in Louisville. Luke had never sailed before, I don't think, but he was an awesome crew. He learned really fast, and he was always looking around trying to see what other boats were doing. I predict we'll be seeing a lot of Luke this season! Eric and Luke went out early on Friday to practice. For some reason the TVA authority was patrolling the lake and pulled over three sailboats and a jetski. Eric was one of the sailboats they pulled over ... while they had the spinnaker up! Here is Luke, trying to learn how to take the spinnaker down while the police were calling for them to stop. Finally, the spinnaker came down and they were ready to face the authorities. "Do you have your registration?" they asked Eric. "I have no idea," was his reply. Not meaning to be smart or anything, but he just didn't know for sure. Not a good beginning! Anyway, they soon found a sticker on the boat that showed they were up to date and they were allowed to go on their way. Interesting introduction to sailing for Luke!

As for the sailing: winds were predicted 8-10 mpg out of the south, southwest, but that was not to be. Winds were flukey and light out of the north (!) It was one of those days where there were lanes of wind. If you were in a lane, you were in good shape, otherwise, forget about it! I worked so hard, hiking to windward, trying hard not to upset the balance of the boat or otherwise mess with its speed. That kind of sailing is harder work sometimes that sailing in heavy wind!

We chased Tom Clark (pictured above) around the course the first race, but felt good beating Rob Fowler and Ed Craig, two sailors we don't often show our stern to.

Toward the end of the race the promised southern wind came in and we were so happy to get the promised wind. Here you can see the flag on the committee boat is finally flying!

Unfortunately that wind lasted only long enough for race committee to change the course and lengthen the legs. Then the wind died and we started in zero wind, ghosting across the line. My heart was not really in that one! But soon enough the wind did come in. Of course, it filled in on the right and we were on the left, so we were back in the pack, while Ed Craig, Rob Fowler, and Sandy Eustis lead the crowd around the course. Eric and Luke had a high finish, too!

The third race was going to be ours! Winds were stronger and steadier, we were third at the windward mark and caught both boats ahead of us at the leeward mark, rounding just ahead of Willson and Bonnie Jenkins. Trying to be strategic we proceeded to cover Willson, since everyone else was significantly further behind. Well, in the process of covering Willson, we managed to sail into a hole in the middle of the course, while Ed Craig and Rob Fowler snuck up along the right shore, caught some crazy wind and cruised to the finish while we gnashed our teeth!

Three light wind races and the race committee decided to squeeze one more in before the keg was tapped. We got off the line well and managed to make it to the windward mark in first place. There was even enough wind to keep the spinnaker full. We went down the center of the course, while several boats went left (against that same shore that paid off in the third race...). The race was shortened to the next (downwind) mark, at which point we'd slipped back to sixth or seventh. Alas! Racing was finished for the day and we all headed in to commiserate or celebrate, depending on how our day went.

No more wind came our way Sunday, so we settled for the four races Saturday. Ed Craig had three first places and a third, winning the Choo Choo Cup for the first time in a long time. Yay Ed and Tom (his brother and crew)!  That's Ed second from left and Tom at the far right.

 As soon as I track down the results, I will post them here. Meanwhile, we're off to Lake Norman for the Great 48 this next weekend (May 5&6). I know Frank Gerry, also from Clinton Lake, will be there, and I'll keep an eye out for other Midwest District sailors.

Til then, fair winds!