Monday, June 30, 2014

Midwest Districts Full of Excitement

When you see the Baha'i Temple you know you're at Sheridan Shores
The 2014 Midwest Districts were hosted by Sheridan Shores Yacht Club in Wilmette, Ill, on June 28 & 29. We had beautiful weather, strong winds and great food. Friday afternoon the annual single-handed races were held. With six competitors and enough wind to run two races, Sheridan Shores fleet captain Mike Fuller came out the winner. Yay Mike!!

 Eight out of town boats made the trek to Lake Michigan and, together with Sheridan Shores sailors, we had a field of 14 competitors. That group included Frank Gerry, FSSA president; Bill Vogler, FSSA vice president; Harry Carpenter, boat builder; and Ryan Malmgren, sailmaker, not to mention your very own Ben Williams, District Governor. An august group, right?
Bill Vogler at the finish

Although storms were predicted later in the afternoon the very, very capable race committee, led by Ross Adams, got us out and racing by 11 a.m. on Saturday. Getting out of the Sheridan Shores harbor is always fun since you have to weave your way through hordes of boats tied up at mooring balls. For those of us used to the Midwest's wide open spaces, it's a very different experience! But nothing beats sailing out of the harbor, looking to your right and seeing the Chicago skyline...unless it's looking behind you to see the gorgeous Baha'i temple, which sits just inland from the yacht club!

If you look to the right you can get a sense of how crowded the harbor is
Three races were scheduled for Saturday and the race committee and the weather provided just that. Winds were southeasterly (about 150-160) and nice and steady, something we lake sailors do not take for granted. Each race was almost precisely one hour, even though with the high winds (I heard a rumor that some gusts were as high as 24 mph...) and large waves, sometimes they felt longer!

Mike Fuller, building on his win from Friday, had the best start of the day, launching off the line at the pin end several boatlengths ahead of everyone else thanks to a last-minute wind shift. As he told me afterward, that was all well and good, but he couldn't find the upwind mark! It can be hard on Lake Michigan...there's just so much water and the legs were very long.

The most exciting thing that happened Saturday was that Jack and Janet Markwick capsized at the windward mark, after getting caught in irons and then nailed by a large wave. Ugh! Happily, they had flotation on the top of their mast and Janet righted the boat by standing on the centerboard. Way to go, Girl!! You can imagine the water was quite cold and I was reminded of Jack McClurkin's Man Overboard article (which you can read at the fssa website) and how long someone can survive in the chilly waters of Lake Michigan. Once the boat was righted and Jack and Janet were on the safety boat they thought all was fine...until the person holding the bowline accidentally dropped it while helping Janet aboard.

Off went their boat, Allegro Too, with sails flying. Just at that moment Ryan Malmgren and Stacey Rieu were sailing by and, without hardly discussing it, Ryan sailed right up next to Allegro, Too, Stacey leaped (gazelle-like, I heard) onto the Markwick's boat and ZIP ZAP took the sails down before leaping back onto her boat and sailing off with Ryan. (I was amazed to hear that, despite the capsize, the crank handle was sitting pretty in the tabernacle) It was quite a show!! Long story short, the Markwick's were none the worse for wear, though Janet showed me her bruises Sunday and they were pretty dramatic.

The last race of the day was five legs, rather than four, and according to my informal poll, everyone was very very glad it was no longer than that! There was so much hiking out there that we all found new muscles and joints that pained us Sunday morning when we woke up.

At the end of Saturday Ben and I were in first place with three points, Mike and Jennifer Faugust (Ephraim Yacht Club) were in second with seven, and Carrie (Eagle Creek Sailing Club) and Harry Carpenter were in third with 10 points.

Just before Saturday's dinner we had our annual district meeting, which was quite productive. We have a proposed site  not only for next year's districts, but also the following year's, pending fleet approval. Once we get the okay, we'll post that info!!

Dinner was a yummy mix of various pasta and chicken dishes, not to mention plenty of beer. In addition to dessert we had a dramatic, quick storm blow through, leaving behind a double rainbow ending suspiciously close to the Baha'i temple.

Sunday dawned even prettier and (thankfully) the winds had moderated some. They also had shifted more westerly and so were blowing right off the shore by the harbor (about 210-220). It was easier than on Saturday to find the mark since it was up against the shore. Also, it was much flatter because there was less fetch.

Just before the race started Eric Bussell and Chris Tesdal sailed by with their main down around their ankles: their halyard had failed. Luckily, they got towed into the harbor and the highly competent staff there had a Nico press and were able to reattach their halyard shackle. They made it back out onto the course to sail the last race, which was really good for Fleet 135, since we were in contention for the Fleet Trophy.
Fleet 135 Captain Eric Bussell with crew Chris Tesdal before they lost their main halyard

Anyway, the first Sunday race: Little did we know, when the wind is out of this direction you get a nice little lift up the left side as you get to the top of the course. Locals Chris and John Wright took full advantage of their knowledge and led the fleet around the whole course. Note to self: Sheridan Shores, wind from the shore, go left!!

The main thing I remember from the very last start of the regatta was a pile up at the pin end, with Ben and me in the center of it. By the time the gun went off, Ben and I were in irons, and wedged between Mike and Jennifer Faugust and the pin. Not pretty.  I just watched as the whole fleet took off, while we were still trying to get off the line. Finally, we got going, but after about 20 boat lengths Ben remembered that we'd hit the pin and needed to go back and re-round it. Sigh.....

All we had to do, we thought, was be within a couple boats of Mike and Jen in this last race and we might win the districts. But here we were 1/2 a leg behind the entire fleet. Okay, loin girding time. We slowly clawed our way back through the fleet. Happily, it was a five-leg race, which today we appreciated since it gave us more time to play catch up. The wind was building as the morning went along and I'd say the last three legs of the race the winds were even higher than they'd been on Saturday. That turned out to be to Ben's and my advantage because it helped us catch up and finish fourth. Barely high enough to not only stay in front of Mike and Jennifer, but also Carrie and Harry Carpenter, who had such a solid day that they were only two points out of winning the districts.  A little more excitement than I was hoping for, but that's one of the reasons we love racing so much.

 I'm hoping the results will be posted at soon; I can't figure out how to put a pdf here!!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Ephraim NOR Now Available

The Ephraim Yacht Club invites all Flying Scot sailors to participate in the 109th annual Ephraim Regatta on August 1-2-3, 2014.  The Ephraim Regatta is consistently one of the largest Flying Scot regattas in the country, and features two great parties, a beautiful sailing area, and superb hospitality (the EYC won US Sailing’s One Design Regatta of the Year award in 2009 for its hosting of the Flying Scot NAC).  The NOR has been published and registration is open at  For more information contact regatta co-chair Nancy Claypool at

Friday, June 13, 2014

Better Late Than Never! Photos from 2013 Glow in the Dark Now Available!!

Well, talk about a mental block!! Angie Hunt very nicely took hundreds of photos of our regatta last year (I can't imagine how many photos we'd have ended up with if we had sailed Saturday!!). I have loaded them at Flickr because I think anyone can see them there; you don't have to have an account.

So, anyway, please spread the word that these photos are here. They are fun to flip through!!
ps they appear to be in roughly reverse chronological order...

2013 Glow Photos

Friday, June 6, 2014

Hit the Road, Jack (or Bill, or Bob, or Mary!!) and Come to the Midwest Districts!

In case you haven't heard (!) our Midwest Districts will be held June 27-29 at Sheridan Shores Yacht Club in Wilmette, IL. Because this is Chicago area, there is no camping, but the organizers have provided a list of hotels and other amenities at the FSSA website. So, to learn more about the regatta and/or register for it, go to:

The sailing is always fun and exciting in Lake Michigan and the party is spectacular! I also should mention that we'll be having our annual district meeting and it would be great if all, or at least most, fleets were represented!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Cowan Lake, not in the Midwest, but an Easy Drive for Us

For various reasons, I've been thinking a lot lately about how ridiculously spread out our Midwest District is. Think of it, to go from Minnesota (Medicine Lake) to Carlyle or Indianapolis is 9.5 hours! Yikes!! We can almost get to the East Coast in that amount of driving time!!

So often we head over to the Ohio District, where we can get to Cowan Lake, for example, in just four hours. That is where we went last weekend (May 31-June1), to enjoy the Pig Roast regatta. We enjoyed the company of other Midwest District sailors Frank and Marianne Gerry and Geoff Endris, as well as builder Harry Carpenter and his daughter, Carrie (who is part of our Midwest District too!)

The camping facilities at Cowan are lovely and the weather was perfect for it, too. The evenings were cool and the days were sunny and mild. We even had wind on Saturday!! We probably had an average of 8 mph winds, and every once in a while there were gusts and white caps!! For those of you who have sailed at Cowan you will appreciate how unusual that is! The 20 participating boats were split into a Hog Fleet (12 boats) and the Oinker fleet (8 boats). The race committee got three good races in on Saturday.
Skippers Meeting Saturday


Saturday evening after dinner, Steve Tsuchiya, Cowan Lake member and America's Cup expert (author, among other things, of "Winging It: Oracle Team USA's Incredible Comeback to Defend the America's Cup"), gave a great presentation about why and how the American team's comeback. It was gratifying, because nothing I'd found up until this point really explained how Oracle did what they did. I recommend the book...Father's Day is just around the corner!!

Harry and Carrie on Shadow

Unfortunately, but not surprisingly, Sunday winds were not so kind. Here, then gone, here, then gone for about 45 minutes. Then the race committee was sure the wind had filled in from the south and started us off. The first leg was great ... meaning we had wind. After that, not so much!! Still, we ghosted along the best we could. Harry and Carrie, sailing Shadow, prevailed. The rest of us limped on in. One race was all the conditions could support so we all headed in to pack up and head on home.

Part of the Pig Roast tradition is that the winner takes home a hefty concrete pig and they inscribe their name on the pig's back. I know for a fact the Hog Fleet pig is running out of space. Pretty soon Harry and Carrie, winners three years running, will be writing their names on his curly little tail!!