Four Midwest District boats made the trek to Lake Norman this past weekend. Two boats from Clinton Lake, Eric Bussell and Ben Williams, Ryan Malmgren from Madison, together with Bronson Bowling from Carlyle Lake traveled almost 12 hours to the Lake Norman Fall 48. Lake Norman is just outside Charlotte, NC, and has a very, very strong Flying Scot fleet. Ben and I try to make it there twice a year, for both the Great 48 the first weekend of May and the fall 48, the first weekend of November. They typically run a fantastic regatta.
This year Ryan ran a racing clinic on Friday that was very well attended. Unfortunately, there was no wind so they could not do an on-the-water segment, but everyone enjoyed the clinic nonetheless.
The weather Saturday morning couldn't have been more different than that on Friday. The area temperature had dropped precipitously and it poured rain Friday night. We stayed nice and dry in our tent but I know a few other campers ended up damp. Saturday morning we awoke to continued rain and temperatures in the 40s, without the wind chill. The wind was stiff.
The PRO said he'd take into account the cold weather and stiff wind, but when the wind moderated a bit and he got a reading of only 10-12 with gusts to 18 he sent us out. Those might have been the conditions for a moment, and if they were, that would have been fine, but once we got out to the racecourse, the predicted winds in the upper 20s with gusts in the low 30s showed up.
37 boats registered for the event, 10 started the race and only six were able to finish (with one boat capsized and one with broken equipment). I was curious and so I checked the FSSA guidelines. One of those guides is that when a "significant (greater than 25%) number" of boats don't start, you might want to reconsider running the race. In this case 66% of the fleet stayed on shore....
Ben and I did go out because we have a general philosophy that if the race committee runs a race, we'll be there. We may have to re-think that philosophy. As the wind built and I got colder and colder my enthusiasm began to wane. We sailed the first upwind leg, at which point I mutinied for the first time in our history of sailing Scots together. I felt deeply in my core that this was not fun. We went in. Somehow, hearing that only six were able to finish made me feel even better about my mutiny!
Still, we took warm showers, laid all our wet clothes out to dry and had a very enjoyable evening at the toasty clubhouse.
Sunday dawned sunny, though the predicted winds were not much lower than Saturday's. This day 25 boats did not race. I don't know how many just stayed on shore and how many missed the start, but I do know that as we were starting there were about 8-10 boats heading for the line. The race committee did not wait for them.
Anyway, I was determined to put on my big girl pants and enjoy the races, which I did, for the first leg and a half. We rounded the mark second behind a three-up team on Mojo and were working to catch them. Unfortunately, a rogue gust caught us on the downwind leg and we turtled the boat. That is not a big deal; we've done it before and know how to handle it. There were plenty of motor boats to help, though it was very difficult for them to maneuver in the gusts and the chop.
Meanwhile, the race committee shortened the race to three legs and sent everyone in. I did see one person whose spinnaker pole was bent into an "L" shape, but other than that I do not think there were any big equipment failures. The hilarious thing is, for us at least, because we bailed on Saturday and didn't finish Sunday, we ended up in the same place as all the boats who never even went out! 27 boats tied for 10th place!!
Here are the results:
Despite the crazy conditions, I know that several people were very happy to have gained some high wind experience. Eric Bussell, in particular, was very pleased to have sailed both days.
So that wraps up our 2014 season! Our boat is tucked away for the winter and soon we'll start dreaming of the 2015 Midwinters. They will be in Sarasota this year, so make sure to put that event on your calendars!!