Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's Still Summer in Tampa!

Whew! Back from a whirlwind weekend trip to Tampa. It feels surreal to be among orange leaves and brisk temperatures when just a few hours ago we were surrounded by palm trees and salt water. The joys of modern travel!

The wind at Davis Island Yacht Club was out of the east most of the weekend, making for shiftier conditions than the steady seabreeze one might expect in Tampa.

This year, for the first time, the Wife-Husband Championship fleet had five (loooooong!) races while the Challenger fleet had the traditional three races for the weekend.  The race committee, capably led by Henry Moore, managed the conditions wonderfully. Plus, the conditions were pretty darn wonderful. Jeff Linton did say at the end of the weekend that these were the best conditions he’d ever seen in Tampa in October. Nice going regatta committee!

The sunny skies, the substantial winds, the pelicans and the terns… this might be what paradise is like. I will mention that we borrowed a boat from the very generous Donna Mohr and Jon Hamilton that was named, aptly, Heaven. So I don’t know where everyone else was, but that’s where we were this past weekend!

The winds were probably steady 15 with puffs to 18 on Saturday and seemed a little lighter on Sunday, though maybe that was wishful thinking.  In order to really get our money’s worth, Henry’s race committee kept changing the course on us. Every time on Saturday that we got to the leeward mark, there would be the change of course flag, with a big, fat “+” sign. At first I thought they had misplaced the green and red flags, but noooooo, they were signaling that the course had been lengthened. Because we weren’t having enough fun hiking and playing the vang as it was!

But let me back up: the weekend began on Friday with Mark and Michelle Taylor’s wedding reception. Woot Woot! Beer, sponsored by Mad Sails (thank you Ryan!), flowed and food and cupcakes were devoured. Although Mark and Michelle were married in May, they wanted to share their special day with all their Flying Scot friends, so they scheduled the reception for the Wife-Husband. Pretty appropriate, right?!

As I mentioned, Ben and I borrowed Heaven from Donna and Jon. When we arrived (Jeff Linton having picked it up from Jacksonville and driven it down for us), the boat was already unpacked, the mast was up and the plug was in. How’s that for service?! Happily this was Donna and Jon’s extra boat, so they were able to compete in their other boat, placing second in the challenger fleet. But I am getting ahead of myself. 

Donna and Jon (2nd place Challengers, yay!)

The next morning we had plenty of time for a hot breakfast at the Davis Island club. We sat outside on the porch trying to soak in as much tropical ambience as we could. Winter comes early in Illinois (though of course, not as early as for you all in Wisconsin!  J
Birds tried to help us finish our breakfast
Anyway, racing started around noon. The race committee was so efficient that Ben and I missed the second start while wrestling with the spinnaker (different system than Sophie, I’m sure you all understand). We were about a minute behind, but we managed to almost catch up with the back of the pack by the windward mark. The fleet seemed to like to split and hug the sides of the course. Usually the side we picked was not the favored one.  ‘Nuff said!!

At one point I enjoyed the sight of a flock of birds, some pelicans and maybe some gulls or terns all dive bombing near Kim and Dave Thinel’s boat. Only in Florida, am I right?! Anyway, after three races (the challengers did two) we all headed back to the club to rinse the salt water off our boats and our bodies, refresh ourselves with Mad Sails-sponsored beer and tuck in to a hearty Cuban style meal, while serenaded by an eclectic assortment of love songs. At the end of the day, Jeff and Amy Linton led the pack comfortably, with three bullets. But (almost) newlyweds Carrie and Tyler Andrews were in hot pursuit with 8 points. Our very own Mike and Jennifer Faugust were also in the hunt, tied for third with Mark Taylor (19 points).  The party faded gently into the night as everyone headed off to rest their weary heads. We stayed with a lovely couple from the club, Steve and Michelle Lewis. Steve sails big boats at Davis Island and is the island’s vet. He has four longhair cats, two of which we got to meet!

The next morning before we went out for more racing we met Lynn and Bill Bruss. Ryan had mentioned them to us because they bought Rob Fowler’s boat (a friend from Chattanooga) and he’d just sold them a suit of sails. Lynn introduced herself, just saying she was new to the class, etc, but when we heard their last name we were so enthusiastic, I think it startled them (or maybe even alarmed them!). Lynn was telling us about her tuning woes, and so Ben and I made sure to introduce them to Carrie and Tyler who, in Flying Scot Inc., tradition, showed up with a truck full of parts. Lynn skippered the Bruss’s boat and won the award for the top-finishing female skippered boat. Congratulations to Lynn!

Anyway, as I said, Sunday’s wind was, thankfully, a bit lighter.  The Challengers did a single, four-leg race and the Championship did two. The courses, just like on Saturday, were a good mile each leg. I sure feel like we got our money’s worth!

Sunburned, despite our best efforts, and tired, Ben and I rinsed the boat, took down the mast, and Donna and John helped us pack it up so they could trailer it back home to Jacksonville.  Their other boat will stay in Tampa for a few weeks and then they’ll come back down and take it to Sarasota, when the Florida circuit will begin in earnest.  

As for us? Our next sailing adventure will be the Midwinters in April at Pensacola’s St. Andrews Bay Yacht Club. I’m not sure how many people in our district have sailed there, but the stories of past FS Midwinters there are epic.