Monday, August 8, 2016

Lots of Boats, Not Much Wind, But Tons of Great Racing and Fun

This Ephraim regatta was remarkable for its decidedly light winds (from the north) mixed with lots of waves.  But PRO Dan Goldberg managed to use every bit of wind we had.

Meanwhile, Ben and I had what Linda Vitt later described to me as the “cloud of doom” over our heads Saturday morning as everything we did kind of went to sh**. First we managed to drop the pin that holds the rudder on the gudgeon into the water at the dock. Plunk! Buh-BYE … Happily, Ben was able to buy another one since Karen Carpenter had traveled with Harry and was manning the parts truck!  Later that day we lost the white plastic top of our boom crutch when it fell in the water and sunk like a stone. Not to mention, my brain felt so discombobulated I forgot about three things I usually bring on the boat, including my shoes! At least now I know this syndrome has a name. Thanks Linda!

With 37 boats, the largest turnout of an Ephraim regatta that wasn’t a district event, the starting line was very crowded. Dan set a good, long line, but that didn’t prevent several general recalls caused by too many sailors who lost sight of where the line actually was. Dan was patient with us, but put up the “I” flag on Saturday (can’t be over the line one minute before the start and if you are, go around the ends) and the “Z” flag on Sunday (same as “I” plus a 20% penalty if you are over early) when it became clear we needed some extra encouragement to stay on the proper side of the line.

We were on the water for about five hours Saturday and managed only two full races, though not for lack of trying. After a general recall, the first race got started just as the wind died. The course was so long that no boat made it to the first mark in the 40-minute time limit. I think that might be the first time I’ve ever been in a race that exceeded the time limit, but Ben and I were very relieved because we could not get the boat moving no matter what we tried! We even heard of people drifting backwards! Without wind but with waves, I can see how that might happen. We were not the only boat that, when we saw what was happening, shifted our compass from tactical mode to timer mode and breathed a sigh of relief when the abandon horn sounded.

Still, who can complain about being on the water in Ephraim? The skies were bright blue, the air was crisp (though toasty by the end of the day) and the water was refreshing (I jumped in between races).  It helped that, soon afterwards the abandoned race, the wind really filled in just fine and we had two good 50-minute-long, three-leg races. I think we even hiked some. 

As I mentioned, 37 boats participated this year in the event, the 111th running of the Ephraim regatta. It was notable for the geographic range of sailors, which besides including almost 10 boats from other clubs in the Midwest district, also included two boats from Ohio (Benners and Kitchens), one from Chattanooga, TN (Rob Fowler and Linda Lind), Maryland (Harry Carpenter and his crew Melanie Dunham), Louisiana (Larry Taggart and Carrie Berger), and Tom McNally, all the way from Florida. Tom had business in the area and managed to time it just right so he could join us at Ephraim. Organizer Jennifer Ikeda even found him a boat owner who was looking for a skipper! The stars aligned, which is always nice when it happens. But in addition to the travelers, my understanding is that every single Ephraim boat, including two that were kind of in storage of site, were used.

And yet, due to some amazing organizing, there was space for every single boat except one at the Ephraim pier. Only one boat was at the public dock, and, believe me, I think they were thrilled to have a little peace and quiet!! (Looking at you, Frank and Marianne!).

Sunday’s predictions looked really light — as in winds of one mph with gusts to three  — and we were not feeling too optimistic as we joined Stacey and Ryan and the Benners and the Kitchens at the local coffee shop for breakfast. But, surprisingly, when we got to the club the wind was pretty steady. We didn’t really trust that it would hold, but we still saddled up, got the boat in the water and headed out to the racecourse. Where we had, much to our surprise and delight, two very good, long races before the 12:30 deadline. Four total races in a very light wind weekend is the mark of a very successful regatta, if you ask me.

Ben and I had planned to leave right after the regatta, but once the boats were put away, one protest was heard and the awards were given out (congratulations to Ryan and Stacey who won, and to Bruce and Lynn Kitchen, who on their anniversary weekend opted to come to Ephraim for the first time and caught every boat except Ryan and Stacey), we decided to stay one more night. Ryan and Stacey very generously shared their family home with many sailors this weekend, including us. We were having so much fun we decided to stretch our weekend a bit longer.  And, as often happens at Flying Scot events, one thing led to another Sunday evening and their house soon filled with almost 20 sailors, making and drinking mixed beverages and snacks, admiring the sunset on the water, eating pizza and retelling sailing stories from the memories we made this weekend, plus from many many other weekends.

And, in the end, isn’t that why we do what we do?

Photos to follow. Results are at

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