Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Fleet 135 Has Strong Showing In Birmingham Sailing Club's Great Scot Regatta

The Glow in the Dark typically marks the end of regattas in the Midwest District, though our members continue to travel and sail through the fall and winter sometimes (i.e. the Faugusts do the Florida circuit in the winter). And last week (October 6-8) a few members of Fleet 135 had a fun adventure. Two boats, Wildcard (Eric Bussell and Trent Johnson) and Sophie (Ben Williams and Deb Aronson) drove 10 hours to Birmingham, AL, to participate in the Birmingham Sailing Club’s annual Great Scot regatta.  

View from the clubhouse of the BSC docks

We are always looking for new sailing adventures and the BSC fleet captain, Andrew Fox, is a real energetic sailor, young and new to the class. We wanted to support his efforts and made sure to leave a CLSA burgee at their clubhouse!

In addition, it turned out that Geoff Endris, a Flying Scot sailor from the Indianapolis Club at Eagle Creek was serving as PRO. His first words were “Jeez, I drive 600 miles in the opposite direction from you all, and I still can’t get away from you!”

Geoff Endris conducting Participants' meeting

The wrinkle with this particular regatta adventure was that Hurricane Nate was scheduled to come ashore the same weekend. And it was aimed right at Birmingham. This felt sometimes like the height of crazy, to drive straight toward a hurricane … to go sailing! Still, we figured, what did we have to lose except a little rubber on our tires? As the time got closer it appeared that the weather Saturday would be sailable. My bottom line? I told Ben, “I am not sailing in a hurricane.” He seemed to think that was reasonable.

Anyway, Saturday turned out to be light to moderate roughly out of the southeast. Races started at 1 pm. The later start enabled boats to arrive and rig on the Saturday instead of driving over Friday. Geoff’s goal was to try for four races Saturday in case Nate arrived Sunday. The wind was so shifty that Geoff had to postpone and re-adjust the course before the series began but after that he got three good races off before the wind petered out.

Eric and Trent had an awesome regatta, staying in the front pack and often leading the entire race. They had Wildcard going really, really well. In the second race, for example, Eric and Trent led the entire course until the last few yards (as far as I could see) when ace sailors Tom and Melissa Miller from Corinthian Sailing Club in Dallas, TX, caught him. The Millers trophied in the North American Championships, so you see the kind of competition we had! Ben and I also had a good regatta, after finishing ninth in the first race we figured out the wind a little bit better and had some better finishes after that.  The feeling of winning the last race against these amazing competitors was particular sweet considering we had a slow start and took off to the right of the course all by ourselves. It’s not always a great feeling to be hanging way out on one said of the course by yourself, but the move paid off for us. Thank you, wind gods!!

Eric and Trent placed third, Ben and Deb were fourth.

All the travelers packed up their boats after the racing on Saturday. We reasoned that it would be much easier to re-rig the boat if Sunday turned out to be nice than to take the mast down in pouring rain and howling winds. In the end, the organizers canceled Sunday racing at the Saturday dinner, handed out trophies and encouraged us to stay for Sunday breakfast. Instead, the Fleet 135 sailors all hit the road to try to avoid the worst of Nate. We drove home through some very heavy rain, until about Nashville, and it was smooth sailing from there.

It was fun racing against some new Flying Scot sailors and seeing what a good job PRO Geoff Endris did at the event. Next up? A road trip to Charlotte, NC, in November.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Most Boats, Least Wind Ever! PLUS: Inaugural Whippersnapper Award Given AND Inaugural Custom Brew

view from Joe and Linda Budden's boat on Sunday

Well, having done this event 11 years now, we’ve got a pretty good system down. But we still haven’t figured out how to control the wind. So this article will be more about the food than it will be about the racing!

This year (perhaps because it was also the Midwest Districts?) we had 31 boats registered. I always pride myself in the number of returning participants we have; many people have never missed a Glow since we revived it and that feels good. But this year I was also specially tickled to have five new traveling boats: Jim Moyle, Jim and Jennifer Colegrove, Mark and Michele Taylor, Kerry Pebbles (who had as crew Allen Shaklee, a new CLSA member), and Mike and Connie Conrad. Mark and Michele flew up from the Tampa area when their regularly scheduled regatta was cancelled due to Irma. With cheap plane tickets and family in our area it was a win-win! We provided them with a boat and sails (they brought their own spinnaker). We were only sorry we couldn’t provide more wind.

Another high point was our shower!! Worked better than ever this year. This is the crew that helped set it up...from left, Eric Bussell, Trent Johnson and Bruce Kitchen

Because it was also the districts, we held our traditional single-hand race series on Friday. Rod Bussell and Heather Johnson served as PRO and Dick Hanson drove the safety boat. The committee ran two races and the competition was very tight, with Bruce Kitchen taking a 1st and a 2nd , Eric Bussell finishing 3rd and 1st and Rick Wojnar with a second and a fourth-place finish for the top three boats. The cool thing is we had 11 boats for an event that typically attracts just 4-5. Perhaps the light wind helped?
boats coming in after the single hand

The potluck Friday was raucous, people brought their appetites and we plowed through all the brats and burgers that Frank and Marianne brought and the chicken that Ben Williams grilled. No one went away hungry, though, with plenty of hearty side dishes, desserts and beer (plus Tito’s Vodka courtesy of Kerry Pebbles and rum and coke courtesy of CLSA member Rick Langlois!).

Dan conducting competitors' meeting
Saturday dawned hot and still.  Really hot. Very still. Heat advisory hot. We made lots of announcements about the low lake level and how to leave the dock without running aground but we never really left the dock Saturday. Race committee, headed by Dan Goldberg and Dave August from Pittsburgh, PA, and Moraine Sailing Club, tried to whistle up the wind. They kept looking for it and even when they were on shore, the support boats captained by Dick Hanson and Gary Magnuson spent all day out in the heat doing a wind dance. To no avail.

On shore we went to get out our tailgate toss game, only to realize we’d lost the bean bags. We had a volleyball game but it was too hot for that kind of nonsense and we didn’t even bother. People mostly seemed happy lolling in the shade. It was so hot many people moved from the pavilion to the shade of the trees closer to the water in the hopes of a tiny bit of air circulation. After a valiant effort, Dan called the day at about 2:30, everyone cheered and several people headed into Clinton to explore the Pork and Apple Festival.

Meanwhile, Luther Torgerson had gone on a quest for Mount Gay rum in order to make something I’d never heard of, the Sailor’s Drink. That’s Mount Gay, tonic and lime. He said the tonic was to prevent malaria (because of the quinine) and the lime prevented scurvy, so it was a healthy drink! I will say it was very refreshing.

Apparently it has a long proud history because when I told Mark Taylor what I was drinking I got a hug! So now I’m a real sailor!!

Another high point  alcohol-wise was Tom Yeagle's presenting a custom made, actually two custom made beers from his nephew made in honor of the Glow. One was a traditional porter and the other a honey porter. Delicious! I only was sorry I had already drunk the rum!!

Saturday dinner was grill-to-order steaks and the grill masters, Bronson Bowling and John Cassada, really had a tough job in the heat. But gradually the day cooled down we got out the glow sticks and the refreshments and everyone had a grand old time. There was lots of talk of being glad we weren’t sent out in the blazing heat to sit on the lake and wait for wind, so Dan Goldberg really made the right call.

Next morning our breakfast crew of Rachel Bowling, Marianne Gerry and Lynn Kitchen (you’ll notice two of the three of the team are from other fleets … Lynn is from another DISTRICT!!) stepped up and provided enormous breakfast casseroles, including everything from biscuits, sausage and eggs to corned beef hash. We heated them on the grill. And by we, I mean Trent Johnson, who earned extra wings in heaven by getting up each morning before dawn to make coffee. Sunday, he also started the fire for the casseroles and had them already warming when I stumbled out of my tent about 7 or so.  Life is Good!

Okay, then we raced! A little bit. We started the racing 30 minutes earlier than scheduled in the hopes of squeezing a few races in. Before we started we tried to do a sailing tribute to Greg and Linda Vitt. We  pinned ribbons on our sails with the Vitts’ sail number on it, and sailed in a sort of short parade upwind (led by Bronson Bowling from Carlyle Sailing Association, the Vitts’ home club) and then downwind Bronson hoisted the Vitts spinnaker (which he “borrowed” without their knowing it) and parade back toward the committee boat. Eric Bussell had plans to stream it all on Facebook Live. He even had a drone!! Aggravatingly, the internet world chose Sunday morning to insist Eric perform some kind of system upgrade just as we started our tribute. So we did it … but it didn’t get streamed like we envisioned. Best laid plans and all that.

Anyway, after that, we raced! The wind was so light that crossing the starting line was tough but we had moments of pressure. Everyone had different moments. And everyone sailed into a hole or multiple holes. The wind became so light that Dan shorted the first race to two legs. The finish was unbelievable. I’ll have to find some photos. Luckily, Erin Bauer had video recorded the whole finish. It then took them 20-30 minutes of replaying the tape (back on shore) to determine how each boat finished. Tough, tough competition.
this is near the finish!

The second race had enough pressure that we sailed all three legs. But th The rest of the fleet was spread pretty far and wide and there was not a lot of wind coming from anywhere, so the race committee decided that was all the racing we could get out of the day’s wind and we headed to shore.

The last 20 yards for the lead boats took longer (it felt like) than the whole rest of the race! Finally we got just enough pressure to cross the line.

Where we had more food!! We cooked up 65 burgers for people to enjoy before the travelers hit the road. Some, including both the race committee and Mark and Maria Benner, had come from the Pittsburgh area, so that’s a long trek home.

We had lots of trophies to give out because it was not only the District Championship and the Glow in the Dark, but it is the last regatta of the season for the Midwest District. For that reason, we also award the traveling trophy (we had 16 qualifiers this year).  Should have taken a picture of all those people...
All of Fleet 135 posing for the Fleet 135 trophy (to three highest finishing boats from a single fleet. That was Fleet 135. Confusing, I know!

This year District Governor Bronson Bowling also inaugurated the Whippersnapper award, which goes to the top finishing skipper and the top finishing crew who is younger than 32 years old. (Bronson is 32 and his wife, Rachel, didn’t want him to make a trophy he was eligible for!). The winners were Skipper: Rick Wojnar, and Crew: Tess Burant. Congratulations!! And let’s hear it for the Whippersnappers!!!

And then, with lots of hugs and back slapping, our visitors hooked up their boats, got in their cars and drove away. Until next year!

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Remember We Also Have A Single-Hand Regatta at the Districts

For those of you planning on coming to the Glow, September 22-24 (and it looks like we're on a way to 30 boats *GULP*), please make room in your travel schedule to arrive and rig your boat in time for the single-hand event that starts Friday at 5 pm. It's a District tradition and this year we will even have some trophies to award!! The races are basically up and back (no spinnaker needed), they will be organized by our own Rod Bussell, and there will be no more than 3 races. So, c'mon down and join us!!

Monday, August 7, 2017

EPHRAIM Regatta, and Update on Midwest District Championships, and the Travel Trophy

 Greetings everyone! First, some business. For those who might not have heard, our Midwest District Championships will NOT be held this weekend (August 12-13) at Neenah Nodaway Sailing Club. Instead they will be held together with the Glow in the Dark regatta at Clinton Lake the last full weekend of September (23-24).  Apologies to those who made plans to attend but not enough people pre-registered to make the club confident of having a good event. For those of you who had a conflict for next weekend, you get another chance to compete in the Championships. For those who arranged to compete this coming weekend, we apologize deeply. Please, please spread the word to anyone you hear planning on traveling this coming weekend. I do NOT want someone showing up only to find out the event was cancelled…Now we turn the page on this unhappy turn of events….

We went to Ephraim this past weekend. I know this blog is technically for all of the Midwest District, but I’ve got to give a shout out to the SEVEN boats that came from Fleet 135. We were all very, very proud. It was the first time for a few of our sailors. In another case (Rick and Chris, I’m looking at you!) they decided to come up the day before — AND found a camping site. They live a charmed life I guess.

Speaking of travelers, this year there were two sailors up from Florida, Tom McNally and Charlie (and his wife, Cindy) Clifton, as well as Larry Taggert from New Orleans and Harry Carpenter and Melanie Dunham from Deep Creek Maryland, not to mention Mark and Maria Benner, who traveled at least as far, coming from Pittsburgh. It’s a real testament to the event to attract people from so far away.

Ephraim is an epic event. This year they counted 35 boats. Friday was kind of freaky, however, because the winds were sustained in the high 20s with gusts so strong they blew you backwards. No one could put up their mast because of the wind. And, because the wind was out of the north, the waves at the club were incredible.

 Everyone’s wheel chocks just floated away!
Here is a pile of chocks that were collected as they floated away

Participants gathered at the end of the regatta

Amazing. Still, Harry Carpenter gave an outstanding talk on starting in large fleets that was very well attended. Those kinds of sessions are always worth it — no matter how experienced you are you learn something new.

Anyway, as predicted, the wind completely settled down by Saturday morning and we had three races in increasingly light wind. The water had also settled down though there still was some chop and a few errant waves. We may have hit every one! (Kidding). Saturday’s races were each five legs and each lasted an hour, so it was a real endurance test out there. Stacey Rieu and Ryan Malmgren had an outstanding day with two bullets and a fourth-place finish. Tom McNally (up from Sarasota, Florida) and local crew Liz Gheorghita were in hot pursuit with seven points, as were Jennifer Ikeda and Michael Faugust with nine points.
Never got to chat with these sailors but admired their one-of-a-kind sails

Debbie and To
m Yeagle from Clinton Lake. Debbie's first time sailing at Ephraim!

The legendary bratfest was legendary, as usual. How could it not be?  J
Rain poured down at one point in the evening and everyone crammed in under the one tent area. It was pretty loud, but that’s always the sign of a good time, right?

Sunday was another light wind day. Even when people might have been frustrated about the conditions it was hard to feel upset when you took a minute to appreciate the gorgeous setting and the refreshing temperatures. It was hard to believe it was August, the weather was so mild. Still, the conditions were challenging. The poor mark boat set the mark to the north, then had to dash to the west when the wind shifted about 30 degrees or more. And then, of course, they had to dash back toward the north about 15-20 degrees just before the start. And the start …. was agonizing. There was so little wind that the horn went off and what felt like ten minutes later many boats just crossed the start line. Painful.

Still, there was eventually enough wind that, if you didn’t move much and your skipper had laser-like focus you could get the boat coasting a bit. Thankfully the race committee shortened the race to two legs and then everyone (except the three or four boats that somehow got a tow) struggled to return to the dock under continued light conditions. A tow would have been really nice! Just sayin’ … Instead I tried to practice steering with the spinnaker up. Tried really hard to channel that whole idea of enjoying being in this gorgeous place but finally gave up and handed the tiller back to my skipper with a growl.

Ah well! I’m a work in progress, you could say… We packed up our boats and headed home. But in a few short weeks many of us will re-convene at Clinton Lake for the Glow in the Dark Regatta September 23-24.

Which reminds me, for those of you paying attention, there are already more than 10 people qualified for the travel trophy. For those of you at the Glow you might have envied the qualifying sailors who each received a trophy made from a tire tread (so clever!) with a small plaque on it.  I’m not sure if qualifiers will once again receive a trophy or simply a plaque to add to their existing tire tread trophy. I lean toward the later. That way you can just keep adding plaques to your tire tread trophy til you fill it up! Other opinions are welcome, but I don’t think we have set this up for comments so feel free to email me! debaronsonATnasw DOT org

Friday, July 28, 2017

We See the Other Side of Sailing at Sandy Bay...

Whenever we talked about sailing in Sandy Bay people would say, "if the wind is out of the right direction it's gorgeous but if it is not it's a real bear." Yesterday it was out of the right direction (SW) and lovely. Overnight the wind shifted to the northeast and brought all the waves and swells from the ocean right into the bay. Thankfully the wind was not in the upper teens and low 20s as some predicted, but the swells were enough that I heard of many many people being sick on the boat. The things we do for fun! Ryan and Stacey had another awesome day and finished second overall behind the Lintons. For full results, you can go here

Also, for a wonderful set of albums from the event, go here and here.

The championship fleet got two more races in and the challenger division did one. It was just gorgeous out in the bay. The day was, once again, lovely, which is more than I can say for Monday.

from left: Ben, Mark, Maria, Deb, Ryan, Stacey 

We decided, together with our housemates, Ryan and Stacey and Mark and Maria, to wait and pull our boats Monday. It would take pressure off the Sunday crew, we figured, and save us having to try to find somewhere to park our boats overnight. Little did we figure on waking up Monday to a steady drizzle.
Mark Benner (yellow hood) helping while Stacey and Ryan yuck it up in the rain!
After we all packed up we headed home in the pouring rain. For us it was a 20 hour drive. I know Ryan and Stacey stayed on the east coast to visit family. We'll see them again, and maybe the Benners, at Ephraim the first weekend of August.

Meanwhile, driving home I was saying to Ben it would be fun to stop at a "roadside attraction." There was one where we pulled off for dinner called "Claws and Paws," which must have been a private zoo and not really something I was dying to do - especially after reading some reviews. Anyway, by dinner time it was closed. Still, we stopped at a place called I84 Country Store. A restaurant I never would have gone to except for Yelp. Yay Yelp! And, turns out, it was a "roadside attraction" in its own right! Plus it had awesome food. We both had a Philly Cheesesteak. Delish, as they say! 

Back home and nose to the grindstone for a week and a half, then Ephraim and immediately after that, Midwest Districts at Neenah Nodaway, a club we have never sailed at. We're so very thankful for them volunteering to host our event. Go SIGN UP NOW!!!

can you see the fake cow head there? 
Ben and ...Stuff!

Alert! Alert!! All Midwest District Sailors, Sign Up NOW for Districts!!

Hello all Midwest District sailors reading this blog. Bronson, our district governor, got an email from Neenah Nodaway organizer Ken Friedman that as of now there are only four boats registered for the August 11-13 Midwest District Championships. (Five now, I just registered!). If he doesn't get 10 boats by Monday they are going to CANCEL THE EVENT!!!!

It's going to be an awesome event, with the single hand racing on Friday afternoon and a delicious dinner at a local restaurant on Saturday. They've got six races scheduled, so it'll be a top -notch event. I"m not 100% clear about the Sunday schedule because they have it listed as an evening/dinner awards ceremony at a restaurant but I have an email in to Ken to clarify that.

So, register now, Here!!