At the 2019 Gator Bowl Regatta, I was served a giant humble sandwich. As I explained in last year’s blog article, I got schooled by those pesky tidal currents. It was ugly. Sailing against all those Florida hot shots is difficult enough without the added challenge. I left that regatta more than a little frustrated and little embarrassed by my performance. Of course, we go to regattas to get better and sometimes we learn the most from our worst regattas. That said, I’ve carried a rather large chip on my shoulder since my last trip to Jacksonville and I was eager for a chance at redemption. At the same time, no matter how bad things go at the Rudder Club, they have a full service bar in their clubhouse.
Rick Wojnar from CLSA agreed to crew for me and we left on Thursday evening and drove through the night. We arrived in time to set up the boat, take a little nap, and attend the welcome party hosted by Jon and Donna. This year we would have 4! boats from CLSA competing in the regatta. Mark and Michele Taylor are Florida resident CLSA members who we always look forward to seeing on the Florida Circuit. Ben Williams and Deb Aronson showed up after deciding they weren’t going to let us have all the fun in Florida this winter. Jamie Rimovski very recently moved to to the Gulf Coast and recruited Susan McIntyre to fly down and crew for her. As an added bonus, Tom and Debbie Yeagle paid us a visit on Saturday night and we met for breakfast on Sunday morning. It almost seemed like a CLSA social event.
Jon and Donna of the Rudder Club once again hosted the Flying Scot sailors at their place on Friday evening and it is always great catching up with friends at these things. I left at a reasonable time, but Jamie, Susan and Rick closed down the party. Poor Jon and Donna had to wake up Rick (he was sleeping on the couch) and kick the CLSA partiers out so they could get to bed at a reasonable time. :-) There may have been reports of “sea sickness” on Jamie’s boat on Saturday. LOL.
Unlike last year, we sailed great. We lived in the lead pack and hung out in the Top 5 all regatta long. We were consistent and kept things simple. We sailed fast and put together a very solid and consistent performance. We were in a three-way tie for fifth place after the first day, just two points behind Ben and Deb in fourth. Ben and Deb scored a bullet (first place) in the second race! That’s a big deal in that caliber of fleet. We would finish the regatta strong with two P5s on Sunday! Congrats to Ben and Deb, with a 4th place overall finish. Mark and Michele rebounded from a bad race on the first day to finish third overall. Way to go team!
Honorable mention goes to Jamie and Susan. They kept up with the pack, which was stacked with championship fleet quality racers. Rick and I were very impressed after every race because they were right there at the finish line. Jamie was recovering from back issues, and went out on Sunday despite not feeling well on Sunday morning and in spite of near white cap conditions in the morning.
We would finish the regatta in 10th after being scored OCS in the first race, which took away a 7th place finish in the first race and added 9 more points. The scores posted on Saturday night did not show us OCS even though several people mentioned they heard 6135 (our sail number) called on the radio. There was nothing posted on the notice board on Sunday morning, so I just assumed the race committee realized they broke rule 84 by not flying an orange flag that first race. I was covered by most of the fleet on the first start and had a really bad start, so I struggled to understand how I could even be in the conversation. The final results were posted and showed several us as OCS in the first race and we all filed for redress. In the redress hearing, the race committee volunteer testified they were flying the orange flag that first race and also kept the X Flag raised that entire race. We all took the guy’s word for it. Our protest would be denied. Later that night I would watch the start, which I recorded on my GoVision glasses. I cringed when I watched the video, which confirmed they called our number :35 seconds after the start, but also confirmed there was no orange flag and strongly suggests I was not OCS at the start. I’ve been playing organized sports all my life. The only thing you can do when the referee makes a questionable call is to move on.
You always think about what could have been if you didn't make that mistake or two. We would have finished 4th if not for that OCS situation. Furthermore, if my centerboard hand’t snagged the anchor line on the gate in the first race, I would not have been required to do that penalty turn which cost us those three positions. Without these two situations, we would have finished the regatta in 2nd place. The goal for every regatta is to sail consistently well and always be in the lead pack. My boat is called Wildcard for a good reason. Everyone has seen my neon spinnaker in the front plenty of times, but they also notice it in the back more regularly than I’d like to admit. At Ephraim, I finished 2-22-2-22. That's just not right. I’m hoping that after the 2020 season, I’ll need to buy a new boat because the Wildcard moniker will no be applicable. So far, so good.