Round Mercer Island Race turns into huge fiasco, er, success!

Hobie Fleet 95 sponsored a Round Mercer Island Race on Saturday, April 16th.  The idea was to meet at Stan Sayre’s Pits on Lake WA and circumnavigate the big rock in the middle of the lake.IMG_0154

Plans were quickly changed when the forecast called for a building breeze — to 3k!  Instead the I-90 Bridge Fiasco was born.  Participants had to go through both the
East and West Portals of the I90 bridge in any direction they wanted.  The air was so thick with competitive fire you could cut it with a knife.  Stare downs.  Trash talking.  It was intense.

This event was so large that there were four — count ’em 4 — starts!  The pursuit start had the slower boats, er, boat starting first.  Laura Sullivan, sailing a Hobie 14 was able to make that critical tack before the start so she wasn’t throw in irons, and off she went, rarin’ in a 2k breeze.  Five minutes later the huge 16 fleet — made up of the likes of Tim Webb and Martin Hollinsworth — took off in the best start of the day.  Martin actually covered the start pin but was not over early. Tim was 6″ behind the line!  It was cool to watch.  Another five minutes saw the 17 fleet off — that would be Dave Wilder, followed by the other big fleet of the day — the 18s with Jerry Valeske & James Hollinsworth along with Paul & Vanessa VonStubbe.

Laura got off to a quick start on port tack in the light northerly, but slowed as she approached the East Portal of the bridge.  That gave the opportunity to the 16s to close in on her.   Meanwhile Dave on the 17 was pointing higher and faster than everyone and he actually had to crack off to make the portal.  Jerry led Paul under the bridge.

Once on the north side of the bridge it was hoped there would be more wind.  Nope!  More of the same.  Martin tried to make a break for it and do the long course by sailing around the island.  He apparently did not get the memo!  But Mike Hensel on chase support quickly reeled him in on his brand new Alumaweld and got Martin, sailing with son Daniel, pointed in the right direction.

Meanwhile Laura managed to get into some hand-to-hand combat with the bridge before Mike bailed her out, and towed her up to a wind line where she quickly started closing in on the rest of the fleet.  The 16s and 18s had already rolled Wilder.  But then Dave decided to head up (north) and look for breeze.  It worked as he passed Jerry, Paul, and Tim once again.

On the return leg it was Martin, Dave, and Paul through the bridge in that order.  It was a relatively quick scurry back to the finish line for those three.  Dave and Martin finished within 38 seconds of each other after 1-1/2 hours of racing!  VonStubbe was close behind.

But then the wind completely died and Jerry, Laura, and Tim fell into the wind hole from hell!  It took them another 45 min. to an hour to sail the distance the other three did in about 15!  It was painful to watch.  But they all persevered, and all returned shore smiling.Winner Dave Wilder with the coveted perpetual trophy

Ultimately Dave was declared the winner, a mere 2-1/2 min. ahead of Martin.  Dave had brought the perpetual trophy with him, and so he took it back home with him along with the $10,000 cash prize.  He will be returning the coveted trophy in Oct.-Nov. for the real Round Mercer Island Race.

It was really a lot of fun to have a “club” race.  There were very few rules and the emphasis was on having a ton of fun.  Mission accomplished.  The fleet agreed to participate in Duck Dodge and maybe a distance sail over to Blake Island on Puget Sound this summer.

PSSR Recap – Round Mercer Island coming up!

Last weekend was CYC-Seattle’s Puget Sound Spring Regatta for small boats.  We got out 5 Hobie 16s and a couple of Hobie 18s to start off the season.  It was fantastic seeing everyone again in the parking lot Saturday morning!  The 16s were graced with Martin & James Hollinsworth, Jeremy Groesz/Val Pioszak, John Ped/Alex LeBlond, Tim Webb sailing with Hobie newbie Rodon just arrived from France, and Peter Nelson/Laura Sullivan.  Paul Evenden drove down from Chilliwack, BC with Sarah Isaac to duel with Jerry Valeske crewing with Hobie newbie Jennifer Olegario.

Saturday morning greeted everyone with fog and that put a damper on the sailing.  When the skies cleared and the wind filled it was only a light breeze enough for 2 races.  Ped & Nelson traded bullets while Evenden took both of the 18s.  A couple of the boats were late for the first start and that may have contributed to the results being what they were.

After racing everyone dove into the clubhouse for some liquid refreshment before heading over to Peter’s house for a dinner party courtesy of Laura.  That was a ton of fun as well.

Sunday opened with a stronger breeze — not much stronger, but stronger.  Ped/LeBlond & Nelson/Sulliuvan continued to trade bullets while Valeske and his new crew started dialing in the 18 and making things difficult on Evenden/Isaak.  Meanwhile a nice little battle was shaping up in the 16s between Webb/Rodon, Hollinsworth, & Groesz.   Places were being traded and everything was up for grabs.  It seems a lot of the winter moss got knocked off Saturday!

Conditions for both days were light breeze with mild to choppy seas.  It was technical sailing with the strong tides and there was no sure-fire way to get around the course.  That opened up passing lanes which made for a fun and exciting time.


Round Mercer Island Race is coming up this Saturday, April 16Registration opens at 10 at Stan Sayer Pits along the west shore of Lake WA; first shape is at noon.  The perpetual trophy has been found and will be awarded!!  Fleet 95 has been running this race for at least 20-25 years, so it is exciting to bring the race back.

This will be a pursuit race with slower boats starting first, and all boats circumnavigating Mercer Island in a counter-clockwise direction.  Party at Peter’s house afterwards.

Donuts & coffee at registration.  Rum squall after the race.  $10-20 registration depending on # of boats that show.  (We need to cover gas money for chase, plus the refreshments.)

2016 Season Just Around Corner — Apr. & May events

The winter thaw is upon us and things are starting to shape up nicely for the 2016 Hobie sailing season.  Be sure to check out the Calendar on this website for the latest and greatest events.

First points event will be Puget Sound Sailing Regatta (PSSR) small boat on April 9-10 out of CYC Seattle at Shilshole.  Last year the wind blew good, so hopefully we’ll get lucky again.

Next up is the following weekend for the Round Mercer Island Race.  This event has bounced around a couple of times due to calendar conflicts, so check your calendar for Saturday, April 16.  We’ll meet at Stan Sayer Pits and take a tour of Lake Washington, with a party at the end.  Out of town sailors are invited to stay with fleet members.

May really kicks in the Hobie season with something going on the first 3 weekends.  Cultus Lake (BC) is May 7-8, followed by Hobie 101 at Sail Sand Point May 14, and Kelowna Regatta May 21-22.

There’s plenty playtime.  Come join us!

AGM & Party – Recap

The Div. 4 AGM went off without a hitch and was another great success.  Held at Peter & Ruth Nelson’s house in Seattle on Sat., Nov. 7, we were blessed with the usual local (Fleet 95) suspects (sans Caleb Tarleton who was in Pullman for the weekend).  Driving in from outside the area were: Paul Evenden & Tawnya Fox (Vancouver, BC), Paul & Olinka Morrill (Portland), Mark & Della Sele (Wenatchee), Al Jones, Tim Webb, Scot Chapman, and probably one or two more that I missed.  It was great to see Martin & Janine Hollinsworth (with James & David — I hope I got those names right) as well as Kenny & Kristin Youth.fiesta

The AGM had Laura Sullivan presenting a bunch of metrics which, in a nutshell, say the Division is growing and doing well.  Paul Carter announced that because of our hard volunteer efforts and a lot of careful planning we were able to make some money on division regattas last season and get the Division coffers up to a comfortable and reasonable level.

Paul Evenden distributed preliminary results for high points champions, before Tim realized that Peter had supplied Tawnya (Paul’s real points recorder!) with some wrong results.  This skewed and screwed the whole list up.  Stand by for official results.  But unofficially, it looks like John Ped will win the 16s, Dave Wilder in the 17s, and Paul VonStubbe the 18s.  Kenny “Too Young” Youth wins the 16Bs, Jeff “Solo” Rickard the 18Bs, and Valerie “Lady Z” Pioszak the 14s.  Congratulations to all of the (early) winners!

The biggest surprise of the afternoon came from Paul Evenden when he announced his desire to host a Hobie 16 North American Championship at Harrison Hot Springs in 2018 or 2019.  The division poo-bahs enthusiastically endorsed his idea so Paul is going to go back to the drawing board to sketch out the details.

A preliminary 2016 regatta schedule was hammered out.  Stand by for a future announcement on that.  Shortly thereafter Peter, Laura, and Olinka retired to the kitchen to prepare dinner while the rest of the crowd gathered to watch Jerry Valeske’s  photos and videos from the past season.

Dinner consisted of a large Mexican burrito buffet with Todd & Olinka bringing a fresh apple crisp for dessert.  The festive food ushered in the party.  Music cranked up as the rum and tequila started pouring.  Conversation was lively as everyone mixed and the banter and laughter continued well into the night.

Thanks to all who participated to make the meeting productive and the party fun.  Notable contributors to both included: Bob Combie, Scot Chapman, Mark Olsoe & Diane Johnson.

H-16 NACs recap – Pensacola, Florida

The 2015 Hobie 16 North American Championships attracted 73 teams from 5 countries to Pensacola, FL.  It was the toughest competition in a looong time!  One screw up lost you 5-20 places.  The intensity on the water was just as extreme.John & JJ smiling

Except for some good double-trap wind the first day, most of the sailing was done in 6-10k.  That brought the boats/teams close together and there were some very crowded mark roundings.  Eeking out a 1-boat length lead was a BIG deal.  after 3 days of racing the fleet was split into a Gold and Silver fleet for the final two days.

Div. 4 brought 5 teams and 2 addl. crew to the event.  John & Jennifer Hoag were the top team, finishing 11th overall.  They even won one of the Gold fleet races on Thursday!  John and JJ were followed closely by Peter Nelson & Laura Sullivan in 12th, who had a tough final day and slipped 3 places.J & Val

John Ped and Alex LeBlond were the top youth team at 28th.  There were actually 4 all-youth teams at the event.  All of these kids took time off from school to compete.  Two teams made it into the Gold fleet, and two teams sailed in the Silver fleet.  John & Alex just squeaked by to edge out Tommy Butler and Mike.  J Rosenbach and Valerie Pioszak sailed a really strong regatta to make the cut.  But dogged by some poor starts, they ended up at the back end of the Gold fleet.Todd Morrill

Todd Morrill, sailing with Sarah Isaak started off slow in the Silver fleet….very slow.  But by the end of the week they were actually putting their transoms to some boats.  Their improvement over the course of the week was easy testament to the experience gained by all teams.  Also sailing in the Silver, Tawnya Fox crewed for Karen Ann Xavier.  These guys showed continued improvement as they started John & Alex upwindclicking, and were able to move up from the back of the bus to 16th.  The joke at the end was they were ready to start the event all over!  Also in the Silver fleet, and just a few points behind Tawnya & Karen, were Ruth Branscombe & Chris Bradshaw.  They were able to finish strong in a crowded field.

All in all, there were 12 Div. 4 sailors, five of whom were youth.  Most of the team stayed at a rented beach house and used Jerry & Laura’s trailer as race central while on site.  There was a ton of camaraderie, and everyone was helping everyone else.  Coach Robbie Daniel helped all of the teams out one way or another.

Start - awesomeWhen it was time to pack it up, it was clear that all of the teams had a great time and upped their game considerably.  The 2016 season can’t come soon enough for this group of sailors!

Next year: Puerto Pensaco, Mexico.  Don’t miss it!!