When Division 4 sailors Peter Nelson & Laura Sullivan heard last year about Hobie Fleet 204’s plans for the 40th anniversary of their Madcatter Regatta there was no thinking twice. This annual rite of Spring has been on the bucket list for several years.
Madcatter is known more for its party than its racing. It’s no secret that when the wind blows it is usually freezing cold; and when the sun comes out there isn’t much wind. But the weather is small talk compared to the shenanigans from the five cases of rum rolled out at Saturday night’s bar. 2016 was no different with the boogie sounds of a rock band deafening the lack of breeze.
Located on the eastern shore of Lake Oneida just outside of Syracuse, NY, the Madcatter was started in 1976 with 7 Hobie Cats, 2 Sunfishes, and a Laser. Forty years later 110 boats came from as far away as Puerto Rico, California, Arizona, and Washington. The largest fleet, Hobie 16A, had nearly half of those boats — 47 in all. Several past national champions in attendance had it looking more like a “non North American Championship” than a little weekend regatta.
The practice distance race on Friday was shortened in light wind. But that just gave the sailors more energy for the party under the tent Friday night after a hearty BBQ dinner.
Saturday’s wind didn’t improve things much. While the racers waited for the breeze to fill, a rules clinic was run on the beach with 3 of the top sailors dressed up like catamarans (much to the chuckles of the sailors). The race committee finally called the sailors off the beach for one race in a light easterly which saw lake sailing at its finest — puffs, lulls, and windshifts that made a craps table look like a sure bet.
That one race only fueled Saturday night’s dinner and party and the competition was on for the coveted “party award” (ultimately won by Francisco Figueroa of Puerto Rico who was seen wandering the parking lot well into the morning looking for something or someone).
Sunday dawned no brighter. Light winds halted the anxious sailors until they were finally called off the beach at 1 p.m. Committee got two more races in Sunday on a light northwesterly. But without a fourth throw out race, the sailors had to eat all of their scores.
And there were plenty of crooked numbers put up! In fact, of the 47 sailors in 16A, only two teams were able to string together three single-digit finishes. Local Fleet 204 member, Tom Korzniewski, ultimately beat out Canadian Dan Borg for the victory by one point. It was only fitting since it was 17-year-old Tom who was PRO of the first Madcatter back in 1976!! Full results are here.