Round Mercer Island “has a story to tell”

It had to be.  The first Hobie event of the season.  Probably no one had seen their boat for at least 5 months.  “April Fools” was stamped on the day early when PRO Peter Nelson managed to take a long walk off a short pier at Stan Sayer pits for an early swim.  The look of humiliation and embarrassment was not to be missed.  The embarrassment was further fueled when the dazzling duo sought immunity from racing when they discovered their tiller crossbar was missing!

A motley crew of Hobie sailors indeed!

Several new faces showed up, including Matt Hawkyard from Lincoln City(?), OR and his crew Nam (Pt. Townsend).  Nam was crewing for Matt, but also owns his own Hobie 16.  J0sh Curtis showed up from Harstine Island with crew Sam and another H-16, and both boats appeared more formidable than the usual “first timer”.  These guys (and gal — Sam is a girl) had game faces on that belied an experience level beyond their classic boats.

Not to be forgotten were the wannabees.  A.J. & Al showed up to check us out, but left their 18 at home, as did Paul Hollister and wife (whose name slips me.  Sorry!) from Tacoma without their H-16.  These guys wanted to see if Hobie Fleet 95 really was legit or not.  I can’t say the morning’s antics answered that question!  lol

With a 5k sou’westerly filling in and the forecast calling for it to die in the afternoon, we cancelled ‘the long course’ (round the island) and opted for a repeat of last year’s “1-bridge fiasco”.  Sailors were required to go through the east & west portals of the I-90 bridge in any direction they chose.  Interestingly, 3 went left and 3 went right.

The sailing in that light breeze should have been uneventful.  Right.

We gave the “C-fleeters” a 13-min. head start on the 17 and 18s.  Both Matt and Josh got off the line in great shape.  But the funniest part was 13 min. later listening to Paul Von Stubbe bringing Dave Wilder up at the start.  The yelling was something of epic proportions.

It was great to see Matt be the first to emerge through the 2nd required portal, and for a moment we thought this newbie might be able to pull out the victory.  Meanwhile, Jere & Jaedon Bott were on the north side of the bridge giving the bridge traffic fits and shudders.  They launched up onto one hull from a rogue puff that had them looking like Emirates Team NZ in the 34th AC.  Only with Jaedon grinding on the hydraulics were they able to save a capsize and avoid a major traffic incident on the bridge!

Paul & Vanessa VonStubbe accepting their award before the paparazzi get to them.

Then there was Jeff Rickard and crew Tory who had obviously been hired to measure the clearance of the bridge in one of the shorter spans of the east portal.  They were able to report back that a Hobie 18 mast canNOT make it through that span!  Thanks to the efforts of chase boat driver Mike Hensel, the crew was saved from a troll life of living under a bridge.

As the sailors closed in on the finish, it was fun to see everyone tacking for glory.  In the end, the Hobie mavens of Paul & Vanessa beat out defending 1-Bridge Fiasco Champ Dave Wilder to claim the victory.  (Paul was officially inducted as a Hobie Maven with the victory!)  Jere & Matt followed closely behind.

But the real battle was for last place.  Josh and Jeff were duking it out — crossing tacks and covering each other.  They finished a mere 30 sec. apart. But we suspect that if Jeff had not made his little “I-90 stopover” that he could have beaten Josh to the finish.

At the awards ceremony it was standing room only (there were no chairs!).  The perpetual trophy passed from a tearful Dave Wilder to Paul and Vanessa amid thunderous applause from the audience.  After a brief acceptance speech, Paul could be seen wandering off muttering something about getting hired on with Team Oracle USA.   We’ll see how that goes!  lol

It was, in short, a great time on and off the water seeing familiar faces and good friends, and making new ones.  Thanks to all who showed up, sailed, chased, swam, or otherwise put a smile on our collective face.

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