Youth Training Hits “Epic” Proportions

A key ingredient to having an epic weekend of sailboat training is to have epic-type wind. And the solstice weekend of June 21-22 provided just that at Sail Sand Point in Seattle as two, Division 4, youth Hobie teams took to the water to practice for the upcoming Hobie 16 Youth North American Championships to be held in Sandy Hook, NJ in early July.

John Ped & Alex Biondi drove up from Portland to join Will Nelson (Seattle) and Tawnya Fox (Chilliwack, BC) for two days of training on the Hobie 16. The two teams were under the watchful eye of US Sailing instructor Tim Webb and Kelly Havig, as the two coaches put the two youth teams through series after series of drills that refined their boat handling skills.

Some classroom instruction in the morning of both days gave time for the wind to build while discussing strategy, tactics, rules, and racing technique. After lunch the teams hit the water while coaches took to chase boats and set marks for a short course. Long-time Div. 4 sailors Caleb Tarleton and Peter Nelson joined the action on the water.

Hobie Division 4 has been actively recruiting teenage sailors anxious to feel the “need for speed” that catamaran sailing delivers. “We had 4 teams travel to California for the North Americans last year. This year only two are going because the East Coast venue makes it more difficult logistically.”, said Laura Sullivan, Division 4 Chairman. Laura has been the primary impetus to the Hobie youth movement in the Pacific Northwest. “Between local fundraising and the youth grants the teams are receiving, the teams will be heading to New Jersey for what amounts to a free, week-long vacation. They will be re-uniting with friends they made at last year’s event.”, Sullivan continued.

The excitement from the North Americans is starting to build momentum. At a recent Hobie regatta at Sail Sand Point 6 youth teams showed up and got their own start! Any youth interested in learning Hobie racing should contact either Hobie Division 4 at or Sail Sand Point. While you don’t need “epic-type” wind to sail or race a Hobie, it doesn’t hurt the fun factor one bit!!

“Live on the Edge” Regatta Report

A wonderful weekend of sailing. The winds were light at times, but enough for our excellent race committee to get up to six races in, over the two days. It is all a matter of being in the right place at the right time and we had boats at a starting line and marks set when the winds picked up. Great job! On the course it often was also a matter being in the right place. There were plenty of holes on the course and it is always bitter to be stopped dead and see your competition trapped out, sailing away.

Friday afternoon started off on the wrong foot, as the gate to our grounds decided to act as a guillotine (anyone seen the ’80-ies move “De Lift” (aka “Down”)?). It ended badly for the gate as well as for Jeff and Lynn Rickard’s RV trying to enter. Thankfully no bodily injuries and there is insurance to cover the rest. Our sincere apologies for this malfunction and the damage caused.

With a total of 26 boats entered, split over 4 fleets, we were able to make two one-design fleets, one with the three Hobie 14s and one with eleven Hobie 16s. The remaining entries were split in a High Portsmouth and a Low Portsmouth rating fleet, the split being Portsmouth rating 69, both fleets having 6 entries.

The Race Committee likes to get the Low Portsmouth fleet started first, so they do not run into the slower fleets which they would overtake if starting after those. It became immediately clear that there was big speed gap within the fleet. Upwind the four A-Cats could (kind of) keep up with Peter Schmaltzer’s Nacra 20 carbon, but once the he rounded the top mark and put his spinnaker up, it was a horizon job – every race. The A-Cats struggle downwind in light air, just not enough sail area. Gerald Valeske took it easy on his F-18; his crew Bruce Ped was on a sailboat for the first time ever, trying to experience why his son John (racing in the H16 fleet) is into sailing. An F-18 is not quite the ideal beginner boat, but on the other hand, Bruce now “gets it”, about his son’s love for sailing!

Peter was untouchable and took six firsts in six races. The real battle was among the four A-Cats, who had very close finishes at times. Stan Breed won that battle convincingly and took second place after Peter. Randy Nikolai took third place, but the other two A-Cats were only two and three points behind.

The three H14s were a family affair. The Groesz family maintains a family fleet of Hobies and use the “Live on the Edge” regatta as a family reunion, it seems. They certainly are all enthusiastic sailors, besides making up the H14 fleet, they also had an entry in the H16 fleet. They are great supporters and promoters of our regatta and attend every year. Valerie Pioszak took the win by finishing first in all three races sailed on Saturday. The H14s decided not to race on Sunday, perhaps Valerie who talked her dad and brother into staying ashore?

The H16 fleet was a fleet with a wide range of expectations. They sailed three races on Saturday and got two races in on Sunday. It is of course great to be able to sail one-design, no need to wait for finish times to be calculated to find out how you did. Tim Webb took first place with only 8 points, two first and three second places, closely followed by John Ped who took two wins, two seconds and third to finish only one point behind Tim. Great battle between these two! The gap with third placed Aaron Harris was substantial. Aaron secured third place with 22 points, closely followed by Don Kaster who took fourth place with 23 points. Special mention deserves Will Nelson, who only sailed on Saturday and was right in the top with a first, a fourth and a third place in the three races on Saturday. It is great to see the next generation sailors, John and Will, being so competitive.

The High Portsmouth fleet consisted of two Prindle 16s, two Hobie 18s, one Hobie 17 and one Nacra 5.2. The ratings are not that far apart and the Prindles can be quite competitive. Light wind expert Larry Cox proved this with a second place in race one and strong wind expert Dan Nicholson with win in race three. But the wind strength, varying considerably during and between races, made it difficult for either Larry or Dan to be consistent and they managed to take 4th and 3rd place respectively. There was more consistency between Kelly Havig and Laura Sullivan/Peter Nelson who traded 1st and 2nd places throughout the regatta. In the end Laura/Peter on their H18 took first place with 8 points, with Kelly on her H17 close behind with 10 points in second place. Jeff and Lynn Rickard may have been compensating a minimum weight issue, as they had a radio strapped to the wing to make up for it. It could be though, that it took the focus off their racing to some extent.

For good fun we split our sailors up in teams of four boats (and a minimum number of three boat teams as number of entries dictate), identified by team flags and spread over the fleets as much as possible. It was the Blue/White flagged team of Laura Sullivan, Larry Cox, Randy Nikolai and Tim Web who took the win. Congratulations!

Overall Regatta winner was, beyond any doubt, Peter Schmaltzer with his convincing 6 wins in the Low Portsmouth Fleet. Last year’s winner Dan Nicholson handed over the “Live on the Edge” Pennant to him. Peter can enjoy flying the Pennant for a year and is invited to be back next year to defend it, no regatta fee required. Great win, congratulations!

Saturday night entertainment started off with Bill Groesz who had a great story, with props, on the early days of Hobie Cat. It was fun to hear how the Hobie empire came to be, sprouting from a surfer dude who had an idea and started in his dad’s garage.

Gerald Valeske brought fantastic footage of Laura and Peter at the H16 worlds in Australia last year. Big winds and dramatic capsizes, taken with an onboard camera, made for exhilarating video. They must have been exhausted after such rides, but they both exclaimed it was all worth it. And we loved to see it! Thanks so much Gerald!

Thank you to all the volunteers who made it happen again:

Race Committee: Richard Johnson (PRO),Rich Aaring, John Franklin, Andy Nousen

Finish boat: Nan Weed, Kenn & Chris Meneely, Joanne Jones

Rescue boats: Dave Brown, Karen Housen, Gale Morgan, Salty Green, Gordon Mattatal, Glen Hughes

Shore crew: Joanne Jones, Leta Sellers, Charlie Magee, Larry Cox, Dan Nicholson, Ken Lefton, Roeland Kapsenberg

Friday supper: Joanne Jones

Saturday breakfast: Nick Tabet, Shelley Johnson

Saturday dinner: Richard and Marie Johnson

Sunday breakfast: Matt Fleischmann, Dave & Carla Lux,

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