Hobie 18 North Americans – Avila Beach, CA

Eight Pacific NW teams from Division 4 picked up the challenge to head south and take on Division 2 and the rest of the country in a Hobie 18 showdown on the beaches of Avila, just north of Pismo Beach.  Five days of racing culminated in a total of 16 races.

The first 3 days saw strong winds in the 20-25k range with gusts over 30k.  The last two days the wind settled into a comfortable 10-20k range.  The heavy winds brought three Div. 4 teams to the top of the leader board — Ken Marshack & Val Pioszak, Peter Nelson & Laura Sullivan, and Paul Evenden & Tawnya Fox.  Not far behind were Alexa Edgar & Doug Weston, Gillian Thomson & Ruth Branscombe, Jerry Valeske & (Texan) Dana Gradel, and Cal Bridge & Chris Pomeroy.

A total of 20 18’s were on the line for most of the races, and made for some exciting starts and mark roundings.  Despite the heavy winds, there were few capsizes, owing to the 18’s significant stability.

Wednesday was the most brutal with sustained gusts over 30k and a huge sea state, with just one race before racing was canceled.  Marshack, Nelson, & Evenden all capsized (as well as a few others), but all survived and came away with smiles (more or less).  Peter & Laura capsized just 5 boat lengths from the gate, which the committee was going to shorten the course at.  When Paul & Tawnya came around leading the 2nd lap they did the same thing!

Laura went into the event with a swollen, black eye.  She quickly put to rest rumors that Jerry or Peter were to blame by explaining it came from a collision at Quinault.  Then on Wednesday, while coming into the beach after a harrowing day, her trap handle broke and dislocated her finger.  She was not to be denied, and sailed the final two days with a black eye AND a dislocated finger!!

The wind subsided the last two days and allowed the committee to run 7 more races in comfortable, double-trap conditions.  Under sunny skies it was a sailor’s dream.

Organizers managed to give each team a life jacket similar to the one used by America’s Cup teams.  Shoreside parties and prize giving were held just a mile down from the campsite in downtown Avila, which is a rocking little town.

Overall it was a very wonderful regatta.  It is safe to say a good time was had by all.  Next year’s rumor for the 18 North Americans is on the East Coast.  Stay tuned!

Quinault practice

We had a great Sunday of it last practicing up for the Pacific NW Area Championships.  8 boats hit the water and one was left on land, for a total of 9 boats.  Good turnout on short notice.  Three of those 8 were youth teams and it was really good to see them out there honing their skills.

John Ped and Alex Leblond were looking particularly dialed in.  With a combined crew weight of around 275#, these young men were flying upwind.  Will Nelson and Jennifer Hoag were looking just as good – until they lost their mast!  Their forestay parted and down came the mast.  Undaunted, these champions got towed back to shore, re-rigged (with the help of John Hoag) and were soon putting on a clinic of their own on the water!  Tawnya Fox and Sara Isaac – our newest youth team to the Hobie 16 – really showed some great improvement and why they will be a force to be reckoned with.

Rounding out the clinic we had J Rosenbach, Al Jones, Todd Morrill, Andrew Gross, and a “cheater 16” Jerry Valeske (on a H-18).  Most had crew, but I don’t remember names.  Jerry was sailing with new crew Lisa, while Kailey Jones was getting in some time crewing for dad, Al, in advance of teaming up with Dan Tarleton in the Youth NACs.  (Al tried to register as a youth, but we busted him!)

We started out with a chalk talk to the youth teams that lasted an hour or more.  We talked strategy and rules and asked and answered a lot of good questions.  It was great to have the boats on the water.  Weather cooperated long enough to run a few simple drills.  Due to the late hour of splashing, we commenced directly into practice starts and A-finish short races.  This gave everyone plenty of practice at starting, and just about everyone had their moment of glory AND gloom!!  Eventually the wind quit and we knew it was time to go home.  Just as well or we may still be out there!!

We are thinking of piggybacking on to this well-attended event with another prior to the NACs in Pensacola.  If we do, it will likely be in Puget Sound – salt water similar to Pensacola.

Many thanks to Matt (chase boat), Bob Combie (marks), Paul Carter (marks), J Rosenbach (arranging chase), Jerry & Laura (RV), and everyone who drove the miles and made it happen.

This weekend is Dinghies weekend at Whidbey Island.  We will have at least 3 18s and I think as many or more 16s.  BUT YOU HAVE TO REGISTER IN ADVANCE!!  It will likely be Portsmouth rating.  As much as I absolutely LOVE one design, sailing a handicap regatta every once in awhile is kind of fun just to mix it up.  Hope you come join the Penn Cove fun!!

Fernridge Regatta update

A quick (late) update on Fernridge, and also a reminder that Jericho is THIS weekend and Splash NEXT weekend.

Fernridge’s “Livin’ on the Edge” regatta was a ton of fun – some of the most fun Laura and I have had in a looong time.  We were sailing Laura’s new (to her) boat that she picked up from Greg Thomas.  Greg said he only used it 3 times to sail to church and Laura believed him!  Anyway, it came with EPO 3’s and it was my first chance to try out the new boat and new blades.  The 3’s were wonderfully well – much better than the 2’s.  We still had some cavitation when we got our weight too far forward.  But we were able to manage it much better.  One time coming into the weather mark we had overstood and were reaching in and with our weight forward the EPO’s started sending off a rooster tail that would have hit into the 2nd panel of the main it was so tall!

The sailing was great.  Committee sent us on 4 really long courses on Saturday that used up the whole course.  They set a traditional reach mark (1/2 way between the gate and weather mark), so there was no real reaching.  The other weird thing was they set the finish 1/2 up between the gate and weather mark. They used a finish boat that was well camouflaged so the finish was mostly invisible!  It made for some interesting finishes.  But we had single and double-trap conditions under sunny skies all day Saturday.

Sunday was more of the same.  Only this time the breeze was a little lighter – mostly no trap to single-trap.  Both days were very puffy, and crew work was at a premium.  Sunday the wind was fickle and oscillating all over the place, so strategy and boat placement on the course and relative to the fleet was at a premium.

My first time going to this regatta was last year.  I drug my heels going to it cuz it was so far away.  But Laura kept saying it was a lot of fun.  Well, she was right!  The Eugene Yacht Club puts on a great time, and it is a lot of fun to meet up with sailors from other parts of the division.  The lake has flat water, and when the breeze is up (and the sun out), it’s tough to hit the beach without a smile.  I would definitely recommend putting it on your regatta list for next year.

The Youth Wave NAs take over Sail Sand Point this coming Thurs.-Fri. in advance of the bigger sailors arriving Fri.-Sat. for next weekend’s Splash.  Lynn & Jeff Rickard have graciously opened up their “eastern 40”  acres to sailors for camping over the weekend.  I’ve been out to their place, and they have a nice spread.  Should make for a good party!