Musings of a N. American Hobie Champion

For 30 years I have chased “the golden road to Hobie stardom”.  I remember my very first nationals.  I laid awake at night pretending I was giving a victory speech at the awards ceremony after winning the whole thing.  That was 30 years ago.  I am currently on version 7,568 of that speech.

So when that epic moment arrived after winning the H-18 NACs at Huntington Lake last week it became ironic that I had nothing to say. Actually I was too nervous to say anything.  But the longing to make that speech continues unabated.  So humor me while I put it into words.

 

First off, this win is dedicated to my good friend, Jerry Valeske, who had a wicked fast boat, and only began to find out how fast just before his premature passing leading the fleet at the weather mark.  The practice race at Huntington was on the 2nd anniversary of his departure and was not forgotten.  Thanks, Jerry.

Victory brings humility, and humility fosters gratitude.  Many, many thanks to:

  1. My son Will.  He started sailing the H-18 three days before the event and now has a combined 7 days under his championship belt.  The competition tested him mercilessly and he rose to the occasion.  At 21 years of age if he is not the youngest H-18 champion then he is darn close.  #proudpapa
  2. Laura Sullivan.  She suggested the idea of Will and I racing together at the event, and sweetened the offer with a loaner boat.  Laura — you had no idea the lifelong memories and life changing impact you had with your gracious offer.  I owe you BIG time. #grateful
  3. John Hoag.  Johnny and I share a similar passion for competitive sailing.  John showed me how to be Corinthian; and in the process elevate.  I am deeply indebted to him for that gift.  Thank you for your caring friendship, and sharing our passion together.  I enjoy it immensely and continually seek to be around you.  #classact
  4. Ken Marshack & Ethan Salkind for showing me grace in defeat.  The hard part about winning is sharing in the losses with friends.  Ken & Ethan gave me examples to emulate.  Gentlemen, I respect you even more now, and humbly thank you.  #grace
  5. Will & Angie, our camping partners.  They were supportive and understanding through all of my ups and downs.  #newclosefriends
  6. The entire Div. 4 team, Chris Bradshaw, and Jim Sohn for their support, understanding and camaraderie.  Their support gave me the strength to continue on. #hobiefamily
  7. Becky Ashburn, PRO, and her team of personnel for putting on a very entertaining and competitive 4 days of racing.  Everything was handled professionally and cordially. #noproblem
  8. Jim Doty. Jim was not at the event, but I could tell he wanted to be.  I had fun needling him with email updates and getting him fired up.  At the same time he kept me fired up and focused.  #longdistancebuddy

 

Any one of 4-5 boats could have won this event.  The fact that we were able to pull it off involved a fair amount of luck.  Good sailors put themselves in positions to receive good luck.  We are grateful that the good Lord decided to shine on us this time.

There are many sailors I know who are better sailors than Will and I but have not yet won a championship.  I hope this championship serves as hope and motivation for them to continue the chase.  As Adam Borcherding reminded us at the women/youth event “Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile.”  We found ours.

Div. 4 Olympic ski team takes to the slopes

This last weekend a group of intrepid Div. 4 Hobie sailors took to the slopes at White Pass Ski Area for a weekend of frolicking and laughter.  To describe it in one word would be “epic”.  The fun, laughter, bonding, friendship, sport, and environment were all 10.5 on a 10 scale.

Kudos to Rich Arneson for organizing this event and hosting us at the slope-side chalet of the Olympia Ski Club.  This A-frame was built by volunteer labor in 1955 and added a good dose of nostalgia and ambiance to our weekend.

Clockwise from front left: Kayley, Gorilla, JJ, Josh, Matt, Della, Bob, Al, Smooth, Teardrop

Rich was ably assisted by Elizabeth Prout, who took over the weekend cooking responsibilities not just for our hungry mouths, but for the entire Olympia Ski Club.  Between the ambiance of the lodge, Elizabeth’s cooking, and the hospitality and congeniality of the club members, we were treated like royalty.  And as an added bonus, not one Hobie person got kicked out of anywhere the entire weekend!  lol

On the slopes it was giggles and grins across the board.  We had 7 on Saturday and 11 on Sunday when Della showed up with JJ in the morning while Matt Markovich drove Josh up Sat. night.  It was just too much fun on the chair going up and on the runs headed down.

Eventually groups broke up according to skiing preference and skill.  Bob Combie and Kayley Jones were cutting fresh tracks on the runs through the 4″ that fell Friday night.  Al Jones was shifting time between skiing with Kayley and the tree crowd.  The tree crowd included our personal guide and host Rich “Gorilla” Arneson, Paul “Smooth” Carter, Tim “Drop” (aka “Teardrop”) Webb, and “Crazy” Peter Nelson.  Teardrop hooked up with Smooth Saturday afternoon after selling his 2nd boat to Will Schwenger from Canada in the morning.  (Expect to see Will slicing through the race course this summer!)  Turns out JJ is a powder hound, and dove into the trees on Sunday every chance she got.

It was really that steep. No, really it was!

It was soooo much fun because everyone was an accomplished skier so you were always skiing with a friend.  When it was time to head back to the lodge there was warmth, food, refreshment, friends, and games.  Based on the success of this weekend, expect to see more skiing opportunities in the future.

8 Bells over Lake Quinault

As many of you know by now, our good friend, Jerry Valeske, passed away Jerry Valeske over Lake Quinaultunexpectedly on Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016 at approximately 3 p.m.  He was 66 years old.  He died doing the thing he loved best – sailing – at the venue he loved the most – Lake Quinault.  Jerry was leading the race at the weather mark of the 2nd race of the Pacific NW Area Championships at the time of his passing.  He is survived by his wife, Laura Sullivan, son Jason, brother Ray, and mother June.  An incredible outpouring of love and support has helped Laura and the family to endure these difficult times.  There are not enough ‘thank yous’ to express the gratitude Laura and the family feels.

Jerry will be remembered for many things.  His smile and gracious giving were two of his biggest assets.  But Jerry was also giving with the many talents God graced him with, including fiberglassing, woodworking, artistic t-shirt design, trophy design, PROing, and much, much more.  He was a man of many talents, that is for sure.  The Pacific NW sailing community has lost a dear and beloved man.

Many people have expressed a desire to send flowers or help out in other ways.  So we have set up a Jerry Valeske Memorial Fund.  The idea behind this campaign is to raise money that can help support any one of a number of passions Jerry enjoyed.  Current plans are under way for a park bench to be donated to the Lake Quinault Rainforest Resort Village in memory of Jerry.  The Village has been very supportive of Jerry and the Hobie division over the years.  But beyond that, there are greater goals.  Hobie youth sailing is near the top of the list, but other ideas are also being considered.  Laura will make one or more contributions to a charity or charities of her choosing which she feels best matches the spirit and love of her beloved husband.

Checks may be sent to: Laura Sullivan c/o Peter Nelson, 12418 83rd Ave. S, Seattle, WA 98178.  We have also started a crowd funding campaign at GoFundMe.  You can click this link to get to it: https://www.gofundme.com/2qw7axvk.  Checks are preferred to save the 3% or whatever GoFundMe charges.  Please do not feel obligated in any way to make a donation.  We’ll be fine either way.

From all of us who knew Jerry and were close to him, words cannot express the gratitude we have for your love and support through all of this.  It has been truly overwhelming.  God bless.

Upcoming events notification

May 9th, 8:30am to 5:00pm

2015 Hobie 101This year Sail Sand Point. Hobie Division 4 and Fleet 95 are teaming up to present — Hobie 101 and 102.   What is Hobie 101? It is a one–day clinic to introduce people of all ages to multihulls and specifically Hobie Cats. Lunch, technical material, tips and tricks, tall tales and adventure stories about Hobies will be shared. Multihulls are much faster, more exciting and extremely affordable.   The clinic covers how to properly rig the boats, proper weight distribution, points of sail, tacking and gybing, how to power–up as well as depower the boat and most importantly going through the safety aspects. The instructors have over 90 years of experience on multihulls and monohulls and can provide instructions on all aspects of helming and crewing Hobie Cats. All the instructors have competed at the local, National and World levels.

We’re all about having fun, safety and the social aspect of the Hobie way of life.

Attention All Youth!   Wave Youth North American Championships are coming to Sail Sand Point!

Helly Hansen waveSail Sand Point is the site of the Youth Wave North American Championship on June 26th–28th.

In preparation for the Youth Wave North American Championship event, the Hobie 101 Clinic will be offering separate and dedicated training on the Wave. The clinic will teach rigging and weight distribution, starting sequences, and starting tactics. After lunch — which is provided — the students will rig the Sail Sand Point Waves and get everyone on the water, go through start sequences and around the course to finish off a very full day of fun.   We will have on-the-water coaching as well.

The clinic is scheduled for Saturday, May 9th, just two weeks away from 8:00–5:00 pm. This one-day clinic which costs a big whopping $20 — including lunch! You will be hard pressed to find a value like this anywhere!! Please contact

Jerry Valeske — [email protected] — 206-498-0610 for questions and to register for this clinic.

Passing of a dear friend in our Hobie family

It is with heavy hearts, and great sadness, we report the loss of a super sailor, husband, son, and friend to all of us. Todd Christensen passed away November 20th, at his parents home while recovering from major surgery. Starting at the age of 13, Todd was a big part of the Hobie Cat family, over time joining the International F18 Class Catamarans, and keel boat fleets as a member of the Shrek team. Todd could do it all, from foredeck to skipper, on a large monohull, a fast F18 or master of the Hobie 16.todd at quinault

As an engineer and master craftsman, Todd helped our sailing community immeasurably. From storing and transporting race gear, to modifying trailers for hauling as many boats as possible to events. In his spare time, he volunteered to man chase boats, help with youth programs, organize regattas, and hold various officer positions in our Division and Local Fleets.todd

You are welcome to join us in a celebration of his life on Saturday, December 13th at 2 pm at

John Knox Presbyterian Church
109 SW Normandy Rd
Seattle WA, 98166
(206)-241-1606

Please share/send/post photos you may have collected during the time we were able to share our lives, and sailing, with Todd.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name for new sailors at Sail Sand Point Youth Sailing.