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.

H-16/18 NACs — Puerto Penasco

Ten Div. 4 teams and shore crew extended their sailing season with a trip down to the Sea of Cortez at Puerto Penasco in October. for the H-16 and 2016 Hobie 16 North American Championships18 North American Championships.  The winds were light and allowed our teams to post some great results and gain valuable big-fleet experience.

What was particularly exciting were the four youths that came down and competed — some in their first open Championship.  JJ Hoag crewed for dad, John, while Kaylie Jones completed the father-daughter duo with Al..  Josh Markovich crewed for Paul Carter while sister Jessie caught a ride crewing for J Rosenbach.

The sheer size of the Div. 4 entourage was fun and exciting.  Seeing mexico-and-stuff-217everyone on the beach and sharing victories and challenges; going out to dinner with friends, and hanging together at the parties was all really exhilarating.

The wind was mostly light.  Only one race was run on Monday and Wednesday.  Tuesday was the only trapping day.  We got 4 races in on that day in mostly double and some single-trap conditions.  mexico-and-stuff-165Monday and Tuesday had the biggest swell.  On  Tuesday boats were flying off the tops of waves double-trapped!

mexico-and-stuff-176
Farmer J enjoying the high life!!

The venue worked out real well with everyone very close.  The RV park was right between two large hotels, so everyone was close.  You could get tamales or burritos in the morning, and there was beer under the tent at race central most days.  The beach was soft and hot, and the only real issue were navigating the rocky reefs with beach wheels at low tide.

And the division played the numbers game.  Peter & Laura scored their mexico-and-stuff-216first win of a NAC race, leading wire-to-wire.  John & JJ started the regatta off with a 2nd in the first race of the event!  Paul/Josh and J/Jessie followed up a couple of days later with a 3rd and 4th, respectively…in the same race!!  Martin Hollinsworth, sailing with Brit Jez Bull, finished 5th overall in the 18s — not bad for a couple of lardos who had never sailed an 18 before!  Carter got a 6th, Peter/Laura a 7th, and you get the idea.  Div. 4 sailors sailed well and everyone had a great time!!

mexico-hero-011 mexico-and-stuff-212 mexico-and-stuff-179 mexico-and-stuff-163 mexico-and-stuff-153 mexico-and-stuff-151 mexico-and-stuff-148

Madcatter 40 Recap

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.

Hobie beach scene at Madcatter 40Madcatter 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.rules clinic  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.

Cultus Lake Recap

The first Hobie regatta of the 2016 sailing season kicked off this past weekend at beautiful Cultus Lake in BC.  Cultus is about 1/2 hr. east of Vancouver and is a destination resort just outside of Chilliwack.  The beautiful mountains surrounding this lake are reminiscent of Yale Lake in WA.

Both days had good breeze.  PRO Steve Brunson from Kelowna rattled off nine races over the two days and did a superb job.  Conditions were tricky as the breeze was quite unsettled and would vary in both direction and strength.  Peter & Laura dumped early on Saturday in a gust that simply blew them over!

There were holes and passing lanes and it was lake sailing at its finest.  Three boat lengths would sometimes mean the difference between hero and zero.  There was a huge premium on crew work, and that was reflected in the results.  We had about 7 18’s, about the same number of 16s, as well as a couple of 17s and even a 20.

What was really fun to see was the mix of sailors.  Several ‘newbies’ came out to check out the action — including one on a 17 and another on the 20.  We’ll hopefully see them next month at Jericho.  Plus there was a ton of ‘shore crew’ getting in on the Hobie action.  Anyone who thinks Div. 4 is aging out got an awakening at Cultus with a plethora of youth sailors taking to the water.

I am sure to miss someone, but in the 18s Tawnya Fox was crewing for Paul Evenden.  In the 16s you had the ubiquitous youth team of John Ped/Alex LeBlond (who were tuning up for the 16 Worlds in China next month), plus JJ Hoag trading helm with dad John, Sarah Isaak crewing for Tim Webb, Josh Markowitz crewing for Paul Carter, Josh’s sister Jessie crewing for J Rosenbach, and Daniel Hollinsworth crewing for dad Martin.

That youthful energy spilled over on to shore with some great food and conversation Saturday night.  Many thanks to Paul Evenden’s wife, Debbie, for creating some tasty home fare!

On the water Peter & Laura weren’t the only “splashies”.  John & Alex augered in rounding the weather mark in a puff, and at least one other boat I can’t remember went for a swim.

Dave Wilder won the 17s while in the 18s it was: 1) Evenden/Fox; 2) Paul & Vanessa VonStubbe, and; 3) Gillian Thomson/??.  In the 16s it went to: 1) Nelson/Sullivan; Ped/LeBlond, and; 3) Carter/Markowitz.  It was fun seeing perennial 17 all star Paul Carter trophy in his first regatta after crossing over to the 16.  Paul made short work of a steep learning curve.

Both the 18 and 16 fleet showed a tightening up with a lot of boats getting in on the action.  In the 16 fleet the last two races were particularly tight, with the difference between 1st and 5th being a matter of 2 boat lengths and inches separating places.  Exciting stuff!

Next up: Kelowna Springtime regatta May 21-22 for the Northerners, and Fernridge June 11-12 for the Southerners.

Round Mercer Island Race turns into huge fiasco, er, success!

Hobie Fleet 95 sponsored a Round Mercer Island Race on Saturday, April 16th.  The idea was to meet at Stan Sayre’s Pits on Lake WA and circumnavigate the big rock in the middle of the lake.IMG_0154

Plans were quickly changed when the forecast called for a building breeze — to 3k!  Instead the I-90 Bridge Fiasco was born.  Participants had to go through both the
East and West Portals of the I90 bridge in any direction they wanted.  The air was so thick with competitive fire you could cut it with a knife.  Stare downs.  Trash talking.  It was intense.

This event was so large that there were four — count ’em 4 — starts!  The pursuit start had the slower boats, er, boat starting first.  Laura Sullivan, sailing a Hobie 14 was able to make that critical tack before the start so she wasn’t throw in irons, and off she went, rarin’ in a 2k breeze.  Five minutes later the huge 16 fleet — made up of the likes of Tim Webb and Martin Hollinsworth — took off in the best start of the day.  Martin actually covered the start pin but was not over early. Tim was 6″ behind the line!  It was cool to watch.  Another five minutes saw the 17 fleet off — that would be Dave Wilder, followed by the other big fleet of the day — the 18s with Jerry Valeske & James Hollinsworth along with Paul & Vanessa VonStubbe.

Laura got off to a quick start on port tack in the light northerly, but slowed as she approached the East Portal of the bridge.  That gave the opportunity to the 16s to close in on her.   Meanwhile Dave on the 17 was pointing higher and faster than everyone and he actually had to crack off to make the portal.  Jerry led Paul under the bridge.

Once on the north side of the bridge it was hoped there would be more wind.  Nope!  More of the same.  Martin tried to make a break for it and do the long course by sailing around the island.  He apparently did not get the memo!  But Mike Hensel on chase support quickly reeled him in on his brand new Alumaweld and got Martin, sailing with son Daniel, pointed in the right direction.

Meanwhile Laura managed to get into some hand-to-hand combat with the bridge before Mike bailed her out, and towed her up to a wind line where she quickly started closing in on the rest of the fleet.  The 16s and 18s had already rolled Wilder.  But then Dave decided to head up (north) and look for breeze.  It worked as he passed Jerry, Paul, and Tim once again.

On the return leg it was Martin, Dave, and Paul through the bridge in that order.  It was a relatively quick scurry back to the finish line for those three.  Dave and Martin finished within 38 seconds of each other after 1-1/2 hours of racing!  VonStubbe was close behind.

But then the wind completely died and Jerry, Laura, and Tim fell into the wind hole from hell!  It took them another 45 min. to an hour to sail the distance the other three did in about 15!  It was painful to watch.  But they all persevered, and all returned shore smiling.Winner Dave Wilder with the coveted perpetual trophy

Ultimately Dave was declared the winner, a mere 2-1/2 min. ahead of Martin.  Dave had brought the perpetual trophy with him, and so he took it back home with him along with the $10,000 cash prize.  He will be returning the coveted trophy in Oct.-Nov. for the real Round Mercer Island Race.

It was really a lot of fun to have a “club” race.  There were very few rules and the emphasis was on having a ton of fun.  Mission accomplished.  The fleet agreed to participate in Duck Dodge and maybe a distance sail over to Blake Island on Puget Sound this summer.