Hobie 16 Women/Youth & 18 NAC recap – Huntington Lake

Hobie Division 4 traveled south in droves last week to participate in two weeks of sailing events with national implications.  The teams had to travel past a Yosemite Park that was on fire, and arrived at the high mountain lake shrouded in smoke.

The first week featured the North American Championships in Hobie 16s for both Women and Youth.  The division was represented in the women’s event with Laura Sullivan sailing with Val Pioszak.  In the youth event Jennifer Hoag teamed up with Josh Markovich.

The sailing was tough as the sailors had to contend not only with the puffy conditions of Lake Huntington, but also the visibility and health issues involved with heavy smoke.  On top of that each fleet was populated by some noted ‘names’.

Pre-event favorites did not disappoint as Chris Bradshaw and Nancy Kornblum held off Dafna Brown & Teri McKenna for the win.  Laura and Val exceeded their own expectations by finishing 4th in their first ever event.

In the youth event returning 2-time champion Kat Porter, sailing with a very seasoned and competent Grace Modderman, got a little heat from Luke Froeb/Julian Skerrett.  But the female duo were able to easily sail away with the event.  Jennifer and Josh showed great strength in several races.  But inconsistency eventually pushed them to 7th.

The following week featured the 18s and 20s, and by this time the smoke had started to clear.  Josh flew home while Laura teamed up with Ethan Salkind, Val sailed with Ken Marshack, and Jennifer crewed for John — all on the 18s.  They were joined by 5 more teams of Paul Evenden/Sarah Isaak, Doug Weston/Kelly Smith (sailing on a new-to-them boat), J Rosenbach/Tim Webb, Will Schwenger/Angie McLaughlin, and Will/Peter Nelson.

The division’s Hobie 18 strength was on full display as Div. 4 sailors captured the top 4 spots, and 6 of the top 8.  It was cool to note that the top 2 teams had youth aboard (Will & Jennifer).   The tacking and gybing up and down the skinny lake was intense, and the short distance from the gate to finish emanated cries of victory and anguish from many a sailor.  The wind never got over 13k, so carnage was at a minimum.

After the intense competition on the water it was time to unwind on shore.  It was particularly fun sitting around an open campfire with your pals from the PNW.  Della organized a Thursday potluck that far exceeded the organized parties — both in food and entertainment.  Other impromptu gatherings were mixed in at the pub, parties, and campgrounds.

Photos to follow.

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.