I have been really lazy about updating the blog and feel bad about that, but at the same time I have been fighting the good fight every chance I could. I have been to the US Moth Nationals, Glacier National Park, Melges 24 Traverse City Invitational, Beneteau 36.7 Nationals, and US Melges 24 Nationals.
US Moth Champs, Cascade Locks Oregon:
Let me start out with the US moth champs in Cascade Locks. This place is basically heaven on earth and it was good to see Simon and Rohan like it as well. We ate pizza at the local bar, listened to a talented Jack Johnson knock off, and in general had a good time. The sailing was awesome – we saw everything from a dying easterly to a full-on westerly. I set a new personal best speed at 27.1 knots and tried out a new spoon system for my wand, which seems to be the best wand I've had yet.
Here's a quick rundown on what I've been doing with the wand. For a while now, I have been going longer wand with flex. Now that I've put the spoon on, I'm going shorter with a very rigid wand and it seems to have a very positive response. The boat will fly at exactly the right height and will come down fast when it gets too high. On the down side, the spoon is a weed rake and in marginal foiling conditions it is a BIG drag if there is any weed around.
The racing was so fun. I was very lucky a couple times, and was able to pull straight bullets for the regatta. It was very impressive how much everyone else had improved. Even though they were not right on my heels, the next 5 boats seemed to be in a constant dogfight for the 2-7 spots. It was awesome to see, and with Charlie and Hans coming to AUS this winter I am sure that the bar will keep getting higher in the States. The moment of the regatta for me was in the very first race, going bow to bow with Morgan Larson. I nearly wet myself in laughter after hearing about the carnage that happened behind me after he ducked.
At the end of the regatta I was fortunate to take out my favorite moth crew and go for a little two up sailing. Mr. Clean made the picture notorious and I still get a lot of comments about it. I think with a little more practice Simon and I will have to throw down the gauntlet and see if we can beat Paris and Sterling Henken in some double handed racing.
Glacier National Park:
To all the internationals that are coming here next year to sail the worlds, take an extra week off, drive up there and see what has to be the most spectacular piece of road ever! I had the pleasure of having a navigator on the way back to Michigan and was very very happy I was able to convince her to spend a couple of days there. We went hiking, white water rafting and sightseeing. I’m going back after Worlds no doubt.
Traverse City Invitational Regatta, Traverse City, Michigan:
After hurrying back from Montana, I literally drove straight to Traverse City to defend the regatta we won last year on USA 660 Flyer. This time was different, only two of the five people had ever sailed with anyone else on the crew beside myself. It was going to be a little bit of a learning experience on USA 12 “Don’t Panic”. Brian Poppert, the owner, did a great job setting up the boat and after Day one we had an almost untouchable 13-point lead on second place. Lucky for Paul Hulsey and his crew on the Hoodlum it was not untouchable and they sailed an awesome last two races on Sunday to take the victory by one point. I was happy to see such a good bunch of people succeed on their new boat.
Beneteau 36.7 US Nationals, Chicago, Il (Natalie J):
This event was all about fighting the good fight. One week before the regatta we had our primary trimmer and the bow guy bow out. Nearly catastrophic, but this event was all about getting Pops on the water and we pushed through. We picked up some people, Patrick McMath, Bob Hillier (from Line Honors), and the one and only Mr. Clean. The first hurdle during the regatta was weigh in, Paul Hulsey came in 10 lbs heavy! The little bowling ball! Alan and Paul were the last two to weigh in and they had to do it the morning of the regatta, we had allotted them 403 lbs. Should have been no problem but when Paul stepped on at 10 lbs heavy the panic started to hit. I sent them to the truck, told them to crank the heater and tried to get them to puke. In the mean time I was stalling Janet Baxter at the scale, trying to get the boys every minute I could. 40 min later they came back and tried again. We were still one pound too heavy. Alan pulled some zen budda trick and bounced up and down a couple times, stepped on the scale and by some miracle was one pound lighter!!! Amazing does not quite do it justice, and how Phil was able to keep his cool while half the crew was running around messing with weigh ins was another little miracle.
The racing was fun we had better boat speed than last year but still not up to the top boats pace. There were two races that we should have won which would have pushed us into the top 6 but it was not to be so we will have to practice and try for next year - which will be on our home water at Bayview Yacht Club.
For me the best part of the regatta was to see how the establishment in the Beneteau 36.7 class screamed bloody murder at the sight of Mr. Clean, it was like he was sun light and they were vampires. By the end, the people who had any sort of good head on them warmed up to him and the ones that were dumb did not. Their loss, he is a great friend of mine and when you take the time to realize he is only telling it how it is (armed with a hand grenade with the pin already pulled) you can start to appreciate him a little more.
Melges 24 US Nationals, Charleston, SC (USA 757, “Simplicity”):
This was the third time I had sailed with Simon Strauss, and the first time in the new boat – nicknamed the Boeing Boat). Simon has committed to make a serious run towards the Worlds next year in Annapolis, and with that kind of commitment he might as well be the pied piper for me. Our team consisted of Becky Damore, Rich Core, Jane Delashmutt, Simon Strauss, and me. Day one blew 15-25 knots and it was tons of fun. Tightened the piss out of the rig, dropped the leads back and went racing! At the end of the day we were in the lead by two point and we were a Corinthian team! Note the word “WERE,” - after a couple beers enjoying our good first day, I got the dreaded e-mail from ISAF requesting a clarification on my Category 1 classification. Next thing you know, we are kicked out of the Corinthian class. Day two we extended our lead on the fleet and now were winning the regatta by 8 points after a day of light and current-dominated conditions. Day three would be only two races. We had an average first race but still held the lead by a point. The final race – a five legger - we sailed smart for almost the entire race. Had we finished at the final leeward mark we would be National Champs, but we got caught out on the wrong side on the final beat, and ended up finishing two points behind first place Full Throttle and one behind Team Barbarians. One beat away from being a Melges 24 National Champion - guess there is always next year. We didn't go to win the Corinthian title, but now that ISAF has reviewed me and reinstated my amateur status, it's only fair for the Class to award Simon with the Corinthian National Champion trophy. They said they'd planned to do that, but we're still waiting.
International Moth Update:
I have been avoiding the Mach 2-Bladerider mess for a while, I think it is only good for the moth class to have more competitive, easy to purchase boats, and we have to remember that we're in a development class. Obviously the timing was right for Amac to make it happen - good on him for doing it. The level of competition in the class is just going to keep going up and up and everyone from boat designers to boat builders to sailmakers will have to work hard to stay in the game.
If anything, this development will be good for team Bladerider. Resting on your laurels is not the way to stay at the top, and the new competition should motivate them to do that. Personally, I'm really happy with my Moth right now. We'll see what TOP-manufacturing cooks up, but for now it is an X8 for me. Oh, yeah – I'm coming to AUS in November for basically two months and I am bringing more Americans, so it should be a barrel of laughs at all the major Aussie regattas ;)
Another word on Moths and sponsorship: I really don’t want to do anything that makes me a Category 3 sailor. The mess in Charleston reinforced the fact that there's no point in doing something that jeopardizes my Cat 1 status for a little cash.