The 2014 Midwinter Championship was again hosted by St. Petersburg Yacht Club out of there Pass-a-Grille location on St. Pete Beach. This is an unbelievable venue for sailing (most of the time) and observing beach activities. The sand is packed hard and groomed every morning, the launch is relatively tame and gets deep quickly, and the bar is a short walk away. New for this year were the daily beach weddings immediately adjacent to our boat park.
This year’s event was highlighted by some weather-related glitches. Most teams showed up on Thursday and rigged their boats followed by an afternoon practice session. Breeze was light, 5-10 Knots, but the feel of pasty white northern skin cooking in the sun was a welcome break from the deep freeze. About 10 boats made it out for some rabbit starts and up/down’s.
Friday was forecast to be the best sailing of the weekend, with Saturday and Sunday looking very light. At the 9AM skipper’s meeting, the RC told us that they had been monitoring the weather situation, and that they wanted to hold us on shore due to some imminent lightning in the area. The fleet quickly got on the web and began looking at the weather situation for themselves. There was a massive front spanning the entire way from Florida up to New York, and we were right on the southern tip of it. It was unclear as to whether it would hit us, but the RC opted to wait and see, rather than trying to get a race off before it hit. This ended up being the wrong decision, as there was no rain or lightning all day.
The front continued to move closer and look more threatening, but the southern edge stalled and never encroached on our location. The fleet began to get frustrated and decided to launch and go out for a practice session. About 15 of the 18 boats at the event went out on Friday and were treated to a great day of sailing in 14-18 knots of wind. At the end of the day, we all felt pretty skunked considering the forecast for the balance of the weekend was horrible. We all decided that we needed to be more proactive in communicating with the RC early in the day so that they knew our capabilities of getting back in quickly in bad weather. The consensus was that we should nominate a class representative to be the point person for communicating with the RC on behalf of the fleet.
Saturday greeted sailors with dense fog and very little wind. It stayed like that all day. Literally all day. We were all dressed and ready to sail when the fog lifted, until we called it for the day at 4:30PM. We had a good opportunity to check out boats and drink beers. And it wasn’t raining!
Sunday’s forecast was not much better, although the morning looked a bit more promising as the fog was lighter and there was a bit more breeze. We started our first race around 10:30 AM in a light ESE breeze, about 5 knots max. At the first leeward mark, a thick fog rolled in resulting in some navigational challenges on the beat. Tyler/Jesse won the race followed by Ethan/Erik and Matt/Thomas. After the finish, the RC opted to wait for the fog to thin out to start the second race. We all sailed around the start line for about an hour and waited.
The fog lifted around 12:30PM and another race was started in a bit more breeze, ESE about 8-10 knots. Tyler/ Jesse took another bullet, but they had to fight off Augie/Reeve and Ian/James. The wind backed off slightly for the third and final day. Race 3 was highlighted by the Barry and Barrows brothers fighting it out for the overall results; they were deadlocked going into the final race. The younger brothers pushed hard, but in the end Matt/Thomas were able to translate their wisdom into speed and secure the bragging rights.
Congratulations to Tyler Moore and Jesse Falsone for their solid performance. If you are in the market for a new boat, check out the Classifieds Page where you can purchase the winning boat from this regatta for a great price. I would also like to congratulate Mike Coe and Russel Miller on the first regatta win for their “Dingleberries” upper mast support system which they invented in 2008. The system uses the spinnaker halyard to pull the trap wires up to the spin halyard exit when the sail is raised.