Regatta Reports

2018 Florida Midwinters Report

By February 22, 2018 May 9th, 2019 No Comments
Once again Ethan and Lin organized an escape from the depths of “winter” for us.  I am tempted to digress into a dissertation on “winter” in the Mid-Atlantic in contrast to WINTER in Edmonton Alberta where I walked to school in grade 2, and the daily high in January or February would be -30 F for several days in a row, but I will spare the reader … Suffice it to say that sailing in Florida in January or February is almost certainly nicer than sailing in Annapolis or New England in January or February (and it is DEFINITELY better than trying to sail in Edmonton).

Ethan and Lin have tried multiple venues over the last few years, moving from Eau Gallie Yacht (and Country & Social) Club in Melbourne FL (sailing on the Indian and Banana rivers) to St. Petersburg Yacht (and dinner) Club in St. Petersburg, to Boca Ciega Bay/Isla del Sol Yacht (and don’t let the sandy riff raff into the men’s room) Club, to Fort DeSoto, to racing off the beach in Pass-a-Grille, and finally to the Clearwater Community Sailing Center.  Having raced almost all these venues (I first showed up at a 505 MW in 1982, WITHOUT A 505, but that is another digression I will spare the reader), Clearwater Community Sailing Center is the best!  We ramp launch into the inland waterway, sail a short distance (STAY IN THE CHANNEL!!!) to a cut into the Gulf of Mexico, through the cut, and race in the Gulf.  It isn’t always warm, sunny and windy, but it IS warm, sunny and windy a lot more often than Annapolis (or Edmonton) in January/February!!  And per Richard White who welcomed us all, CCSC is very happy to host 505 events.

Last year the 505 MW overlapped the Laser MW.  Apart from a bit of crowding at the launching ramps (which was not a problem) it was amusing to see many of the same sailors I see in Annapolis, also escaping the Mid-Atlantic “winter”, just racing Lasers instead of 505s. This year the 505 event was moved earlier to the end of January, to avoid the conflict.

The problem with January 26 to the 28th is IT’S JANUARY!!!!  Everyone is either still hung over or didn’t start thinking about logistics until they sobered up, so a bunch of people who could have/should have been there didn’t make it.  Then there’s the guy who preferred to race Interclubs in Annapolis that weekend… I mean … whatever.

But the January dates did result in a low turnout, with nine teams registered and eight racing after Lin’s crew became sick and Lin could not find anyone to fill in (probably because Ethan had already asked every possible freelance crew if they were available, as Ali Meller needed someone to sail with, and Ali got the only good crew available!). Though a disappointing turnout this should be expected for late January, soon after Christmas and New Year’s, and after a September East Coast World Championship.

As mentioned above CCSC is a GREAT venue!! As in WAY BETTER than where you normally sail your 505!!  And it is in Florida!  In the Gulf; Yes, THE GULF OF MEXICO!! Not Tampa (slumber) Bay, not Boca Ciega Bay, not the channel into Tampa Bay, but the real thing… CCSC loves having 505 regattas and wants to see more of them; see the discussion at the end of this report regarding MORE 505 EVENTS at CCSC IN FLORIDA!!

We had really fun 505 conditions; Great breeze – gusts of 23 knots on Friday, similar conditions Saturday, lighter Sunday but still trapezing and wire running in the puffs.  The breeze was offshore, so flat water, shifty and very puffy.  This made the racing very interesting and challenging.  It was especially “Snakes and Ladders” downwind, with going from hero to zero very easy to do. Ty Baird/Ali Meller went from a very close 2nd at the weather mark to 2nd last in one downwind leg on Sunday, and that was without swimming!  The opposite and more desirable move – from zero to hero – was rather harder to do, but did happen. 

As typically happens at a 505 MW, there were some regular teams, and some pick up teams. Mike Coe couldn’t make it, so Ali was going to tow Mike’s 8841 down and sail with Ashley Love, but then Ashley had to work so Ali had to find someone else to sail with, and then a problem with Ali’s car meant he could not tow down.  Thanks to Ethan and his many local contacts, a great sailor to team up with, Ty Baird, and a great 505 to borrow, 7346, were found (about 10 minutes before Ali was going to finally pull the plug on the whole operation, Wednesday afternoon!!). 

Brendan Connell was racing with his new crew Patrick O’Bryan, Peter Scannell’s boat was in pieces so he and Andrew Forman borrowed Sol Marini’s 8018.  Marek Balinski, who drove from Toronto (which may have a bit more of a “winter” than Annapolis but NOTHING LIKE EDMONTON), teamed up with Barney “the 505 and the Albacore are EXACTLY the same” Harris. There was another local (SPYC) team, and a few more.

But the standout experienced teams were clearly going to be Eric Boothe/Ethan Bixby and Russell “the love muscle” Miller/Macy Nelson. As Ty Baird and I were getting organized before the first start, I assessed the fleet for him and concluded that there were three strong practiced fast teams and everyone else was going to be fighting for fourth.  I was partly correct:   Ethan/Eric and Macy/Russell dueled it out for the event.  In most races these two teams were either were at the front from the beginning, or quickly passed boats to get there. My other pick for “top three” were in the hunt at most weather marks but swam a lot.  Apart from the top two teams, everyone else was fighting for third, though Russell/Macy did manage to finish 3rd once and 4th once (their drop, and quite possibly due to a swim), so the two top teams were not quite 1,2 in all races.  

The battles for 3rd through 8th were bitter and hard fought (but then so were the battles for 1,2).  There was enough breeze Friday and Saturday for out-of-practice teams to swim, which was VERY slow.  I am reminded of the parallels between 505 racing and the Olympic biathlon event where you x-country ski and shoot targets. If you miss your targets you either take a time penalty or must ski an additional penalty distance.  Swimming on a gybe in the 505 is a lot like missing targets in the biathlon; you have to ski (or sail) MUCH harder than your competitors to get back into the game, but again I will spare the reader a further digression into the fine points of the biathlon event and the clear parallels with 505 racing, other than to suggest googling “winter war motti ski” for what may be the origin of the biathlon event.  Hint, the losers do NOT get medals…

The event-long battle for the win went to Russell/Macy by one point over Eric/Ethan.  My recollection is that Eric/Ethan were frequently in good shape at first weather marks, but that Russell/Macy were at a different level playing “Snakes and Ladders” downwind and found ways to get around the teams in front of them, in most of the races, doing most of that downwind. The last race (and the event) came down to one shift on the next to last run!  Great racing!

1st Place – Russell Miller and Macy Nelson
2nd Place – Eric Boothe and Ethan Bixby
The battle for 3rd through 8th was close and decided in favor of Andrew/Peter in part because they broke into the top two positions twice, finishing second in two races.  4th were Ty/Ali who swam twice and had to count one of the two resulting 7th places.  5th were Patrick/Brendan, who had flashes of brilliance, but also swam a bit. 6th were Marek/Barney in “Plastic Surgery Disaster”, which I prefer to call “The Deer Slayer”.  It is not clear the deer lost.  7th were locals Erik Mann/Nathaniel Plant, and 8th Jimmie Cockerill /Ian Conners who were only able to sail some of the races.

3rd Place – Peter Scannell and Andrew Forman
With downwind finishes, some teams were overlapped at the finish, and a lot of races were very close.  PRO Dave Ellis again ran a tight ship on RC with very little waiting (except occasionally for teams taking long refreshing swims in the Gulf of Mexico), and filled each day with racing.  I was MORE THAN READY to sail in after racing each day. I was MORE THAN READY to eat plentiful food and wine afterwards and I was MORE THAN READY to go to sleep after that.

Several teams were hosted at the Bixby’s; Thanks yet again to Miss Trudy for hosting and feeding the fleet!! We also had dinners at a restaurant very near the CCSC Friday, and at CCSC itself on Saturday.

I was very fortunate that Ethan found Ty Baird for me to sail with.  Ty is a Laser and occasional 49er sailor.  He had a lot of fun (despite having to sail with me) appreciated the 505 and is looking forward to more opportunities to race 505s. We were able to borrow 7346 from Andrew and Kelly Jones in return for doing a repair on the bow.  At the risk of yet another digression, 7346 is a “wood-look” Waterat, similar to my own 7200, but built on a Hamlin hull rather than the Lindsay hull on 7200.  I remember this boat from when Macy Nelson owned it in 1983 or ’84.  It is still very stiff, very strong, and very fast!!  For my amusement (and possibly yours) I determined who had owned 7346 and in what order:

1.     Macy Nelson,

2.     Jim Englert,

3.     Latane Montague,

4.     John Hauser,

5.     Mark Angliss,

6.     Craig Thompson,

7.     Andrew Jones

And now, for next year…  With CCSC and Richard White so enthusiastic to hold multiple 505 events, and Florida being way more fun to sail in than the Mid-Atlantic, New England (or Edmonton) in January/February, we are planning on TWO events for next year.  Boats will be left in CCSC’s large and secure storage lot between events.  The exact dates and other details are still being worked out.

The results show boats as registered, not quite as raced.  Ali was not able to tow a boat down, so raced the magnificent 7346 “The Lizard” rather than 8841 “Swagman”.

Unfortunately, does not show both tactician/crew and driver names; it just shows who registered.

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