Something I’ve always found common among any truly top sailors I’ve met, regardless of being pro, amateur, large or small boat focused, etc., is they all have a remarkable memory. They’ll not only tell you everything they did in each race of a series (settings, tactics, crossings, gains and losses), they’ll also tell you everything YOU and others did! Even events going years back, they’ll recall things. It’s ridiculous and admirable at the same time! I usually just nod my head at them and say, “Oh…ya…right…totally! Uh huh…that was crazy!”, when really I’m trying to remember what event I’m at and whether I actually sailed in it earlier that day!
So, when Mike Holt asked if I could write up the report for the St Francis Yacht Club Fall Dinghy Champs that took place this last weekend, I was very stalled in my response, “Uh.. yah… sure.” I said with a gulp!
Here’s what I do recall (semi) clearly:
- Yes – The event did in fact happen and I was there! It was in San Francisco at StFYC and, as a whole, it was reasonably well attended by the youth sailors and classes that make up this annual event. It was shortened to a one-day event as the forecast for Sunday pretty much assured an un-sailable day with gusts over 40knots and heavy rain. They were definitely right on the call and we appreciated it being called early enough to pack boats in the calmer weather of Saturday evening. So, take-away #1 is – Don’t miss the first day of an event as it might be the only day!
- Yes – I do recall actually sailing in the event! It was my first time back in a 505 in 2 years (I think). I teamed up with Mike Punnett who braved the 12-hour drive down from Sun Valley, Idaho alone (and back!). Blaine Pedlow also came down from Bellingham, WA to sail with BruceE (down from Bend, OR) so technically there were two PNW boats in what turned out to be a 7-boat fleet. It was GREAT to be back sailing in the 505 and seeing everyone again. What a boat and a great bunch to hang out with. Glad to be back! Not sure where the other Norcal boats and crews were but you missed out on a fun day. Take away #2 – If you haven’t been out for a while in a 505, get out there! It’s just as good as you remember!
- Yes – Per the California fleet norm, a good portion of participants were either current or past world champions, top five world finishers or they had an Olympic medal hanging from their bed post. In this weekend’s case, 50% of the participants had those credentials! Teams consisted of:
- Ryan Nelson and Mike Bishop
- Steve Anderes and Nathan de Vries
- Mike Martin and Mike Smith
- Mike Holt and Rob Woelfel
- Howie Hamlin and Caleb Paine
- Bruce Edwards and Blaine Pedlow, and
- Mike Punnett and myself
Take away #3 – Whenever you get a chance to sail in a California event, do it. There’s no pressure to win as the top spot is typically assured to be someone named Mike or Howie. (Although this time I was sailing with a Mike so I did feel some tiny bit of hope and pressure.)
- Weather on Saturday was a mix of sun and cloud to start and increasing cloud and wind through the day. We had five races in winds that typically had us hiking and/or partially trapezing for the first few legs but with puffs that could see you full out on the trap for increasingly extended periods. The wind grew during the day and we even had some good fast reaches in the larger puffs later in the day. It was very puffy so staying in pressure and shifting gears was paramount. Each leg presented opportunities to gain (or lose) boats with everyone finding themselves near the front and back at multiple points throughout the series. There was a lot of current in the first couple races with a max flood around 12pm. The last two races saw a substantial ebb; particularly out at the start line. The wind had a lot of South in it – so much so that it was quite disorienting when you first got out there around the start area (at least for me). The RC ran shorter races with a weather mark right in front of the cheering crowds that I imagined were plastered to the glass in the StFYC eateries/drinkeries. It must have been chaos in there given the entertainment at hand. I mean, I’ve watched the AC from there so I know just how amazing we probably looked rounding that mark – but I digress. Take away #4 – Always do your hair (or shine your scalp if applicable) before sailing off the StFYC waterfront as you never know who’s watching you at the weather mark behind those panes of glass! Oh, and look for pressure, change gears, and don’t get caught out too far in the corners in shifty conditions…blah, blah, blah.
- In the end, Mike/Rob and Howie/Caleb proved to be the quickest and most consistent; especially Mike/Rob who ended up with almost straight bullets and some significant leads. On one run, finding ourselves WAY behind after a capsize and full flooding of the boat, Mike and I were coming down the last run when I said, “Well at least not ALL of those boats ahead of us are actually ahead. I think that one passing the finish line upwind is someone WAY behind us even!” As that boat then tacked over and crossed the finish line it turned out it was actually Mike/Rob WAY, WAY ahead! Doh!!.
The rest of us would challenge those two boats occasionally and each other constantly to end up with pretty mixed results. The end results don’t show how many times Steve and Nathan were in the top half; the times that Ryan and Mike were in the top three and even the lead at one point (or more?); or the times that Bruce/Blaine, Mike/Jeff, and us (Mike/Rich) were battling for that coveted 3rd place. It was a pleasure to sail with Mike Punnett, it’s great to have him, along with 8576, back in the 505 fleet and it’s very clear that he’s going to be at the pointy end of events going forward regularly. Welcome back Mike!
Take away #5 – Even just one good day of racing in a 505 makes up for a lot of travel!
And Take away #6 – See take away #2!
Looking forward to more!