Wind and Sun for the East Coast Championships Regatta

BABA racers and Meet at the Beach inspired windsurfers scored a big weekend at Mayo for the East Coast Championships on September 21 and 22.

We’ve got lots of pictures and words to share, but in case, dear reader, you don’t make it through the entire post, I’m going to take this opportunity to thank all the volunteers who pulled together to put on the regatta.   As Myles Borash said when asked why he traveled all the way from Boston to compete – he makes a great effort to travel to our regatta because BABA still cares about racing and has volunteers who will work to put on an event, while his local windsurfing community gave up long ago.

Race Director Dave Iseri and his trusty race committee ran some great starts from Jeff and Darlene Fortes’ sailboat Something Special.  Jasmine Iseri was also a key member of the RC.  She’s working hard on her windsurfing skills and had a blow-out week with her parents in Hatteras in August.  Jeff and Darlene generously brought out their sailboat (this is their 2nd year at the ECC) so we could have a great platform for the RC to run the racing.  On Saturday, Albert Pritchard served as mark setter and chase/rescue boat captain in his Boston Whaler.  Albert trailered his boat, hauled it over to Mayo and launchesd from a nearby marina so we could have a a safe event.  For Sunday’s marks/chase/rescue Tom Caswell brought over his boat from a nearby marina and Warren Evans served as Captain – he even had a rescue to perform when Chris Bel 29 broke his mast during the last race of the event.

Our lunch crew was headed up by Maureen Pritchard and Amber Kasbeer who both had to duke it out with our local sandwich shop (who shall remain nameless, and who had plenty of notice that we were going to place a large order) to secure our lunches and get them over to Mayo in a timely fashion.   Thanks for making sure we had food!   We can’t have an event without money so our trusty Treasurer Helen Van Gelder was on site to collect the regatta fees and dole out payments for food and beverages at Mayo.  Also on site to lend a hand were Ann Jackson, Mike McCormickChris Wattengel and Fan Pat.

The weekend was topped off with a drawing for windsurfing swag donated by our loyal sponsors.  Thanks to sponsorship chair Dave Iseri , Hatteras Trip Coordinator Coby Leyden & LTW Coordinator Janice Emerling for working with all of the sponsors during the year:  ABK Board Sports, Aerotech Sails, Avon Sail House, Chinook, Dakine, DelMarVa Board Sports, East of Maui, Easy Uphaul/Waterstarter, Ezzy, Maui Fin Company, Ocean Air, Wind NC, Windsport Magazine and Ultimate Watersports.  And thanks to our immediate past Commodore Tomaso for laying the groundwork and keeping our racing program going for many, many years.  Thank you all.  And a big thank you to our hosts at Mayo Beach – Anne Arundel County Parks and Rec.  It was a great weekend!

Now on to the racing….

Pictures here, and more to come.

Tension was high at the skippers meeting as the wind speed was ramping up and the swell increasing  from a strong  southerly blow that had been charging up the bay all night.  Race Director Dave Iseri was on site early taking care of details and Race Committee members Jeff and Darlene Forte motored over to Mayo on their sailboat Something Special to serve as committee boat.

– from Jeff Forte,  Captain of Something Special

“With strong southeasterly winds in the 15 – 20 knot range, Saturday’s racing was challenging for the committee boat.  As we arrived from the open bay near the Mayo Beach area on the South River, we noticed some three and four foot swells developing over the shallow bottom that runs off of the beach.   This was not good news for anchoring.  Happily, as we motored in closer to the beach, the swells reduced a bit and committee boat duty could commence.  Wilth race director Dave and his daughter Jasmine aboard after a wet dinghy ride, Dave started the racing just after noon.   No one in the race committee got seasick from the rocking and rolling, but after morning racing and a nice lunch ashore, we noticed that the wlnd and swells were increasing and so, sadly, we thought it best to up anchor and leave.  Darlene did her ususal anchor retrieval routine, only this time it was a little tricky with the the bow of the boat rising and falling two to three feet in the swells.

Saturday's Wind Graph
Saturday’s Wind Graph

We had a short but splashy ride home right into the wind and waves. Once we got into the protection of Curtis Point at the mouth of the West and Rhode rivers, it was much calmer.  We made it back to our mooring in the West River with time to spare before joining the racers for dinner at Plazuelas in Edgewater.  On Sunday, the wind was from the north and the waters were smooth and calm for anchoring and more race committee duty.  Joining us aboard for Sunday, in addition to Dave and Jasmine, was Riika Imai, wife of race participant Kei.  She had never been on a larger sailboat before and seemed to have a good time watching the races.  Dave and Jasmine did a great job with the starting sequences for each race.”

Christophe BEL 29 designed Saturday’s course – a triangular up/downwind course with a reaching finish in front of the beach and he put everyone through their paces by making each race 2 laps around.  By the time racing kicked off the wind was around 15 knots, with higher gusts and some lower lulls.

The course was fraught with giant swell, big wind gusts, ample crab pots and  obtuse boat captains, including one driving a very large motor yacht that crossed in front of Tom Caswell near the downwind mark.  The combined swell and boat wake was so big I practically lost sight of Tom (on a 10.0m sail!) as he came off a plane to avoid a collision.  Albert Pritchard was able to escape from his official role as chase boat captain to compete in one of the races (and no windsurfers were harmed during his dereliction of duty).

I was almost done-in during the 2nd race on Saturday.  The down wind mark was an incredible challenge on my Equipe and 5.3m sail as the wind was climbing to the mid-twenties.  After several attempts to hold down my sail on a close reach surfing down huge swells and being overpowered by the gusts I was almost ready to give up.  Exhausted from uphauling one too many times I finally got my sail out of the water and was able to luff and catch my breath, legs wobbling and heart pounding, when I realized I was washing toward the  mark at a pretty good pace.

I luffed, and luffed and bobbed in the swell, and finally drifted past the downwind mark with a clear view of the finish line and the beach.  I sheeted in and was able to plane across the  line and all the way in.  It was a glorious, last place finish for race 2, but every race finish is a great race finish, especially when your skills and strength are pushed to their max.  Woo hoooooo!  Lunchtime!I

View from a Formula Board

by Christophe Bel 29
On Saturday, most formula racers were on their ‘small’ 10.0 sails given that the wind was forecasted to pick up throughout the day. The long southerly fetch mixed in with the South River boat traffic made for fairly tricky water conditions especially on the downwind leg of the course. We completed two two-lap FW races before lunch, which I won both, trailed by Guillaume in second while Tom and Alan traded for 3rd place.

During lunch break the wind kept building to well over 20 knots in the gusts, the top mark now squarely surrounded by breaking waves! The committee boat decided to seek shelter and racing was called off for the day. This did not deter the sailors, of course, who all reached for their smaller slalom and wave gear for a fun afternoon of ‘free’ sailing. I blasted around for an hour or two on my small slalom set (6.3 TR9 & Starboard iS 87) before calling it a day. (I had only just returned from Europe the night before and jet lag finally caught up on me.) Everyone made the most of the generous wind.  Tom Caswell jibed around the pilings and G pulled off some great jumps right off the beach.   I don’t think many Formula sailors regretted the committee’s decision to postpone racing to Sunday!

On Sunday morning conditions looked completely different. The rain from the night before had cleared and a light Northerly breeze had set in, oscillating around 10 knots and plenty of sunshine. The committee set a similar course as the day before but this time with an upwind finish, again right in front of Mayo Beach.

Logically most sailors opted for bigger sails than the day before. I rigged both my 11.0 and 12.0 TR9s and eventually settled for the latter as it seemed light most of the time. It turned out to be the right call as not everyone consistently planned around the course—including me. We decided therefore to do only one lap on the shorter long board course, and completed three more races. The wind remained on the light and shifty side with some stronger puffs in the mid-teens traveling down the South River, as the wind gradually shifted westwards. I won the first three races with Colin—who missed the first day—consistently in second. He actually beat me twice to the upwind mark on both race #3 and #4, sailing very cleverly to take advantage of the lift closer to shore, but each time I managed to catch him on the downwind leg. Unfortunately I broke my mast in race #4 when I gybed for the bottom mark forcing me to retire and allowing Colin to take that race. Tom and Alan battled it out again for 3rd.

After lunch the wind turned even more off shore and dropped further so the racing committee wisely decided to call it a race, allowing everyone plenty of time to pack up and a chance to win one of the nice prizes in the raffle.

All in all a great weekend of racing in a wide variety of conditions ranging from strong to light wind, and rough to flat water. Thanks Daphne for organizing, and everyone else for helping out and showing up to race.

Christophe Bel29
Colin Pitts
Tom Caswell
Myles Borash
Stuart Grey
Eddie Murawski
Mike McCormick
Chris Wattengel
Daphne Lathouras
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