Written for the Scituate Frostbite Association Fleet and used with permission (sort of).
Steve, Jane, Whitney and I had the pleasure of competing in the IC Midwinters this past weekend. The Annapolis IC fleet runs it “college style” with A and B division teams splitting time in the same boat. This year saw 27 teams–pretty amazing given the conflict with Miami OCR. The A/B thing makes it very social, as there’s plenty of time shore-side to get to know your fellow competitors. Seeing a lot of old friends and making new ones over copious (though not Berkeley-esque) quantities of free beer is always a good thing. The “boat loan program,” which ensures that traveling sailors are matched with a free charter boat, free housing, and free ride to/from the airport, attracts non-IC sailors…a fantastic thing for the health of the class and an ingenious fleet-building plan. As Annapolis has had the largest average turnout of any IC fleet this season, it also appears to be working. True hardcore IC sailors, like Jim/Suzie Bowers and Jocko/Myrna MacRae, also took advantage of the program–they got hooked up with a gucci Menkart. Mike Birman and Galen Phyfe got to sail a Vanguard for free. All of them were back home in Boston in time for the game.
Racing started on Saturday at the very civilized hour of 11:00, which was good because the front that had almost blown Steve/Jane off I-95 the night before was still kicking up a meaty northerly at 9:30 when we got to the club. When Steve/Jane hit the water an hour later, it was down to probably 15 or so, and the course was set up at the mouth of the Severn right off the USNA field in a flat, breezy, very shifty northerly. Steve and Jane got off to a good start with a 4/3/1 and, at the rotation, Steve’s advice to me was “dude, it’s shifty.” And dude, it was. There was a funneling breeze at the middle of the mouth of the Severn, but there were also huge lefties coming from the mouth of the harbor 90 degrees left of the weather mark. To complicate matters, the current was ripping out but you could duck it on the far left corner. What’s a sailor to do? We tried to tack on every shift and never commit to a side, and it worked pretty well. We lost boat a boat or two on the first beats when we committed to a side rather than taking smaller shifts. We posted a 1/3/5 and turned the reins back over to Steve and Jane. After going back on an OCS, they pulled a 10 in the first race. You all know what happens next, right? They win the next two going away. Law of averages. Whit and I were crucified by a port tacker on the first start of our set, but we clawed back to a 6. The next one was worse, as we were over at a messy pin and never established a lane on the beat. A sweet low-road on the run caught us 6 or 7 boats, and we finished 4th. The last race was strange. Good start, good lanes, great speed, bad finish. We end with a 6/4/8. John Pratt/Kristina Roussel (A) and Paul Adam/Kim Queene (B) from Winthrop sailed an amazingly consistent day, and were 5 points up on us in the overall. Steve/Jane were winning A, but Whit and I were a distant third in B…16 points behind Paul/Kim’s highly impressive 2/2/2/1/3/1. Former Midwinter Champ Bill Healy’s team was close behind us, as was Jim/Suzie/Jocko/Myrna.
SSA hosted a dinner, but the only thing anyone will remember was the desert. Words cannot do the desert justice, so I won’t even try. It was the best food with sugar any of us have ever eaten. The main course could have been *&^% on a shingle and it still would have been an unbelievable meal. There was beer, too, but we lit out for a night on the town that turned ugly and ended in Hearts and Sammy’s in the hotel.
Sunday dawned cloudy with a light SW’ly that built to a solid 10 when A hit the water for a cold, hard and uncivilized 9:30 first gun. It was clearly very wavy and getting windier. We knew the breeze was up when two boats Bruce-ed on the last run. Steve/Jane were deep on the first race after missing a lefty, but powered back to a 5. 808, in case you’re wondering, is very, VERY good at powering back. That boat is NOT speed-deficient. Anyway, they were winning the second race for a while, but they had to chose between covering the correct side and covering the correct competition…they finished 3rd, ahead of Billy, Jim and Pratto. The last race they played the middle and survived a 20 degree lefty to finish 5th. When Whit and I got out to the starting area, we were almost planing in 16 knot puffs, surfing down 2-foot waves. Our only goal, after watching the left pay consistently in the A set, was to be towards the pin and play the left. At 15 seconds we got nervous and bailed from the pin, starting on port behind everyone, and were soon the furthest boat right. And then we got headed. We tacked and never looked back. We came from behind to win the next race on the last beat. We couldn’t get by Jock/Myrna in our last race, and were happy to post a 1/1/2 set. It was only noon, but they sent us in ’cause of the PHRF frostbiters, who, we were told, “play by different rules” than we do. Curiously, this was deemed sound logic.
We finished up with a comfortable combined win, and managed to win both divisions to boot. We were all proud to represent SFA, and I think the rest of the world is starting to see that we’ve got the most competitive frostbiting in the country. Scituate on Sundays is the most intesive learning session you’ll find, anywhere, and it lasts all winter long. What a bargain!
A quick plug: the Annapolis IC fleet really goes all-out for this event. There was hot food between every set, the kegs were always tapped, and the RC work (though not Charles-esque) was damn good. The competitors were all very nice and very social (and very lubricated). The hot water in the showers worked. The raffle was good (not quite Kirkp…oh, you get the idea) and the Winthrop crowd absolutely cleaned up (they had 4 teams) on tee-shirts and hats. Someone not named Jim or Suzie won the sail. It was a first-class regatta.
The four of us had an absolute blast. We will all do everything we can to go back next year, and we encourage anyone else interested in a really great regatta to come down and give it a shot. Skill levels are totally irrelevant…the sailing is good, but the atmosphere is what makes it such a fun weekend.
1 – Guck (808) w/ Ched North
2 – Menkart (699) w/ Benj North
3 – Original woody (34?) w/ Ched North
4 – Menkart (672) w/ Ched North
5 – Vanguard (757) w/ New Doyle (–these guys were blazing fast in the flat water Sat!)