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Starting the Burgee String from Scratch

Arizona Yacht Club’s long string of yacht club burgees is gone. It didn’t come home after the Birthday Regatta this year and is presumed lost or stolen. We’ve filed a police report in case it pops up on Craig’s List. Watch for it. We don’t know how many burgees were on the string, collected over decades, but it was almost certainly over 100 and probably more like 200.

So, we’re starting over.

New burgee number one is from the Lewes Yacht Club at Lewes, Delaware, at the mouth of Delaware Bay. LYC’s Susan Pisarek exchanged burgees June 25 with AYC Membership Director Mark Howell. If you’re traveling to a yacht club and would like to exchange burgees, the club will give you one to swap.

AYC member Bill Cunningham is cruising the Northeast with a bunch of our burgees and (as you’ll see below) is collecting lots of exchanges to get the string rolling.

Susan Kisarek exchanges burgees with AYC's Mark Howell.

Susan Pisparek exchanges burgees with AYC’s Mark Howell.

AYC member Bill Cunningham exchanges burgees with Johnpatrick O'Brien, Rear Commodore of Fayerweather Yacht Club in Black Rock Harbor, Connecticut.

AYC member Bill Cunningham exchanges burgees with Johnpatrick O’Brien, Rear Commodore of Fayerweather Yacht Club in Black Rock Harbor, Connecticut.

Membership Renewal Time

All AYC members have now received an invoice for next year’s dues (or non-dues for Life and Honorary Life members) and the membership team hopes you’ll renew right away so we don’t have to send you the increasingly sad and pleading emails. The 2016-2017 dues are payable by July 1.

If you plan not to renew your membership (you know, if you’ve been transferred to Fargo or something), please tell us that too.

Life and Honorary Life members pay no dues, but we need you to update your contact information each year.

Here’s a shot of some of those longtime AYC members, gathered together when former Commodore Joyce Seale visited from her New Zealand home.

From left: Charlie and Debi Fife, Martin Lorch, Carol Ohlin, Mary Kay Farrington Lorch, Alexia Lorch, Tom Ohlin, Joyce Seale, and Dennis Lynde

From left: Debi and Charlie Fife, Martin Lorch, Carol Ohlin, Mary Kay Farrington Lorch, Alexia Lorch, Tom Ohlin, Joyce Seale, and Dennis Lynde. Joyce says George Sheller was also there, but he was the only one actually out sailing.

Former AYC Commodores Joyce Seale, Martin Lorch, and Tom Ohlin. Joyce and Tom are Honorary Life members.

Former AYC Commodores Joyce Seale, Martin Lorch, and Tom Ohlin. Joyce and Tom are Honorary Life members.

Consider Taking a US Sailing Safety at Sea Course

The US Sailing Safety at Sea course is an excellent way to get up to speed on staying safe on a sailboat. In one or two days, you’ll learn (or be reminded) about everything from PFDs and EPIRBS to weather and first aid. The two-day version of the course will even dump you in the water to try out some of this stuff.

You’ll find out more here, including being able to search and register for courses being offered within driving range of Arizona. For instance, there’s one scheduled for San Diego on July 30-31, at the Silver Gate Yacht Club on Shelter Island. Here’s a flyer describing the course in more detail.

Maryellen and I just attended the one-day course at Santa Barbara, which was also taught by Bruce Brown, who you may remember from his talk to an AYC monthly meeting a couple years ago. Bruce is an excellent instructor and entertaining speaker and runs most of the courses on the West Coast, including the upcoming one in San Diego.

The class tries out various flares on the beach in Santa Barbara. Photo: Art Vasenius

The class tries out various flares on the beach in Santa Barbara. Photo: Art Vasenius

Bruce Brown is the guy with the lime green PFD around his neck and the tether keeping him the classroom. Photo: Maryellen Ferring

Bruce Brown is the guy with the lime green PFD around his neck and the tether keeping him the classroom. Photo: Maryellen Ferring

AYC Hosts C14.2 and Fireball National Regattas

The regatta T-shirt by Pirate's Den.

The regatta T-shirt by Pirate’s Den. Click here for a bigger picture.

On Saturday and Sunday, April 16 & 17, Lake Pleasant will be the site of National Championship races for two fleets: the Catalina/Capri 14.2  and Fireball.

Anyone with one of the two boats is welcome (and encouraged) to register for the race. The race documents and sign-up button are on the Racing page. If you’d like to adopt a C14.2 for the event, you’ll find a red button on the registration page. Press the button and reserve one of five boats that will be brought to the lake for the event. You’ll donate $75 to the Arizona Sailing Foundation and $250 will be held as a damage deposit.

Note: The Lake Pleasant Sailing Club will be offering a pancake breakfast for just $5 at the ramada near the Sailboat Shop that morning, starting at 8 am.

AYC member Clay Poulson is president of the United States International Fireball Association and has invited members to make the trip to Arizona for the races. Dave Haggart is the Fleet Captain of the AYC C14.2 fleet and volunteered to bring the national regatta here this year, moving it from its usual home at Mission Bay Yacht Club in San Diego.

To make it happen, a number of AYC members have stepped up to help, including Fleet Captain Steve Brown and a host of others including PRO Wendy Larsen. Victor Felice is helping publicize the event and Mark Macomber arranged for the poster and the regatta T-shirt you see above.

Power hiking on a Fireball with Clay Poulson. Photo: Chris Smith

Power hiking on a Fireball with Clay Poulson. Photo: Chris Smith

Chris Smith and the Sweet Bitter End

Chris Smith (right) and Match Racing Champ Taylor Canfield hanging out at the Bitter End Yacht Club

Chris Smith (right) and Match Racing Champ Taylor Canfield hanging out at the Bitter End Yacht Club

I think Maryellen and I get credit for introducing Chris Smith to the Bitter End Yacht Club on Virgin Gorda in the British Virgin Islands, luring him there with promises of sailing with some of the greats in the sport. Typical of Chris, he took that modest introduction and ran with it: he’s been there some 10 times already!

Chris just wrote a brilliant love poem to the place for Scuttlebutt, which you can read here.

As I write this, Maryellen and I have just returned from a few days at BEYC, our sixth stay, not counting two stops on charter boats. We love it as fanatically as Chris, though we’re going to have to get busy if we’re going to catch up with his frequent visitor score.

I would add one thing to what he says in the Scuttlebutt review. You’ll find sailboats on the sand at many resorts, but it would be rare to find them in such good condition, with new or nearly-new sails, and presided over by such an excellent bunch of watersports nuts as you’ll find at BEYC.

Here’s a view from the back door of our room:

The view from a room at the Bitter End Yacht Club. Somewhat distorted panorama shot by iPhone.

The view from a room at the Bitter End Yacht Club. Somewhat distorted panorama shot by iPhone.

Tempe Town Lake Scheduled to Close for More than a Month Next Spring

Replacing the current inflated rubber Tempe Town Lake dam with concrete and steel will shut down the lake—probably next spring—for a period the city estimates will be more than one month, severely affecting activities for Arizona Yacht Club and the Arizona Sailing Foundation.

Tempe Senior Boating Coordinator Alicia Jerger announced the plan in an email, saying the new concrete and steel dam will be finished in “February or March,” depending on weather delays. At that point the city will divert the TTL water and, she says, “It is anticipated that refilling of Town Lake, mostly using water exchange credits, will begin one month after the water is diverted. Tempe Town Lake will be closed to boating and water recreation once the water diverting has begun.”

The new steel gate dam system  includes 8 gates that will be hydraulically controlled to open for flood control. Here’s a link to the Tempe web page that includes videos describing the new system.

Obviously closing the lake will throw the AYC and ASF schedules into chaos, especially since it’s not possible to plan much in advance for the closure.

A frame of the City of Tempe's video showing a simulation of the dam in operation.

A frame of the City of Tempe’s video showing a simulation of the dam in operation.

Dave and Wendy Boatworks Gears Up

Christensen-mini-crane

The Mini 650 sailboat emerging from the garage and being loaded on Dave’s home-built trailer. They floated the boat in 2012.

You remember the saga of Dog Year, the Open 6.50 Meter (aka Mini 650) that Dave Christensen and Wendy Larsen built in their garage? Let the saga continue.

Dave has now announced that he’s found another use for all those wood clamps he bought to build the boat. He’s building another one, this time a 28-foot trawler powered by an outboard. This too begins with nothing more than plans and a pile of plywood.

Dave told the AYC monthly meeting that he and Wendy are planning the new boat to use for retirement in a few years. It’s a snug home that they figure would be good for the area around San Juan islands and maybe for an inland swing around the Eastern U.S.

Dog Year is a 20-foot  boat that was built in a 19-foot garage, which meant punching a cutout into a bedroom. With a 28-foot boat under construction at the DandW Boatworks, this time they’ll take pretty much the entire bedroom.

Dave and Wendy are going with power this time.

Dave and Wendy are going with power this time.

 

 

Here's a cutaway view.

Here’s a cutaway view.

Why (and How) You Should Race Your Cruising Boat

A good day to be pushed downwind on a non-spin. Peter Burgard's O'Day. Photo: Chris Smith

A good day to be pushed downwind on a non-spin. Peter Burgard’s O’Day. Photo: Chris Smith

Sometimes it seems as if cruisers and racers are different breeds. One values comfort and a cocktail at anchor while the other wants screeching heel angles and screaming mark roundings. But some of us think both things are a kick and would like to see more cruisers try racing. But how? And (of course) why?

Sail magazine is offering excellent information on sailboat racing for cruisers, including an explanation of “why” that boils down to:

  1. It’s fun.
  2. It makes you a better sailor.

Scuttlebutt‘s Craig Leweck says he tells people, that “To race is only to ‘sail with a purpose.’ Much like most forms of exercise, you begin with a plan to test yourself, and racing is not so much a competition as it is an opportunity to assess one’s sailing skills.”

Sail magazine takes it from there, quoting renowned naval architect and yachtsman Uffa Fox, saying “Once you race every fault is pointed out in the way other boats sail away from you, and when you do anything well this too is revealed as you start sailing away from the rest of the fleet.”

Here’s a link to the excellent Sail introduction to racing for cruisers.

AYC offers several entry-level races for cruisers who want to try out racing. There are two “pursuit” races (see the Sail article for an explanation) each year: the Governor’s Cup December 5 and the Tall Cactus on April 23 of next year. In both cases, boats start in reverse order of their PHRF rating (yes, see Sail article) so the start is simple and uncrowded. Then it’s just a matter of sailing the course as fast as you can.

The other opportunity is the “TransLoch” series (named by Tom Errickson), which is a low-pressure, longer-distance race around Lake Pleasant conducted at the same time as the buoy races for the fall and spring series and at the annual Birthday Regatta. Unfortunately, no one signed up for the TransLoch this fall and it’s not being run. Why didn’t they? I’ve heard various explanations, but I think it’s a combination of “tried it and didn’t like it” and “it wasn’t fair and I couldn’t win.” In my opinion, the TransLoch might rise again with some retooling and some new rules that might raise the fun factor. Until then, maybe the cruisers will come out for the TransLoch at the Birthday Regatta or join the racers for the Governor’s Cup and Tall Cactus.

What do you say?

A featured picture from Sail magazine. They stress that the most important thing in racing is to have fun. Photo: Cate Brown

A featured picture from Sail magazine. They stress that the most important thing in racing is to have fun. Photo: Cate Brown

September Sailboat Racing Seminars

Fleet champs celebrating on Rolling on the Deep. Photo: Chris Smith

Fleet champs celebrating on Rolling on the Deep. Photo: Chris Smith

We have two sailboat racing sessions scheduled for mid-September, one for experienced racers and the other for sailors new to the sport. Best of all, both are free.

Introduction to Sailboat Racing class will be Wednesday, September 16, from 6:30-9 pm. To register, please fill out this form. More information here. We’ll give you a high-speed introduction to the basics, from how to register to race to how to start. The class is conducted by Mike and Maryellen Ferring.

Advanced Sailboat Racing seminar will happen the next night, Thursday, September 17 from 6:30-9 pm. The seminar will feature four of AYC’s Club Champions (16 championships among them), Dave Haggart, Martin Lorch,  and Skip Kempff. To register, please fill out this form. We’ve asked the three to offer presentations on tactics, light wind sailing, and starts, and then we’ll open the seminar to questions from you. What do you want to know?

Both sessions will be held at the Tempe Police Department Apache Substation at 1855 E Apache Parkway, near McClintock (map).

 

Campos Pull Out of the Transpac

Saturday morning (7/18): Christina and Steve Campo have abandoned their Transpac effort and are returning to LA.

The Transpac tracking system tells the story. Their lime green icon is pointed back at the mainland while the rest of the competitors are moving toward Honolulu. The brief description explains that they had a problem with the rudder on their Hobie 33, but the crew is safe and well. They were moving at a reduced speed of just three knots.

You can follow their progress here. Look for the boat Bazinga.

The tracking snapshot on Saturday morning (six hours delayed).

The tracking snapshot on Saturday morning (six hours delayed). That three-pronged object way out in front is the trimaran Lending Club 2, which was not in the race but has now finished, setting a new speed record for the trip of three days, 18 hours, knocking a day off the record. The next wave of fast boats can be seen just off the California coast, but on Saturday morning they were caught in light air and were moving slowly.

 

campo-transpac2015

Christina and Steve Campo moments before they shoved off for a little sail to Honolulu in Transpac 2015. Unfortunately they won’t be getting leis in Hawaii.

 

Slide Show: Volvo Ocean Race Blitzes Newport

Mike and Maryellen Ferring flew to Newport, RI, to see the Volvo Ocean Racers’ only U.S. stop on their chase around the world. Here are pictures that Mike took over the course of three days.

AYC Elects Chris Smith Commodore

Members of AYC have elected the slate of candidates proposed for the AYC Board of Directors, headed by Chris Smith.

Here’s the entire slate:

  • Commodore: Chris Smith
  • Vice Commodore: Bruce Andress
  • Rear Commodore: Victor Felice
  • Junior Staff Commodore: Peter Lehrach
  • Racing Fleet Captain: Steve Brown
  • Cruising Captain: Tom Errickson
  • Membership: Bob Whyte

In addition, Cynthia Pillote moves to Senior Staff Commodore and John Riddell continues in the second year of a two-year term as membership chairman. At its first meeting the new board elected its final two members, Secretary Lori Reger and Treasurer Tony Chapman.

The membership also voted to make a small change in the club bylaws that would affect new members’ dues. Effective immediately, in addition to the initiation fee, new members will pay dues prorated for the time remaining in the AYC year.

Chris Smith

Commodore Chris Smith

Carefree Highway is Cleaner Today

Thanks to Thom Dickerson and a band of AYC highway cleaners, the Carefree Highway near mile post 25 is a bunch cleaner today. Thom reports that they filled about 40 bags with litter and then headed to the Wild Horse Saloon for lunch. Great work!

Highway cleaning crew with Mike Parker, Jo and Mike Grijalva, Mike Yarnell, Dennis and Claudia Swift and Chuck Sears. Thom Dickerson is behind the camera.

Highway cleaning crew with Mike Parker, Jo and Mike Grijalva, Mike Yarnell, Dennis and Claudia Swift and Chuck Sears. Thom Dickerson is behind the camera.

Greet the New Members

Commodore Peter Lehrach greeted the new AYC members at the October meeting, including the ones in these shots. Each new member receives a roster, a card, and a burgee.

Joe Ashton has been sailing a Capri 14.2 in the adopt-a-boat program. Photos: Chris Smith

Joe Ashton has been sailing a Capri 14.2 in the adopt-a-boat program. Photos: Chris Smith

Nat Kemberling and wife Anne will be racing their new J/105. There should be room from children Tyler, Annabelle, and Zander

Nat Kemberling and wife Anne will be racing their new J/105. There should be room from children Tyler, Annabelle, and Zander

Ian Parkinson has been racing with Victor Felice and says, "I thought I should become a full member."

Ian Parkinson has been racing with Victor Felice and says, “I thought I should become a full member.”

Peter Weiskopf and wife Cindy have a Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 on the coast and plan to sail here too.

Peter Weiskopf and wife Cindy have a Jeanneau Sunfast 3200 on the coast and plan to sail here too.

Take a Wild Ride to Sail Better: The North U – OSS Performance Week

Laying the mark at Performance Race Week. Photos courtesy Offshore Sailing School.

Laying the mark at Performance Race Week. Photos courtesy Offshore Sailing School.

It was sudden and violent. A brutal “bang” and the rig crashed down around us, the boom dragging in the water, the boat skidding to a stop.

“Everyone all right?” asked Rod Favela from his coaching spot on the stern.

We were fine. The boat? Not so much.

It was a downwind run on a Colgate 26, the school boat at the Performance Race Week put on by Offshore Sailing School and North U at Captiva Island on the west coast of Florida, near Ft. Myers. Each spring, North U director Bill Gladstone rounds up a fleet of coaches and 44 students for this intensive, six-day school.

The drill is similar all six days: An 8 am start, rigging boats and heading out to the nearby race area; three hours of racing; then ground school back on shore with lunch; another three hour thrash on the water; and another ground school. I love to sail, but by mid-week I confess I wanted a break from more hours battling the boat and heavy wind. During nearly every session this year the wind blew into the teens and they said it was the heaviest they’ve seen. Really? This was my second trip to the school and it blew just as hard or harder last time!

Our team. Mike's trimming main.

Our team. Mike’s trimming main.

So what happened that dismasted us? We weren’t sure. Maybe something broke. More likely, our relatively inexperienced helmsman may have thrown us into a “death roll,” the spinnaker pole hit the water and the stress took down the rig. Out of 11 racing boats, two were carrying spinnakers in heavy wind. We were one of them.

We began dragging boat parts onto the hull, untangling and untying the mess that seconds before had been a fully-functioning sailboat. By afternoon, we’d been given a back-up boat and we were back on the race course. More starts, more races.

Surprisingly, Steve and Doris Colgate keep a great attitude about these little mishaps. They founded Offshore Sailing School 50 years ago and know that when sailors push the boats this hard, things break. Their shore crew fixes them and sends us back for more. Most of the year the boats are used to teach people to sail or sail better. This one week of high-performance racing has become a school mainstay and in 2015 will celebrate its 15th anniversary. To put a cherry on top of this chocolate sundae, each year Steve and Doris roll out a new suit of sails for all the boats, just to keep the competition close.

Their partner is Bill Gladstone, a fun, funny, upbeat imp who teaches with enthusiasm and stuffs the classroom portions with content. He follows the classroom with a sailing circus act, hoisting himself to the spreaders of a cruising boat, lashing himself on and chasing us around the race course with a video camera. He calls it his “helicopter” shot. By playing back selected video from this perspective during the afternoon debrief, he can point out tactical and trim lessons while it’s all still fresh.

Spinnaker run.

Spinnaker run.

On each 26-foot boat are four students and one coach. The students are required to rotate positions, from helm to mainsheet trim to foredeck to jib/spin trim and back again. The rotation helps everybody understand the demands of each position—and drives home how important good crew work is. The students bring a variety of racing backgrounds, but most are pretty experienced sailors looking for a competitive edge. Nearly half are repeats.

One of the easiest parts of the week is life at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island. Our rooms are within a short walk of the boats and Captiva is spectacular spot, surrounded by water from the gulf. Each night, crowds gather on the beach just to watch one of the most predictable and glorious shows on earth: sunset.

What did I learn? On the plane home, I ran over in my mind what I’d picked up this time. Maybe 20-30 things. Many small. Some just finally jelled in my mind after years. There’s nothing quite like racing every day for several days straight to get the rhythm of it. Nothing quite like Rod Favela urging us on from the coach’s box in back of the boat. Even if sometimes it got just a bit too exciting.

Resources: North U, Offshore Sailing School, Performance Race Week. The Performance Race Week sells out every year, so if you’re interested in attending, sign up early. The 2014 school was sold out by the end of December 2013.

The class photo at the 2014 Performance Race Week.

The class photo at the 2014 Performance Race Week. That’s Bill Gladstone on the lower left.

Strong wind pushed the boats all week.

Strong wind pushed the boats all week.

Returning crew. This bunch (plus one other) sailed together in 2012 and were back for 2014. From left: Mark Allison, Coach Rod Favela, Dave Bohl, and Mike Ferring.

Returning crew. This bunch (plus one other) sailed together in 2012 and were back for 2014. From left: Mark Allison, Coach Rod Favela, Dave Bohl, and Mike Ferring. AYCer Chris Smith also attended the school in 2012.

Jumping on the Riddell Crazy Train

The view of oncoming spin-flying boats was so pretty the crew applauded. Photos: Mike Ferring

The view of oncoming spin-flying boats was so pretty the crew applauded. Photos: Mike Ferring

Here’s a prescription for sailing chaos: Take a dozen men who barely know each other, throw them in a frat-house hot-house, mix in gallons of beer and vodka, drop them on a 37-foot boat that most of them have never sailed, on a race course that’s a complete mystery to them, outlaw speed and nav instruments, give them 45 minutes to practice, and put them up against 10 well-drilled, well-honed competitors.

Oh, and just to make things interesting, make most of the dozen captains of their own boats with their own ideas of speed and tactics. And as an icebreaker, one of them greets another one by announcing, “I don’t like you and I don’t know how I can sail with you.”

So, how did it come out?

Not bad, actually.

John Riddell conducting the AYC symphony.

John Riddell conducting the AYC symphony.

None of this is made up and some of it you’d never believe anyway, but for the third year AYC membership director John Riddell patched together a crew of guys from the club with the express goal of their getting to know each other, of mingling experience with inexperience—heading off to have fun while trying not to make fools of themselves in front of the best of the West Coast sailing glitterati. First year’s results: last. Second year: next to last. Third year: third from last. At this rate, it’s victory in 2022!

The venue is the Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week, a very well organized and run regatta that this year drew 142 boats, including a couple TP52s and boats that are even bigger. Tony Chapman told me before the regatta that he thinks it’s the best on the coast and he’s been going for years. In fact, all the AYC Vipers were there to compete. And Chris Smith towed his J/80 for this event and another race that sails to Catalina. In all, there were probably over 30 AYC people racing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

We all gathered Thursday in a very nice rented house not far from Long Beach Yacht Club and a short walk to the clatter of 2nd Avenue’s row of restaurants and shops. I never got an exact count, but there were at least 15 men sharing this four bedroom, 2½ bath house. What they did at night is the stuff of next-day legend, but what happens in Long Beach, you know, stays there. Animal House didn’t have much on this bunch of much-older-than-thats.

Some of the raucous pick-up crew of Crazy Train.

Some of the raucous pick-up crew of Crazy Train.

So we gathered in a meeting where John Riddell cracked jokes and made it clear that he was pretty sure he knew what he was doing on big boats and he expected us to follow instructions and no backtalk. He said in the past he had a habit of shouting instructions (and other words) from the back of the boat to the front of the boat and this year he damn well wasn’t going to do that (a vow he broke constantly all three days). Everybody talked; some listened. It was very loud.

I woke up at 6-something Friday morning to the smell of frying bacon and sausage. Peter Lehrach would stand in front of the frying pans for a couple hours each morning stacking eggs and bacon for the gathering mob. Thanks, Peter. And then Adam “The Badger” Torel would mass-assemble a countertop of sandwiches to bag for lunch. Adam was John’s able organizer off the water.

Identical Catalina 37s were our Crazy Train.

Identical Catalina 37s were our Crazy Train.

The 11 racing boats lined up stern-to in slips in front of Long Beach Yacht Club, each boat rented from the club for the regatta. They’re 1990 Catalina 37s, built for the Congressional Cup match racing regatta that was already famous when Frank Butler custom built these 11-of-a-kind boats that have been used for that prestigious event ever since. They’re maintained perfectly. This weekend they had crispy new sails.

You’ll see in the picture that our team was outfitted in new team shirts, another Riddell LBRW tradition. We were the “Crazy Train,” a name that fit comfortably. Other teams were also wearing team shirts and moving around the boats with a studied familiarity. A couple teams sail these boats nearly every week. Others sail as a team on other kinds of boats. They all knew what they were doing.

In matching team shirts, the Crazy Train gets ready to set sail.

In matching team shirts, the Crazy Train gets ready to set sail.

With all of 45 minutes permitted before the first gun, we had enough time to figure out pretty much what everybody should sorta do. Fortunately, helmsman Trey Harlow had drafted his friend JB to handle the front of the boat, so the front and the back were in good hands. The middle? Some work needed. Some position-swapping. Some encouragement from John.

The boat is big and heavy and slow to respond and likes to keep moving, gathering speed slowly out of tacks. That’s about all we knew when the first gun sounded and we approached the much-too-short start line. Late. John said he wasn’t ready to mix it up with the fast guys this early, especially after last year, but we won’t talk about that.

Tenth. Out of 11. Race and repeat. Ninth. Not so bad when you consider the size of the hill we had to climb. I was assigned the job of standing at the back of the boat trying to look useful—something I’m pretty good at faking. Not a bad gig, really, with a nice view. But main trimmer Jason Donkersley aggravated a back injury and was carted off to the ER and suddenly I had a new job Saturday: main trimmer. Cool. The view’s not as nice, craning your neck to watch the trim and judging whether the top batten tell tale is stalling 50% of the time as John prescribed or 35% of the time, which he knew wasn’t enough, or not at all, which I darn well knew was the right way (as one of the many “captains” trimming on this boat).

Thistle Maestro Trey Harlow at the helm.

Thistle Maestro Trey Harlow at the helm.

And BANG. Saturday’s first race saw us on the starting line at speed and actually freaking leading at the windward mark and only giving back two places to finish THIRD! “See we know how to sail this boat!” John shouted across the water to no one in particular.

Hubris, of course. The next race we went this way and the wind went that way and we were gargling salt water in last place. Last. The pain was palpable. We recovered for a 9th in the third race of the day and went into Saturday night clinging to 9th overall by one point and staring at a 7-point gap to 8th. On Sunday we scored an 8th and a finale fifth and left the race course feeling very good about the distance we’d come.

Chris Reinhardt spin trims as the afterguard works the boat downwind.

Chris Reinhardt spin trims as the afterguard works the boat downwind.

Los Alamitos Yacht Club and Long Beach Yacht Club offered up noisy, liquid parties each night and we got a chance to compare our day with the Viper guys and hear about that mark rounding where Chris Smith was supposed to leave it to starboard and a boat three times his size was supposed to round to port and, wow, it all came out all right. And the expensive Velocitek? Kicked overboard. Fortunes of war.

As we scattered for the airport or a highway dash across the desert, I think everyone was savoring a weekend well spent. I know I was. The weather was gorgeous. The boats and races were fun. Fifteen or so guys in a house worked better than I ever thought it would. Thank you, John Riddell, you crazy SOB, for driving this insane experiment.

Rob Gibbs wind sprints the spin halyard.

Rob Gibbs wind sprints the halyard.

New member and veteran sailor Scott Burkhardt gets into the racing thing.

New member and veteran sailor Scott Burkhardt gets into the racing thing.

Nailing the start.

Nailing the start.

Commodore Peter Lehrach kept the pit cooking. And breakfast.

Commodore Peter Lehrach kept the pit cooking. And breakfast.

Hike hard. Adam Torel and Josh McClain.

Hike hard. Adam Torel and Josh McClain.

Here’s a video that Rob Gibbs put together of the event (using some of these pictures).

AYC Turns Out in Force for Long Beach Race Week

The dozen members of the Crazy Train pick-up team organized by John Riddell.

The dozen members of the Crazy Train pick-up team organized by John Riddell.

First there are the sailors of the Viper fleet. All of them headed for Long Beach June 27-29 for the Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week. And then there were the misfits of the Crazy Train, a dozen guys thrown together to sail a Catalina 37. And Chris Smith and his team on his J/80 sailing the longer “random leg” course. A couple dozen or so AYC people altogether.

How did it go? Far as I could tell, everybody was having a good time with slightly lighter than usual wind, lots of sun, and temperatures in the 70s. Yes, 70s. Why would this not be good? And the LBRW was a very well organized event with 142 entries sailing over three days.

Court Roberts edged Tony Chapman for local honors in the 23-boat Viper fleet, finishing 10 and 11. Chris Smith grabbed fifth in his segment of the random leg. And the misfits? More on this later, but they were feeling pretty good with a 9th out of a 11 given the size of the challenge.

The Catalina 37 starts were challenging on a short line and 11 big boats. Photos: Mike Ferring

The Catalina 37 starts were challenging on a short line and 11 big boats. Photos: Mike Ferring

Heading downwind at Long Beach Race Week. The Crazy Train team hustles.

Heading downwind at Long Beach Race Week. The Crazy Train team hustles.

Emory Heisler Honored by National Buccaneer Association

Emory Heisler, recipient of the national Buccaneer group's service award.

Emory Heisler, recipient of the national Buccaneer group’s service award.

AYC’s Emory Heisler has been chosen for a national honor for his work with the national Buccaneer 18 class. Each year the Buccaneer 18 class selects one member to be the official “Quaiche* Bearer,” recognizing outstanding effort and service to the class−and Emory is the 2014 honoree.

Bucc Commodore Jimmy Yurko says, “I’m proud to know Emory. Emory is a remarkable man with unparalleled optimism and enthusiasm. His dedication to the class and the sport of sailing are truly admirable, and the Buccaneer class is fortunate to have such a devoted sailor, leader and friend.”

Our club’s sailors nominated Emory for the award with this letter:

Fleet 79 from Arizona proudly nominates Emory Heisler for the MacAlpine Downie Gibbs Quaich in recognition of his dedication and contributions to the Buccaneer 18 Class Association.

Emory was one of the early Buccaneer 18 sailors in Arizona and helped grow Fleet 79, as well as other fleets across the country. For over a decade, Emory’s spirit and fervor for the Class, as well as his willingness to serve and help others, has been an immeasurable asset to the Class.

At the national level, Emory has been an enthusiastic ambassador of Fleet 79 for many years.  In addition to representing his local Fleet, Emory has made several contributions to the Buccaneer 18 National Class Association, including heading up the Buccaneer 18 Mid Winters in Arizona, serving as Race Chair for the 2009 Buccaneer 18 North American Championship, and serving as webmaster for the Class.

Emory has also contributed to the Class in many, less tangible ways.  With his outgoing charm and personality, he encourages sailors to join the Class and compete in Class events.   He works hard behind the scenes to selflessly find crew, boats, and/or rides for others, so they can attend and enjoy national events.  And, he does it all with a smile, making the events fun for everyone!

And the pirate version of Emory Heisler!

And the pirate version of Emory Heisler!

Emory also lends his services to his local yacht club, serving on the Arizona Yacht Club board for several years, including the in the roles of Commodore and Birthday Regatta Chair.  Emory also served as the Buccaneer 18 Fleet representative to the AYC for several years, before passing the torch to someone else.  Emory has used his positions in leadership roles as an opportunity for mentoring others, setting others up to take on additional responsibilities within the club.

Emory is the reason that many of us in Arizona, as well as others outside the state, are Buccaneers.  His zeal and generosity in helping and teaching others has helped grow the Buccaneer Class and Fleet 79.

*What’s a quaich? Noun (obsolete): A traditional, shallow, two-handled Scottish cup symbolising friendship. It was originally used to toast the arrival or departure of a visitor.

Aloha Commodore’s Celebration!

Mike Ferring receiving a Superman shirt along with the US Sailing Sportsmanship award.

Mike Ferring receiving a Superman shirt along with the US Sailing Sportsmanship award… and Blunder Bucket

This was a Commodore’s Celebration of a different kind: a Luau with fire dancers, hula dancers, and AYC dancers. Sizzled with some awards, music, and a changing of the guard.

New Commodore Peter Lehrach called for continued high level of excitement for the club heading into the next year and welcomed  his board of directors: Senior Staff Commodore Mike Ferring, Junior Staff Commodore Cindy Pillote, Vice Commodore Christina Campo, Rear Commodore Chris Smith, Fleet Captain Steve Brown, Cruising Captain Tom Errickson, Membership Directors John Riddell and Dianna Andress, and (elected by the board that night), Secretary Lori Reger and Treasurer Tony Chapman.

Outgoing Commodore Cindy Pillote presented the night’s top award to Mike Ferring, the US Sailing Sportsmanship Award, otherwise known as the MVP award. And Mike scored a unique double: winning the coveted Blunder Bucket for creating a new way to break a mast at Tempe Town Lake by driving the boat under overhanging rowing shells.

The ASF Jerry Linderman Most Improved Junior Racer award went to Peter Blake. The Wayne Jason Tucker Most Improved Junior award was given to Ian Altobelli. And the Heavy Lifting Award for contribution to ASF was given to Don Hubele. Who immediately dropped it.

Commodore Peter Lehrach welcomes the new board of directors. From left: Christina Campo, Lori Reger, Chris Smith, Dianna Andress, Tom Errickson, Peter, and Mike Ferring. Off camera: Cindy Pillote. Not present: John Riddell, Tony Chapman, and Steve Brown.

Commodore Peter Lehrach welcomes the new board of directors. From left: Christina Campo, Lori Reger, Chris Smith, Dianna Andress, Tom Errickson, Peter, and Mike Ferring. Off camera: Cindy Pillote. Not present: John Riddell, Tony Chapman, and Steve Brown.

Martin Lorch (right) and Kyle Clark accept the big cup for winning the Club Championship. It's the sixth time for Martin. Photos: Mike Ferring

Martin Lorch (right) and Kyle Clark accept the big cup for winning the Club Championship. It’s the sixth time for Martin. Photos: Mike Ferring

Peter Lehrach, Cedric Lorch, Rick Johnson, and Emory Heisler wiggle on cue to the delight of the crowd.

Peter Lehrach, Cedric Lorch, Rick Johnson, and Emory Heisler wiggle on cue to the delight of the crowd.

The delighted crowd.

The delighted crowd.

And the women showing how the hula dancing is actually done.

And the women showing how the hula dancing is actually done.

Well, okay, THIS is how it's really done.

Well, okay, THIS is how it’s really done.

To the sound of music from the Island of Mesa.

To the sound of music from the Island of Mesa.

And a flash of fire.

And a flash of fire.

Big surprise: George Tingom that day had proposed to Bev Cryer.

Big surprise: George Tingom that day had proposed to Bev Cryer. She accepted.

George presents the Jerry Linderman award to Peter Blake.

George presents the Jerry Linderman award to Peter Blake.

Ian Altobelli (with father Frank) won the Wayne Jason Tucker award.

Ian Altobelli (with father Frank) won the Wayne Jason Tucker award.

Don Hubele receives the ASF Heavy Lifting Award (and immediately drops it).

Don Hubele receives the ASF Heavy Lifting Award (and immediately drops it).

Aloha Alexia Lorch, Maryellen Ferring, Christina Campo, and Cindy Pillote.

Aloha Alexia Lorch, Maryellen Ferring, Christina Campo, and Cindy Pillote.

Christina organized the event at the Mesa HQ of Polynesian Luau.

Christina organized the event at the Mesa HQ of Polynesian Luau.

New Rear Commodore Chris Smith with Cruising Captain Tom Errickson.

New Rear Commodore Chris Smith with Cruising Captain Tom Errickson.

Commodore Peter Lehrach

Commodore Peter Lehrach

Maryellen Ferring with Victor Felice.

Maryellen Ferring with Victor Felice.

Faye Hubele and Dennis Davis.

Faye Hubele and Dennis Davis.

Greg Jackson, Chrisann Tortora, Dave Christensen and Wendy Larsen

Greg Jackson, Chrisann Tortora, Dave Christensen and Wendy Larsen

Chris Smith with Mike Grijalva

Chris Smith with Mike Grijalva

Greg Jackson and Chrisann Tortora

Greg Jackson and Chrisann Tortora

Ian and Isabel Love

Ian and Isabel Love

Honorary Life Member Tia Renshaw

Honorary Life Member Tia Renshaw

Trey Harlow explains mark rounding to Life Member Mike Yarnell. Nina Harlow doubts it.

Trey Harlow explains mark rounding to Honorary Life Member Mike Yarnell. Nina Harlow doubts it.

Outgoing Senior Staff Commodore and hula dancer Emory Heisler

Outgoing Senior Staff Commodore and hula dancer Emory Heisler

Peter Lehrach Becomes AYC Commodore

Peter Lehrach is the new AYC Commodore.

Peter Lehrach is the new AYC Commodore.

Peter Lehrach and the rest of the slate of officers have been elected in the 2014 spring elections. All will officially take their seats on the board Saturday night (5/17) during the Commodore’s Celebration.

Peter joined AYC just two years ago and has served as club secretary and Vice Commodore. He’s raced at Lake Pleasant as crew on J/80s with both Mike Ferring and Chris Smith. He was the driving force behind AYC’s adopt-a-highway cleanup program, organizing cleaning parties for a stretch of Carefree Highway near Lake Pleasant.

Others on the board are Senior Staff Commodore Mike Ferring, Junior Staff Commodore Cindy Pillote, Vice Commodore Christina Campo, Rear Commodore Chris Smith, Fleet Captain Steve Brown, Membership Directors John Riddell (two-year term) and Dianna Andress (one-year term), and Cruising Captain Tom Errickson. On Saturday, the board will select a Treasurer (Tony Chapman) and Secretary (Lori Reger).

We thank the departing board members for their service to AYC: Emory Heisler, Thom Dickerson, Andrea Love, Ralph Vatalaro,  and Greg Woodcock.

Voters also overwhelmingly approved an increase in club dues from $125 per year to $150 per year, effective with the next renewal period. It’s been 10 years since AYC increased dues and 83% of voters approved doing it now.