Cindy Pillote Wins Ruth Beals Cup

Cindy Pillote won the 2018 Ruth Beals Cup that included five boats piloted by kids from the Foundation for Blind Children and entered by Tiller & Kites. Here’s a first-person account of the race from the perspective of Mike Ferring, the main-sheet trimmer on Melissa Kay.

The wind turned light as we approached the start line for the 2018 Ruth Beals Cup, on port and with about a minute to go. You’ve been there, right? Creeping to the line, but this time close enough just to keep moving. To our left, Cindy Pillote at the helm of Bob Worrall’s Catalina 22 Spirit.

“We could take her up,” I say to Maryellen, who’s driving our J/70. “No,” she says. Women are nicer than men, she says. And so we tack off the line instead of trying to sail past Cindy. The wind to the left looks better anyway.

By the time we get to Horse Island, our first rounding mark, we have a half mile lead on the fleet. You can guess what happens next. Our wind stops. The wind line from the south brings everybody to us, led by Morgan Marquis with Victor Felice on an Andrews 26. Victor’s Tiller & Kites has entered five boats in the Ruth Beals Cup, sponsored by the Foundation for Blind Children and carrying visually impaired kids they’ve been working with to learn to sail.

The wind sputters and pops as we round Horse and then Balance Rock. We’re barely moving. We’d sailed upwind to the islands from the south part of the lake and now the wind was shifting and we’d be sailing upwind to Bobcat. Our spinnaker stays in the bag while most of the boats behind us entered as non-spin and gained a PHRF bump because of it.

Finally staring at Bobcat, we see nothing but hazard buoys all the way to shore. Time to get brave. We pick out two likely suspects and sail through them. Nothing crunches. Aboard the Olson 25 Stargazer, Brianna Voron and Sean Brown and maybe others later decide not to risk it and retire.

We ease past Bobcat and finally raise the spin, still barely turning 3-4 knots as the wind offers a last gasp for the day. It’s enough to begin to open the gap with Morgan and the Andrews and put us over the finish first. Line honors. Maryellen has sailed well and she’s delighted.

We pop some beers and lean back to relax after just under three hours of racing. Here comes Morgan. Then Cindy. The C22 is rated at 270 and the J/70 at 114. She’s been sailing nicely and wasn’t that far behind us rounding Balance Rock. Some 44 minutes after our finish Cindy and Bob cross the line. And correct over us for first place. We’re second. Morgan is third and Jessica Rawlings fourth. We’re still pleased with our day and happy for Cindy. I email Scorekeeper Dave Christensen, who did the scoring from Dallas. How much did she get us by? Less than three minutes, he says.

Now to the Scorpion Bay restaurant for the post-race lies.

Cindy Pillote approaches the start of the Ruth Beals Cup 2018 with Bob Worrall peeking around the headsail. Photo: Mike Ferring