Mother Nature Puts a Damper on Early December Lake Pleasant, Tempe Town Lake Racing

By Greg Romano with reports from Jason Rziha, Dan Schott and Bob Naylor

Aboard the Santana 20 “Watercolors”: Approaching the northern mark, we’re excited to see the Boston Whaler nearby flying the “S” flag, an indication the course has been shortened and we’ll finish there. We’re cold, wet and shivering, feeling the early signs of hypothermia. For the moment, we set that aside. Kim Stuart is calling tactics, imploring me and driver Cedric Lorch to concentrate on boat speed in the dying wind. We make one more smooth tack onto the lay line, keeping the boat fast. Right at the mark, we come up momentarily, hearing the satisfaction of the double horns (okay, it was really the committee boat saying “beep beep”). Fist bumps all around for the win. We’re done. We don’t even want a celebratory beer because we’re too freaking cold.

For those of us used to sailing under blazing sun in the Arizona desert, the last weekend of the Lake Pleasant Fall Series brought the complete opposite: constant rain and temps in the low 60s on Saturday. Sport boats, PHRF Spinnaker (and one non-spinnaker), Santana 20, C-22, and one multihull — about two dozen in all — showed up to brave the conditions, ready to put a bow on the season ending during the holidays.

Lake Pleasant’s usual variable (aka, “strange”) winds DID show up, starting at over 15 knots, calming to almost nothing, then building and oscillating 120 degrees several times from the south, then rotating 180 degrees to the north, all during one race! The shifty winds made starting strategy especially important. It also meant the downwind leg became a reach, then a beat to the northern mark.The Sport and Spin fleets got one full race, everyone else was shortened at the north mark.

For many, the real competition was the conditions. With rain and low temps, the foul weather gear came out (for those who had it), glasses were wiped free of rain, and staying warm became a priority (Pro Tip: a well-fitting PFD adds a nice insulating layer).

The conditions improved somewhat for the Sunday “Funday” competition. The slate gray skies remained along with a fine drizzle, creating a surreal backdrop for the three boats that ultimately came out: Greg Woodcock’s Santana 20 “Sockeye,” Paul Liszewski’s Hobie 33 “Rolling in the Deep,” and Mike Parker’s Viper 640 “Once Bitten…Again.” Light yet mostly consistent northerly winds allowed us to complete four races. 

On the other side of town, eight boats in the Laser and C-14.2 classes showed up at Tempe Town Lake where gray skies accompanied a total absence of wind, completely in-line with the dismal forecast for the day. Pushing the definition of “optimist” to the extremes were Laser hopefuls Mike Bernard, Gordon Briner, Paul Miachika, and David Newland. Equally optimistic, and even more motionless, were a core cadre of C-14 sailors – Bill Feil, Mike and Maryellen Ferring, father-daughter team Joan Aspinall and Tony Kozlik, and Tom Gilb and his son. Hope springs eternal, and after much delay, the Lasers went for it! The starting horn sounded, the flag dropped, and … nothing … it was like they were frozen in time. Forward progress was nearly imperceptible. After about a half hour, they hadn’t yet reached the weather mark! Fleet captain Paul Miachika abandoned the race, and the Sunfish RC and a number of C-14 sailors retreated to the new Hundred Mile Brewing restaurant for food and beverages. For a day with ZERO races, everyone still managed to have fun!

At Lake Pleasant, the Thistle and Lake Pleasant Portsmouth fleets split race committee duties for the weekend. Jason and Josh Rziha, Dan Schott and Wes Hatcher did a great job in trying conditions on Saturday even with the small crew; Tony Chapman and Greg Romano welcomed new members Ryan McDermott and Steve DeMar and ASU Sailing Team member Terry Yao on the committee boats Sunday. TTL RC duties fell on the Sunfish Fleet, with PRO Lori Reger supported by volunteers Randy Adolphs, Olivia Jackman, Jen Moffitt, newbie Armando Ramirez, Tom Sinnickson, and Jose Vicente. Nat Tricorico (AYC, ASU Sailing Team, and recent powerboat operator class grad) skippered the mark-set boat, with Bob Naylor as crew.

A special thanks to everyone who came out!