Dick Enersen Offers Intimate View of ’77 America’s Cup

Sailor and film director Dick Enerson. Photos: Mike Ferring

Sailor and film director Dick Enersen. Photos: Mike Ferring

It had to be one of the most entertaining America’s Cup campaigns in history, if for no other reason than the style of its prime personality: Ted Turner. Ted took the ’74 winner Courageous back on the water against newly-designed competition and won it all. Throughout the challenges and Cup races, Dick Enersen was there with a film crew, often with the camera on his shoulder himself, and turned out a documentary that still holds up well today, nearly 40 years later.

Tuesday night (11/10) Dick showed the film and talked about how it was made and what it was like to be so close to something so momentous. He had an advantage as the director and producer of the film because he was an experienced sailor who had actually crewed on a winning AC boat himself, the 1964 champ Constellation. That made it possible to convince sailors to let him aboard with his camera and he came away with some great footage. “I knew where to shoot because I knew where people would move on a tack,” he says.

Now working in philanthropy and still sailing for the fun of it, Dick recounted that 1977 action to a crowded Caddy Shack monthly meeting.

For December: the Buccaneer Gift Exchange on December 8.

Dick Enerson speaks to the November monthly meeting. That's the Ruth Beals Cup trophy in the foreground.

Dick Enersen speaks to the November monthly meeting. That’s the Ruth Beals Cup trophy in the foreground.

Lake Pleasant Results

A beautiful weekend on the lake for November 7-8, with a challenging mix of big wind, dying wind, and wildly shifting wind. On Saturday, racing was late starting as the Whaler went on a rescue mission to help a turtled Hobie, but there was still wind remaining to send us all out for a nice afternoon. Sunday morning we had just two hard-core fleets, the PHRF spins and sportboats, plus a morning gaggle of fast-flying multi-hulls. The wind passed quickly (and painfully) through the shifting phase and came back long enough to run another couple races.

The scores for week 4 of racing at Lake Pleasant are posted on the results page, or you’ll find them by clicking here.

PHRF Spin fleet leader Tom Baker.

PHRF Spin fleet leader Tom Baker. Photo: Chris Smith

Register for 2015 Governor’s Cup Regatta

Registration is open for the Governor’s Cup long distance race, scheduled for Saturday, December 5. The entry and race courses are now posted here.

There’s just a $10 fee for entry. Then, it’s a day sail across Lake Pleasant—a feat accomplished by zig-zagging from end to end and back again. Here’s the one-page Notice of Race and Sailing Instructions. You’re invited for appetizers served at the Pleasant Harbor Marina restaurant after you finish.

While it’s a race, it’s also just a nice day on the water that could extend into the evening in light air (but hasn’t gone that long before).

The winner of the race gets his or her name engraved on that gigantic trophy and gets to show it off for the next year. The rest of us get a nice day zig-zagging.

This is a pursuit race, which means boats will start at different times based on their PHRF ratings, with the slowest boats leaving first and the fastest leaving last. The winner will be the first boat to complete the course and cross the finish. Because of difficulty in matching monohull boats and multi-hull boats, this year the two types will race separately and the multi-hulls will receive a separate perpetual trophy.

Yeah! Brett and Crew Johnston won the Governor's Cup in 2014 and got to keep it for a year.

Yeah! Brett and Crew Johnston won the Governor’s Cup in 2014 and got to keep it for a year.


Sailor, Film Director Dick Enersen Speaks at November Meeting

Scan Dick Enersen’s resumes (sailing and professional) and it would be easy to decide the guy’s had a heck of a life. Crew for the 1964 America’s Cup winner Constellation stands out on a page of standout competition and lots of cruising, especially lately in the San Juan islands aboard his boat, Brass Ring. And he was able to turn his sailing passion into film credits: a career in professional film production, mostly jobs that required sailing. In November, Dick will speak to our monthly meeting.

The meeting is Tuesday, November 10, beginning at 7pm (but arrive early for dinner). Monthly meetings are held at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.

Dick Enerson in a nice place.

Dick Enersen in a nice place.

That's Dick Enerson at the wheel.

That’s Dick Enersen at the wheel.

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


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.

Stormy Tempe Town Lake Racing

Paul Wojtczak tacking his Laser. Photos: Mike Ferring

Paul Wojtczak tacking his Laser. Photos: Mike Ferring

When a large fleet of Lasers and three Buccs showed up Sunday (10/18), so did some storm clouds, making a dazzling background for the sailing and sailing pictures. Since the rain and lightning held off until the boats were able to get three races in, nobody much minded.

Here are the race results.

And below are pictures Mike Ferring took. Besides the towering clouds, you’ll see some close racing, mostly between Mike Hester and Paul Miachika. But then there’s the picture of Mike going left when everyone else is going right. Mike was over early and was threading his way back behind the start line.

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Sign up for 2015 Ruth Beals Cup Regatta

Ruth Beals Insho, AYC Founder (picture 2005 by Mike Ferring)Registration is now open for the 2015 Ruth Beals Cup to be held at Tempe Town Lake Saturday, November 14. Click here for race documents and entry link.

This annual event commemorates the founder of the Arizona Yacht Club, Ruth Beals, and is a woman-at-the-helm regatta (but the crew can be male or female).

The races are sailed on Capri 14.2 sailboats. You can use your own boat or pick one out on race day from the Arizona Sailing Foundation boats. Gates open for boat selection and rigging at 8:15 am and the first warning is at 9:30 am.

Entry fee is just $10 and includes a Chick-fil-A lunch (arranged by 2013 champ Cindy Pillote). Besides just being a good time on the water, the winner will have her name engraved on the Ruth Beals Cup.

The regatta was first launched in 2005 and has had a history of either very strong wind or almost none. What will happen this year?

If you have any questions, contact Fleet Captain Steve Brown.

Maryellen Ferring with crew Mike Ferring holding the trophy for winning the 2014 Ruth Beals Regatta. Photo: Victor Felice

Maryellen Ferring with crew Mike Ferring holding the trophy for winning the 2014 Ruth Beals Regatta. Photo: Victor Felice

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 that excellent Sail magazine introduction to racing for cruisers.

AYC offers several entry-level races for cruisers who want to try out racing. There are “pursuit” races (see the Sail article for an explanation), typically the Governor’s Cup and the Tall Cactus. 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.

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

SF Bay Sailing Instructor Misses October Meeting

OCSC Instructor Tim Han

OCSC Instructor Tim Han

Wednesday (10/14) Update: Unfortunately, Tim was knocked down by food poisoning and couldn’t make it to the AYC meeting. Instead, Commodore Chris Smith kicked off the October meeting with a great photo review of his participation in the Chicago-to-Mac race this last summer and then called up a half dozen others to talk about “How I Spent My Summer Vacation.” Rear Commodore Victor Felice has booked Tim’s boss at OCSC, Anthony Sandberg, to talk to the club, probably in January. Now back to our recorded program, already in progress:

Our next meeting features OCSC sailing instructor Tim Han, who’s been teaching at the Berkeley, California, school for the last 10 years.

The meeting is Tuesday, October 13, beginning at 7pm (but arrive early for dinner). Monthly meetings are held at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.

OCSC Sailing is a large organization with some 40 instructors, 50 boats, and an overall staff of 75. It’s a San Francisco Bay sailing school and sailing club and says, “We offer sailing lessons, sailboat instruction, US Sailing Certification, sailboat charters, club membership, corporate teambuilding events, and bareboat vacations.”

Tim says he got hooked on sailing at age 16 and he’s a sailing nut—after teaching all day he says he likes to head out for more sailing. And get this: In the winter he teaches skiing.

“I’m always fascinated by the craft of sailing a boat well,” he says, “whether it’s a small dinghy or a large ocean racer. The fundamentals are beautifully simple. Balance wind and water using a hull and a sail. The practice is endlessly complex and rich. Someday, for a moment, I’ll get it perfect. Until then, I’ll keep at it and enjoy the ride.”

A glimpse of the school's fleet of J/24s, part of an overall fleet of 50. OCSC says half of its students are women.

A glimpse of the school’s fleet of J/24s, part of an overall fleet of 50. OCSC says half of its students are women.

Tempe Town Lake Results

It was a wild Sunday afternoon on Tempe Town Lake (10/4), with the wind varying between zero and 30, which can be just a little bit challenging when you’re racing a small sailboat. Ask the people who went swimming! The wind was (often) from the south side of the lake, where the new wind blockers (aka office buildings) wreak havoc, with bright streaks of wind ripping through the slots between the buildings while the rest of the lake lies quiet.

The scores for this second week of racing on Tempe Town Lake are posted on the results page, or they’re available by clicking here.


Alex Heisler Makes Australian College Sailing Team

Former AYC junior sailor Alex Heisler has won a spot on her college sailing team in Australia during her semester of study abroad at the University of New South Wales (UNSW).

Imagine this for a sailing fan: Alex will return to the ASU Sailing team in January after watching the Sydney to Hobart race start Dec. 26th and spending New Year’s watching the fireworks over Sydney Harbor.

Like to follow along? Here’s the team’s Facebook page. The next event for the UNSW Sailing team will be the Australian University Games.

Alex Heisler (with long blonde hair) and her Australian college sailing team.

Alex Heisler (with long blonde hair) and her Australian college sailing team.

Successful Sailboat Racing Seminars

Martin Lorch on the panel of Club Champions. Photos: Mike Ferring

Martin Lorch on the panel of Club Champions. Photos: Mike Ferring

We had an excellent turnout for two racing seminars leading up to the start of the fall 2015 season, with 16 in an Introduction class and some 35 at the Advanced Sailboat Racing seminar.

The Advanced seminar was led by three AYC Club Champions, Skip Kempff, Martin Lorch and Dave Haggart, focusing on starts, wind, and tactics. Skip has long practiced the Vanderbilt start, using timed runs away from the start line in order to hit the line at speed on time, and he advocated that method for people new to the game. Martin offered a couple pages of wind tips to be ready for the shifty wind on our lakes. And Dave offered some tricks for herding your competitors in the direction you want them to go.

The sailors ranged in experience from beginners to champions, fueling a discussion that continued even after the meeting adjourned. Most of the beginners had been in the room the night before when Mike and Maryellen Ferring offered a fast course in fast racing, presenting an introduction to the sport that included documents, rules, race courses, start sequence, start tactics, wind shifts and more.

Now it’s time to take it all to the water.

Some 35 sailors gathered to hear advanced sailing tips and exchange ideas.

Some 35 sailors gathered to hear advanced sailing tips and exchange ideas.

Coming Fast: Fall Racing Season


You’ll see more Vipers on the line at Lake Pleasant this fall.

Racing action is coming up thick and fast.

Some bits and pieces: Cindy Pillote has been busy arranging an Opening Day breakfast to kick off the action at Lake Pleasant. The PHRF Sportboat fleet will grow this fall with the addition of more Viper 640s, including Dave Evans, John Riddell (really?), Mike Hester, and Mike Parker. Mike Parker was immediately drafted as the new fleet captain. Catalina 22s will move to Saturday-only fleet scoring to increase competition (since several competitors have been missing in action on Sunday mornings). Mike Yarnell has reluctantly sold his beautiful Thistle, but Scott Richards bought it and will be on the start line. Know of other fleet and boat changes? Let Mike Ferring know so he can pass it on.

Friday (9/11): Crew Party. All sailors are welcome to come to the Bluewater Grill Friday evening from 5-7 pm for some appetizers and adult beverages. If you need crew or would like to crew, stop by. If you’d just like to hang out with this bunch, stop by. Location: 1720 East Camelback Road, Phoenix (map).

(9/16): Introduction to Sailboat Racing class. Free. More info and registration here.

Thursday (9/17): Advanced Sailboat Racing Seminar with Martin Lorch, Skip Kempff and Dave Haggart. Three guys who know their way around a race course offer some of their secrets. Register in advance, but it’s free.

Saturday (9/19) NEW: Practice races at Lake Pleasant. Steve Brown will stage short w/l races with several starts, beginning at 12:30.

Sunday (9/20): Opening Day at Tempe Town Lake. Register now.

Saturday (9/26): Opening Day at Lake Pleasant. Register now.