Tempe Town Lake Fall Fleet Champs

Can we say roll-over tack? Laser champ Joel Hurley. Photo: Mike Ferring

In a fall season light on wind, credit the fleet champs who dodged and weaved to use zephyrs of air to stay in front.

Dave Haggart winning C14 of course. Not only does he sail magnificently in all conditions, but he has to do it after driving for a couple hours from Prescott!

And this fall, Joel Hurley mostly used an adopt-a-laser to win the fleet, showing off death-defying roll tacks to keep the boat moving. Imagine how he’ll do now that he’s bought his own boat.

When the Buccs were roll-tacked into the Portsmouth fleet, Mike Parker looked over his field of boats and chose an odd-ball Catalina 16.5 to win Portsmouth.

The next generation of sailors competed this fall in O’Pen Bics, learning more about racing sailboats from Rob Gibbs and fellow parents Will Zornik and Dave Haggart. Colin Gibbs used experience and talent to win the Bic season championship.

Congratulations to all!

Here are the full results for the fall season.

Next Gen: Ryan Zornik aboard an O’Pen Bic. Photo: Mike Ferring

Mike Parker took the Portsmouth class. Photo: Mike Ferring

A cluster of 14.2 sailors on race committee duty. Photo: Mike Ferring

Martin Lorch Lugs Off Governor’s Cup

Martin Lorch.

Martin Lorch and crew managed to out-race 50 other boats to take the gigantic Governor’s Cup at Lake Pleasant Saturday (12/2).

The wind was fairly typical for the lake, with moderate northerly wind until close to noon when it shut down completely, rising again as a light wind from the south an hour later. It’s a pattern that favored the early-starting boats in the pursuit race and George Tingom made it pay off for him, sailing solo in his Capri 14.2. George had a big lead in the race but made a fateful error when he rounded the wrong “unnamed island.”  George contends that the race chart was too vague, so he didn’t know which small island to round. As far as we know he was the only one to make this mistake, but it’s always most difficult to know which way to go when you’re leading the race!

Jim Tomes was the fastest and first multi-hull entrant to finish, capturing that fleet’s award. First multi-hull non-spin was Chris Picknally. First monohull non-spin was Richard Krebill in a Capri 14.2. Tony Krauss was the first of four Hobie 16s to finish.

In addition to the big trophy, winners in three divisions (spin, non-spin, multi-hull) won sailing bags donated by SLO Sail and Canvas, makers of sails, boat covers and other canvas products.

The race ended at the Scorpion Bay Marina Grill with a post-race party.

Thanks to Race Organizer Tom Errickson and his volunteers, Tom Ohlin senior and junior and Bill Cunningham. Dave Christensen consulted his well-worn chicken bones to come up with the handicap ratings and start times for the pursuit race.

Here is a picture of the handwritten finishing order at Scorpion.

Almost as big as he is: Martin Lorch hefts the Governor’s Cup, flanked by crew James Morphis and Katie Yearley. At right: Event Organizer Tom Errickson. Photo: Mike Ferring

Event Chairman Tom Errickson. Photo: Mike Ferring

Governor’s Cup winners aboard the Santana 20. Martin Lorch, Katie Yearley (behind the sail), and James Morphis. Photo: Mike Ferring

A happy member of Brandon and Jessica Rawlings’ crew. Photo: Mike Ferring

Rear Commodore Sharon Bell. Photo: Mike Ferring

Boat buddies. Kevin Edwards and Rick Johnson. Photo: Mike Ferring

The Shazam team poses in the team shirts. Photo: Mike Ferring

Tom Errickson to the rescue. Photo: Bill Cunningham

Rolling in the Deep slips along behind the islands as the morning wind disappears. Photo: Bill Cunningham

Lake Pleasant Fall Race Results

Strong wind greeted us on the final weekend of the fall race series, finally gasping for a lull on Sunday afternoon and leaving us with this list of winners: Steve Grothe overcame a missed first weekend by firing four bullets on the last Saturday, putting him ahead of Bob Worrall in Catalina 22 on a tie-breaker; Fred Rahn won multi-hull; Martin Lorch put his 222-rated Santana 20 up against the 88-rated Hobie 33 of Paul Liszewski and won PHRF Spin; Tony Chapman won PHRF Sportboat; and Jason Rziha beat Skip Kempff by three points in Thistle.

Congratulations to the winners and to everyone who competed this fall.

The scores for the final weekend of racing are on the results page, or by clicking here. 

After the racing, the champ buys at Wild Horse. Martin Lorch (left) pops for dinner for the Rolling in the Deep crowd and the photographer, Marshall Williamson.

Thistles rounding this fall. The final results were about this close, with Jason leading Skip. Photo: Charles Landis

December’s Meeting: Twisted Gift Exchange

December’s monthly meeting brings the annual AYC gift exchange, a gift exchange with a twist. You might say twisted, even. The meeting is at 7 pm, Tuesday, December 12, at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe.

Here’s how the gift exchange works:

  • You bring a wrapped gift valued at about $20.
  • You pick a number from a hat to determine the order in which we select gifts.
  • We’ll have two people called to the front of the room at the same time.
  • Each person can choose to pick a wrapped gift from the pile or play pirate and take the gift from someone who’s already opened one.
  • Gifts can be “pirated” only twice before they’re safe from further theft.

Some of the gifts can be pretty weird, but if you’re looking for a prized gift suggestion: Liquor always seems to bring applause!

What’s the Christmas gift exchange like? Here’s what happened in 2015.

Victor Felice holding tight to a gift in 2015. Photo: Mike Ferring

Victor Felice holding tight to a gift in 2015. Photo: Mike Ferring

Jeff Johnstone’s AYC Visit

It all started with the legendary J/24.

Jeff Johnstone recounted to the AYC November monthly meeting how his father Rod chose the size of the J/24 40 years ago for one critical reason: he could build a 24 foot long by 7 foot wide boat in his garage. Anything bigger wouldn’t fit. When they rolled it out, it not only floated, but beat all comers with a family crew on board.

Since then, there have been over 14,000 boats with the famous J/ on the side, a record of success they could never have imagined back then. Jeff recalled the path from J/24 to J/121, the company’s latest offering, a 40-footer designed for comfortable ocean cruising and racing with a smaller-than-typical crew. Instead of six crew hiking, the J/121 has water ballast that Jeff says “you never have to feed.”

Jeff made a lightning fast trip to Arizona for the Tuesday night meeting, flying in Monday, working in his hotel room Tuesday morning, playing a round of golf at Rolling Hills in the afternoon and then taking the red-eye home in order to make it to a scheduled sailing session in Rhode Island Wednesday morning. AYC members showed their appreciation by filling the room at the Caddy Shack.

What kind of event brings out large numbers of boats? Jeff ran through the list of some of the most-attended regattas in the world, regattas that bring hundreds: the Fastnet, the Around-the-Island (the island of Wight), the Chicago-to-Mac, the Bridges race in San Francisco Bay and several others. How about a 600+ mile race in the Grenadines? Jeff says people buying the J/121 are looking for interesting races in interesting places and that doesn’t have to mean wet and cold!

Jeff Johnstone recounts the history of J/Boats, from the legendary J/24. Photo: Mike Ferring

That’s the famous Fastnet rock, the rounding point of one of the most popular sailboat races in the world. Photo: Mike Ferring

Day’s End

Roosevelt Lake’s Salome Cove at day’s end. I loved the idyllic single sailboat anchored in the background for the evening. They had the entire cove to themselves. So peaceful. Photo By: Eric Heaton

Like to Buy the Commodore’s Yield Boat?

Now that we have a new and reliable motor on the back of the club’s Boston Whaler, the board has decided it’s time to sell the old safety boat, the Commodore’s Yield, and they’d like to offer it first to club members.

The lean description is that it’s a 2001 18-foot Alumacraft with a 90 horsepower Johnson outboard and a Yacht Club brand trailer. The boat is in serviceable but not pretty condition and will be priced accordingly. It’s currently being stored at Lake Pleasant. Contact Fleet Captain George Sheller if you’re interested.

Here’s a link to the current version of the boat.

Lake Captain David Newland aboard the Commodore’s Yield.

The console of the Commodore’s Yield

November Meeting: J/Boats President Jeff Johnstone

Every performance sailor knows J/Boats, the premier company for fleets of fast boats that began with the legendary J/24 and continues today with a host of sailboats that start with the letter “J.”

J/Boats President Jeff Johnstone

On Tuesday, November 14, the president of J/Boats, Jeff Johnstone, will be our meeting speaker. He’ll trace the path of the company from the groundbreaking J/24 to the latest hull #1 of the new J/121 (which I know you’ll want to order immediately).

It was Jeff’s father Rod who started it all with $400 worth of fiberglass and wood plus some leftover rigging from brother Bob’s Soling. The result was Ragtime, which proved an amazing race winner and launched a series of J/24s that eventually sold an astonishing 5400 boats.

Since that beginning, the brand has produced 7,000 more J/Boats. A total of six of Rod and Bob’s sons keep the company in the family and sailing fast.

The meeting is Tuesday, November 14, 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.

Ruth Beals Cup 2017

Ellen Wesley is the 2017 Ruth Beals Cup champ, taking the overall honors at Lake Pleasant Saturday, November 11. Ellen sailed on one of Victor Felice’s J/24s and led much of the race, falling behind in light air rounding Balance Rock and then making it up with a bold move along the western shore when the wind died entirely. Counting on a whisper of thermal air movement, they ghosted up the shore and to a shortened course finish at “no name” island.

The scores for the 2017 Ruth Beals Cup are posted on the results page, or click here.

Maryellen Ferring finished second in her J/80 and Ryane Griffis was third in an Etchells. Eight boats were set to start the race, but Debbie Barlow’s Siren 17 lost a main halyard on the way to the race course and didn’t start.

We thank Fleet Captain George Sheller and Mark Howell for their work as the volunteer race committee. For speedy race results, they texted the finish times to scorekeeper Dave Christensen, who posted the results right after the finish.

Ellen Wesley won the Ruth Beals Cup despite the two characters flanking her.

Bob Whyte trims during the Ruth Beals Cup. Photo: Mike Ferring

Week 4 of Racing at Lake Pleasant

Score one for Perfect. Saturday (11/4) was as close to perfect as sailing gets: breezy, generally unshifty, and comfortable temps. I hope you were there. Sunday started out as one of those drifter things, with lots of boats timing out on a first race. Then, as some boats were about to give up, the wind came up from the south and it was game on. This time it was puffy and shifty, but we’ll take that over no wind any Sunday of the week.

The scores for week 4 of racing at Lake Pleasant are posed on the results page, or by clicking here.

Steve Grothe and daughter aboard Old Yeller. Photo: Mike Ferring

Slow boat, fast driver. Martin Lorch’s Santana 20 carries the highest PHRF number, but consistently clobbers the fast boats. Photo: Mike Ferring

Lake Pleasant Weekend Three

Notice to everyone who raced only Saturday: You missed the best wind of the weekend. Sunday morning started with cresting whitecaps and settled into a pleasant 8kts, serving up a trip around Horse Island for the spins and three very quick Thistle races. (Thistles have a long-standing rule to race just three races per day.)

In contrast, Saturday was a sailing snooze, with most races (we still call them races) drifters. When some breeze licked across the lake at the end of the day, the spins said, “Start us!” only to find they’d been tricked, the wind went away and the race abandoned. Of course, sipping a beer at Spinnaker Point, we looked out on a lake rippled with wind. Always the way, right?

The results for week three of racing at Lake Pleasant are posted on the results page, or click here.

Charles Landis and team after rounding Horse Island on Sunday morning. Photo: Mike Ferring

Scott Richards and Dan Schott cross. Photo: Mike Ferring

Weekend Two for Lake Pleasant Racing

Thank the Catalina 22s for putting on some good racing this weekend (10/7-8), topped off with an Octoberfest-style night at Spinnaker Point, dressed up with brats and a live Polka trio.

Here are the race results.

Bob Naylor enlisted the Polka band, which added a fun and slightly surreal tone to the usual post-race gathering.

Two accordions and a bass guitar and plenty of oom pah to accompany dinner. Photo: Mike Ferring

A nice turnout for a Saturday night dinner at Spinnaker Point. Brats and Polka. Photo: Mike Ferring

Joel Hurley Dominating Lasers at TTL

When Will Zornik heard that his young coworker Joel Hurley had raced in college, he recruited him for the Tempe Town Lake Laser fleet. Might have been a strategic mistake. Joel’s running away with the lead in the fall series on an adopt-a-boat.

With the wind blowing nicely on Sunday (10/1), the Lasers raced and raced and raced, running six races in all and exhausting themselves completely in 100° heat before shutting down at nearly 6 o’clock. The Portsmouth fleet fielded just two boats, with Mike Parker’s Capri 16.5 taking four races.

Here are the results.

Paul Miachika rounds the windward mark. Photo: Mike Ferring

October Meeting: North U Founder Bill Gladstone

The October Monthly Meeting Speaker, North U’s Bill Gladstone. Photo: Mike Ferring

The crazy-windy 2016 Chicago to Mac was tossing our J/130 around like a toy when the helmsman (no, not me) made a bit of a mistake—the huge, green spinnaker suddenly wrapping around the headstay, wind blasts threatening to rip the spinnaker to bits. Raining, dead dark, we call for Bill. Bill Gladstone. He pokes his head up from below and calmly goes to work, unflappable despite the roar of the flapping sail, asking for a couple jibes to unwrap the sail and minutes later we’re back on course, sail intact.

This was Bill’s 28th Chicago to Mac, so he’s seen a lot of nutty stuff on Lake Michigan and lots of other places. He takes it all in calmly, with a smile and a laugh that help explain how he’s been able to take teaching performance sailing and turn it into a lifetime vocation. His business is North U, which presents seminars each year around the country plus the Regatta Experience and clinics in Ontario, Captiva Island, Florida, and St. Thomas.

In October, Bill will offer AYC a short version of one of his workshops, spinning stories as he suggests tactics, rules, and trim. Expect to be as much entertained as informed.

The meeting is Tuesday, October 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.

Bill’s racing experience covers the spectrum, including everything from dinghies to Maxies, ponds to oceans, and foredeck to helm. He has finished in the money at Key West Race Week, the SORC, Block Island Race Week, Chicago NOOD, Annapolis to Newport; Chicago to Mackinac, the Annapolis Fall Series, NYYC Race Week, and Queen’s Cup. Bill raced collegiately for Yale and was founder of the Chicago Sailing Club.

He’s been teaching sailing and racing for over forty years. Graduates of his seminars number in the thousands, including several dozen AYC members.

Bill Gladstone on the rail for the Chicago-Mackinac race in 2016. That’s Maryellen Ferring over Bill’s left ear. Photo: Mike Ferring

It Was a Hoot at the Lake

Brats, buddies, and boats. We called it Hoot at the Lake and about 50 people turned out for a fun few hours at Tempe Town Lake Saturday (9/30).

The wind was light, but it didn’t deter lots of us from sampling a buffet of sailboats, including O’Pen Bics, Lasers, 14.2s, and Mike Bernard’s nice Sabot. Rob Gibbs brought two Desert Sailboats SUP boards to try. Sharon Bell brought games. Martin Lorch tended the BBQ. The Ferrings brought the food. Mike Bernard floated the boats. Andy Oliver was event chairman and supplied the tow vehicle.

Will Zornik and kids brought out the O’Pen Bics and had a ball sailing and flipping them. Photo: Mike Ferring

Some of the group gathered by the dock at Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring

The wind came in small puffs most of the day, but it was still fun to try different boats. Photo: Maryellen Ferring

A lazy day and no rush to get to the water. Photo: Mike Ferring

The shaded area by the east dock proved to be an excellent place to hang out. Photo: Mike Ferring

Blustery Opening Weekend at Lake Pleasant

The Fall Series opening weekend was a blast—a blast of wind on both Saturday and Sunday!

Saturday (9/23) was the big day for participation, with 14 boats racing in the multi-hull races, zinging across the lake on double-digit reaches and big smiles. Overall, there are 41 entries for the fall, with more still trickling in, especially from the PHRF Spin fleet, which was on Race Committee, giving entrants an excuse to wait another couple weeks before they really have to sign up.

Unfortunately, the Santana 20s did not get the needed five boats to fleet, which means they’ll be folded into the spin fleet, creating a wide range of ratings for the spins. There are enough Santana 20s in the club, but several decided not to enter.

And the debut of the MarkSetBot, the robotic mark? “Awesome,” is how Paul Liszewski summed it up. “I had my doubts,” he said, “but it did an excellent job.” It was a day when normal, anchored marks went adrift (one getting beached on an island), but the robotic mark just treaded water at the end of the start line, not moving. Same on Sunday, when Roger Butterwick said that he too was a doubter, not believing the mark could remain motionless for hours, but he was convinced by the end of the day’s racing.

The “Munchies on the Hill” after racing also had a nice debut. Steve Nahkala brought a table of munchies and a cooler of beer to Spinnaker Point as we transition from Fleet Dinner to Fleet Nachos and Beer. Some 35 people came by, about the same as a dinner group. (But the Catalina 22 fleet is planning to offer a Fleet Dinner the next race Saturday, October 7.)

Here are the race results.

Mark Howell is the scorekeeping SuperSub while Dave Christensen is sight-seeing around Europe. It took Dave’s knack for reading chicken bones to sort out this weekend, especially the multi-hull fleet.

Tony Chapman calmly hikes as his Viper 640 decides whether to splash down. Tony spent the summer in heavy wind races in Lake Garda and The Gorge and honed his big wind skill. Left: Court Roberts and team applaud. Photo: Charles Landis

It’s True: The Race Mark is a Robot!

Tom Ohlin watches a test of the new MarkSetBot on Lake Pleasant. Photo: Mike Ferring

It’s a bit of a leap of faith, a broad jump really: The pin-end start mark on Lake Pleasant’s Opening Day (9/23) will be a robot.

The inventors call it MarkSetBot and AYC is one of six clubs in the nation beta-testing this new device (out of 40 clubs that said they’d like to do it). It’s an odd-looking contraption on the water, riding on two inflated catamaran hulls, propelled by an electric trolling motor, and guided by cell phone and GPS navigation. It skitters around on the water like a large play toy.

Lake Pleasant Lake Captain David Newland and I (Mike Ferring) have been working on this machine for several weeks now, finally getting to the point where we think it can work as the pin-end mark. Later it might become one of the other marks of the course. Tom Ohlin joined us as we ran the thing for over an hour on Wednesday (9/20) and it performed nicely.

The idea, of course, is to replace one of our regular marks with the robot so it can be placed remotely without relying on the Boston Whaler crew and without dangling 160+ feet of anchor rode below it. Because the RC wouldn’t need to move the Whaler into position and because nobody would need to lift and drop or drag all that rode, the course can be adjusted much faster and much more easily. Cool, huh?

The company reports that this last weekend (9/17) MarkSetBots made up the entire race course for the stadium race at Grosse Pointe (Michigan) Yacht Club run by Premiere Sailing League. There was a single RC boat with only one person on it. That person monitored for OCS and then acted as a judge boat motoring up the course. The course was changed in length and direction many times. At one point, there was a 90 degree wind shift and it took the MarkSetBots just 60 seconds to reposition. Wow.

The MarkSetBot is not without its, well, let’s call them “issues,” which means we’re moving cautiously and wondering whether this robot is  long-term for us. Just a few of the issues:

  • It’s big and unwieldy to launch and to store.
  • It needs to be assembled each time it’s used (and disassembled when we’re through with it).
  • It runs on a battery that needs to be charged.
  • It’s made up of lots of little bits that can be damaged, lost or wear out.
  • The cell phone interface is difficult to operate.
  • Operation requires training (and we have trouble getting people to take care of our boats).

So, that odd thing at the end of the start line? That’s your starting pin. Please don’t hit it.

The robot MarkSetBot at cruising speed during the Lake Pleasant test. Photo: Mike Ferring