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Sign Up for the Dec 1 Governor’s Cup Regatta

Almost as big as he is: In 2017, Martin Lorch hefted the Governor’s Cup, flanked by crew James Morphis and Katie Yearly. At right: 2017 Event Organizer Tom Errickson. Photo: Mike Ferring

This one’s for the BIG prize. This one’s for the Governor’s Cup. And, okay, this one’s really mostly for fun.

The Governor’s Cup regatta will be Saturday, December 1, with all boats starting at 9:30 am from a start line at the south end of Lake Pleasant. Finishing times will be adjusted for PHRF handicap and the winning skipper will walk off with that big trophy.

Here’s the link to the entry button and the race documents.

After starting in the south of the lake, boats will round drop marks on the north sides of Horse and Balance Rock Islands, then round another drop mark on the south near Bobcat Island (no rounding of the island this time), and finish outside Jackass Cove.

A post-race raft-up party will happen in Jackass Cove. Bring fenders. AYC will provide some appetizers.

Just to add to the giggles, there’s a handicap adjustment for any boat with a child under 12 onboard, a boat flying an AYC burgee, a boat towing a floaty-something that would hold a person, and a boat with a pet onboard. Just to be clear: The pet must be living. If you have them all, you’ll get a six-second handicap adjustment.

There will be multi-hull and monohull fleets. Awards will be given to the top-finishing multi-hull and the top-finishing monohull. The Governor’s Cup will go to the top-finishing boat in the fleet with the most entrants.

Heather McClain is the Race Organizer and Wendy Larsen is the PRO.

The start of the 2016 Governor’s Cup race. Photo: Michele Korszeniewski

Five Decades in the Making, Adopt-A-Boat Gave Me Opportunity

AYC Lake Pleasant Lake Captain and J/70 crew David Newland this Sunday (11/11) did a foolishly brave thing: after never before sailing one, he adopted a Laser and went sailing at Tempe Town Lake in heavy, puffy wind. Crazy maybe, but he decided to, mmm, take the plunge.

By David Newland

AYC Lake Captain David Newland at more familiar controls: the Boston Whaler. Photo: Mike Ferring

Overweight and out of shape, I decided to sign up for Bowline Cross Fit. I felt very intimidated when I arrived and saw Hurley crunching 100 sit-ups, Bernard bobbing and weaving the double-end boxing bag and Gibbs speed-skipping the gym rope.

Wait, did I say Bowline Cross Fit? I meant Laser racing.

In the late 70s, I spent many weekends motoring around Marina del Rey in my little Whaler. I liked to idle down and spectate when the kids were racing Lasers in the harbor. It looked like a ton of fun and I was quite envious. Getting hooked up with them never materialized.

Well, five decades and 120 pounds later (maybe 130), I got my chance! The weather forecast was on point this past weekend, so I reached out to Grant Younger to get signed up for an Adopt-a-Boat. He helped me pick out my weapon of choice and Joel Hurley helped me rig it (and de-rig and re-rig the items I thought I knew how to do without any instruction whatsoever).

OK, so far so good. Winds were blowing 20. KPH. Felt like MPH to me (And sometimes was –ed.). I got the Laser launched and was overly confident with the stability of this 2×4. Maryellen Ferring was helping with the bow line and just as she said, “don’t step on the…,” I stepped on the foredeck, and was immediately in the water. Note to self: That’s the wrong way to board a Laser.

What transpired during the next three hours was quite the combination of emotions. Mostly fun. Lots of laughs out loud to which the spectators on the shore and in manually-powered craft (to which I gave right-of-way) probably thought I left my medication at home.

Frustration. Mostly because I was envisioning my younger self in MDR. I just can’t duck the boom as efficiently as I probably could have 40 years ago! Surprisingly, I did fine. I still have all my teeth and no concussion symptoms yet.

Anxiety. That moment when you (okay, I) lose the tiller and the main sheet at the same time, knowing that capsizing is imminent. Thanks, Joel, for retrieving my hat. Did you see my Oakleys?

Let me digress for a moment. The wind was blowing. I faltered. Joel, from his cockpit, was able to maneuver his boat to help start my righting process, fixed some issue with my main sheet, located my hat, and then sailed off.

I survived. Quite well actually. I wasn’t a worthy racer, but I knew going in that racing wasn’t going to be my priority. It was getting my feet wet (and every other body part) with the Laser Fleet at TTL. What a great group of sailors. And thanks to Adopt-a-Boat for the opportunity.

Thank you Race Committee, as well as Toyota Motor Company for making a fantastic waterproof key fob, and to Bayer, maker of Aleve.

Oh: my disembarking. Yup. Cannonball! No more Laser foredeck for me.

You know it’s windy when the Laser sailors start swimming. This shot was taken a few years ago, but it could have been snapped Sunday. Photo: Mark Howell

Score Another Nice Lake Pleasant Weekend

Make it three race weekends in a row of nice temperatures and good wind at Lake Pleasant.

Saturday (11/3) was delightful, with good breeze most of the day; Sunday (11/4) started with white caps and petered out to glass, but only as the final race of the day ended. The battle in the Santana 20 fleet continues to be the contest to watch, with Santana 20 newcomer Joel Hurley taking it to perennial champ Martin Lorch. So far, Joel is coming out ahead, but the scores are close.

The PHRF Spin fleet was the host race committee.

Scores here.

Yes, it’s that close. Left to right: Martin Lorch, Mike Parker, Joel Hurley. Photo: Charles Landis

 

Mike Hester’s Viper 640 steps out in front. As usual. Photo: Charles Landis

 

After Mike Ferring tries to port tack the fleet on a start, he tacks to starboard with just enough space to slip between Tony Chapman and the RC boat. Photo: Charles Landis

No Zip TTL: Zip for Wind

Somehow we ghosted around the TTL race course for a single race, just a breath of air when there was any at all. We call this sailboat racing. I was 10 feet from the finish when a delicate puff came from the right instead of the left and there I was moving… backwards.

These are not the days that put the fun and romance in sailing, are they?

Results for Sunday, October 28.

Glass for a lake as Mike Ferring and Dave Haggart struggle to finish. John Mayall and Dick Krebill had already crossed. Photo: Will Zornik

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

Lake Pleasant Delivers the Wind for Week 3

The wind returned for our third weekend of the Lake Pleasant fall race series. Excellent conditions for the sailors, but challenging for the race committee. It was warm and windy but very shifty, especially on Sunday when the race course kept moving and kept the committee and PRO Bob Worrall busy trying to anticipate the shifts.

The scores for week 3 of racing at Lake Pleasant are posted on the results page, or by clicking here.

One of the most entertaining contests puts seven-time club champion Martin Lorch up against Joel Hurley in the Santana 20 fleet. Both are excellent sailors and after the weekend, Martin was ahead in the series 32-34 before throw-outs. Joel and crew Grant Younger are new to the boat and are still figuring it out: witness the Saturday calamity, “skying” the main halyard when the knot didn’t hold.

Laser champion Joel Hurley joined the Santana 20 fleet this fall, giving perennial winner Martin Lorch some tight competition. Here Martin stays just ahead of Joel downwind. This photo by David Newland was taken on weekend two.

Look familiar? This photo by David Newland was taken on weekend three.

Crisp Fall Series at Tempe Town Lake

Scott Sharples upwind. Photo: Mike Ferring

The rain stopped, the sky cleared, the air turned crisp. Nice day on Tempe Town Lake.

The Laser turnout this fall has been spectacular, with lots of new racers joining the fleet, many in adopt-a-boats. As a result, there’s the experienced bunch at the head of the group and the less experience group fighting their own entertaining race farther back. Fun.

Sunday (10/14) was that kind of day, with the C14 fleet on race committee, with the Juniors sailing a shorter course, and the Opti classes adding to the entertainment of sails on Tempe Town Lake.

Here are the day’s results.

Here are some shots from me, Mike Ferring:

Amazing lighting on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Mike Ferring

Ruth Beals Race October 27 at Lake Pleasant

Ruth Beals Insho, AYC Founder (picture 2005 by Mike Ferring)The all-woman Ruth Beals Cup Regatta will return to Lake Pleasant on Saturday, October 27, with the starting gun at 9:30 am. It’s for women at the helm in run-what-you-brung boats rated by PHRF handicap.

Race documents here. Registration is closed.

The race is named for the founder of AYC, Ruth Beals, and offers a chance for the women of the club to compete against other women. Men are allowed to crew, but not to get too close to the tiller.

There will be a single long-distance race, following the familiar course from a start/finish in the south portion of the lake, around Horse and Balance Rock and No-Name island (also called Bobcat), back to a finish line in mid-lake. It’s more or less the same course we’ve used for the Governor’s Cup and the Tall Cactus Regatta.

After the racing, there will be a gathering at Scorpion Bay’s restaurant deck with AYC-offered nibbles and cash bar.

Ellen Wesley is the defending champion, teaming up with Victor Felice in a J/24 to win in light air one year ago. Maryellen Ferring finished second in her J/80 and Ryane Griffis was third in an Etchells.

This year, Victor has entered five (yup, five) boats that will include crew from the Foundation for Blind Children.

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

Pleasant Pleases Plenty

It was one of the best racing weekends any of us could remember: good wind and comfortable temperatures nearly the entire time, perfect enough that each fleet scored a record number of races over the two days. Credit the wind and the multi-hull committee team that turned races quickly.

Rain forecast for Sunday morning instead struck overnight, leaving the sky clear at race time. The biggest surprise of the morning came when the race committee and Lake Captain David Newland arrived to find the Pleasant Harbor Marina launch dock floating 100 feet offshore—with the committee boats still tied to it. The RC were ferried to the dock and headed out while the PHM crew went to work to attach the dock back to the land.

After a couple light-air races Sunday morning, the wind came up again and with it the smiles of race teams that knocked off a half dozen races before stopping.

Ace scorekeeper Dave Christensen needed to do a lot of number crunching, but he did it and you’ll find the results here and on the Results Page.

 

Laser champion Joel Hurley joined the Santana 20 fleet this fall, giving perennial winner Martin Lorch some tight competition. Here Martin stays just ahead of Joel downwind. Photo: David Newland

That’s the Pleasant Harbor Marina launch dock floating offshore with the AYC RC boats still tied up. Photo: David Newland

Tony Chapman at full downwind chat. Photo: Scott Agan

The Ferrings’ J/70 Melissa Kay edges past the finish ball downwind. Photo: Scott Agan

Wind Whips TTL and Lasers Love It

Mike Bernard. Photo: Debbra Heisler

Hurricane Rosa brought a blast of wind to Tempe Town Lake Sunday afternoon (9/30), more or less straight out of the WNW and the Laser fleet got after it!

Several boats went over in the puffy, powerful wind and both safety boats were busy chasing the capsized craft. Laser sailors think that’s great sailing so they’re wet and smiling.

You’ll find results here and on our Results Page.

Here are some shots by Debbra Heisler and Ron Sands.

Lasers fly downwind. Photo: Debbra Heisler

Paul Miachika. Photo: Debbra Heisler

Scott Sharples. Photo: Ron Sands

 

Laser sunset. Photo: Ron Sands

 

Opening Day at Lake Pleasant

The Rawlings Race Team. If the kids look a little damp, it’s because they were splashing around in the lake minutes earlier. Photo: Mike Ferring

Opening Day for the Lake Pleasant Fall Series started with a bit of a whimper instead of a bang (weren’t you supposed to bring the wind?), but then picked up for Sunday’s action.

Scores are posted on the Racing Results page, or click here. 

Saturday’s wind allowed for only one or two races for all fleets, including a large contingent of multi-hulls out for the day. It concluded with a nice gathering at Spinnaker Point, a lush layout of charcuterie catered by Martin Lorch.

Here’s what PRO Martin told us about Sunday’s racing:

“We started the races promptly at 9:00am in 7 to 8 knots of wind from the north (about 345-350 magnetic). The three fleets racing completed the race rapidly. The second race was started right away at about 10am, and the wind began failing before they got to the windward mark. The boats came to a crawl for about thirty minutes.

“Then, the wind rotated around from the west, the east, back from the west and settled from the south (approx 165-170 mag) where it generally stayed at 7 to 11 knots. We moved the north mark to the west at the start of the second race and moved it back to its original position at the start of the third race. We adjusted the red start ball once because the committee boat had rotated and also because we needed to give the Outrage crew something to do!

“Thistles got their three races in by 11:30, the PHRF Spin fleet completed 5 races by 1:05pm.”

Scott Richardson and Skip Kempff getting off the line in light air. Photo: Mike Ferring

 

Paul Liszewski checking main trim as the team goes Rolling in the Deep. Photo: Mike Ferring

 

Jim Tomes and his Bimare F18ht cat. Photo: Mike Ferring

TTL Fall Racing Opens Hot

Quite hot, actually, but with enough breeze to make the opening day at the lake a good contest.

There are some 37 entries at Tempe Town Lake for the fall series, including 10 C14s, 13 Lasers, seven Portsmouth, and six in the new Junior Fleet. The Juniors are sailing in Bics and Lasers under the guidance of Rob Gibbs.

Lasers were on race committee duty the first weekend, leaving the rest of the boats to duke it out. Mark Howell has again agreed to crunch the scores for TTL. Here they are.

Results of week one of Tempe Town Lake racing.

The next race Sunday will be September 30 with Portsmouth on race committee.

Some of the race action at Tempe Town Lake with the new Junior Fleet in the foreground. Photo: Marc Danner

Are You Cat Curious?

Hobie skims Lake Pleasant. Photo: Charles Landis

By Tony Knauss – TSC/Hobie Fleet 514

We have a few of our Hobie and Multihull skippers who are inviting the boatless and the cat-curious to crew for us at the AYC Fall Series season opener this Saturday, Sept 22, to see what it all about.

First-come-first-served, and just a few openings available, but nobody has committed, so those spots are all still open! Hobies are of course fairly athletic to sail and you won’t be spinning the blender for boat drinks. We will have all the harnesses/PFDs/wetsuits to get you geared up.

Sound like fun? Let me know!  abkrauss@cox.net

Fall Racing Kicks Off at Both Lakes

Racing at Tempe Town Lake begins at 3pm Sunday (September 16) and at Lake Pleasant the following weekend, Saturday at 12:30 pm and Sunday at 9 am, September 22 & 23.

Registration, race documents, and race committee assignments are here.

The fleet line-up looks very much like last year, except that the Santana 20 fleet will be back as a separate fleet rather than being combined with the PHRF Spin fleets, as they were last year.

If you haven’t raced before, if you’re a little rusty, or if you’d like to crew, we have options for you:

See you on the water!

Annual Crew Party Sat, 8 September!

Cruising on Lake Pleasant

One final reminder that this Saturday, 8 September from about 4 to around 8 (boat time you know…) at Scorpion Bay Marina YOUR Arizona Yacht Club will host its annual Crew Party dubbed “Sail Jam!” In conjunction with that we will be fundraising for the Blind Buccaneers and the Foundation for Blind Children with a 50/50 Raffle.

Quick Reminders:

  • Arizona Yacht Club will serve hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone. Please bring a dish to share and BYOB. Can bring a bag of chips or get fancy. (Please connect with Heather McClain if you want to know more about what to bring, e.g. dessert vs side dish.)
  • We have a few dock-friendly games such as corn hole, horseshoes, board games if you want.
  • Bring your own chairs! We have about eight already out there.
  • Bring your boat! Show it off, brag, socialize, and go for a sail to test out crew/boat opportunities.
  • The rules of Scorpion Bay are to be respected as there are many boat owners out there. Good neighbor rules apply.

We’re looking forward to a great turnout!

Crew Party at Scorpion September 8

By Heather McClain

This is the unofficial start of the sailing season in Phoenix! Need Crew? Want to crew on a boat?

Scorpion Bay Marina, Lake Pleasant

On Saturday, September 8, from 4-8 pm, we’ll toss a crew party at the end of E dock at Scorpion Bay Marina. The purpose of the event is to be a matchmaker between captains who need crew and crew who want to sail… and to just have a fun time with other sailors or those who are contemplating sailing.

  • Bring your boat! Show it off, brag, socialize, and go for a sail to test out crew/boat opportunities.
  • We have a few dock-friendly games such as corn hole, horseshoes, board games if you want.
  • Bring your own chairs! We have about eight already out there.
  • Arizona Yacht Club will serve hot dogs and hamburgers for everyone. Please bring a dish to share and BYOB. Can bring a bag of chips or get fancy. (Please connect with Heather McClain if you want to know more about what to bring, e.g. dessert vs side dish.)
  • We will have one electric grill and one electric smoker. No fires on the dock…oh my! You can have whatever grill/stove you want on your boat to add to cooking opportunities or not. Up to you.
  • Join the “Dockside Chat” with AYC Commodore Rob Gibbs.
  • There are a limited number of slips available for day use and/or overnight rental, please contact Sharon Bell if you are interested in that.
  • One boat owner has room on a boat for up to six people to sleep overnight.  And there may be other boat owners with available bunks. Just ask if you don’t want to (or can’t) drive home safely.
  • The rules of Scorpion Bay are to be respected as there are many boat owners out there. Good neighbor rules apply.

Here’s to a great (and safe) sailing season in Arizona!

How Do We Break Down Barriers to Racing?

By Mike Ferring

An event that works well. Martin Lorch hefts the Governor’s Cup, flanked by crew James Morphis and Katie Yearly. At right: Event Organizer Tom Errickson. Photo: Mike Ferring

In 2018, AYC membership is higher than ever, with 235 member families as of June 1. We have active series at two lakes, well-attended monthly meetings with interesting speakers, a nonprofit arm in ASF with sold-out adult classes and well-subscribed kids’ classes, and large entries in the Birthday Regatta, Governor’s Cup, Tall Cactus and Ruth Beals Cup. We have high-level equipment to run our races. Our club communication, event registration, and governance are all excellent.

Yet, it’s smart to look for ways to improve. Is our membership getting gray? If so, how do we recruit and engage younger members and their children? While registration for “event” races is very good and series entries are still strong, not as many boats are showing up on the race course. How do we get more out?

Commodore Rob Gibbs has set up four committees to create various initiatives to strengthen the club, including one aimed at building the racing program, which I think is the core of the club.

Below are some thoughts, a combination of my own and those of a group of hard-core racers we pulled together for an hour recently: George Sheller, Martin Lorch, Joel Hurley, Skip Kempff, and Scott Richards. If you’re looking for solid answers, this is not the place. These are mostly questions and perspectives rather than answers or prescriptions. Here we go.

Overview

The task of growing the sport of sailing in Arizona confronts some broad society problems in addition to our own local ones:

  • Sailing has always been a minor sport, especially away from the coasts.
  • Boat sales have been low for years.
  • Participation in sailboat racing is dropping nationally.
  • There is increased fragmentation of all leisure activity.
  • There is general reluctance to commit time to any single activity.
  • Natural life cycles bring people in and out of sailing: career, kids, retirement, travel, health and fluctuations in disposable income.

AYC can’t change any of these mega trends, but we know we need to adapt our programs to them if we can. Our subcommittee has identified some of the barriers we might be able to influence:

  • Time commitment required for series racing.
  • Availability of crew.
  • Availability of boats.
  • Knowledge of the sport and its rules and the ability for new people to join the action.
  • Quality of the sailing: wind, competition, too many fleets and choices

Time Commitment

We now have more racing than at any time in the club’s 60-year history. Sailing in every event (as some of us do) requires a considerable time commitment. It also spreads our available entrants and boats across more sailing choices.

Choice is good, right? Options are good, especially in an era when there’s so much competition for our time. But it also means we’ll probably have fewer boats at each event.

This is seen most clearly in the spring and fall race series. At Lake Pleasant, Catalina 22, Multi-hull, and JaM fleets are scoring (and racing) Saturday only. On Sunday morning this spring it was not unusual to have 2-3 Thistles, 2-3 Sport Boats, and a half dozen Spins on the water. If one of those fleets was on RC, the numbers dropped. At TTL, we saw 4-6 14.2s, 4-6 Lasers, and 2-3 Portsmouth… and one of those fleets was always on race committee.

Marc Danner and team (daughter Avery and son Myles) getting the non-spin fleet going again, leading the Jib and Main fleet (JaM, note his T-shirt). Photo: Jim Tomes

Do we need to increase throw outs so more people will participate? Or do throw outs simply mean “I don’t have to show up”? Is a season championship an outmoded concept? No one has proposed a good answer.

Members of our group noted that missing a weekend means giving up a good finishing position. You have to show up to place in nearly any of the fleets. Since it’s difficult to make all the races, do entrants simply give up and not bother to race other weekends as well? Instead of more throw-outs, is there a way to use the redress model and give missing racers an average of their other scores?

What is clear is that the one-day events (Beals, Governor’s, Tall Cactus) are working and appealing. They’re a small commitment, casual, and social. It’s a winning concept. But this caution: these events work partly because they’re unusual and special. Adding more would doubtless reduce the numbers for each.

Availability of Crew

We frequently hear skippers say they can’t find crew and we hear people who want to crew say they can’t find boats on which to sail. Clearly this is an issue we need to fix.

The group said we need to know more about the crew list people in order to decide whether to consider them. Possible answer: adding questions to the form and perhaps vetting all crew-list additions by phone to find out more about them and clarifying their commitment.

The key requirement for regular crew: to show up on time, every time, ready to race. Could we have a pool of people who would commit to sail on a given weekend and then make sure they get on boats? Would the new Go Sailing app help?

What about having a crew class where potential crew could learn the fundamentals? Or is the existing Introduction to Sailboat Racing class sufficient? (I think it should be.)

Availability of Boats

Paul Miachika silhouetted in Tempe Town Lake’s afternoon sun. Lasers are a popular one-design fleet. Photo: Mike Ferring

Sailors need boats and often new people don’t have boats, can’t afford boats, or aren’t ready to commit to a particular kind of boat. If they can’t crew, they drift away from the sport.

The adopt-a-boat program has been a boon, getting people onto boats who wouldn’t otherwise be able to sail and simultaneously strengthening the 14.2 fleet. But it has its limitations: people want to sail at times when the adopt-a-boat program isn’t operating. Is there a way to overcome this?

Is there a way to create a parallel keel-boat program? Would it be possible, for instance, to field a Tumbleweed Catalina 25 as a JaM entry with newbies onboard? Could we find a way to put a Catalina 22 or Santana 20 in play?

What about getting the juniors on board a keel boat for Lake Pleasant racing?

Why don’t people get their boats on the water? Many, including some board members, don’t do it. This might be a good target for a little market research.

Knowledge of the Sport

Are we doing enough to familiarize new people with the way the game is played? What additional classes or sailing opportunities could we provide to get people over the threshold and into the sport?

At one time, the club offered a “Challenger” fleet for new racers and put an experienced sailor on the boat for a while to help speed the orientation. It took a dedicated person to coordinate (Patty Rosky in that case), but it worked for a while.

Could we have a non-scored race weekend (or race day at TTL) where leaders of fleets could help people new to the fleet to compete better and to introduce new people to the different boats?

Quality of Competition

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that we can do to improve the wind. But what about the fleets?

Skip Kempff rightly says that the strength of the club depends on the strength of the fleets. How do we work to build them? Are there too many fleets for the number of competitors? Does this dilute the racing? How could we funnel boats into certain fleets to reduce fragmentation?

George Sheller would like to see us guide people into fewer types of one-design boats, perhaps C22, C14 and Laser. It’s unrealistic, he admits, to think that anyone would sell a PHRF boat to move into one of those fleets, but it might be possible to encourage newbies to go in that direction.

Thistle, Laser, and Santana 20 (and formerly Buccs) have been aggressive about finding boats for potential skippers, even lending them boats to try them out. How could we support this effort?

One stop-gap approach at Lake Pleasant would be to start more than one fleet at a time while scoring the fleets separately. For instance, one Sunday morning the Sport Boats started with the Spin fleet, which was more fun than sailing in a tiny fleet. However, Bob Worrall and I nearly came to blows on the VHF when I was PRO and wanted to start two JaM boats with the C22s. He wouldn’t hear of it. I think his viewpoint on this is short-sighted, but we’d need to get the Fleet Captains to agree if we go this way. (In contrast, Scott Richards and the Thistles welcomed the Fireballs into their start when there were three Fireballs racing.)

We also want to make sure there remains an avenue for those of us who enjoy higher-performance boats.

What can we do to support the fleets in attracting new members?

Summary

I hope this somewhat rambling essay can start the discussion. There are some specific steps we can take and others that will come from talking about it.

These include:

  • Continue to run and promote headline one-day events (Beals, Governor’s, and Tall Cactus)
  • Attack the issue of matching crew and skipper
  • Survey members to learn why they aren’t racing more often to discover answers
  • Look at providing boats for a few newbies
  • Consider combining fleets on starts
  • Funnel new members into existing one-design fleets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday Beer Can Racing

Wednesday night organizer George Sheller. Photo: Mike FerringWhat are you doing Wednesday night? How about coming out for some highly casual racing at Tempe Town Lake?

We start racing at 5:30 and go until sundown. We do a one minute sequence. I have a whistle and signal: 5 short blasts is “AP down,” followed by a 10 second gap, then one long as the start of the one-minute countdown. I try to give 3 shorts at 30 seconds, 2 at 20, 1 at 10 and then one long for the start. A single 360 turn clears penalties. We set short courses, so we’ve gotten up to seven races in. If the Ferrings are there, we use their automated starting gadget.

This started as a Laser thing, but others started coming out, which was great. We all start together.

This is not an official AYC event, so you’re on your own in terms of a boat, liability and fun. We start promptly at 5:30 pm and if you miss one or two races it’s no big deal since we don’t keep scores. This is good practice, with bragging rights and then (for those who want to) off to a local restaurant for dinner and drinks.

Have questions?  Email me.

See you out there,
George Sheller

Scott Richards Scores Close Champ Win

Close starts for the 2018 Championship races. Click on the shots in the story to see bigger images. Photo: Mike Ferring

It all came down to the final race, the sixth of six. On a near-perfect sailing day at Lake Pleasant (if you’re not bothered by a few random puffs), Thistle champ Scott Richards held a single point lead over Laser winner Joel Hurley. Joel would have to beat Scott in this single race—and finish first or second to take the tie-breaker. If he could, he’d win the Club Championship.

This is the annual Arizona Yacht Club race that pits the person in each fleet with the best score for the combined fall and spring race series. Each year those fleet winners compete in one-design boats in a race of champions. This year, the boat was the Thistle.

About one minute before the start, Scott goes swimming. Photo: Mike Ferring

About one minute before the start of the final race, Scott Richards reached with his foot for the hiking strap. And missed. He was suddenly in the water, calling for sister Sharon to grab the tiller and head up so he could get back in the boat. Soaked and dazed, Scott still somehow managed a good start and joined five other Thistles in the race to the windward mark.

Scott Richards (green boat) rides a big puff to the windward mark. Joel Hurley (white boat left) has to tack to make it. Photo: Mike Ferring

Joel and crew Will Zornik sailed a better beat and was sliding up inside two others to round first—but then, a slight header, forcing a quick tack. Thirty feet away a burst of downdraft suddenly shot Scott ahead and around the mark in front of them.

Downwind, Joel kept looking for a way around. Lots of jibes and jockeying for position. He managed to slip in front of Scott, holding second in the race, trailing only Mike Hester. If he could hang on, he’d win it all. Then upwind: Scott chose the right and Joel the left. Right worked; left didn’t. By the finish Scott was a couple boats ahead and celebrating his first AYC Club Championship.

Leeward mark rounding on the final race. Joel rounds ahead of Scott, but chooses the wrong side for the final beat. Photo: Mike Ferring

This field included many of the club’s best sailors and they put on quite a show, with lots of lead changes and close tactics. Some of the best left frustrated. Seven-time champ Martin Lorch (sailing with former champ Trey Harlow) grumbled that he’d simply had a bad day.

Former champ Dave Haggart and wife Stacey started with a sixth and fifth, but then figured out the boat and scored a pair of bullets. Mike Parker and Tony Chapman struggled except they too won a race. Mike Hester and John Mayall, the reigning champs, sailed well, but a couple mid-pack finishes pulled them down to a close third overall at the end.

The workers: PRO Skip Kempff and his RC crew, including Tom Ohlin, Cedric Lorch, Tom Glover, David Newland, Maryellen and me. George Sheller had to miss the day, but he did the set-up and organization.

Special thanks to the Thistle fleet for providing their boats for the races!

 

Your 2018 AYC Club Champion Scott Richards and crew/sister Sharon Richards. Photo: Mike Ferring

Here are a few more shots Mike took:

The class photo (l to r): Trey Harlow, Joel Hurley, Martin Lorch, John Mayall, Will Zornik, Sharon Richards, Scott Richards, Mike Hester, Dave Haggart, Stacey Haggart, Tony Chapman, Mike Parker. Photo: Mike Ferring

Watch the AYC Champ Race on a Party Boat

Watch six AYC fleet champs duke it out for the coveted Club Championship trophy. Defending champ (and Sport Boat fleet champ) Mike Hester goes up against a field of excellent sailors in a round-robin competition using Thistles.

2018 Club Championship entrants are: Thistle Fleet Champion, Scott Richards; Capri 14.2, Dave Haggart; Catalina 22, Steve Grothe; Laser, Joel Hurley; Multi-Hull, Brett Johnston; Portsmouth, Mike Parker; PHRF Spin, Martin Lorch; and Reigning Club Champion/PHRF Sport Boat, Mike Hester. Steve Grothe and Brett Johnston are not able to make the race, reducing the expected entry to six.

Champ Party Boat Signup

Fleet Captain George Sheller will take you around the course on a luxury pontoon boat and position you for best viewing at the start and rounding marks. Bring snacks and beverages and cheer on your favorite.

One of the Scorpion rental pontoon boats.

The races will be Saturday, May 12, beginning about 9 am and continuing until a champ has been selected. That could be as many as seven races, but often is five or six.

The party boat will leave Scorpion at about 1 pm to see as many races as remain at that time, including the choice of a champ. The boat is expected to be a 24-foot luxury pontoon boat with cushy seats.

George needs at least 12 people to sign up for the boat in order to cover the rental. The price per person is $25.

2017 Club Champs Mike Hester and John Mayall with the big cup. Photo: Mike Ferring