WRCRA Articles!

Read Cat Tales of the Sea (or Bay) From the Sometimes Accurate Memories of Fleet Members and Others!

Transitions - A letter to the Fleet on the WRCRA era at the Church Street Lot - 8/7/08

Chris and Collete Bolton Take on the WRSC Twilight Race - 8/24/06

Of Astronauts and Sailors - Columbia and Her Crew - 4/4/03

Chris Bolton on the WRCRA/CRAC Lighthouse Race! - 10/26/02

A Little Galesville History! - 10/26/02

Mike Murphy Flogs His Hobie! - 9/7/02

Pat's First Race and New Boat! - 3/12/02

Wendy and Alec Debut the "Soggy Cheetoh"! - 3/12/02

Real Frostbiting - 1/14/01

Kap'n K at the Lighthouse Race - 10/16/00

Pat at the Olympic Trials - 3/30/00

Pat at the Olympic Trials - 3/25/00

Transitions - A letter to the Fleet on the WRCRA era at the Church Street lot



By now I'm sure most know the story. If you don't, here's the condensed version - the zoning complaint lodged against last year has finally put an end to our use of the Church Street lot in Galesville. The issues pursued by the county have convinced Georgie's caretakers to issue us an eviction notice. This on top of whatever the county itself is pursuing.

So, what follows is a bit of a stream of consciousness dump of my feelings and rambling thoughts at this point. And if you know me (and I think you do), you know at this point, that if you feel like it, it's time to pour a drink and wade through an email that's probably just a little bit too long.

To me, it is interesting that a county where it's ok for somebody to completely reform a critical area island and build a mansion with swimming pool and fake lighthouse with adjoining land on shore turned into a parking lot for guests without a single permit having been filed, is the same county where it is not permissible to keep and launch a couple of catamarans on a maritime zoned lot in a historically water activity based community. The Church Street lot has been pretty much the way it is now (in configuration and use) for as long as Galesville has had a name.

Anyway, we always figured there may come a time when we would need to find a new home. The conventional thoughts had been that time would come when Georgie passed. Thankfully, she has not. More recently that thinking included the selling of the property. That will probably still happen. But now the County has come to deliver the final blow. Not too long ago, the Capital ran two pertinent articles. One was on the lack of access to the water. The other was about the issues county residents and businesses have had with the county zoning and code enforcement.

For our part, what we have needed to do to be in compliance has been a constantly raising standard. First it was get the boats onto the maritime zoned areas. We did. Then it was submit plans for some improvements. We did. Then it was submit more plans. We did. They were "lost" with the claim that they were "never submitted". The latest requirements escalated to the absurd and that was the end. Their excuse? They were "learning more about the process and regulations" as time went by. Unbelievable. Hopefully we'll be allowed the chance to tell our side, stay tuned.

But enough about all that. A lot of thoughts went through my head as I packed my 6.0 up, realizing that most likely I will never sail from that lot again. Standing at the top of the lot and looking towards the water, thoughts of all the people that have been through that area to get on the water through the years flooded me. All the way back to the folks that left the forged boat nails and other old boat bits and oyster shells buried just below the grass. Did you realize our gang has been at it in Galesville since 1989? Next year is our twentieth anniversary! Hard to believe. We started out as Supercat Fleet 15, the 15 being the goal for the number of boats desired. The aim was to bring the popular weeknight racing format to the beach cat crowd. We used to berth on the side of the Steamboat Landing parking lot. Then the Church Street lot became available. Georgie, the owner of the lot, was a sailor in her time. The red boat berthed at the lot is her old boat, the "Georgie H". She has always been happy to have us there. She was to build her retirement home there, and when she started to break ground we moved to Woodfield's. But her own issues with permits led her to change plans and retire to Florida, and we moved back to Church Street. But you know all that...

When I joined up with the Fleet at the end of 1995, I had never raced. I had a Hobie 18 that I had sailed quite a bit recreationally, and it was a new thing and quite intimidating to try racing. If I had only known about these guys earlier! The mantra of serious enough to make it good racing, laid back enough to keep it fun has been the formula since the beginning. We can go through the member list and point to many who showed up the same way I did, got hooked, and who are very involved to this day. When I started, getting 5 boats on the line was a good turn out. Things changed...

The Fleet was renamed the WRCRA, and through the years we preached the gospel, got the word out, and grew our gang. After awhile the goal of 15 boats on the line was met and surpassed. We hosted the CRAC Icebreaker, Lighthouse, and Chesapeake-100 races, drawing sailors from outside the region and introducing them to Galesville. We had almost 30 boats on the lot, and sailors associated with the Fleet participated in signature races such as the Worrell 1000, Tybee 500, Outer Banks 500, and others. Some have scored rides on boats like Playstation. We put more than 20 boats on the line for a Tuesday race. At the height of it all, we even got ourselves a Porta-Potti! Living high for sure. And I honestly believe that the Annual Awards Party at our own "Fleet Reserve" is what other awards parties can only aspire to. It became hard to figure out what was the biggest draw - the beautiful town? The fun sailing and racing? The friends made? The Awards Party? Or was it the chance to earn one of Roger's hand-made masterpieces, or perchance to really excel and earn the right to display the awesome hand-made SC-22 replica "High Point" trophy at your home for the next year while battling in the hopes of keeping it for another? I'll say it's all of those things, a rare mix you'd be hard to find anywhere, especially for multihulls.

We have had friends come and go. Some on to different things, some on to the place we all must go. We still consider all of them members and friends, miss them, and wish them the best wherever they are. Did you happen to catch the boat that came to the Bay recently, skippered by one of our own?

Through all of this I believe we remained true to our mission - serious enough to have good racing, laid back enough to keep it fun. How many fleets do you know have the sailors run the start from the water, keep their own times, while keeping it honest? We have continually delighted in bringing new folks into the cat sailing scene and helping them grow. We have always had nothing but good wishes from the community. And we have brought business to the local restaurants and stores on Tuesday nights for almost 20 years.

To me, the crowning events have been the establishment of the catamaran classes at the West River Sailing Club. The WRSC started just like us - a bunch of sailors pushing boats off a vacant lot in Galesville, and calling themselves "Our Own Damn Yacht Club". So perhaps the karma fits even better than any of us know, but to me the efforts by the A-Cat sailors and then the Nacra-20 sailors to establish one design status at the WRSC have been the big news in the Galesville cat history. For the WRCRA it was like watching the baby birds leave the nest. But the influx of catamaran sailors into the WRSC has given new live to that club, and gave the cat sailors an opportunity to weather the uncertainty of the old home base. Gosh, a cat sailor is even now the commodore! Brave new times indeed! For me, the cats at the WRSC and the WRCRA compliment each other, and it may be that the continued success of either relies on the health of the other. The WRSC provides a great venue and great programs for one design. The WRCRA is unmatched in the ease of which somebody can drag a boat out of somebody's back yard and go see if they like cat sailing. The WRSC is a great thing to inspire the sailors of the WRCRA to raise their game. The WRCRA is a great way to introduce people to the sport without having to buy into a boat that may not fit them at first. Win-win.

So what now? Like the subject, and just about everything else blathered on about here - transition. We will find a way to continue our mission, but it will not be where it is now (unless drastic changes happen). Those still active from the Church Street lot are in touch with Roger. We will pursue a way to keep open class Tuesday night cat racing going in Galesville. It's just going through another transition. The racing continues until it can't, be there next Tuesday!

So, to finally close, a big hearty cheer and thank you to Georgie and her family for allowing us to call their home our home for so long. A big hearty cheer and thank you to all that have participated in the scene and enabled it to grow. A big hearty cheer for the people of Galesville that supported us for all these years (hopefully we've given you a show in return!).

Raise Hull,

Kap'n Keith


Chris and Collete Bolton Take the 2006 West River Sailing Club Twilight Race!

What a knock-down, drag-out, hang on and pray kind of race. The CBOFS computer model that morning had shown winds of 15-20 starting around
4, and shortly thereafter, a few random yellow arrows showed up signifying 20-25. I'd say they were pretty damn close; Thomas Point data shows 16 with gusts to 17 at 4 PM, 18-21 by 7, and 22 with gusts to 25 (KNOTS!)at 8. Thomas Point doesn't record wave heights, but they started big and got bigger as well. We got a good start and hung on for a while with the Inters, but noticed that darn 16 hanging on close to us. The R-33 was pointing higher, but we crossed him and beat him to the mark. Downwind he soon caught up and passed us sailing deep with the chute. That first leg set the tone for the day. In the sailing dictionary, under the phrase "slogging your way upwind", they have a video of this race. I tried to keep one hull up to keep us out of the waves, but just a hair off the wind, and the boat wanted to go up and over. Just a hair too close and we would get washed off. I was traveled out a good bit, with max downhaul, and trying to go as fast as possible, only pinching to get up over big waves. Downwind, I tried to heat it up, but again, if you came up just a bit too high, you were going way too fast to keep the bows out. We could see the Inter chutes all the way down to the leeward mark, and we saw three of them heading back upwind. Once we got around the leeward mark, though, we lost track of them. Our upwind track brought us close to the RC boat, and we saw one Inter and the R-33 go across the start line and turn away. I tried to ask the RC on my radio if we were still doing two laps, but they couldn't understand my repeated attempts and I couldn't understand their final answer. We did hear something about shortening the course at the north (leeward) mark. I was now traveled WAY out, and Colette and I were both getting very nervous as BIG waves approached. It seemed like the monsters always came in pairs, too; you launched off one and then immediately had to line up for another one. We were tacking when our legs and knees got sore instead of using any tactical reasons. I watched the GPS and my watch, and I knew we were going to be still out in the dark. As we finally identified the windward mark, we realized we were the only cat in sight. That was a VERY lonely feeling. Colette wanted to turn around at that point, but I convinced her to just hang on for a little while longer and then we could relax downwind. To get downwind we had to fall off around the mark; that was a moment for prayer, and we must have said some good ones because the bow dug in, it slowed down and leaned way over, but then at the point of no return it came out and kept going. That was as close as we came all night to flipping. I was going as close to DDW as I could without the jib flapping. We were hitting the bigger waves dead on, and climbing up over them or through them. We gybed several times,
trying to keep the leeward mark at no more than 10 degrees off the straight GPS layline. I wanted no part of trying to reach across those waves. The running lights (hanging under the boom) were a big psychological boost as it got dark. I could see the jib when it flapped, and as the bows would come up a wave, you could see the bridle fly against the sky. You couldn't see much of the waves, which was probably good, but it was downright scary to hear them breaking behind you. "Is that as big as it sounds?" We didn't see the RC boat until we were well under a half-mile away. I'll admit here that I
screwed up; with a port rounding and a downwind finish, the RC boat SHOULD have been to the right of the mark. However, I thought I saw the big yellow flag on the right side of the boat when we were less than 50 yards away, and we went down that side only to hear a shout "Wrong side". That is NOT what I wanted to hear. We had to transition back to upwind mode, tack around twice, bear off again, and then pass the RC (almost snagging the anchor line in the process-what a mess THAT would have been). That finish whistle was the nicest thing I'd heard in a long time. We furled the jib then turned for home, with Colette sitting on the hull aft. One person trapping seemed to work pretty well under main only. We hit bottom hard several times in the trough of the waves as we came into the West River; too close to shore. Somehow we only snagged one crab pot. It was SO nice to get in smoother water inside the river. There were a lot of big boats moored out in front of Pirates Cove, some without anchor lights; that was interesting. Hey,
there's a light at our dock! That helped a lot, but what was even better was Mark and Harry and the Flannigan's there to help us move the beast up the hill. Thanks, guys. What was the very best was the news that we were the only cat to finish! That even perked up Colette a little, who admitted to being more than a little upset with her skipper over the last hours or so. Would we have kept going if we had known that everyone had dropped out? Tough question; I didn't really need any more of that stuff, much less doing it in the dark. Hey, we're racers, though; we all like speed, but we all like to BEAT other sailors. I think we earned this one, though. Final tally shows two damaged dagger boards, slight damage to one daggerboard well, a crew with two bad bruises, and torn batten pockets in the jib. My knees were sore by the time I got home; first time I've ever seen that from trapping. I might drop out of the next one like this; I've been there now and once is enough. My sympathies to Chris Allen, who was sailing well before they flipped and he reportedly dislocated his shoulder.

Pat's First Race and New Boat!

An Introduction - Pat raced with the Fleet on his Hobie-16, providing great friendship, great competition and a few interesting stories.  Some of those involved storms and getting lost.  But then the Coast Guard decided he should serve in Wisconsin, where in addition to his Hobie he raced on (gasp) monohulls, RC Lasers, and ice boats.  Now he's on his way to Hawaii, and he's got another new boat.  Check out the links to his new ride, and check out what he says really fast racing is about!

Hey Cap'n Keith, check out my new soft water monohull:

I take over command on 21 June in my new homeport of Honolulu, Hawaii.
I spent last weekend on the frozen Lake Winnebago near Oshkosh, competing in the DN Western Regional Championships.  It was my first regatta so I started in the bottom group of competitors, being one of only three boats with an aluminum mast (all others had high-tech glass and/or carbon rigs, 70 boats in all.  They split the fleet basically in half, with the top guys in the "Gold" and the rest of us in the "Silver", based on national and international rankings.  The first race was a qualifier to get to the Gold fleet and had about 47 of us doing 3 laps of a windward/leeward course.  The top 12 finishers would go on to race the rest of the regatta with the Gold Fleet.  Amazingly enough, I took a fourth in this race and found myself up with the big dogs for the remainder of the two day regatta.  The first race had very light winds, as it was blowing less than 10 - 12 knots.  The glass masts didn't have much of an advantage over me.  The next couple of races though, had increased winds and the second day was blowing a steady 20 with gusts. 
I never did finish DFL in any one race, but had a good view of everyone that wasn't DQ'd for crashing or hitting a mark (read, I was at the back of the pack in every race).  The glass masts act as power absorbers and thrusters so when a puff or gust hits, those boats accelerate like crazy, rather than on my mast, where it is stiff, doesn't bend and just hikes the boat up.  Best analogy I can think of for a cat, is if a puff hits you and makes you fly a hull higher than you want - that would equate to an aluminum mast....as compared to staying perfectly in control (not changing hull height) and just absorbing, redirecting the power and accelerating (glass mast).  The runners are another key ingredient and I have the old style, short plate runners.  All the other glass mast boats sport high tech, carbon supported insert runners that were almost twice as long as mine.  Going around a mark at 50-60 mph can certainly shake you up if you suddenly lose the runner's cutting grip and go into a death spin!
I never did a 360 or even a 180, but I did power slide sideways a couple of times and witnessed many spin-outs and collisions.  One of the guys I was tuning my boat with in between races had repositioned the base of his mast for the last race.  During that race, and under some intense compression of the rig, the base plate tore loose and allowed his mast to crunch through the top and bottom of his hull - not a pretty sight.  I also watched a guy come around the leeward mark (which carries the most speed) and tear his steering runner right off the boat.  Running back and trying to retrieve the runner before the fleet returned to the mark on the next lap was the really scary thing to watch....
I ended up with the distinction of finishing 35th in the Gold Fleet (last) but that really equates to 35th out of 70....and first in the Aluminum Fleet (which I understand wins me a yet to be delivered trophy). 
All in all, a great experience.  They topped it off Saturday night with a private regatta party at the Experimental Aircraft Museum in Oshkosh - really, really, cool.  Like putting a few sandwiches and a bar in the middle of the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, just for you and a few close friends.
A few more regattas are scheduled for this season and then I guess the DN will be up for sale...sniff.  I don't know about another boat in Hawaii, but at least a belly board is in order.  Aloha!


Real Frostbiting! 

Pat Stadt from the Great White North - 1/14/01

Michelle and I were on our way to the upper peninsula (Michigan) this morning to go skiing and while driving past the beach (on Green Bay that I sailed near last summer), Michelle said, "..are those sailboats on the beach?"  We whipped around and drove down to see about 10 iceboats rigging.  I have been waiting for a chance to do this, so I struck up a conversation with a few skippers.  Two of them happened to be guys I sailed against last summer so they offered me a ride.  I helped one guy rig his boat and after he sailed for a while he came in, tuned his skates and gave me his boat - off I went!  The wind was less than 15 kts, but I am pretty sure I had the thing up to around 30-35 kts!  What an awesome blast!
The mast on this particular "fun boat" as they called it, was only about 16 foot (wood, with aluminum sail track) with a main similarly cut to a Hobie's, with battens - no jib.  It seats two, side by side in a very open cockpit.  The steering is done by controlling the front skate with a tiller that leads forward.  The skates are set with the steerable one forward and the two aft on the outside of each outrigger, about 12 feet apart.
Other boats out today included some high tech racers (capable of 80mph+) and some old classics.  One of the old ones was a single curved 30' spar for the boat, with outriggers and skates forward, with a steerable skate all the way
aft.  It ran a main (off about a 20' mast) and a jib and was amazing to watch.  The two crew layed in very small open mesh tramps just forward of the aft end of the spar.  Here's a web-site for the "DN" class, which a lot of these were there today.  http://www.paw.com/sail/ice/
I took Michelle out for a ride later, but the snow had increased and the wind had died so it was all we could do to keep moving.  Still, fun.  And we parked our truck right next to the boat, on Green Bay!  Try that in the West
Sailing really fast now,


The 2000 CRAC Lighthouse Race 

The View From the Blue (Hobie that is...) - 10/16/00

It would seem at first that maybe the Gods didn't want me to sail the Lighthouse race.  The fun started last Tuesday, when bringing the boat home from Galesville I noticed a lot of smoke behind the van.  Stopping at gas station near home I discovered that there was a transmission oil leak in the oil lines that go to the radiator.  I got the rig home, but didn't get to look at it until Friday night, when I was able to do a temporary jury-rig repair that hopefully will last a little while...

I thought I had crew issues finally worked (Jackie was going to sail with me!) until veterinary issues popped forth again, with one of our cats spending the night at the vets and needing to be picked up in the middle of the day.  So, at the last minute, I was crew-less (that one's too easy as a straight-line, wait for another one to make it worth your while...).  But, the forecast was for light winds, so I decided I'd just single-hand.

I got up early, got all my stuff together, and headed off to Podickory Point - which is only about 10 minutes from our house.  I got there right at 8:00am all happy and ready to rig.  Then I noticed that the hatch covers were missing.  I had put them in just lightly to keep the birds around our house from dropping berries and poop into the hulls.  I, of course, forgot to remove or tighten them before leaving the house.  The next hour was spent driving back and forth from Podickory to our house, looking for the covers.  I found one in our community - it was hard to tell just how many times it had been run over by cars, but it made it to the opposite side of the road and off into the grass.  But, there was enough left to do the job.  The other one was found (with the help of another team heading to the race) on the access road that goes to Sandy Point, so it made it pretty far, and it survived unscathed.  Yay!  I could sail!

I got back to the venue and started to set up.  Jim showed up with his boat, but he was heading to the beach.  He stayed and helped me get set up, which turned out to be a God-send.  Because it was Jim that noticed that my rudder adjustment had come undone, and the rudders needed to be re-aligned.  So, we got out the measuring tape and did that.  Then he noticed a crack in the middle of the tiller connector bar, right where the tiller extension stick attaches.  Yes, it was a crack.  A big one, that went around about 60% or more of the diameter of the connector bar.  This was a crack with plans!  It had dreams of turning itself into a full-fledged fracture, and it obviously planned to act on those dreams soon, although how soon was the question.

I decided to wrap the weak area with two spare rudder pins and a bunch of duct-tape.  We finished rigging and got launched in time.  There were 21 boats, a combination of Inter-20s, Tornados, Hobie-20s, Prindle-19, NACRA-18 square, NACRA-6.0na, Hobie-17s, Hobie-16s, Hobie-18s, Dart-18, Hobie-21, and maybe more.  The course was to be at least one lap around Baltimore Light and Sandy Point Light, with the option to extend another to another lap if the wind picked up.  The wind was very light at the start, and what looked like a good position for me turned into a nightmare, when a moments inattention killed what little speed I had with time all of a sudden running out.  My certain good start turned into a struggle to even get over the line, with the wind out of my sails and the current repeatedly attempting to drive me into the starting pin.  Once again, the Gods seemed to be talking.  Or, it was just a wonderful display of my usual starting skills.  It took more than a couple of attempts to get started.  By the time I got started, the rest of the boats were well under way on the leg - I was dead last by a long way, a very long way.  Well, there was a Dart 18 nearby.  It probably made for more than a few chuckles on shore.   Well, by the time it was over, I would have some of that last-laugh action...

Up to Baltimore Light on a downwind leg in light air, most of the fleet played a higher angle to try for boat speed. That, combined with the current, took them towards the middle of the Bay, and they would definitely need to jibe at least once.  So I did the light-air barn-door approach, sailing the rum-line a bit slower but covering far more ground.  I was getting slapped around so much by the waves that I had to sit in the main sail to keep the rig from flailing.  Next thing I know, I'm up even with an Inter-20, and it's obvious from my position that I'm now in the lead pack of boats!  Getting closer to the Lighthouse, I can no longer play the straight-line game, and join in with the jibers, but they've got so much more distance to go.  I get around the lighthouse with maybe 6 boats in front of me (more or less).  Behind me are  Tornados, Hobie-20s, NACRAs, etc.  Ok, now this is going to be fun...

Now that I was up in the front, and the wind was picking up, I changed strategy to pay attention to covering people.  I watched Chris Ford on his Tornado, and I ultimately fell in with a group of Hobie-20s, and had a duel with another Hobie-18 with a spinnaker.  I was able to stay in with people, and I'm sure there were some words regarding the Hobie-18 that kept crossing in front of them when the tacks came together.  Had a bunch of good moments there, crossing the NACRA-6.0na (no slouches sailing that one either) and others.  It took the Tornados awhile to get by me, too.  Once the wind picked up some, the Inters took off in lock-step.  Oh well, I figured overall honors were gone, but I'd still continue to kick some Hobie-20 butt.

In the middle of the course were the fishermen, making things a little interesting.  I ended up having to do a crash tack at one point to avoid a guy trawling.  He might have been friends with the guy that was moored at Sandy Point Light fishing on the second lap.  I thought I gave him plenty of room, rounding both the fishing boats and the light.  Until the guy fishing from the bow gave a mighty heave and cast his line across my bows.  Although I was impressed by the distance of the cast, I had to head up almost into irons immediately to get around.  Thanks.

The second lap saw folks really spread out, so I made sure to stay in sight of my Hobie-20 buddies, and of course, the Hobie-18 with the spinnaker.  By the time the last leg came up, it was hard to tell the separations.  It seemed to me that the Inters had finished the previous day.  As I got to the finish line, the Hobie-17 with the reacher came from nowhere to almost catch up.  He didn't pass me, but I knew he had me on time.  I maintained my split of the two Hobie-20s, which kept me happy.

Back on the beach, I was pooped!  I got some good eats from the CRAC folks, and chatted with the Inter-20 sales-guys, and saw the used boat they're selling.  Started to de-rig and it was time for the awards ceremony.  Chris Ford had taken 4th, then they announce that a Hobie-18 got 3rd, and they say my name!  Woohoo!  The NACRA-18 square picked up 2nd, and that Hobie-17 with the reacher got 1st!  For my efforts I won a bottle of wine and wooden hanging board with a lighthouse painted on it, very satisfying indeed.

Later, at home, I noticed that the tiller connector bar had indeed broken all the way through, who knows exactly when.  But, the rudder pin/duct tape combination proved to be just the thing.  We'll see if it's as effective on Tuesday!  Good catch Jim!  If he hadn't seen that, this story would have ended a bit different...

So, good news is a third!  See the results on the CRAC web site.  Bad news is Jackie knows I don't need an Inter-20 to kick a little butt!

Kap'n K

Pat's Report From The Olympic Tornado Trials - 3/30/00

Hello all...some of you have already gotten the first part of this, but a few new addressees have requested updates so it is new to them (and some of you may be wondering why I am sending this to you at all - just thought you might be interested in how I've been spending my last couple of weeks...):

This is my second year on a Tornado (a two person, 20' Olympic Class Catamaran) and only my second regatta with this current skipper.  My regular partner (Dave Fornaro) could not sail the trials with his current schedule and I hooked up with the person I am sailing with now in January for a warm-up regatta in Miami.  It is his first year skippering a Tornado.  Most of the 18 teams have been sailing Tornados (together) for many years and their teaming experience is showing through.  Even though there are great teams here, and this is an Olympic Class event, the regatta is open (no qualifier to get here)....thus, we are here to gain experience and have fun.

The race format is simple - two races per day consisting of a start line, a windward mark, a leeward gate mark and a finish line.  All 18 boats start at the same time and all will sail the entire competition (there is no elimination).  We have been sailing a W3 course each race which means sailing to the windward mark 4 times before crossing to finish, usually about 90 minutes per race.  There are four days of racing, one day off, then four more days of racing.  The team that wins this regatta is the team that will represent the US in the Olympics in Sydney...only one of the 18 that are competing.

USA 816 (the boat I sail on) has been plagued by some bad luck - the first day out brought 20 knot winds and 4' swells.  During the third leg (of 8)of the first race, while on the lay line for the windward mark, I was knocked off the boat by a wave while trapped out (on these boats the crew, me, operates the sheet controlling the main sail while hanging over the side on a harness attached to a trapeze wire that is attached to the upper portion of the mast).  The skipper does not have a trapeze line and their normal position is sitting on the hull, with feet tucked under a strap.  Since I control the main in my position on the wire, I took it with me around the back when I was knocked off of the boat, still sheeted in.  We flipped and as I was sucked back in with my trap bungee, I stepped on the boom on my way to the drink.  We turtled, got it back up within about 4 minutes but the boom was bent - day over.  The sailing day anyway - we now had to manufacture a replacement boom, which on these boats contains a sophisticated network of mainsheet, outhaul and mast rotation lines and blocks that provide a mechanical advantage to the crew.  Luckily a fellow competitor had replacement stock metal, so we just had to cut, drill, tap and exchange the guts of ours with the new...and that finished up around 0130 the nest morning.

So we finished the first day with a DNF (did not finish) and a DNS (did not start) - we weren't alone though.  The second day was a little heavier winds (20's) with increasing swells (about 4-5') and waves.  We hung tough and finished with a 13th and a 16th, I believe.  On this day, my skipper's brother (sailing on his boat with his wife as crew) had a similar capsizing incident and bent their boom.  I was pretty beat by the end of the day, knocked off the wire by waves more time than I can recall.

The third day started off bad.  We had to hand paddle out of the inlet (we are sailing out of Santa Cruz Yacht Club in Monterey Bay).  Once past the breakwater, I had to get out on the wire as the wind was already about 10 - 15 knots....go figure.  We sailed about 2 minutes and caught a puff that I couldn't dump enough main sheet for and my skipper did not dump any traveler - slow motion flip.  He hit a batten high in the sail and snapped it and I hit the sail on my back and somehow managed to put my elbow (or something) a little bit through the sail.  We decided to start anyway and see how it sailed.  The seas were still built and the winds were in the high teens, low 20's.  On the first leg, we decided the conditions were beyond our experience level and we didn't want to cause more (expensive)damage to the boat so we headed in, not even finishing the first leg.  Surprisingly enough, we were the fourth boat back to the club, with two more following close behind.

The sail was repaired, the broken batten replaced and we sailed the fourth day with no major incidents, despite others in the fleet having major problems. The weather was about the same, with some monster swells (6-8 foot, which doesn't seem major to all you sea dogs, but imagine not looking at those hills from the safety of a cutter's bridge, but from the boot top level, while suspended from a bosn's chair doing 15 knots...got a picture?) I got knocked off the boat several times lightly and once violently, slamming me stomach first back into the hull (which miraculously did not leave a mark...on the hull), but each time recovering without much loss. Anyway, we finished with an 11th and a 13th which puts us in 15th place overall.  The second place team, who was posing a real threat to the first place team (and prior Olympians) suffered a big hit when their crew was knocked off the boat completely when his trap line broke.  Another top team suffered a set back when their skipper was thrown over board while jibing. Many teams suffered minor damage and one team spent 2 hours in the water when they could not right their turtled boat, even with the help of rescue boats (conditions were pretty rough).

Today begins the final round of racing.  Yesterday was a well deserved day off (I have bruises where I can't even see) but now it's back to work.  More embellished updates to follow...


Pat's Report From The Olympic Tornado Trials - 3/25/00

We just finished our practice race day here in Santa Cruz.  The weather has been beautiful, but promises to turn a little less than that this coming week.  On Monday the wind was in the high twenties, Tuesday through today about 10-12.  19 Tornados are here, with a couple of past Olympic teams in the mix....very tough competition.

The boat is performing well and I got a chance to try out my new drysuit today - what a difference a comfortable piece of clothing makes!  Anyone in the crowd contemplating getting one....do it - you will not regret it.

Two races per day, Saturday through the following Sunday, with Wednesday as a rest day.  Media day was Tuesday, with some network affiliates and radio stations taking rides and shooting some film.  Santa Cruz Yacht Club is being a fantastic host, with breakfast and dinner snacks every day, along with a constant supply of soda, energy drinks, water and fruit.  They will begin feeding us regular dinners tomorrow night, for the rest of the regatta.  We are housed in one of the officers of the club's beautiful house overlooking Monterey Bay and Santa Cruz.  Can't get much better that this!

I believe you can track our progress on any of these sites: www.ussailing.com, www.sailcrac.com, or www.scyc.com  and of course, I'll throw in my own "special commentary" that may or may not be quite factual.....

USA 816

Last Sail of the Year! - 12/99

as told by Kap'n Keith

Now, a little story to warm our hearts.

Last year, Pat and I got one last sail after racing and before the boats were put away.  This year, we did it again.  And, like last year, this year's last sail will keep a smile on our faces during the winter.  Pat and I decided to meet on the first Saturday to help each other de-rig our boats.  Unspoken was the feeling that if the conditions were right maybe we'd dunk the boats one last time.  As we got there it didn't look to hopeful - it was nice and warm but the wind was dead!  I mean dead!  So, what do Fleet members do when the wind is dead?  They go sailing anyway!  We figured we'd drift around for a bit if nothing else.

We set sail and made way out past Pirates Cove in light winds, Pat on his boat and me on mine.  A couple of International Canoes were just coming out of the West River Sailing Club  for a day of play, just like us.  We continued out into the River in hopes for finding some air.  We weren't disappointed!  Some small shafts of wind started to appear, giving us the occasional good ride.  But they would die as quickly as they arrived.  We figured we might still have to paddle in!

Keep in mind that the forecast was optimistically for 10 knots that day.  We made it out almost to X and F territory when we decided to ride the small puffs back and forth across the river.  This made for some fun close-reaching both ways.   As the puffs begin to steady, we even did a repeat of last year's monohull teasing as we split around a lethargic slugger heading out the River.  Pat crossed his bow and I took the stern, both of us coming out onto the wire and accelerating.  We weren't too close to him, but he got a good shot of two cats in the right element.  Yeehaw!  But then the wind started to grow.  Then it grew some more.  At the start of the day we put our trap harnesses on only for faint hope of a ride on the wire.  That ride was now here!  As the wind built we sped back and forth, both of us trapped out and traveled down, flying hulls for all the world to admire!  We didn't want to give up, but it was getting time to head in.  The wind was now truly honking.  Thomas Point would record peaks in the mid 20's while we were out.  Maybe just one more back-and-fore.

Of course, just one more is usually just one more too many.  We had just made it to the North side and tacked back.  Pat was out front, on the wire and screaming along.  I was doing the same, but I turned my attention to retrieving my mainsheet from the River yet again.  When I looked up, Pat's situation had changed a bit.  Normally we like to keep the pointy end drier than that...  I missed it, so you'll have to get his side of the story.  I rounded up and furled my jib, and prepared to assist.  A monohull motored by, staring.  Not offering any help, just staring.  After making sure Pat was ok, I sailed back and forth staying close to help if needed.  It was needed - Pat's weight was not enough to bring the boat back upright.  Then we got a brilliant idea!  I'd toss Pat a line, we'd tie that to his righting line, and I'd sail downwind and pull him upright.  After a few tries and a few passes, we got hooked up and I headed downwind trimming to pick up speed slowly.  The line went taught just as I powered up!  The  18 started to yaw a bit under the strain, but then Pat's mast popped out of the water!  His 16 righted finally, although we were still connected.  There was too much strain to un-tie nicely, so I got my knife out and cut the line, releasing the two straining boats.  Free again!  A bit tired, we headed in.  We had a great day, two cats sailing in high-speed tandem.

The International Canoes were still playing in the harbor.  The wind had backed off a bit heading in, but as we got to the marina area, one last puff went through.  This gave us each that one last hull-flying ride on the trap, zipping through the harbor as the Canoes passed heading the other way on a fast ride of their own.  A beautiful end to a wonderful day.

It was a bit sad knocking the boats apart and packing the trailers up.  At the beginning of the season, it seems there is so much sailing ahead that it's almost daunting.  To actually be taking the boat home for the season seems unreal...

So!  That's my side of it.  Maybe Pat will tell us his side, adding what I've left out.

Happy Holidays!  Keep the spirit, and be safe!  See ya at the Awards Banquet!

Kap'n Keith

Last Sail of the Year! - 12/99

as told by Pat "if I'm fibbin' I'm flippin'" Stadt

Wow, what a yarn!  Well at least Keith's account had one point right - that last sail will keep us smiling throughout the winter!  Now here's the way it really happened.....

Keith and I had agreed to meet at the lot at a specified time to either help each other take the boats apart and go home or throw in a quick sail and then dismantle.  So here's a good start, Keith shows up about an hour late, whining about not having much time and bitching about the lack of wind.  Me being the optimistic, kind-mannered speaker and soothing soul I am convinced Mr. Chapman that we could quickly rig, get the boats wet for an hour or so and then get him on his way.  He said he had to hurry back and clean his van or something important.

We did rig and shove off.  After doing a 360 in front of Selden's (without having to change tack or position of any sails - slightly flukey wind) we headed off, passing by PC and the marina.  It was then that my magnificent craft became half flying machine, much to the amazement and awe of the two approaching International Canoes.  Keith, in the mean time was fiddling with his boards or cooler or something and missed all this, but I'm sure he could hear the two IC skippers saying, "did you see that cat?  Man, that guy was good...and look at that big blue thing behind it..."  After passing out of the channel and entering the river, the wind did its usual disappearing act, but not for long.  I parked and waited for Keith to catch up.

About ten minutes later (not sure, it could have been longer, as I nodded off) we were side by side, on the wire and flying hulls back and forth across the river!  It was smooth water, steady wind and I'm sure a pretty cool sight to see the two of us flying along so close together.  Keith kept yelling something like, "man, this is great...can you slow down so we can sail together..." or something like that.  The wind kept building from the west and was somehow extremely strong against the shore on the north side, in an alley about 200 yards wide.  And this is where the trouble started....

Without discussing it, we had both decided in our minds that this would be the final turn around and last leg back in.  Heading north, into the alley of the damned, I tacked first followed shortly by Keith.  It was right back out on the wire and quickly accelerating.  Keith of course, was still battling the enormous inertia of big blue and was a little ways back when the mother of all gusts hit me (for the fourth time - the first three must have been close relatives).  Again, I was out on the wire, at the back cross beam when this burst picked me up and stood me on my side, despite me dumping the main completely.  I remember standing vertically as the boat fell on its side, still on the wire with the tiller in my hand thinking, "wow, that's a loooong way down....."  So thought to myself, "OK, be cool...if I just let this trap out a little and lean back, I can probably ease this baby back up and be on a screaming...." By the time I got to this point in my calculating thought of course, I was swimming....

The water was surprisingly not that cold feeling (probably the result of an hour's worth of adrenalin rush) and I was quick to climb on and starting the delicate righting procedure.  By this time, Keith had completed his tack and was just winding up to get cranking.  Had the passing monohull that Keith mentions in his version not flagged him down and directed him to his downed partner, he would probably never have noticed (much like the night last summer that all of you decided to wait out the thunderstorm in Pirate's Cove while I did capsize-drifting experiments in the Chesapeake Bay until after dark).  Keith lumbered over, made an expert assessment and lending a compassionate voice, "looks like you're screwed", headed off for home.  If it was not for my lightning quick reaction and extreme skill with a throwing
line, he might have done so.  As Keith pulled away I rapidly tied one end to my up-hull and lassoed that little bolt that sticks up on the back cross beam of Keith's boat (the one Jackie fondly refers to as "that f....ing flesh ripper").

As the Queen Mary drifted away, I skillfully positioned my boat for a quick righting, and voila!  All without Keith even knowing he was helping to avoid yet another deployment of the DNR boat.  When I popped up the line parted from Keith's boat (the ripper claims another victim!) I climbed back aboard and quickly regained control.  In no time I was beside Keith again and we were racing in.  Keith was screaming, "You bastard, I left you for dead, how did you..." or something like that, as I leapt in front, forcing him to eat my bad air the rest of the way back.  The canoes were still dancing in the calm air in front of Pirate's cove when we raced by, still pumped by a few remaining puffs of the late afternoon.

We both still had big smiles later while performing what is usually the saddest task of the year.

Keith, all kidding aside, thanks for making this another great sailing year and another great finale!  I owe you.   Pat - I'll remember you said that, I can taste the beer now! - K.


Chesapeake 100 Report - 6/7/99

by Pat Stadt

Hey gang!  I survived the Chesapeake 100.  Thanks much to Keith for coming to see us off Saturday morning and do a little wheel toting and picture taking!

It started out slow, taking about 3 hours to get to Bloody Point (off Kent Island).  After that the wind picked up and we tacked all the way to the mouth of the Patuxent.  One other Tornado was right on our heels at Cove Point as we beat up at 18 knots.  This was the first boat we had seen in about 5 hours and we had no idea where the others were (17 started).  Cracking off to a screaming reach for the last leg prior to jibing for the finish, we must have been doing 24 kts, easy.  I was trapped out behind the back beam, hanging on to a chicken line coming out of the transom, watching Dave Fornaro, my skipper, do his stuff - pretty hot sailor.  I didn't have time to check the GPS at this point as we were dodging fishing boats and passing power boats.  We came out of about a 3 foot chop and accelerated as the water flattened - awesome boats, those Tornados.

As we approached the finish we were very surprised that we were the third boat to the beach, behind the Oliver Brothers on their humongous Supercat 22 (drool here, Roger) and the Scace family on their new Tornado.  This madethe previous 4 hours of stomach cramping trapping all worth it.  We had beaten three other Tornados, two Inter 20s, a bunch of Nacras, a Mystere, a couple of Prindle 19s, two Hobie 18s and the ever formidable and brave (but alone) H16.

The second day was down wind and started with about 1 knot of breeze for the first 30 minutes.  Tortuous start.  The most it built to was about 14, I would guess.  Jibing all the way to Sandy Point we matched Greg and Casey pretty much move for move, although at one point we headed up just a bit to check out a little wild-thing action, getting up to about 14 knots and still making good velocity to our destination.  The wind shifted a little though and we had to drop back to normal mode.  The Scaces stayed on it and took off on us.  We talked it over and decided we were doing the right thing.  By the time the Scaces jibed back over and crossed us, we had picked up about 400 yards on them.  For the next 20 miles it was a jibing duel, but we just couldn't fool them and they finished just ahead of us.

It was a spinnaker boat day and we finished in the middle of the pack (surprisingly enough).  Results tallied, we finished 2nd in our class, and third overall in corrected time.  The SC 22 took the honors.  Did I mention what a HUGE boat this is?

Anyway, I am really ready to kick some butt with my rocket ship tomorrow night, so watch out.....oh, yea, it's a H16....well, I'm still ready.


The "First Race of 1999" (Mythical) - 5/2/99

by Patrick Stadt

Sunday May 2nd, 1999, Galesville Maryland.

Hi all, just clipped this from the CNN news site, thought you all would be

Galesville, MD - (AP) What a beautiful day for the first day of WRCRA (formerly CSF15) races! Steady breeze of 17 kts, gusting to 20, fairly warm air temp and water temp in the high 50's. There they were at the starting line...Team Stadt/Oliver skillfully locking up the optimal position for the first over on starboard....followed closely by Team Chapman/Chapman...
..Holmes/Berger..... Powers/Marshall...... Coss..... Burke/Burke......Galloway/Falls and bringing up their normal trailing position.....Cosgrove/Cosgrove.

Up to the first mark it was Stadt/Oliver holding off Chapman/Chapman, tack for tack. The Holmes/Berger team felt the bitter sting of the icebreaker early as Berger smartly leapt out on the wire shortly after the start only to realize, just a bit too late, that he was not hooked in. The Holmesmobile was last seen circling an Osprey nest that now sports long blond hair in the twisted roots of it's massive abode. Powers/Marshall, new to the club this year, started off strong but couldn't quite get their new craft to turn and headed straight into the 3rd row of floating docks at the Pirate's cove marina, but on a powerful starboard tack, double trapped. Yowza! Teams Coss and Burke/Burke jockeyed their way up, giving Team Chapman cause for concern on the first leg. Heavily involved in a protest dispute over who of the two (that were both over early) went over first and tagged the other, Teams Galloway/Falls and Cosgrove/Cosgrove spent the first leg doing multiple 720s and blowing their horns at each other.

Round the first mark the wind picked up, making for a hellacious reach to the next mark. Chapman/Chapman rolled Stadt/Oliver, as did Burke/Burke and Coss crept up, ever so slowly. Unfortunately, the skipper on Chapman squared decided to celebrate too early and while leaning in a bit to reach for a beer in the onboard entertainment center, managed to pitchpole the blue hulled rocket as he came around the second mark. Ugly. Crew Chapman was last heard screaming at skipper, "I told you not to bring refreshments that don't have twist offs!" or something like that.

Barreling down wind, Stadt/Oliver came up even with Burke/Burke and opened the distance on Coss. Rounding the mark and heading for home it was Burke/Burke, Stadt/Oliver and Coss all within three boatlengths of each other. Just before the finish line, Team Burke/Burke pulled up to a crawl to admire the beautiful sky (ah, love) and Stadt/Oliver snuck by to claim the bullet! Just then, from out of Pirate's Cove (3rd row) , screamed Powers/Powers, still somehow on a howling starboard tack! Did I mention
Team Wellington? Well, he rigged his pleasure craft , but then someone asked about the baby and he got caught up showing pictures of the new sailor and never quite got into the water...DNS, but not DNC.

At least that's how I remember today...even if none of you other homebodies were there :-). Zeke and I had a blast, shaking the cobwebs off for me and acquainting him (quickly, I might add - he' a natural) to the thrill of speed sailing. It really was a steady 17 with gusts and at the one comfortable moment when we were going to double trap, I realized that the nice new line I just put on my traps were a wee too long, so I couldn't go. But we had fun anyway! See you all on Tuesday!

Hobie Midwinters - Another Pat Stadt Adventure - 3/22/99

by Pat Stadt
Still Alive!  We made it back in one piece this morning around rush hour, from a fantastic trip to Tampa Bay.  We got down there Thursday around 11 and by 2 were on the water.  It was heaven!  It started as 5kts then as the day wore on, got to around 15.  Clear skies, high around 80.  Camped at the tip of the Davis Island Yacht club peninsula, right next to hot showers. Friday was pretty much the same, with some practice races and almost identical conditions.  Saturday was the first day of races and started out with about 7kts in dense fog, which lifted by noon (first race at one).  38 H20s adorned the line for three races.  Slow going in the first two, finishing around mid pack in each.  The wind picked up for the third, to around 15 again and we had a great race going until we fouled a guy going into the final A mark.  Cost us a few boats and we finished a little further down the line - lots of primo sailers there.A front moved through Saturday night, with rain and constant wind.  I woke up to 14 kts at sunrise.  We broke camp and readied the boat for a 10 o'clock start.  It continued to build to around mid 20's and after three aborted races we were finally off for an ABCAC.  Lots of flipping, contact and pitchpoling.  Although I managed to bang the crap out of my hip while swinging in around A mark, we kept it upright and headed for B.  It seemed like we covered the distance to B before I regained my wits and reset the jib.  Rounding B, it was all I could do to hang on to the jib sheet - screw the boards, screw the barber hauler, screw the rotation.  I clambered back atop Chris's feet and leaned into him as we buried the leward hull (numerous times) into the three foot waves that had built.  A friend of ours on his 20 pitchpoled 50 yards ahead of us, 200 yards from C.  I felt like I was offroading, sitting on the tramp, getting pounded from below and yanked forward with every puff on the sheet.  Coming up around C, back out on the wire and instantly flying all the way back to A, with one tack.  Down around C again, flying up and over the finish, again, around mid pack - but what a ride!!! Between races, the wind ubelievably picked up and was gusting to 30 (according to the Yacht clubs anemometer, which we thought had been reading low all week)!  Luckily, Chris has a roller furler on the jib and I could take a much needed break while waiting for the next race.  The second and final race was ACAC and a few boats had turned for shore already.  With about 30 seconds to go, sitting on the line with a ton of other 20s within inches, Chris bore off.  I was guarding the watch, had the jib sheet cleated and wasn't watching.  As he bore off to pick a better hole, we instantly accelerated to light speed, burying the port hull and eventually, the mast and us.  Before we could get back to the hull, the mast had dug into the bottom.  We managed to spin it around and had to hold it down while getting the nose into the wind.  It came up fast - I climbed aboard and Chris followed....and then it took off with both tiller arms flipped back and trailing, at around ten knots.  We sat there and let it take us for a while and then regained control.  We had had enough fun by then and decided to go in, while we were still alive.  The other 20 that we had caravaned down with also managed to give their crew a trip around the world, while the skipper back flipped off at the line - they also called it a day and followed us in. Great sailing, great weather, cool T-shirt and a might sore body.  I'd do it again next weekend. Talk to you soon, Pat

The 1997 Summer/Fall Series Begins!  - 8/10/97

After a close fight to settle the first four places in the Spring/Summer Series (see the results link!), Supercat Fleet 15 sailors gathered to start the battle anew for the Summer/Fall Series. Seven Boats greeted the starting gun to see who could win out over the West River and fellow racers. Ultimately, my boat did, a Hobie 18 magnum, sail #14863, crewed by Greg Kurtz and myself, Keith Chapman. Gots-to-luv-that-Portsmouth! A new tradition was also started, that of requiring the race winner to write an article for the page (presumably about the race itself). The following effort will no doubt inspire the rest of the fleet to see that I never win again.

A bullet for Team Excuse! A storm front that had me worried about thunder squalls passed through, leaving wet boats, partly cloudy skies, and very little wind, mostly from the West. "A" course was chosen, a rounding of X to starboard, F to starboard, then back. A disastrous start left us crossing the line last. We had hoped to get a good start; we got out there early, we scoped out the wind directions, we picked a mark and timed a run at the line, we were ready! When the time came to round and make for the line, we found a West River Wind Hole (excuse!). Sea Nettles left us in their dust as our tack to the line became snail-like. After starting dead last, we played the shifts out into the West River on a broad reach, driving as low on the wind as the puffs would allow. It was working. Most of the fleet was heading higher on the wind, but we got cleaner air, had a better course, and began to make up for our start.

Excitement! Jim (Prindle 19) jibes and starboard tacks us. Passing to his stern would mean an extra jibe before the upcoming red mark, passing his bow impossible. Heeding the hails of starboard tack, we give up our perfect line and jibe to his leeward bow and get passed anyway (excuses?). After a quick stint on starboard, we jibed out of the upcoming bottleneck around the shoal pin and again headed for the open air (hopefully) and water of the river. By now we've made it back into the middle of the pack, with Roger (Nacra 5.5) still leading with Jim in pursuit. I've lost where Peter (Nacra 5.8) is, but he's in the thick of it.

The start is just a bad memory (still) as we plug along, now doing battle off and on with Brian (Nacra 5.8), and our arch-rivals, Bob and Seldon (Supercat 17's). Around X mark, I think it's Roger, Jim, us, then Brian and Peter or Peter and Brian (what order? I was looking ahead! Hmm, sounds like an excuse). Off to F mark(starboard), a tack 'round the mark and close hauled to the North side of the river to bang the corners heading in to finish. Pete is gobbling up the distance behind us, and is obviously starting to foot off to pass us to leeward. We give up some pointing and also foot a little to cover. After the next tack, though, the Nacra 5.8's become like sharks moving at will through the school (how do they point like that?).

At the South shore of the river we feel the wind drop and tack early for what should be the next to last time (if not, an excuse may be necessary). The early tack has gained us some ground and we are pretty much in line with the rest of the fleet ahead of us, which is now Roger, Jim, and Pete. They tack to make the shoal pin and head for finish, having slightly overstood. Checking the lay for the shoal pin, we figure to tack early (again), make the mark and make up ground on the fleet. If we don't get headed. A little luck is aboard on this one, sailing straight for the shoal pin, on slight headers that could be ridden out (hey! no excuses needed!). Making up more ground, we begin to wonder if we can pull it off. Then we wonder if the wondering has jinxed things.

We now have Brian, Seldon, and Bob behind us. A terrific duel is going on in front of us, as Jim and Pete are very close to Roger and doing what they can to catch him before the finish. They don't. Team Excuse finishes fairly close in fourth, and when the numbers get crunched, we come out on top. Roger points out that this is the second time this year he has pulled a horizon job on the fleet. It is also the second time we are close enough to correct over his horizon job for the win!

Check the results link for the standings, and stay tuned as the fleet tries to keep me from boring the world yet again!

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