Many who view this post will already be aware that last Thursday, Oct 7, 2010, I made a 51.7 mile ride on my Catrike. The map below shows the route this ride took. I did this ride two days before the Lake Worth Sailing Club Sunfish Regatta.
The route for my 51.7 mile cycling excursion
The ride was not only long, it involved more than a little climbing as shown by the elevation profile below.
In total all the climbs add up to a bit over 1900 feet, according to my Garmin GPS
In the course of the 4 hr 43 minute ride my heart rate averaged 119 with a max of 151 and I burned a bit over 2300 calories. Rides like that will take off pounds pretty quick and get one’s legs ready for the rigors of sailing (or the wheel chair races at the local nursing home). For those not familiar with how one’s legs get to work while sailing, I refer you to the picture below, of a couple of the hot juniors that I have to contend with on the race course.
Steven Pracht and Stewart Draheim hiking out
What they are doing is called “hiking out”. They have their feet under a strap in the cockpit, called a hiking strap, and hang all the weight they can muster out on the windward side of the boat to keep the boat from heeling over too much, or worse, turning over. Note that considerably more of them than their head and torso are off the boat and hiking. Now, think of my 215 pounds (used to be much more, before all this cycling) suspended off the side of the boat and what demands that places on the thigh and gut muscles. Now think of doing that for 20-30 minutes at a time, broken up only by having to throw yourself into the boat, roll under the boom at the bottom of the sail and get hiked out on the other side of the boat every time you tack, changing the side of the sail the wind is hitting. Racing a small boat, like the Sunfish or a Laser, tacking 40-50 times in a race is not unusual. Now look again at that picture and try to imagine me tacking and getting my earthly remains heaved into the boat, under that boom at the bottom of the sail and hiked out on the other side, and doing it in under 3-4 seconds each time. Losing weight and inches is a serious benefit. I used to occasionally capsize because I got stuck under the boom the boat just rolled over. Capsizing is, by the way, both slow and a source of great amusement for one’s competitors. So that, friends, is why I am working up to a 100 mile cycling ride by the end of the year. Come next year, I want to be under 200 pounds and skinny (and limber) enough to make those tacks easily. I don’t care if it makes my friends and family think I have multiple screws loose.
Even when I achieve those goals, I will not win regattas because I am competing against world-class sailors who weigh 140-160 pounds. that means giving them a 40 to 50 pound advantage. This may not seem like much, but, the boat itself only weighs about 120 pounds, so I will be giving up a load equal to 40%-50% of what the boat weighs and that is a lot to give up. I will not beat the top skippers very often, but I will worry the heck out of them and that is fun.
Now to bringing everyone up-to-date on the Lake Worth Sailing Club’s Sunfish Regatta this last weekend. I arrived at the club Friday evening with son Brad (to help the old man unload the ‘fish out of the bed of the truck) and as we drove in, I was stopped dead in my tracks by something I had not expected to ever see again. Sitting off to the left of the entrance in the dry storage area was PFLASH!, Snipe Number 19261.
This was the Snipe class boat in which Peggy and I won many Snipe races back in the early 1970s. We sold it, reluctantly, when TI sent us off to England in 1976. No boat has ever been as emotionally linked to the joy and fun of our early married years as PFLASH. In 1971 we ordered this boat and went to California to pick it up, found the hippies there were not quite ready and spent several days helping get it finished. It was an extraordinarily fast Snipe. Everyone who ever sailed it found it to be an inexplicably “special” hull. PFLASH is now sitting covered in mold and tree droppings, but still just looks different than other boats, even other Snipes. It deck is still firm, not spongy like other boats of that vintage are today. I lifted the hull off the trailer at the bow and was astounded that it is still light, likely within 10 pounds of the class minimum hull weight. Brad had never seen this boat, but was well aware that most of the trophies that used to line our gameroom walls and bookshelves were won when Peggy and I were campaigning PFLASH. He thoughtfully walked off to one side to give me some space to share some time with this old member of our family. Her deck is filthy, spray rail missing, some of the teak rub rails around the deck are gone, the floorboards are loose and slid back to the back of the cockpit, and lord only knows when she last sailed, but that was our PFLASH and I still love her. What a trip down memory lane that was. Trust me, I have understated the emotions of that moment.
Brad and I unloaded the Sunfish and, after meeting PFLASH’s current Master (Jim Holcomb), we headed back to Brad’s place for the night. The next morning the regatta got underway. We had 18 boats competing. The wind forecast was dismal for us Clydesdale-sized competitors but was exciting for the lightweights. Winds on Saturday were forecast to be 5-10 mph out of the south to southwest. I sized up the competition and figured that if I could finish above the middle of the fleet in the forecast winds, it would be a great performance. The Olympian who usually pounds me, though graciously, like cheap veal and three other fast guys were off in Mississippi for the selection regatta for the US representative for the Sunfish at the Pan American Games, so top half might just be doable even in light air.
We sailed 7 races Saturday and at the end of the day, Stewart Draheim and Doug Peckover, a world-class Laser champion who is sailing Sunfish some now, were way ahead of everyone else. One of them was gonna close the deal Sunday for sure. Ellen Burks (regional Sunfish Diva, and competitor at the Sunfish World Championships in Italy this fall, Warren Fitzpatrick (a fellow geezer, but a 160 pounder!), and Steven Pracht (one of the pesky hot juniors… from the Shreveport Yacht Club) were pretty close together. James Wilson and Marshall Woodson were close together in the standings. Close behind James/Marshall, Kyle Pippi (another of the pesky hot juniors), Ed Owen, myself and Kyle’s twin brother Brad were fairly close with Ed and me tied.
Sunday morning started with slightly better wind than we had most of Saturday. The wind got mostly better as the morning progressed.
Starting lines were a place of great and spirited sharing of sailing terminology. A couple of competitors, perhaps because it was Sunday, seemed to be seized by something or other and must have been speaking in tongues or something.
Stewart Draheim (80749) gets a near perfect start
In the photo above Stewart crosses the line, with the race committee officer looking through the orange flag, down the line to a buoy just off camera to the right. Most of the other boats seem unaware that they need to be accelerating to cross the line as the starting horn sounds. OK, some quick explanation. At three minutes before the start, the committee boat will sound three long (about 1 second each) blasts on their horn and we are all supposed to start our stop watches. The starting line is an imaginary line between an orange flag on the committee boat and a buoy some distance away. The objective is to have your boat trimmed close to the wind and accelerated to full speed and to have your bow cross that imaginary line just as, but not before, not even a nanosecond before, the horn sounds for the start. But, that is not complicated enough… there are a bunch of other factors that would only confuse the uninitiated more, so let’s leave it at that. Y’all can put the Excedrin bottle back down. Suffice it to say that Stewart got a good start!
Once on the course, which consists of a couple of buoys a few hundred yards upwind and a single buoy a few hundred yards downwind from the starting line, things can get interesting, though usually in slower-motion than seemed the case at this regatta.
Arriving at the windward mark (the first one upwind) one leaves it on the left side of the boat and goes over to a second mark nearby, called “the offset”. The offset is a great invention which came along after Peggy and I quit racing Snipes. It serves to keep leading boats from rounding the windward mark and coming roaring down wind through the glom of boats all arriving at the windward mark at once, usually from two different directions and hollering friendly greetings to one another about who has the right-of-way. By having the offset mark (another word for buoy), boats are only coming from two directions, not three. That is a good thing.
Doug Peckover(41), Stewart Draheim (80749) and Don Bynum (79138) round the offset as Warren Fitzpatrick (88640) prepares to round the windward mark.
As the first three boats rounded the windward mark (the orange ball behind 80749) and the offset (the white ball to our right of 79138) things still looks sorta peaceful. The first 3 boats, Doug Peckover (41) followed by Stewart Draheim, and Don Bynum (79138… don’t worry, I won’t stay up with those two much longer) appear to be being followed by just Warren Fitzpatrick (88640). Here is what it looked like about 15 seconds later.
Warren (on the right edge) is around just ahead of Ellen, James and Ed
Busy place, and that ain’t the half of it. 11 more boats are just barely out of the frame coming upwind from the right, to round in a gaggle. This was in light wind so it took 15 seconds for the last two pictures to “happen”. Later in the morning, as the wind freshened, this would all be taking place in half the time and with more rocking and careening around and sportsmanlike “communicating” taking place.
As winds pick up in a later race, Doug Peckover (background left) rounds behind Stew (off picture to the left) while Ellen Burks, Marshall Woodson, Steven Pracht, and Don Bynum sort out right of way with things happening much quicker.
After going downwind, the fleet begins to arrive at the downwind, or leeward, mark and there is great enthusiasm expressed again for discovering just exactly who has which rights of way. The picture below shows a whole bunch of us on our way to arriving at that orange buoy about 3/4 of the way across to the right of the picture. I don’t have a picture of the casual and relaxed state in which we all, in the most stately imaginable fashion, sorted out who got to fill which piece of the lake surface and when and in what order. This one got pretty intense.
A whole bunch of us head for "the great hollerin' and shoutin' ceremony" at the leeward mark.
We had a fair bit of that “intensity” stuff between laughs.
From Left: Bob Crow, Jennifer Crow, Judi Foote, and Steve Blake on a run
Amanda Boers prepared to gibe at the leeward mark.
Ellen Burks (7), Marshall Woodson (80091), James Wilson (920), Patsy Haines (80110), Stewart Draheim (80749... but we cannot see the #), and Jennifer Crow (right edge of picture) approach the windward m,ark in one of the early races.
Just about everyone got to feel “included” in the exciting buoy roundings and aggressive starts at one moment or another in the course of the morning. It was great!
Final Results with throwout races highlighted in red.
Doug Peckover 1st
2nd - Stewart Draheim
When the dust had all settled, Doug Peckover had won and Stewart Draheim finished second. But that result was still unresolved as we started the last race. The competition was fierce, but friendly, on the water and that is what makes it fun.
Jennifer Crow, Kyle Pippi (8864) and Brad Pippi (79406) start at the pin end of the line, which was favored on this start. Though Kyle got the upper hand at the start, I believe Brad finished 3rd in this race, ahead of both Jennifer and Kyle in an impressive bit of sailing. Kyle, however finished 9th in the regatta ahead of Brad's 10th. Ah sibling rivalries!
To the members of the Lake Worth Sailing Club, a “Thanks for being such great hosts!” This year is the 75th anniversary of the founding of their club. They are developing some serious sailors in their Sunfish program. The Pippi twins, Brad and Kyle, two pesky hot juniors both had good perfomances with very different sailing styles. At the start of one race, they actually started together (tough to do on purpose in the melee of those starts) and showed good form side-by-side. From this crusty old goat, all I can say is you guys are gonna wear me out! My only hope is to do enough cycling to become delirious and think I too am 16 again and feel that way when racing these hot juniors. Stewart Draheim, Steven Pracht, Brad Pippi and Kyle Pippi, I got your numbers! Watch out, here I come! And y’all be kind to old fools who think they can beat you for long.
Profuse thanks to Chuck Haines for the photography to help those who participated remember and those who did not participate to imagine more vividly. Chuck took around 700 pictures on Sunday and you can see them all at his smugmug page.