Saturday, September 26, 2020

Winds Favor Yacht Club Regatta

Foreign Exchange skipper Gunar Rogat (aft, in red hat) and crew.

Foreign Exchange skipper Gunar Rogat (aft, in red hat) and crew.

Submitted

As last Saturday’s weather dawned crisp and clear, ten of Southwest Florida’s fastest sailboats gathered off the Marriott Marco Island beach to compete in the Marco Island Yacht Club’s Annual Winter Sailing Regatta. Although the Gulf of Mexico was smooth as glass, race officials knew that good breezes were on the way, coming in from the northwest. Officials delayed the start by about 30 minutes so that by the time the first race got underway, winds were steady at eight to ten knots from the north/northwest.

As racing continued during the day, winds steadily got stronger from the north, and officials continually adjusted course bearings and distances. The warming temperatures, bright sun and good wind provided beautiful and challenging conditions for the racers. The sailboat skippers loved it – as did spectators on boats, on the beach and on hotel and condominium balconies. Observers continually remarked, “This is gorgeous!” And it was: both the weather and the sailboats on the Gulf.

As last Saturday’s weather dawned crisp and clear, ten of Southwest Florida’s fastest sailboats gathered off the Marriott Marco Island beach to compete in the Marco Island Yacht Club’s Annual Winter Sailing Regatta. Although the Gulf of Mexico was smooth

Regatta boats with spinnaker sails raised, battle. From left: SouthernCrescent skippered by Dan Kerckhoff, Tri-Power skippered by Ed Dixon.

Regatta boats with spinnaker sails raised, battle. From left: SouthernCrescent skippered by Dan Kerckhoff, Tri-Power skippered by Ed Dixon.

as glass, race officials knew that good breezes were on the way, coming in from the northwest. Officials delayed the start by about 30 minutes so that by the time the first race got underway, winds were steady at eight to ten knots from the north/northwest.

As racing continued during the day, winds steadily got stronger from the north, and officials continually adjusted course bearings and distances. The warming temperatures, bright sun and good wind provided beautiful and challenging conditions for the racers. The sailboat skippers loved it – as did spectators on boats, on the beach and on hotel and condominium balconies. Observers continually remarked, “This is gorgeous!” And it was: both the weather and the sailboats on the Gulf.

By the final race, wind conditions were 15-20 knots from the north/northwest. Race officials then established a new course, placing the last turn marker directly off the Marriott beach. Spectators were thrilled as each of the boats made their fast, final turns directly in front of them.

Two classes of racing boats, spinnaker and true cruising, were established by U.S. Sailing certified Principal Race Officer Craig Spicer. Because of the increasing winds, the Race Committee was able to run four races.

True-cruising boats jockey for position at the starting line. From left: Sundance, skipperedby Patrick Evans; Blue Heron, skippered by Dr. Brian Lawton; and H2O, skippered byBob Waddell and Jerry Watkins. In background, race committee boat, Grand Pelican,skippered by Pete Frazier. Spinnaker boats already racing in distance at far right.

True-cruising boats jockey for position at the starting line. From left: Sundance, skipperedby Patrick Evans; Blue Heron, skippered by Dr. Brian Lawton; and H2O, skippered byBob Waddell and Jerry Watkins. In background, race committee boat, Grand Pelican,skippered by Pete Frazier. Spinnaker boats already racing in distance at far right.

All four races had two starts, one for each class of boat. Each race course was marked by yellow blown-up markers, around which each of the racers had to sail, leaving the marker to their port (left) side. Boats were handicapped (similar to golf) based on their size, hull characteristics, etc. This was then factored into the race results as adjustment to actual time/distance measure. The handicap system was developed to give all boats, regardless of size, etc., an equal chance in a multi-boat regatta.

Marco Island Yacht Club Sailing Fleet Captain Chuck Downton explained this at regatta headquarters on the Marriott beach. On-lookers could get inside information not only on the race, but also on some of the boats and sailors competing. “Color commentary” is what Downton called it.

Racing continued until mid-afternoon. Preliminary results were: spinnaker class, 1st: Southern Crescent, skippered by Dan Kerckhoff; 2nd: Tri-Power, skippered by Ed Dixon. In the true cruising class, 1st: Dragon Fly, skippered by Dr. Ulrich Rohde; 2nd: Blue Heron, skippered by Dr. Brian Lawton.

Proceeds from the regatta benefit the Youth Sailing Program sponsored by the Marco Island Parks and Recreation Department at the Marco Island Community Sailing Center located next to the Marco Island Yacht Club.

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