Awosting YS, Greenwood Lake, NJ * July 9-14
a report by Uncle Al
Excitement squared provided by
New Jersey's Greenwood Lake and Fleet 21 in 2011 Rebel Nationals
As they did in 2007, the members of Rebel Fleet 21 and the Awosting community rose to the occasion magnificently as they hosted the Rebels' 2011 National Regatta July 9-14 out of the Awosting Boathouse on lovely Greenwood Lake in New Jersey just south of their border with New York state.
the Boathouse as seen from the lake
Great opportunities for having fun were laid on by our hosts throughout our week which was additionally well lubricated by great food and drink. And to top it all off, the lake provided day after day of healthy and challenging yet not really threatening breezes during racing hours and kept the calms, fog and violent rain squall to times when we were off the water.
Mary and Pat Vorel
And when the dust had settled, we had new, very deserving National champions, Mary Vorel and her wily grandmother/tactician, Pat Vorel, from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Pat had been too ill to sail in 2010 but left no doubt about how well she has recovered as she sailed this year's entire 10-race series, most of which required upwind hiking endurance. As a fairly successful student of tactics and strategy, I had to admire how well Mary and Pat managed their races in shifty conditions that moved the rest of us up and down the fleet seemingly at random. Not so for the Vorels who took few chances and banged no corners in scoring a boring 3-1-3-1-3-1-1-2-1-2 and discarded a 3rd that most of us would have been thrilled to get!! Congratulations on being Rebel National Champions for the first time, Mary and Pat!!
There were numerous other sailing achievements - not to mention debacles - worth mentioning, but I will do that a bit later, after I explain what made this entire week such a memorably enjoyable experience. I'm thinking I will do so in log format and try to come across as an old salt and "intrepid marinator" as one of my Junior Sailors once wrote in a his log entry at the Bronte Harbour YC. So here it is, the log of Uncle Al's Rebel Nationals helming debut:
Preparations: These are the "sine qua non" (without which is nothing) of racing. Fall 2010: As soon as I got confirmation that we would be going back to Greenwood Lake, I phoned the Breezy Point Inn to reserve one of their motel rooms that opens onto the bar - rooms where Neil Robb, Nick Tanis and I had been neighbours in 2007. I was told with a chuckle to call back in six months at which time they might be able to reserve such a room for me.
But there was two-fold good news for me this past Fall: Lake Eustis Rebel, Glenda Libby, emailed me to say she had, for USD 200, rescued an old Rebel from a Florida scrap heap. The little light bulb in my brian went on: According to Class Rules, I needed to own at least 25% of a Rebel to be eligible for Full Membership and Nationals helming privileges. If I could talk Glenda into letting me buy a 25% share in Glenda's "new" Rebel, it would only set me back $50. So I sounded out all the Rebel sailors I could get in touch with to check that people would not resent my planned tricky manoeuvre. The feed-back was uniformly positive and encouraging, so I was all set to go.
Uncle Al and Glenda seal the deal.
In due course, I waylaid Glenda at our Feb. 2011 Wayfarer Midwinters and quickly became part-owner of Glenda's second Rebel. "But won't that boat be hard to sail when you race it?" several of my concerned friends queried. "Oh no," I chuckled in a superior manner, "You don't understand! I don't have to actually sail the wreck I have bought into. I just need to own part of it." By June I had lined up Shannon Shank, one of the top Rebel crews anyone could ask for, and Bob Zimmer was going to let me sail his eminently race-worthy second Rebel that had been up for sale for some time. Now I was more prepared than I often am. What could possibly go wrong??!!
Well, it began innocently enough. Turns out that I had forgotten to phone the Breezy Point Inn a second time and got Bruce Nowak's reminder email just in time to miss out on the last room. But again, I really lucked in because Bill Selick volunteered to billet me at his lovely lakefront home just south of the Awosting Boathouse, our regatta headquarters on Greenwood Lake. Talk about screwing up and landing on your feet! Two further challenges quickly arose: Bob Zimmer's boat sold and Shannon was unable to get the time off work. But Bill assured me that they would find me a boat and a crew. So, I appeared to be all set as departure day drew near.
Fri 8 July: depart Oakville, ON mid-morning with a view to arriving at Bill Selick's after supper - stopped for supper in Hancock, NY where I tried to purchase some Gosling's Black Seal Bermuda Rum to go with the ample supply of two-litre bottles of ginger beer I was bringing from Canada. All they had was 151 proof Gosling's. "How bad can it be?" I thought as I purchased the one quart they had in stock.
Got to meet a lot of nice Selick family and friends that night before they faded away to who knows where as Bill and I started talking sailing and drinking very refreshing Dark and Stormies in the kitchen on this warm summer's evening. It soon become evident that we would need Jack Roe's assistance with the drinks. Jack who lives right next to the Boathouse, nobly responded to our 9-1-1 in minutes and a very pleasant evening of three-way sailing talk ensued. The next morning's consensus was that none of us survived the evening sober, and I for one, have no recollection how I got downstairs into my bed.
My borrowed boat: The leaves were easy enough to pick and rinse out but ...
... the dried algae were a bit more of a challenge.
Sat 9 July: Eureka! No hangovers once again after drinking Dark and Stormies. Another hot, sunny day. My borrowed boat arrived early, courtesy of George Vurno, who had been storing it at his apple orchard. My "new" chariot turned out to have all the necessary bits and pieces apart from sails which Clark Lake's Dan Hockenberry had very kindly contributed to the cause. On the other hand, the boat was in dire need of a good scrub both inside and out. I am no longer used to such labour and sincerely thank those who helped me out.
Meghan and Zoe
Bob Zimmer's wife, Jean, had meanwhile mined the young people of her rowing club and come up with two gems, Meghan (16) and Zoe (15), enthusiastic rowers who were happy to give sailing a try. Young Zoe got pressed into service as Bruce Nowak's crew in the Portsmouth Race up the lake and back that very afternoon but Meghan's debut was put on hold since my boat was not ready in time. So I took pictures and gulped water instead.
the start of the Portsmouth Race
The racers got a glorious sailing day: beat of several miles north up the lake and a long run back to a finish off the Boathouse. Among the Rebels it was Mary and Pat Vorel edging out the local team of Dan Leon with his dad, Albert, while Clark Lake's Neil Robb outduelled Chicago's John Washburn for 3rd place.
Near the finish of the Portsmouth Race: Mary and Pat (4161) with a narrow lead over Dan and Albert
One effect of the 151 proof rum was that I felt dehydrated all day and kept making trips to various water bottles - to little effect. What did help dramatically near supper time was the hard-boiled-eggs jar in the Selick kitchen. A couple of those babies, slathered with salt, and I got instant relief from that endless thirsty feeling and was suddenly totally ready for the Selick ferry to take us up to the Breezy for dinner and drinks.
at the Breezy
A fine evening (above) was had by perhaps a dozen of us and a moonlight dawdle back to The Selicks' rounded off a lovely day and evening.
Sun 10 July: Sadly, there were no takers for the Junior Nationals this year. Many of us just chatted with fellow sailors and relaxed on this flawless summer's day.
Others had meetings to attend to (above) make sure everything would be all set to run like clockwork on the upcoming four days of racing.
Sunday evening, the AYS hosted the traditional pot luck Welcome Dinner and barbecue at the Boathouse, after which there was a members' meeting upstairs (below). It ended up being an early night for most of us since we had to be prepared to race up to four races the next day.
Mon 11 July: Our first scheduled day of racing - three races - dawned sunny and windless - as can be seen below in the photo Al took from the Selicks' deck as he sipped the delicious morning coffee that was available every day without fail in the kitchen.
As usually happens on hot, sunny days, the wind engine was quickly started by the increasing heat and the RC got race 1 off nicely on time, shortly after 10 AM. By the middle of the fiirst reach/run, we were getting puffs to around 8 knots (above). By we, I mean everyone but Bill Selick. Bill finished the beat in the lower part of the fleet and then decided to sail down the middle of the lake, well high of the gybe mark. Bill did not get the puffy breeze of up to 8 knots. No, no, no. Bill got more pressure more consistently than the rest of us and cruised into a lead that he held to the finish.
Bill Selick and Jim Labate (4182) get the first-place gun in race 1.
We were then given a nice, relaxing two-hour lunch break which some of us even used to take a refreshing swim. Others made do with the limitless supply of cold lemonade, water or beer which was provided in copious amounts in a most civilized manner.
But then it was back to "work" for two more buoys-to-starboard races (above) to complete our sailing day. The southerly wind continued to build so that by the end of the third race, we were enjoying a solid - well, gusty, actually - hiking breeze. The two afternoon races produced two more winners: Mary Vorel and Jeff Schuchardt, and things were quite close at the top by Monday's end: Mary was in the lead, counting 3-1-3 for 7 points, one up on Jeff Schuchardt and his son, John, who had 8 points from 4-2-2 finishes.
Jeff and John nail down a 2nd in the day's finale.
Defending champions, Kevin Nickels and Ethan Oslund were still close with 5-5-1 for 11 points. Also worth noting was the 2-3 scored by Jack Sanderson and his granddaughter, Erin, who did however fall to a 9th in the day's finale, and were doubtless already hoping we'd get in ten races and a resulting drop.
Everything a sailor needs, the full monty: (l to r) food, free drinks, race results and notices
As scheduled, Vickie's Southern BBQ was there at 6 PM to bring joy to our taste buds (above), a feast that was supplemented by some Dark and Stormies courtesy of Uncle Al and Nick Tanis (below).
Topping off our Monday evening was a lovely concert on the refreshing upper level of the Boathouse, where where Jack Roe's son/crew, Jason, and Kai (J & Kai is their stage name, I believe) played and sang beautifully for us.
Tues 12 July: Another day dawned lovely, I am told, and only improved from there. It was most certainly lovely by the time I awoke (below).
This time, the day began with a westerly breeze blowing across Greenwood Lake towards us, a breeze which once more gained in strength as the day heated up. Given another prompt start by our RC, we got two races in before lunch in the Boathouse. At the front of the fleet, Mary Vorel and Jeff Schuchardt consolidated their positions at the top as each scored a first and a third while no one else had more than one top-three finish.
Our one race in the afternoon was longer and featured a fine hiking breeze (above), the kind of thing Dan Hockenberry would have revelled in if he had been able to get off work to join us. With a convincing win in the day's finale, Mary increased her lead over Jeff to three points when the latter finished 3rd behind Uncle Al. Al and Neil Robb placing 2-4 was just what Mary and Jeff needed to pretty much eliminate past champions, Dave Nickels and his son, Kevin, as well as Jack Sanderson who had all still been in the title hunt after Monday's three races.
Of course, things got fairly gusty (above) the nearer we got to the windward shore and its mountains. Having said this, it behooves me to recall that this was the day that Meghan and I capsized while reaching back and forth off the Boathouse as we waited for the start of the day's third race. We were relaxing on the floor of the boat when I noticed a bigger than usual gust coming our way. To play it safe, I uncleated the mainsheet and was thus prepared to let it run when the really juicy gust hit us. But wait, the mainsheet is not running out!! I had just nicely enough time to observe that the loosened sheet had wrapped itself around the bridle and its block before we began to ship water in large amounts. No point in yelling at Meghan to hike. She was wedged in to leeward in the forward part of the cockpit - and dare I say it, looking a tad nervous. Nimbly I dove from the floor over the high side and onto the centreboard. Luckily, I was on the board in time to arrest the trajectory of our mast before it hit the water so I don't know if this really counts as a capsize. We did immerse much of our mainsail and take on lots of lake. The whole thing took only a few seconds, so no one got any pictures and hardly anyone seems to have noticed. But Jeff and John Schuchardt certainly did. Jeff told me afterwards that he saw a Rebel go over but in an impressively short flash of time, a pair of (dare I say it, handsome - my word, not Jeff's) legs came over the windward side and up she came. Piece of cake, as they say in Canada, eh?!...
Our damage assessment: I seem to recall that we had to use the bucket to bail but the really bad news was that the camera - which had been sitting nicely padded atop my PFD near the transom - was nowhere to be seen any more. Meghan and I looked everywhere and even sailed back and forth past the scene of the disaster a few times in the forlorn hope that perhaps the camera might float. On one of those trips, Mary Vorel came by and wanted to know if we knew we had a camera hanging off our transom. By golly, there it was, tummy skiing in our wake, hanging by its strap off our tiller pin I seem to recall. And it still worked and allowed us to get some fine shots of race 6 action. Thanks to Rose Steele who later suggested that a night in a sealed plastic bag with rice in it would likely help draw out the moisture visible in the view finder. Rose went to all the trouble of driving home to get me the needed rice but found she had none. Ultimately, Jack Roe's wife, Eileen, cleaned out her kitchen supply, and I still have the bag with its rice that worked a treat and is a neat reminder of the friendly folks at Greenwood Lake. Thank you, everyone!
All in all, a magnificent sailing day! A day in which we sailed four exciting races, three of which were won by Mary and Pat Vorel who thus took a stranglehold on the series as Jeff and John had what was for them, a sub-par day: 3-1-3-5.
The official social calendar was empty on this night, and after a second straight three-race day, many of us were pleased that it was so. Though I believe there was a group that took a relatively short drive to New York to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.
Wed 13 July: Ah yes, the day of the squall!! Certainly a day dominated by our weather. It all started innocently enough:
A nice little westerly breeze greeted us on this overcast day at the Boathouse but it was a rather cool breeze - note Meghan (l) and Zoe in sweatshirts borrowed from Al as we waited for the day to turn more summery.
By race time (10 AM), things had warmed up a fair bit and we once more set off upwind toward the western shore of Greenwood Lake in the first of the day's two scheduled races.
After lunch the weather had warmed up nicely and the wind had also gone up as the day began to turn sunny. The Vorels continued their mastery and clinched the National Championship by placing 2-1 in the day's races. There was to be sure, another race planned for Thursday, regardless, no one could catch the speedy Michiganders in this series any more.
On this day we had our one and only protest and your Uncle Al (second from right above) was so excited about serving on the committee that he forgot all about his boat which he had casually tied to the dock, intending to sail it back to the Selicks' place down the lake as usual. Well, we were still discussing the protest and its outcome when the skies darkened, and I sensed a fine photo op approaching - see pic below:
Behind me, I heard someone wondering about the boat that was suffering at the end of the dock below. "Oh, rats!!" (or words to that effect) I cried and rushed down into the deluge where ...
... given the howling winds, there was not much to be done. Apologies, Dan, and here you were, kind enough to lend me your sails!!
We had been about to start a festive dinner when everyone had to seek what shelter there was to be found upstairs in the Boathouse. Being an open-sided pavillion, it does have this one weakness.
Soon enough, the squall blew over and said farewell with a lovely rainbow (above). A huge tree had been blown down in front of Jack Roe's place just to the right of what is shown above but luckily there was little damage!!
Speaking of which (I drive my family and friends crazy with my endless digressions as I tell sailing stories, so why shouldn't you suffer, too??!!), six weeks later, Hurricane Irene blew through and the same area looked rather different. Click here for some Bill Selick pics.
With many hands pitching in, Vickie (above left?) soon had her Italian Extravaganza in full swing in glorious sunshine. It was a fine meal that we all greatly enjoyed.
After dinner, it was time for the annual Nationals Raffle which once again produced a most eclectic array of goodies that would be raffled off by our hilarious MC, Bill Selick's brother-in-law ...
... who was once more nobly assisted by his sister, Barbara Selick. The lovely Barbara capped our fine evening with an entertaining serenade to ...
... her husband, Bill, our Regatta Chairman. Not to be forgotten, a further highlight of the evening was a cameo appearance by Jason Roe and his guitar.
Thurs 14 July: Another warm, sunny day brought our Greenwood "week" to an end. We were given one race which ensured that we would get a drop race, a first for the Rebel Nationals??
Here, Dave Nickels and Emilia Oslund showed their stuff in a nice breeze (above) taking a well-earned win before we all enjoyed a low-key day leading up to the awards evening and its fine dinner. These were held in ideal summer evening weather upstairs at the Boathouse. A glorious ending to a terrific week, in my opinion.
So how did we all fare in the racing?
Having already introduced Mary and Pat Vorel, our new champions, I will now introduce the finishers in reverse order, the way it was done at the awards:
Finishing 19th overall were George Vurno and his wife, Joan (above) of the host fleet, who had to pack it in after only one day of racing. My own thanks to George for letting me borrow his spare boat which worked very well.
Another local team, Wendy Gallione and Gail Bado, placed 18th, and looked good every time I saw them on the water.
Jack with Jason
Jack with Bob
Awosting's Jack Roe was next in line at 17th overall, ably assisted by his son, Jason, and Bob Reinhartsen, his crews. Jack started his series with an impressive 9th but sadly, it was all downhill from there.
That always smiling team of Jay Topping and his wife, Pat, of Fenton, Michigan, ended up just one point short of the magic 15th place overall - where the trophies begin.
A mere one point ahead of the Toppings were the local team of Jim Miller and Karyn Schuchardt. They had that snazzy Hobie masthead buoyancy aid and then never did show us how it worked!! Booooo ;)
Ending up 14th overall was Clark Lake, Michigan's Bruce Nowak, the new NRCA Commodore, who sailed with 15-year-old Zoe Smith-Reese, a member of the local rowing team who volunteered to give sailing a try and seems to have liked it?
Jack with crew #1?
Two of the local old masters ended up only a single point apart. Series 13th was Jack Schuchardt with a pair of alternating crews: Gary Schneid and Jim Favaro. One point ahead in 12th overall were Paul and David Bryan. The latter missed three Tuesday races but made up for that with a trio of single-digit finishes.
John and Judi
Bob and Marvin
Missing the top ten by a mere one point were Chicago's John Washburn and his wife, Judi who fell out of 10th overall when they placed 11th in the finale while Amosting's Bob Zimmer and Marvin Brinn rose to the occasion with their best race of the series, a 7th. Bob thus ended up with 90 points while John had 91.
Bill and Jim
Bill with Dave
Nailing down series 9th was Regatta Chair and Fleet 21 webmaster, Bill Selick with Jim Labate as well as fill-in crew, Dave Sutter. After winning the initial race, Bill and Jim were doubtless disappointed at ending up 9th overall but Bill did score mostly single-digit finishes, ending up a mere two points behind ...
... the Clark Lake, Michigan team of Neil Robb and Nick Tanis. Apart from living just off the bar of the Breezy Point Inn, Neil and Nick will doubtless fondly remember their series for good boat speed and a pair of excellent 4th-place finishes.
William Shakespeare's "Neither a borrower nor a lender be!" (There's a nicely rude joke involving that quote ...) appears to have not taken root with Uncle Al who sailed a borrowed boat with a lovely young lady, Meghan Saeli, borrowed from the rowing club. Not to forget the sails on loan from Dan Hockenberry and a room borrowed from Bill Selick. A resident of Oakville, Ontario, Al was possibly the first Canadian to ever helm in a Rebel Nationals and ended up a creditable 7th overall with great help from Meghan.
After a first-race 10th, Dan Leon and his dad, Albert, finished better and better as the series wore on, ending the week with a pair of 3rds that nailed down a fine series 6th for this Awosting team.
Defending champions, Kevin Nickels and Ethan Oslund, of Fenton, Michigan could manage no better than 5th overall this time around in the tricky Greenwood Lake winds. Kevin had top-notch boat speed as always but, like most of us, failed to master the winds.
Jack Sanderson who sails out of the mis-named Coldwater Lake in southern Michigan, continues to do better and better with beautiful crew work from his grand-daughter, Erin, who is now a practically ancient 14. The Sandersons scored a very solid 4th overall. Congratulations, Jack and Erin.
Many times National Champion, Dave Nickels, came down to Greenwood Lake from Fenton, Michigan in 2007 and walked off with the title. But there was no repeat performance this year as Dave and crew, Emilia Oslund ended up with a fine series 3rd that a lesser sailor than Dave would doubtless be thrilled with!
The local "heroes", Jeff Schuchardt and his young son, John, were right there at the top of the standings with the Vorels for the first half of the series. But impressively as they sailed, they were ultimately unable to match the amazing run of ten straight top-three finishes put up by Mary and Pat, and had to make do with the runner-up position this year.
And as we mentioned earlier, the Grand Rapids, Michigan team of Mary Vorel and her grandmother, Pat, the tactician were nothing short of fabulous, as they never finished worse than 3rd in very challenging conditions. Congratulations, Mary and Pat. See you next year at Clark Lake, Michigan!!