the 2018 Midwinters/US Nationals
Lake Eustis SC * February 2-4
a work in progress - updated: 31 May 2021 at 2151 hrs..
Detroit Duo Dominates Midwinters/US Nationals

Detroit's Doug Scheibner (r) and Andrew Lockhart (l) receive the
Designer's Trophy (US Nationals champions) from Eustis mayor, Robert Morin.

(180225)   In pretty much perfect sailing conditions, Detroit's Doug Scheibner and Andrew Lockhart outshone a hot 23-boat fleet in the 2018 US Wayfarer Nationals which were piggy-backed onto our annual Midwinters. The regatta was, as always, magnificently hosted by our friends at Florida's Lake Eustis SC, located exactly half-way between the Atlantic and the Gulf. The three days (February 2-4) of our event were blessed with moderately warm temperatures and lots of sun.

Our programme began Thursday with the club putting on practice races (above) which were followed by the USWA AGM at the club at 5:30 PM. Then most of us went to a German dinner at Mount Dora's Bavarian Haus restaurant where I met up with my crew, Frank Goulay, and his family who had just flown in to Orlando from Ottawa.

Winds were slow to wake up on the Friday but Bob Armes and his fine Race Committee managed to get three races in.

Race 1: Of the nine races, only the first was a bit of a disaster, finishing downwind in a near calm with only Doug and Andrew managing to escape from the main body of the fleet (above, larger image here) while the rest of us drifted across the finish line in one big mess.

larger image here

First race notes from W3854:

We got a fine start at the pin end which was favoured by about 15, but not as fine Doug who lee-bowed us (top above) and soon forced us to tack away. Doug and Andrew in fact sailed a perfect race, coming off his first beat with a lovely lead (above). For Frank and me, the decisive moment of the race came when, as one of the leaders off the first beat, we chose to gybe to port after rounding the offset mark while Doug held starboard. Doug sailed into better breeze for long enough that he built a sizeable lead that seemed immune to the vagaries of the wind that the rest of us dealt with. Meanwhile, our gybe was poorly thought out because I should have seen LESC Junior, Sam Pearl, coming along close-hauled on port. By the time we had untangled our spinnaker from a near head-to-wind luff to avoid Sam, we were in a large dead spot. The good news was that we ended up so far back that we were not part of the leeward mark mess so nicely captured on video by John Cole. Nonetheless, we did get some breaks going upwind and rounded in the top group which was now really well back of Doug. But the run was another of those I hope never to have to deal with again: a series of dead spots with puffs very slowly coming up from astern, and at the (Thank God it's the) finish line we must have had close to 20 boats finish at almost the same time. Pity the poor RC that had to sort that mess out!

A couple of wise postponements later, two more races were sailed in modest but still puffy breezes that were a fairer test of the competitors' skill.

Photo taken from pin end of line. Note the Class Flag still up, i.e. start signal not yet made

Race 2 notes from W3854:

We were lucky that a major veer came through in the last few seconds before the start of this race, causing a General Recall (above) that gave our RC the chance to re-set the course and avoid a close reach to the windward mark.

Attempt #2: The W Flag has just come down (start signal) and Al (3854) sheets in to regain forward momentum. The black-mast boat
rolls up to leeward of 3854 seconds later and squeezes him out. The blue-hulled boat above bails out down the line, I think.

That second sequence still had a windward-end favoured line and I must confess that Frank was right when he advised that I should stop trying for the best start. We ended up doing penalty turns after trying a risk-filled start (above). That said, I do believe the other boat (see caption above) was at fault insofar as he did not initially give us room to keep clear. Be that as it may, we got a fine breeze pretty much all race long and the key to success was avoiding major mistakes and the soft spots in the wind.

At the windward mark, it was Marc Bennett and wife, Julie, in their brand-new W11221, just ahead of Doug and Andrew. But not for long ...

They forgot the offset mark (above) which allowed Doug to take the lead.
Close behind in a battle for 3rd were Dave Moring (10864) and David Pugh (11222) (below).

The latter, however, must have hit the mark and done his 360, because next time we see him (above) he is out of the top 10 and has still not passed the windward mark.

Dave and crew, Dodge, then hit the perfect (horseshoe-shaped?) panic button as they sailed off alone to the right side of the run (above), while the rest of the fleet went ...

... left!

Riding one or more exclusive gusts like the one above while others were limited to a ...

... more pedestrian pace ...

... David (11222) passed all but one of the dozen boats ahead of him to round (above) in ...

... second place, close behind Doug and Andrew (above right)
and nicely ahead of 3rd-place Uwe Heine and Nancy (10978).

On the second run of this five-leg race, we see (above) David (11222)
catching another exclusive puff as he moves past Doug (11137) into the ...

... lead (2nd from left above, and below)

(l to r) David Pugh, Doug Scheibner, Al Schonborn (nice come-back
from the start-line 720!), Dave Moring, Marc Bennett

A lovely, steady little breeze brought the fleet to the last leeward mark rounding with 11222 leading.

And now, time out for a leeward-mark teaching moment:
From: Uncle Al []
Sent: Thursday, February 22, 2018 3:23 PM
Subject: race 2 pics album posted at ...

As I was editing, I noted that some of  the less experienced sailors gave away a lot of distance in rounding from the downwind leg onto the upwind, because they tried, unsuccessfully, to multi-task. I urge you to use a trick that Marc Bennett taught me: Explain in advance to your crew that you will need him/her to do the following: As your bow is about to reach the leeward mark at the end of your downwind leg, have your crew sheet and cleat your genoa half-way in. Then the crew takes over the mainsheet, which (s)he sheets in hand-over-hand as rapidly as needed while helm concentrates on steering as close to a perfect tactical rounding (wide-and-close). When helm reaches his/her close-hauled course for the beat (2-3 seconds after crew took the mainsheet), (s)he takes back control of the mainsheet from crew who then gently but quickly trims genoa to its close-hauled setting. This method not only saves distance but also lets helm concentrate on the all-important steering and avoidance of collisions plus letting boats astern cut inside at the mark to pass you.


Uncle Al  W3854  CWA Class Coach

A classic case in point:

About three seconds ago, Crew should have cleated the jib in a fair bit more than it is now and taken control of the mainsheet. That would leave Helm free to concentrate on steering a smooth wide-and-close rounding and steering at least as good (= high) a course as the three port-tack boats in front of him. As Helm gives 100% of his attention to steering around the mark, Crew uses both hands to crank the mainsheet in hand-over-hand to a nearly close-hauled setting (No further!!!!) and offers mainsheet back to Helm who will fine-tune its setting as Crew does same for jib. In our boat Frank further refined the system by taking the first available moment to tidy up the loose end of the mainsheet before putting back aft of the thwart where it belongs.

The switch outlined above will let you avoid the following which, frankly, makes my racing teeth itch:

Think of all the hard work this team has done well only to have this move give it all away in a few seconds of more or less sailing backwards. Please take this in the spirit in which it is intended, guys. You were not alone in this. And we have a bunch of errors that we ourselves made in the Midwinters that we are itching to correct the next time.

And not to forget this! While not as damaging as losing track of steering your best course, sheeting in to a beat (mainsail above) too soon destroys air flow over the sail and kills speed. At this moment here, the mainsail should still be trimmed to match the boat's downwind course for maximum speed going into the rounding. Mary should, at this instant, cleat the jib sheet in about this position or perhaps a bit further in - far better too loose than too tight - and then take the sheet of the well eased mainsail when Mike hands it to her. Two to three seconds of two-handed trimming will nicely match the fairly sharp turn on which Mike will now be able to concentrate properly.

Meanwhile, the leaders have reached the finish line:

A nerve-wracking finish in a spot of very light wind as David and Dodge hold off Doug and Andrew for the win. A couple of more shifts and puffs came along before the deceptively distant two boats on the left finish with Marc and Julie just edging out Dave and Arial (far left). Not far behind by now were Uncle Al and Frank who rounded out the top five.

Our RC judged things to a nicety and called for one more race despite the very unpromising conditions at the end of race 2.

Race 3 notes from W3854:

Winds picked up just nicely before the start of race 3 and, as a pleasant surprise, the median strength increased as the race wore on.

In the final minute of the countdown, Dave Moring (10864) and Doug (11137) cruise the line, looking for a hole into which to tack. The wind has veered again and those who noticed are looking at ...

... a virtual one-tack beat. Here, Doug and Andrew are
on their way to a runaway win in the day's finale.

Doug and Andrew are already nicely clear of the fleet as they near the windward mark.

The pack is bunched and in ...

... hot ...

... pursuit.

(l to r) Al and Frank, Dave and Arial, Daves McCreedy and Wilpula, Marc and Julie, Doug and Andrew

The fleet remains close at the first rounding of the leeward mark.

A relatively steady wind up our second beat as the leaders continue to pull away.

Impressive! The 11137 spinnaker is set and drawing
before the end of the 100-metre leg to the offset mark.

Al and Frank (l) have moved up to 4th place while 2nd-place ...

... Sue and Eric are holding off the defending Midwinters champions,
Dave and Arial as they complete the second upwind leg.

A quick gybe for Sue who heads off to ...

... "defend the left". No pics of the 11149 capsize which happened somewhere on the final sausage.

Sailing in Nick Seraphinoff's 11136, Lake Eustis SC juniors,
Sam Pearl and sister, Ruth, show us the perfect way to sail upwind.

(l to r spinnaker boats) Al, David P, Jake Wolny with Ian Pouliot

Cutting a fine figure is Phil Leonard, our sole solo sailor of the event.

The regatta's Most Improved team, 18th-seeded Dave McCreedy (l) and Dave Wilpula are doing their freshly acquired Jamaica Blue proud as they score the first of their three top-ten finishes of the series.

Mike Tighe and wife, Mary, fly off down the second run in flawless form.

5th place completes a fine first day for the team of David Pugh and Dodge Owen. The latter had to fly in from England to crew for his best sailing pal when Anne Pugh fell down the stairs at home less than a week before the regatta.

Not counting Doug and Andrew's series horizon job in the making, the fight for "podium positions" was wide open after the Friday races. Defending Mids champs, Dave and Arial, were series 2nd, having scored 6-4-2, one better in each race than defending US Nationals champions, Al and Frank, whose 15 points (7-5-3) had them in a tie for series 3rd with Marc Bennett and wife, Julie, who had scored 8-3-4.

Pizza had been ordered in so that we had a fine feed while enjoying a verbal re-run of the day's many adventures. I never did get to confirm that it as a capsize early in race 3 that left AnnMarie Covington and Bob Williams occasionally visible, a leg behind in the action photos.