Clark Lake YC * Sept. 20-21, 2014
report by Uncle Al
Warm but windy weather dominates Clark Lake Fall Regatta
(140927) Warm, breezy conditions dominated the 2014 Tim Dowling Memorial Regatta sailed at the wonderful Clark Lake YC near Jackson, MI Sept. 20-21. Sadly, a mere 32 boats took advantage of the wonderful, legendary Clark Lake hospitality. Apart from fabulous socializing and sustenance, the 2014 regatta provided us with a fine chance to work on getting more comfortable with windy conditions (above). Both the weather and water were warm and the wave action limited by the small size of the lake. Three Saturday races were completed.
The first two were hard work and a fair amount of swimming was done (above). And speaking of which, we called "Starboard" on Rebel 4077 in race 2 but got no response. Having started 6+ minutes late, we were in no hurry and graciously bore away. Imagine my surprise when we passed their stern and discovered a twin version of a nautical Roadrunner: John and Justin (below) Lowry's hiking strap had snapped and both were now doing an Olympic-speed crawl while chasing their ride. With the enviable strength and agility of youth, John caught up and, as I looked on in admiration, reached in and uncleated their main. They got back in and proceeded to a 2nd-place finish out of 12 in that race.
Two final races were scheduled for Sunday morning, but when gear and people (above) began to fail towards the end of race 1, the Committee wisely cancelled race 5.
Ashore, we were well looked after, as always: ample meals, free beer - root and other - helpful locals. Sadly, Tom Spring and his band had been left uninvited, which especially disappointed Uncle Al who proceeded to haul out eight litres of ginger beer and two bottles of rum (one of them 151 proof!) and a multi-class drowning of sorrows (There must have been some!) ensued. A fine time was had by all. I for one hardly noticed that the evening's nearly endless deluge had partially flooded my tent. And lest we forget. The ginger beer maintained its perfect record: No headache for Al the next morning.
Easily the biggest fleet this year at 12 entries, they were also the most surprising.: In a fleet that included no fewer than three National champions past and present (Dave Nickels, his son, Kevin and Mary Vorel), Clark Lake's young rookie team of John Lowry and his brother, Justin, borrowed Woody Woodruff's 4077 and proceeded to win the series. Many times National champion, Dave Nickels of Lake Fenton teamed up with Dale Klein to take runner-up honours, while clubmate, Kevin (with Henk Heileman) took series 3rd. A footnote not obvious from the results is that current Rebel National champion, Mary Vorel, was uncomfortable with the way 4150 handled in the breezy conditions and switched to 3914 where she demoted her dad, Al, to crew, for races 2 and 3 in which she scored a decent 3-5.
Even making the Fall Regatta the Wayfarer North Americans only attracted seven entries, the lowest attendance since our NA's began in 1960. The event nonetheless was expected to produce some excellent competition: Doug Scheibner of Detroit, the recently crowned US national champion, the defending NA champions, David and Anne Pugh from England via Oakville, ON , and also from Oakville, many times NA titleist, Al Schonborn. Also expected to contend were Marc and Julie Bennett of East Lansing, MI who should have won the Fall Regatta last year. And then there was Toronto's Mike Codd, a veteran with a fine track record of many years at Clark Lake. And just to add just a tad more interest, the NA's scoring was going to be different from traditional Clark Lake no-drop scoring. For the Regatta there would be no drop, but for the NA's there would be a drop if 4 or more races were completed.
And that turned out to make a big difference as Mike Codd and Kirk Iredale (above) scored 2-2-3-2 in the 4-race series to comfortably outscore Uncle Al (DNF-4-1-1) and David Pugh (RAF-1-2-3) who tied for 2nd place in the regatta series. Unfortunately two of the top contenders were knocked out by the strong winds: Marc Bennett who was still recovering from shoulder surgery, and Doug Scheibner who did not want his young daughter to take an early dislike to sailing.
With a drop, Mike, David and Al all ended up tied with 6 points at the top. Having scored two firsts, Al and his fine crew, Shannon, won the tie-breaker and the 2014 Wayfarer North Americans while the Pughs, David and Anne, took 2nd overall courtesy of the one that they had won. With no finish better than a 2nd, Mike and Kirk ended up 3rd, at the bottom of the tie-breaking heap.
Congratulations also to Dave McCreedy and Tony Krauss who won the opener and ended up winning a 4th-place tie-breaker over Rob Wierdsma and daughter, Samantha of Oakville, ON. That made Dave and Tony our Most Improved team of the series, having beaten their 7th seed by 3 positions.
Not much in the way of completed races in this group who recently got back from the lovely Dillon, Colorado where they sailed their NA's at 10,000+ feet altitude.
Larry Schmida's tales of sailing on Lake Dillon brought back lovely memories when Dave Wallace and Dana Seymour (KC6933) of London, ON and John Carnegie and I (KC4794) of Toronto, ON sailed the1974 US Fireball Nationals on the gorgeous but oh so frigid waters of Lake Dillon.
And the camping at 10,000 feet plus was refreshing to put it mildly.
Coffee water took forever to boil and then wasn't hot..
Perhaps of the most note in the Buccaneer group is that their tie-breaker went to "who beat whom in the last race". Based on this, Daniel Shock and Marc Meyer took the first-place tie-breaker over Mr. Chaikin in 5088 who packed it in after two of the four races had been sailed. Series 3rd went to Wisconsin's Ed Montana and the lovely Shannon, whom I thought I remembered fondly from 1994 when Marc and I were beaten by a beautiful Wisconsin Buc (only) in an 8-boat Buccaneer fleet. Turns out it was someone else - see 1994 Clark Lake nostalgia pics - and I remember Ed and Shannon from far more recently. Senior moments indeed!!