Wayfarer North Americans
Clark Lake YC * Sept. 20-21, 2014
report by Uncle Al
Drop race makes all the difference at warm but windy Clark Lake

(140927) Warm, breezy conditions dominated our 2014 North American Wayfarer championships which were sailed as part of the annual Clark Lake Fall Regatta at the wonderful Clark Lake YC near Jackson, MI Sept. 20-21. In perhaps one of the oddest twists in Wayfarer North Americans annals, Toronto's Mike Codd and Kirk Iredale won the regatta but lost the North Americans in a disappointingly tiny seven-boat fleet. Mike and Kirk scored a classy 2-2-3-2 to win the regatta's 4-race, no-drop series - despite capsizing in the opener of a rather wind-swept series, the last race of which was cancelled due to excessive winds that had already produced several broken spars in other fleets.
Prior to the regatta, North Americans Chairman, Marc Bennett (USWA Racing Captain) had announced that the North Americans would be scored with a drop race if at least four races were completed. Thus it turned out that despite breaking the W3854 rudder while leading race one, and starting two three-minute start sequences late just after the Rebels in race 2, Al Schonborn and Shannon Shank,  were able to capture the NA's with a snazzy Hartley rudder provided by Marc Bennett whose freshly repaired shoulder was not going to be risked in such gusty weather.
Shannon and Al recovered just enough in the wild race 2 to beat one of the boats still racing and place 4th. After the lunch/beer break, PRO Dan Hockenberry, sent us out for one more Saturday race in moderating winds still gusting across the lake from the SW.

the official marks chart

The 2-4-1-finish course saw Mike bang the right-hand corner and romp into #4 with a nice 100-yard lead over Al who in turn was comfortably ahead of David Pugh, the defending NA champion. A relatively close reach saw Al and Shannon eat into some of Mike and Kirk's lead.

Both leaders popped their chutes on the  surprisingly tight reach (above) back to #2. Shannon had suggested we edge towards mid-lake to get better pressure on this leg as the wind was blowing more or less across the lake here. This approach paid off but the Pughs sailed even faster than both the leaders and as we rounded onto a final beat to the finish line near #4, it was Al a length or two ahead of Mike who just avoid having to give room to David. It turned out to pay off, playing the middle to keep an eye on both Mike who was trying the right side once more, and David who had gone left, and we won a close race over David who had passed Mike.
Sunday morning brought bright, cooler sunshine and a westerly that was honking down the lake even before breakfast. Race 4 sent us to the west end of Clark Lake once again (1-5-6-2??). Al and Mike got out in front early, and rounded in close company onto the long run from #6 back to #2. Mike and Kirk remained disconcertingly close to taking Shannon and Al's wind on a port run to Eagle Point. But after the gybe around the point, Al and Shannon risked the spinnaker in what seemed to be more sheltered, benign conditions. The proved to be the decisive move as SHADES pulled away in a few planing gusts, rounded #2 to port as had been indicated on the course board on the raft, and help Mike and Kirk off to the finish.

With the Pughs placing 3rd, and a drop race kicking in after race 4, there was now a three-way tie with 6 points at the top of our NA's: Al 4-1-1, David 1-2-3; Mike 2-2-2. But the wind was increasing minute by minute as had been forecast, and people's gear was beginning to fail (example above). As far as I could tell, pretty much everyone was OK with the RC's decision to blow off the final scheduled race.
But no one more than Shannon and I for whom all the stars aligned and who are now the 2014 NA Wayfarer champions. The defending champion Pughs came out of the tie-break with series 2nd while Mike and Kirk, the regatta winners, ended up 3rd overall in our NA's.
Series 4th were Detroit's Dave McCreedy and Cleveland's Tony Krauss which made them our Most Improved crew of this year's NA's, having been seeded 7th. Dave also scored his first Wayfarer win as he out-survived everyone else in the opener. Well done, Dave and Tony.

Losing a tie-breaker to Dave and Tony were Oakville, Ontario's Rob Wierdsma and his daughter, Samantha, who capsized at least once but never let that dent their enjoyment of the regatta (above).
After being out most of the summer recovering from shoulder surgery, Marc Bennett had hoped to make up for last year's very bad luck at this event. But he and wife, Julie, only ventured out briefly on Saturday before realizing that sailing in these conditions was just asking to get another year of recovery time on the sidelines. No doubt they found it a great consolation that their rudder did sail - and win!!

US national champion, Doug Scheibner, introduced his young daughter, Christiana , to Wayfarer racing but decided to await better weather after a race-one capsize. They tried going out again Sunday morning
(above), but by race time the winds were once more too much for reasonable comfort. Hope we'll be sailing with you again soon, Christiana and Doug.