the 2016 Wayfarer North American Championships
Tawas Bay YC * September 10-11
Young Detroit team makes impressive debut at Wayfarer NA's
As thirteen Wayfarers squared off on the gorgeous waters of Lake Huron's Tawas Bay to determine this year's North American champion, the list of entries included no fewer than five helms whose name already appears on the revered Henry Croce Trophy which goes to the winners of our NA's. The event was hosted September 11-12 by the Tawas Bay YC on a bay which is arguably the finest racing venue North American Wayfarers see on their extensive racing circuit. Winds were great in four of the series' five races, nice hiking breezes without becoming too scary. Only the Sunday morning opener was fairly frustrating as light winds were patchy and changeable while the standard summer sunny lake breeze tried to overcome the weather system wind off the shore. That indeed highlighted a surprising development which saw none of the past champions win the title. Instead it was young Andrew Lockhart (usually Doug Scheibner's crew) who teamed up with Grace Pytell, a high school sailing coach. They won decisively in all four races where boat speed was the issue. Congratulations, Andrew and Grace! It was a pleasure to have you with us, and I hope we will have your cheerful, friendly presence with us many more times.
Grace and Andrew with the Henry Croce Trophy
We were well looked after and waited on by the club staff with food, drinks and smiles all day long.
Two chefs in kilts did a fine job but I never got around to taking their picture. (l to r) Siara, Connie, Faith
Four promising rookies: (l to r) Gabbie and Patrick Smith, Kathryn McCreedy and Jenna Princing
Babysitters: Regatta Chair Nick Seraphinoff of NP Boats and his daughter, Julie
Our mix included everything from beginners sailing with their kids (Dave and Missy McCreedy W1389 with their daughters, Kathryn (10) and Sarah; Erik Smith W2420 brought his three fine kids, Gabbie, Patrick and Fitch, while Jenna Princing also 10, was making her Wayfarer debut with her dad, Chris. At the other end of the scale we had a substantial number of "rock stars" which included five past North American champions: Sue Pilling (defending), David Pugh, Marc Bennett, Nick Seraphinoff and Al Schonborn (Uncle Al).
Two of these, David (and wife, Anne) from Oakville, Ontario, and Marc and Julie Bennett (East Lansing, MI) ended the series in a dead heat for the runner-up position. Each was counting 2-2-3-4 so that tie-breaker had to go one more step, namely, Who beat whom in the last race that they both sailed? And that was the Bennetts whose 2nd in the finale eclipsed the Pughs' 4th.
Defending champions, Sue Pilling and Steph Romaniuk of Parry Sound, Ontario, just back from the Netherlands where they placed 8th in a fleet of almost 60 in the Wayfarer Worlds, could do no better than series 4th this year. But it was close as they fell only two points short of making 2nd overall a three-way tie.
Series 5th went to the International team of Al Schonborn (Oakville, ON) and Henk Hellman of Holly, MI. At age 75, Oakville's Uncle Al whose name is on the championship trophy a couple of dozen times or so, continues to find new ways to have "exciting moments". For this event, he had lined up crew, Henk Helleman, a fine crew in Michigan's Rebel Class. After Al's excitement during two squalls (below) off TS&CC during Wayfarer's mid-August Canadians where our sails refused to come down when swages and knots caught on our entry hole into the mast, SHADES a.k.a. Glory Days arrived at Tawas sporting smoother mast entry holes plus brand-new, freshly super-spliced Dyneema main and jib halyards that had even been tested in our Oakville driveway.
In the No-Good-Deed-Goes-Unpunished Dept. The fact that Henk and Al spent a lot of time advising newer Wayfarers on Friday night and Saturday morning meant that the stopper knot in their new, slimmer main halyard did not
work its way through the stopper ball (left) at the mast head until just before the start of Race 1. Ah, yes! 1975, Lake Orion: Jury rig by taking main off boom, mast down, thread main luff up mast groove by hand, tie to masthead with shoe lace, mast back up, add boom to main foot and voilą, we're good to go. Of course, that time, we were at a nice, low dock in calm, flat water for the procedure. Here, conditions were choppy and breezy, and I soon rejected the idea of swimming to the mast tip which was ten feet past the transom in order to tie the "shoe lace".
No. Instead it was mast pin out, spi halyard, topping lift, magic box control untied, mast laid onto boat the way Frank Dye might have done it in Summer Cruise.
On the bright side, I discovered that I still have the strength to pivot the mast with main attached back to vertical into a stiff breeze on a bouncy boat. Well done, me!!
At last everything was in place once more and we crossed the start line looking spiffy, just as the last boat (apart from us) was rounding the windward mark. Also on the bright side, we used the waterproof camera to take some lovely action shots of Race 1.
4th place in Race 2. Did I mention that our outhaul broke inside the boom with a loud bang early in that race. I will fix that right after this report is done. (FLASH! The outhaul was not broken after all. It sure looked and sounded like it!) A fine finish to our day, as Henk and I took 2nd in the Saturday finale. But it was becoming clear that in this hot fleet, Henk's 240 and my 210 pounds were a bit too much of a good thing for our boat speed. No time to shudder at the thought of light airs the next day though since we had to dock with no immediate way of getting the main down (beach landing with mixed success), pictures to take, Dark and Stormies to mix and consume (heartfelt thanks to Jim Best who brought two complete D&S kits plus limes, and to Annie Princing for the bag of cubes) while seeking shelter from the imminent squalls.
And ... lest we forget, a main halyard to re-thread (above) (thanks to Nick for the loan of the fish tape!) With one more big one looming (white cloud, upper right above) it is not yet time to try to re-thread our main halyard.
A very smart move on the part of our RC and PRO, Matt Princing, to send us in after three races even though the squalls were still hiding at that time.
And who else but Chip Cunningham (left) would have the nautical spirit to sit out and truly enjoy nature's majesty? Thanks to the kind souls who put out a bumper to protect our boat.
Between squalls, we finally got our main halyard fish taped about an hour later and made it back to the clubhouse just before dinner was done. Lovely food and fun conversation for all. We got to find out more about our latest wooden Wayfarer rescuers, Paul and Martha Knuth W889 of Erie, PA, who came up to meet some non-electronic Wayfarer people. Lovely people of whom we expect to see more, mostly at cruises and rallies.
Not to forget Steve Cascadden and the lovely 99 (Michel Love) who expect to sail Wayfarer and dropped by to say a friendly hello and get W info.
And meanwhile, back at the racing ...
A pair of true Wayfarer veterans ended up tied for series 6th: Nick Seraphinoff with Chip Cunningham (Detroit) and Toronto's Mike Codd with Kirk Iredale. Mike and Kirk had the better best finish (3rd) and thus took 6th overall ahead of Nick and Chip. Another veteran, Bill Coberly, was the top finisher from the host Tawas Bay YC. He teamed up with Jennifer Princing to sail a famous old wooden boat Brer Rabbit W560 which was disguised as W3991. This boat has been having Bill's capable attentions lavished on her as he got W560 into shape to race again.
Another renowned wooden Wayfarer (911) has responded well to Jim Best's efforts to bring her back up to snuff. This time, 911 proved up to the challenging conditions and nothing broke, a fine improvement over the more recent past. Jim who sails out of Detroit's Bayview YC, teamed up with young Matt Koch and scored 9th overall.
Rounding out the top ten were Ian Pouliot and Jake Wolny who sailed only Saturday's three races in sail number 3999 which I seem to recall was the slow old Orange Crush brought to fame by being borrowed and sailed very well by the legendary English Wayfarer, Nick Hodshon, in the 1980 Wayfarer Worlds also held at Tawas Bay YC.
The other three entries that rounded out the scoring were Dave McCreedy with daughter, Kathryn (10) , in 11th overall who edged out Jennifer Princing's husband and 10-year-old daughter, Chris and Jenna, who only sailed the Sunday races, while a trio of Smiths, Erik with daughter, Gabbie, and son, Patrick, put their beautifully refurbished W2420 Odin and its ancient, worn-out sails through its paces. Let me congratulate all three of these teams on looking well trimmed every time I looked over to look forward coaching moments. Do keep up the good work. It was a pleasure to sail with you all and I look forward to sailing with you many more times.