MCSA Midwinter Championship Regatta Report


2011 Midwinter Winners 

 2011 Midwinter Championship Trophy Winners

By Andy Fox


The week started with the Zenda U sailing clinic.  Nice warm 80 plus degrees and light to moderate wind for the boats that took advantage of getting the rust off after a long cold winter up north. This is a very good way to get back into the groove before three days of racing in the Midwinter Championship.

We had some nice wind for the first race down to a drifter for the finish of the second race. This is Lake Eustis so you are sure to get some different sailing conditions.

Race 1:

The wind was from the East to Southeast gusting to about 10-12.  I took on crew at the last minute and was the only boat to do so.  I started at the pin end, the line being slightly favored at that end.  The addition of a midline boat meant that there was no midline sag.  That made the start very even.  The decision to add a crew seemed to have paid off on the first leg.  Rob Seidelmann , David Helmick (who was sailing his brand new MC) and I all rounded in the top three.  The run was fairly uneventful, just gybing on the lifts and looking for puffs.  I rounded just ahead of Rob with both of us going out to the left.  I really try to avoid the corners because it is too risky.  Going up the middle will help minimize the big losses but it can also cost you the win.  The last two Midwinters were won with an average of 7th place.  There are no throw outs.  I was tacking every chance I had to get back to the middle, with Rob close behind.  My crew and I were almost the same weight as Rob.  The wind kept getting lighter and that allowed some of the lighter skippers to catch up.  Ted Keller was one who caught Rob and me going downwind.  The finish was very close, Rob beat me by inches and just ahead of Ted, followed by Jim Gluek, Jon Pomerleau and Jeff Nicholas.

Race 2:

We had one postponement while the race committee worked to set a square line.  I got Mary Anne off the boat since it was now under 5 knots.  The wind was still from the ESE, but getting lighter and flukier.  Jeff Nicholas had the pin end start, it looked like he was shot out of a cannon.  One minute after the start he was 10 boat lengths ahead of the boats around him.  We all stayed on starboard until the predicted header and puff hit.  That allowed the boats on the left to cross all of the boats on the right, who were looking very good for a while, but the left wind won.  Jeff had a big lead with me in second and Jon Pomerleau in third.  The run was getting slow with the wind fading.  Jon and I cut into Jeff's lead with that order rounding the bottom mark.  Then the wind disappeared, making it a true torture test.  The wind came from all directions and strengths.  Some boats like Jon's went from third to 16th, Jeff still ended up second with me in third, and the winner was Jim Gluek who came from the far right to win.  That put he and I in a tie for first with 5 points, Jim ahead on the tiebreaker.  Jeff Nicholas is third overall with 8 points, Ted Keller has 14 and David Helmick 17.  The comeback of the race was the sisters from Minnesota, Jessica and Christine Haverstock.  They finished in fifth moving them up to 11th overall.

We had the traditional press conference after the first day's racing with Jim Gluek, Andy Fox, Jeff Nicholas, Ted Keller and David Helmick on the panel.  It was well attended by the competitors who were eager to learn what the top sailors did to make the day successful.  That is one thing that is great about this Class; no one holds back any information.  Anything that we can do to help someone is what we all try to achieve.

Of course what would the Midwinters be without a visit to the Oyster Troff.  The party was at the Troff Thursday night, which also was St. Patrick's Day.  I even saw Jim Gluek drinking some bluish green stuff I think was a very strong adult beverage.  I just hope he drinks a bunch more.


On the second day we went out before lunch when the first signs of wind appeared but it was short lived.   Finally, after great food and lots of weather predicting, we got back out on the water in the late afternoon.  It was still light and fluky, wind from the south to southeast.  The goal was to get in two more races and the race committee did a great job of making it happen.  The late racing made for a beautiful evening on Lake Eustis with us getting back to the club about 6 pm.  The continuation of sunny warm weather made a very long day a treat for all the sailors here.

Race 3:

The wind was around 5-8 mph for most of the race.  I started near the middle boat, but unfortunately so did the eventual race winner Robert Newland.  My plan was to go to the left side which looked like it had more wind, but that plan was sidetracked when Jack Kern, the reacher, and Robert Newland, the pincher, squeezed me like a watermelon seed out the back forcing me to tack.  The right was not the way to go so with me in the 40's, Robert rounded with a 100 yard lead.  He would lead the entire way.  One of the fun parts about being near the back is having the opportunity to make fun of the leaders.  Dan Fink and I noticed Robert a whole leg ahead of us going upwind with both boards down.  What really made this frustrating was we knew he was still going to win the race.  Dan and I ended up near each other for the entire race slowly picking off a few boats on each shift.  So, remember to never give up and always keep looking for more wind.  Robert won the race with the local crowd giving him a big cheer.  Jeff Nicolas was 2nd, Richard Blake 3rd, Dan Fink 4th, I was 5th.  So after three races I was tied with Jeff with 10 points and Jim Gluek was in 3rd with 12.  But as this Lake Eustis, the sailing fortunes were going to change for a few unlucky sailors.

Race 4:

The Race Committee did a fantastic job of getting the next race started straight away which meant we could be in before dark.  The wind remained steady but had moved right.  The most fun part of this race wasn't going to have anything to do with the wind or competitors but rather the sun getting lower on the horizon, exactly where the weather mark was.  That made it very rough on the eyes while looking for wind.  The pin end was heavily favored.  I tried to get the pin but caught my rudder on the anchor line of the pin end boat.  The best start was Ted Keller, the next boat to the right of me.  I have said it before that a risky start is only good if it works.  A potential large gain with a high risk of failure.  I ended up re-rounding the pin boat and ducking about 10 starboard boats.  By the time I got back towards my game plan of going left, the leaders were long gone.  I managed to find a clear lane and finally got to tack to port with clear air.  The wind started to pick up with a nice 5 degree port tack lift, which held until the weather mark.  I rounded in third behind Richard Blake and Ted Keller.  The run was still light and you had the potential to lose boats, so you had to make sure you kept your air clear and gybe on any lifts that you could find.  This is always hard with a large pack of boats so the timing is critical.  Ted and Richard had a large lead so they battled between themselves.  The only change in the front was Skip Moorhouse passing me for third.  Richard had led the race from the beginning, even after re-rounding the offset mark after he hit it.  Ted timed a gybe perfectly right at the finish to just edge him out for the win.  The end of the race saw Ted Keller taking the 1st, Richard Blake in 2nd, Skip Moorhouse 3rd, me in 4th, and Jean-Pierre Bordes 5th

After the racing our banquet was held at the Mt. Dora Yacht Club, a 10 minute drive south of Eustis.  The dinner was very good with lots of talk about the day's sailing.  Class Commodore, Dan Fink, gave us a rundown on some MCSA business and we then had the grand prize drawing for a gorgeous painting won by Eric Protzman from Clear Lake, IA.  After the banquet there were plenty of people around the campfire down by the water still talking about the days racing and enjoying the gorgeous full moon.

The standings after 4 races are still close with Andy Fox leading with 14 points and Jim Gluek 5 points behind.  Jim and Andy are the only boats with single digit finishes in all races.  Remember an average finish of 7th has won this regatta the last two years.

 2011 Midwinter Champion

 Betty Crum presenting Andy Fox the Bill Crum Midwinter Champion perpetual trophy


On the last day of the Midwinters we tried to get a race in, actually going out in a nice southerly breeze of 5-6 mph.  It was not going to last though.  We tried one start that got ugly with the committee boat end having about 95% of the MC's all trying to start there with the predictable result.  I was in the middle of that and was very glad that it was called off.  Then the drifting started and lasted until the noon cutoff when they finally called it quits.  Although it ended up being a four race series it was a very tough event as only two boats had all single digit finishes.  This has got to be one of the hardest regattas to win because of the high level of skill that so many sailors have on top of the varied sailing conditions that we have to deal with.  Of course, having no throw out races only adds to the pressure.


Well, it ended up with me winning the regatta with Jim Gluek five points back.  We were the two boats lucky enough to have all top 10 finishes.  It sounds easy but it sure wasn't.  Many times Jim and I were back in the 30's and had to claw our way back one boat at a time.  I know that one of the keys is to NEVER give up in a race.  Don't try to pass everyone at one time, but think it out clearly and pick out a game plan.  For me that means figuring out what the wind is going to do, not just going to the side of the course where no one else is...that would mean you are going the wrong way and will lose more.  The top five were completed with Ted Keller third, Richard Blake fourth and Jeff Nicholas fifth.  Top GM was Skip Moorhouse in 10th, top woman was Jess Haverstock in 15th, and top MM was Bob Miller in 25th.


The drawing for the new Schurr sail was done after the awards ceremony and over $1300 was raised for the LESC Youth Foundation.  The winner was Ted Benedict from Eustis.  He is a Wayfarer sailor so he may be having a sale on the prize he won.


The race couldn't have happened without the support on the entire LESC personnel, led by June Howells and Mary Anne Ward.  They run the best regatta in the country and have lots of great people helping, from the fantastic race committee, the food providers and cooks (how about the custom omelets and pancakes), the boat launchers and every one that volunteered to help.  It takes a lot of time and effort to run these large regattas and they make it look easy.


Of course, the tradition is to throw the winner in the lake after the trophies making our wonderful 85 degree temps and warm water a plus for me.  Yes, that was the weather all week so make it down next year and enjoy what we all know is a fantastic place to spend a few winter days.


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