nice to ice…

nice to ice…

Just two weeks after racing the DN Worlds somewhere far to the North, John Casey drops down to Punta Gorda, FL to check in with the Charlotte Harbor Regatta, and walks away with a class win!  More importantly, John shows why the folks behind the Charlotte Harbor event are showing a downsizing America how successful multiclass regattas just might look in ten years’ time.   Take a look at the results here, and check out a sweet highlight (ish) reel of the event here.  Sherrie Derrickson photos.

When I received an email from the F18 US Class President Dave Ingram, asking if I was attending the Charlotte Harbor Regatta, I had my reservations.  The regatta is run by the Charlotte Harbor Yacht Club, and it’s not often that we bastard step children of sailboat racing are invited to regattas run by those sorts of establishments,  so I had to check it out. I had a few questions in my mind heading out to Punta Gorda, FL. How will the cat fleet be treated? With racing numbers slightly down do they just want us there to hit a quota? My biggest question was, does the race committee know how to run a catamaran course?

My first question was answered as soon as we pushed our C2 La Flama Blanca #55 down the beach. Right when our transoms hit the murky water, two gentlemen were right there to take our wheels and stern chocks back up the beach. They had an air about them that they were seriously overqualified to do the job – and that’s when I knew everything would work out fine. We don’t even get that kind of treatment at catamaran-specific events. At the prizegiving ceremony I found out the same guy helping to push our boat up the steep sandy beach every day is fighting tooth and nail with the city for a larger beach for cats. Yes, a yacht club fighting for beachcats!

Once on the course, the RC started our races right on time. We shared a course with Hobie 16s, Wetas, Hobie Waves and F16s, so there were three top marks. That made the first race a bit confusing and we took advantage of it. Dalton had the sailing instructions in his lifejacket so we double checked on way to the top mark to make sure we were sailing the right course.  We hit the right side and Robbie Daniel tacked under us on the layline to the wrong mark. There was a nice right shift and we were a little overstood, so we bore off and acted like we were heading to the wrong mark too, but headed up to the proper mark at the last moment. Robbie noticed we weren’t heading to his mark too late and ended up pinching up and well behind us. Sometimes one has to be sneaky.

When we finished the first race the RC yelled at us, “Hey, you have to do two laps!” We sailed up and told them we did sail round twice. They looked at one another and told us quickly they were going to lengthen our course. And they did.

In our fleet, the battle at the top was between Dalton and I, Robbie sailing with James “The Carpenter” and Taylor Reiss and Matthew Whitehead.  Taylor (15) and Matthew (18) are getting really speedy and will represent the US multihull class in the upcoming ISAF Youth Worlds. They deserve it. They’ve put in a lot of training time and are soaking up the info at an amazing pace. I still haven’t asked Matthew if he’s related to who I think is the first man to fly, Gustave Whitehead

Dalton and I screwed up our game plan in Key Largo a few weeks ago, but we stuck to it this time. It was a one way track on Saturday with more pressure and less chop on the left side of the course, so we hit the pin in all but one race, the race we didn’t win, and took it all the way to the corner on both legs. The plan was to be ahead at the end of Saturday because the forecast for Sunday was light and switchy. Even though Robbie and The Carpenter would just not go away, we ended Saturday with a one point lead. We did race Sunday though in light and shifty winds and we came away with the victory. Here are the full results.

With a total of 84 boats on three courses, this was the largest regatta ever held on Charlotte Harbor, an achievement mostly accountable to the YC commodore, Brian Gleason, who has put in quite a bit of effort learning from other successful events, even spending time in Chucktown over the past couple of years studying the highly successful Charleston Race Week. The amount of talent at this event was impressive with world and national champion sailors coming from as far as California and New York, and so long as Brian is behind the helm, it will only get bigger.

This regatta is one of the pioneers of the transition of beachcats into the yacht club scene, and boy, did they nail it!  The first time I hit the water with monos was in ’01 at the Labor Day Regatta hosted by the Sarasota Sailing Squadron. We shared a course with 420s back then and we almost ran over more than one. The ultra-huge North Sea Regatta in The Netherlands is a great diagram for success of the concept, with over 50 F18s attending annually (the biggest class). Recently, the San Francisco NOODS also had multihull classes on their own course, a giant step of the amalgamation of hulls. It has worked well for both the YCs and multihull sailors. The clubs get more revenue for events and the multihull sailors get a nice club with a bar to hang out in.

I could write another long boring article about more reasons this is happening, but I’ll just say that we’re all sailors…..racing, just racing.