Wednesday, February 21, 2018

2018 Florida Midwinters Report - Ali Meller

Once again Ethan and Lin organized an escape from the depths of “winter” for us.  I am tempted to digress into a dissertation on “winter” in the Mid-Atlantic in contrast to WINTER in Edmonton Alberta where I walked to school in grade 2, and the daily high in January or February would be -30 F for several days in a row, but I will spare the reader … Suffice it to say that sailing in Florida in January or February is almost certainly nicer than sailing in Annapolis or New England in January or February (and it is DEFINITELY better than trying to sail in Edmonton).
Ethan and Lin have tried multiple venues over the last few years, moving from Eau Gallie Yacht (and Country & Social) Club in Melbourne FL (sailing on the Indian and Banana rivers) to St. Petersburg Yacht (and dinner) Club in St. Petersburg, to Boca Ciega Bay/Isla del Sol Yacht (and don’t let the sandy riff raff into the men’s room) Club, to Fort DeSoto, to racing off the beach in Pass-a-Grille, and finally to the Clearwater Community Sailing Center.  Having raced almost all these venues (I first showed up at a 505 MW in 1982, WITHOUT A 505, but that is another digression I will spare the reader), Clearwater Community Sailing Center is the best!  We ramp launch into the inland waterway, sail a short distance (STAY IN THE CHANNEL!!!) to a cut into the Gulf of Mexico, through the cut, and race in the Gulf.  It isn’t always warm, sunny and windy, but it IS warm, sunny and windy a lot more often than Annapolis (or Edmonton) in January/February!!  And per Richard White who welcomed us all, CCSC is very happy to host 505 events.
Last year the 505 MW overlapped the Laser MW.  Apart from a bit of crowding at the launching ramps (which was not a problem) it was amusing to see many of the same sailors I see in Annapolis, also escaping the Mid-Atlantic “winter”, just racing Lasers instead of 505s. This year the 505 event was moved earlier to the end of January, to avoid the conflict.
The problem with January 26 to the 28th is IT’S JANUARY!!!!  Everyone is either still hung over or didn’t start thinking about logistics until they sobered up, so a bunch of people who could have/should have been there didn’t make it.  Then there’s the guy who preferred to race Interclubs in Annapolis that weekend… I mean … whatever.
But the January dates did result in a low turnout, with nine teams registered and eight racing after Lin’s crew became sick and Lin could not find anyone to fill in (probably because Ethan had already asked every possible freelance crew if they were available, as Ali Meller needed someone to sail with, and Ali got the only good crew available!). Though a disappointing turnout this should be expected for late January, soon after Christmas and New Year’s, and after a September East Coast World Championship.
As mentioned above CCSC is a GREAT venue!! As in WAY BETTER than where you normally sail your 505!!  And it is in Florida!  In the Gulf; Yes, THE GULF OF MEXICO!! Not Tampa (slumber) Bay, not Boca Ciega Bay, not the channel into Tampa Bay, but the real thing… CCSC loves having 505 regattas and wants to see more of them; see the discussion at the end of this report regarding MORE 505 EVENTS at CCSC IN FLORIDA!!
We had really fun 505 conditions; Great breeze – gusts of 23 knots on Friday, similar conditions Saturday, lighter Sunday but still trapezing and wire running in the puffs.  The breeze was offshore, so flat water, shifty and very puffy.  This made the racing very interesting and challenging.  It was especially “Snakes and Ladders” downwind, with going from hero to zero very easy to do. Ty Baird/Ali Meller went from a very close 2nd at the weather mark to 2nd last in one downwind leg on Sunday, and that was without swimming!  The opposite and more desirable move – from zero to hero – was rather harder to do, but did happen. 
As typically happens at a 505 MW, there were some regular teams, and some pick up teams. Mike Coe couldn’t make it, so Ali was going to tow Mike’s 8841 down and sail with Ashley Love, but then Ashley had to work so Ali had to find someone else to sail with, and then a problem with Ali’s car meant he could not tow down.  Thanks to Ethan and his many local contacts, a great sailor to team up with, Ty Baird, and a great 505 to borrow, 7346, were found (about 10 minutes before Ali was going to finally pull the plug on the whole operation, Wednesday afternoon!!). 
Brendan Connell was racing with his new crew Patrick O’Bryan, Peter Scannell’s boat was in pieces so he and Andrew Forman borrowed Sol Marini’s 8018.  Marek Balinski, who drove from Toronto (which may have a bit more of a “winter” than Annapolis but NOTHING LIKE EDMONTON), teamed up with Barney “the 505 and the Albacore are EXACTLY the same” Harris. There was another local (SPYC) team, and a few more.
But the standout experienced teams were clearly going to be Eric Boothe/Ethan Bixby and Russell “the love muscle” Miller/Macy Nelson. As Ty Baird and I were getting organized before the first start, I assessed the fleet for him and concluded that there were three strong practiced fast teams and everyone else was going to be fighting for fourth.  I was partly correct:   Ethan/Eric and Macy/Russell dueled it out for the event.  In most races these two teams were either were at the front from the beginning, or quickly passed boats to get there. My other pick for “top three” were in the hunt at most weather marks but swam a lot.  Apart from the top two teams, everyone else was fighting for third, though Russell/Macy did manage to finish 3rd once and 4th once (their drop, and quite possibly due to a swim), so the two top teams were not quite 1,2 in all races.  
The battles for 3rd through 8th were bitter and hard fought (but then so were the battles for 1,2).  There was enough breeze Friday and Saturday for out-of-practice teams to swim, which was VERY slow.  I am reminded of the parallels between 505 racing and the Olympic biathlon event where you x-country ski and shoot targets. If you miss your targets you either take a time penalty or must ski an additional penalty distance.  Swimming on a gybe in the 505 is a lot like missing targets in the biathlon; you have to ski (or sail) MUCH harder than your competitors to get back into the game, but again I will spare the reader a further digression into the fine points of the biathlon event and the clear parallels with 505 racing, other than to suggest googling “winter war motti ski” for what may be the origin of the biathlon event.  Hint, the losers do NOT get medals…
The event-long battle for the win went to Russell/Macy by one point over Eric/Ethan.  My recollection is that Eric/Ethan were frequently in good shape at first weather marks, but that Russell/Macy were at a different level playing “Snakes and Ladders” downwind and found ways to get around the teams in front of them, in most of the races, doing most of that downwind. The last race (and the event) came down to one shift on the next to last run!  Great racing!
1st Place - Russell Miller and Macy Nelson
2nd Place - Eric Boothe and Ethan Bixby

The battle for 3rd through 8th was close and decided in favor of Andrew/Peter in part because they broke into the top two positions twice, finishing second in two races.  4th were Ty/Ali who swam twice and had to count one of the two resulting 7th places.  5th were Patrick/Brendan, who had flashes of brilliance, but also swam a bit. 6th were Marek/Barney in “Plastic Surgery Disaster”, which I prefer to call “The Deer Slayer”.  It is not clear the deer lost.  7th were locals Erik Mann/Nathaniel Plant, and 8th Jimmie Cockerill /Ian Conners who were only able to sail some of the races.
3rd Place - Peter Scannell and Andrew Forman

With downwind finishes, some teams were overlapped at the finish, and a lot of races were very close.  PRO Dave Ellis again ran a tight ship on RC with very little waiting (except occasionally for teams taking long refreshing swims in the Gulf of Mexico), and filled each day with racing.  I was MORE THAN READY to sail in after racing each day. I was MORE THAN READY to eat plentiful food and wine afterwards and I was MORE THAN READY to go to sleep after that.
Several teams were hosted at the Bixby’s; Thanks yet again to Miss Trudy for hosting and feeding the fleet!! We also had dinners at a restaurant very near the CCSC Friday, and at CCSC itself on Saturday.
I was very fortunate that Ethan found Ty Baird for me to sail with.  Ty is a Laser and occasional 49er sailor.  He had a lot of fun (despite having to sail with me) appreciated the 505 and is looking forward to more opportunities to race 505s. We were able to borrow 7346 from Andrew and Kelly Jones in return for doing a repair on the bow.  At the risk of yet another digression, 7346 is a “wood-look” Waterat, similar to my own 7200, but built on a Hamlin hull rather than the Lindsay hull on 7200.  I remember this boat from when Macy Nelson owned it in 1983 or ’84.  It is still very stiff, very strong, and very fast!!  For my amusement (and possibly yours) I determined who had owned 7346 and in what order:
1.     Macy Nelson,
2.     Jim Englert,
3.     Latane Montague,
4.     John Hauser,
5.     Mark Angliss,
6.     Craig Thompson,
7.     Andrew Jones
And now, for next year…  With CCSC and Richard White so enthusiastic to hold multiple 505 events, and Florida being way more fun to sail in than the Mid-Atlantic, New England (or Edmonton) in January/February, we are planning on TWO events for next year.  Boats will be left in CCSC’s large and secure storage lot between events.  The exact dates and other details are still being worked out.
The results show boats as registered, not quite as raced.  Ali was not able to tow a boat down, so raced the magnificent 7346 “The Lizard” rather than 8841 “Swagman”.

Unfortunately, does not show both tactician/crew and driver names; it just shows who registered.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Bellingham Yacht Club to host 2018 PCCs

Greetings 5O5 sailors,

It is with great pleasure that we announce the Northwest Fleet has voted to hold the 2018 PCCs in Bellingham the weekend of June 15 to 17th.  It will be put on by the Bellingham Yacht Club.  We will have the same PRO (John Pedlow) and the same Chair (myself), as we had for the 2016 North American Championships.  We will also have many of the same outstanding members of the Bellingham Fleet helping with logistics.  

We very much look forward to a big turnout.  A notice of Race will be forthcoming.  Please put us on the schedule.   We will try our best to accommodate folks who need a place to stay while in Bellingham.  If you have any questions, or if you need any help to get here, please feel free to contact me at

Monday, November 13, 2017

Hampton Fall Fling 2017

By Steve Lovshin
November 4-5 Hampton, VA

What a Fling! HYC provided 2 days of great Hampton Flats sailing for one last kick at the cans for 2017.  Nine boats assembled and were greeted with 10-14 knot flat water wire reaching conditions. 6 races were completed on Saturday.  Local (I’m on-call) Tyler Moore found some time to scout the fleet and provided some constructive feedback at the local hot dog stand post racing. The first four races allowed for great wire reaching and defensive battles throughout the fleet with minimal wind shifts. Races 5-6 provided slight changes to the conditions which began to shake the positioning of fleet. Brendan & Patrick, Steve & Henry, and Dr. Crash secured the victories for the day. One notable spill, a few gear breakdowns, crab pot pulling, and some spectacular body drags highlighted the post-race debrief which was carried to over to the annual Oyster Roast with all the great food accompanying it.

Sunday’s conditions changed to light wind, strong tide/current and shifty. We also added a youth team (12&14-year-old) to the fleet. Race 1 – The young kids upset some very good sailors (names purposely forgotten) at the first mark and stayed competitive to finish the first race. Race 2 saw tight action with Wicked Pissa & Team Trouble in the mix throughout helping to create some very competitive situations. Brendan & Patrick and local flyboy Clark Hayes and crew worked their magic to hear the mighty cannon roar for their fine first place finishes in the two races on the day.

HYC Fall Fling Champs 

1. 7606 Brendan Connell & Patrick O’Bryan
2. 9041 Steve & Henry – Henry Amthor & Steve Lovshin
3. 8939 Clark Hayes & crew 1 & crew 2

Notable Observations 

6.5 of the 9 boats sailed by out of towners
3.5 boats from Canada
2 from Annapolis
1 from North Carolina
2 father & son teams

A big shout out to local HYC 505 fleet boat providers

Results found here:

Thursday, November 9, 2017

Fresh Faces Breaking Boundaries

Kaila Pfrang and Anna Patterson
One of the most exciting stories from Annapolis was that of Kaila Pfrang and Anna Patterson. For a young team, they had some of the best chemistry and work ethic of any other 505 team. They were also one of the few all-female teams on the water. In the Worlds where Angela Stenger and Nikola Birkner became the first all-female team to win a race and break into the top 10, you can see a trend emerging. These are two dedicated, hard-working individuals that will be making waves in their 505 careers. Anna is studying at CNU and Kaila studying at MIT; both are sailing for their respective college teams. I got to know them a little better and learn a bit about the the passion they share for the sport.

How long have you known each other and how long have you sailed together?
Anna: Kaila and I met in high school when I was a freshman, but we didn’t become close friends until after a summer of sailing for the HYC c420 team. We really bonded after sailing a summer regatta together where we capsized for about 40 minutes, but were determined to get the boat up on our own. We ended up finishing the race smiling, laughing, and singing and we’ve been inseparable ever since. After my knee injury the following year, Kaila got into skippering and I focused more on high school racing. We took every opportunity in high school to go sailing together, but now that we go to schools in different states and have college sailing in our schedules our regattas together are pretty limited.
Kaila: I met Anna my very first regatta in high school sailing when my skipper introduced me to her. After that we said hello and chatted briefly over the school year before discovering we’d be on the same race team that summer. We sailed together for one regatta that summer after Anna taught me how to trapeze and sail the spinnaker. After that we went our separate ways both deciding we loved to skipper until I asked Anna to crew for me for a 505 regatta in North Carolina last summer.

How did you get started in the 505?
Anna: Last summer, a week before I was supposed to go to college, Kaila asked me to come sail a 505 regatta in Wrightsville Beach. I figured it would be a fun last weekend together and a good experience, so I agreed. I had a good amount of c420 crew experience, but my first time on a 505 was on our sail out to the race course. The waves were absolutely massive and it was blowing 20-25 kts. It was mildly terrifying and I ended up with a splint on my hand after the spinnaker pole snapped back on it, but I was hooked.
Kaila: Tyler Moore approaches me one day about a 505 left at HYC for a few years. He suggested I take a look and see what I might be able to fix. He was very generous in giving me advice and parts and his workshop for space before I finally took it out with a teammate. After our first day out, I was hooked. I sailed a few local regattas with the lindsay blue boat with my c420 teammate before deciding I wanted to stick with the class full time.

You both sail in college.  How does your college experience help you in the 505?
Anna: Sailing in college is so different from 505 sailing in most ways, but college has helped me the most with mentally working through tactics and boat interactions. College is such a short course in comparison to the several miles you find on a Worlds course, so everything is on a much larger scale. The combination of college regattas keeping us out on the water all day and our strength and conditioning program has definitely helped with the physical and endurance aspects of the 505.
Kaila: The boat handling and practicing with short/tight courses in college sailing translates well into the 5O5 racing in regards to making gains quickly and whether possible. Yet also, while sailing in the notably shiftly Charles River, I have learned a great deal about shifts and keeping the boat flat even through fluke puffs.

What do you like about the 505?
Anna: The 505 community has been absolutely remarkable. Everyone is very supportive. From lending us a boat (Thanks, Tyler!) to coming up to us at Worlds and offering us a sail (Thank you, Doug!) to constant coaching (Thanks Uncle Henry, Mark, and everyone else), everyone seems to do whatever they can to help us learn about the boat and the class. The physical, mental, and emotional challenge of it is also a huge drawing aspect for me. The high pace of these boats gives me an adrenaline rush that is the best feeling in the world to me.
Kaila: Everything. I love the design of the boat (when it isn’t rigged too complicated) and especially the speed and planing ability of the boat. But even more important than the hull shape and racing action, the people in the class make the boat incredible to race. Between the eagerness to help each other and answer questions makes the learning and competing more exciting and friendly. Beyond that though, the 5O5 provides a multitude of invigorating challenges which makes practicing and planing in 8 knots of wind or reaching with the spinnaker in 20 knots something to feel alive for.

What does a typical practice day look like?
Anna: We honestly don’t get out on the water together as much as either of us likes to. We both worked two jobs this summer and then we left for school. When we did manage to get out on the water, most of the time it was without the HYC group. In this case we did a lot of long upwinds and downwinds just trying to nail down our boat handling. If we can’t find a time to sail together, we try to get on the water with other people from HYC and learn as much as we can.
Kaila: Lots of tacks and jibes, acceleration drills, testing new things out. If we have a group we’ll do some speed tests and rabbit drills.

The 505 has a very large sail plan.  Do you find the power intimidating?
Anna: People are shocked that we are sailing the boat, especially together, because of our size and I think this only drives us more. As the crew, it can get pretty intimidating in high winds. I struggle with getting out on the wire in big breeze, specifically on port tack, because of a very messed up left knee and this always proves to make things interesting. I can only push out using my right leg, so the power of the boat in heavy air is the most intimidating to me in this aspect.
Kaila: It’s exhilarating, but sometimes when I want to go slow it’s definitely a bit intimidating how large the sail is and how fast the boat always goes. Learning how to utilize the sail plan while keeping the boat flat and fast often proves difficult; yet, as a naturally fast-paced person, I find the power and speed of the boat overall exciting.

Your best finish was a respectable 23.  Do you remember what you did to get it right?
Anna: Our first couple races we really struggled with the large fleet rabbit starts and getting out of the short course mindset. We learned a lot from every race and were working constantly to improve our straight line boat speed. We quickly realized that we lost a lot in maneuvers and we worked on doing what we could to fix that. For me, it was keeping Kaila focused on racing our race and focusing on all of my boat handling and wire work.
Kaila: After a few difficult starts of the day our goal was to have one good one and after taking Mark Zagol’s advice about setting up and rig tune off the line, we prepared ourselves. Yet, to be completely honest, I right after the start, I really really badly had to go to the bathroom so my mindset the entire race was to have the fastest boat speed to finish quickly and well. We focused greatly on boat speed and clear air throughout the entire race. After having a decent start, keeping clear was made a bit easier as we worked on maintaining the position.

Kaila and Anna leading a pack around the top mark
Do you have any role models you look up to?
Anna: My family has had such a huge impact on my sailing. My mom has constantly pushed me to not be limited by any health setbacks, including two surgeries on one knee before the age of 17. She has advocated for me endlessly and I cannot thank her enough for her support. Kaila is definitely one of the biggest role models in my life. She is ultimately family to me and I am constantly in awe of her intelligence, dedication, and passion. Also, a quick shout out goes to my coaches, boss, captains, and teammates over the past years who have proved to be some of the most influential people in my life.
Kaila: I would say regarding sailing I have three specific role models. My father is one of my biggest when it comes to staying positive and always working hard. Especially when I sail with him, he is always working his best to fix and work with what we make and always looking to take a step forwards mentally and physically in the race. Also, one of my previous C420 coaches, Camilla Marino, is still one of my biggest role models in sailing. As a strong female sailor, she has taught me to be tough and to fight for what I want on and off the water, as well as countless valuable lessons that still run through my mind while racing. Lastly, and very importantly for me during this Worlds event, is Anna. Throughout the past few years of my life, she has been a tremendous best friend and amazing role model as I’ve watched her accomplish so much and always preserve which has truly taught me to work hard while racing and in my everyday life.

Anna, what does Kaila do best?
One of Kaila’s biggest strengths is her ability to learn from her mistakes and quickly apply corrections.  Kaila has also done amazingly well with working to learn how to power the boat to our size. We had the smallest combined weight at any 505 regatta, but she has been able to refine how we need to set up our boat. She is remarkably supportive. I occasionally get frustrated with my physical abilities while we are sailing and she is able to level my head and push me further, even when she is struggling herself.

Kaila, what does Anna do best?
Anna has a great amount of physical and mental strength which most definitely proves vital when racing the 505. Even when races are physically tough as we battle to keep the boat flat, I watch her grit her teeth, smile, and try even harder. I have certainly never met anyone so determined to do the best she can possibly do which makes working and sailing together absolutely great.

Kaila, your beat your dad Christopher, any love lost?
Disregarding any places finished, I believe both of our goals was to come to our first worlds and learn valuable lessons. We both had various ups and downs but coming out of the event, we both were proud of our races and have agreed to work even harder to improve. So in the end, as far as I know, no love was lost.

What is it like being one of the few female-only teams in the class?
The sport is known to be been dominated by males, but we see more and more females coming into the sport through high school and college sailing. It is definitely empowering to be one of the only all-female teams in the class. People are looking to the all-female teams to prove the physical ability for females to sail these powerful boats. We really want to show young women that it is possible to get into these classes and that the power of the boat is not a reason to avoid the class.

What advice would you have for other young sailors looking to get into the class?
Anna: Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This group of sailors is one of the most supportive that I have ever seen. They want to see the class build and grow and the only way to do that is to bring young people in. If you are interested in getting into the class, ask someone to take you out. I guarantee that they would be happy to see some young faces in the boat.
Kaila: To piggy-back off of Anna, this class is definitely amazing and helpful in so many ways so never be afraid to ask questions. People are always looking for interested sailors to skipper and crew. If you are excited to learn a lot in a fast paced boat this is definitely the place to be.

Do you have any events you are looking forward to next season?
Anna: Right now, we don’t have any plans. We are pretty limited in our time together. We both have taken on demanding paths in school combined with college sailing and our summers are dedicated to working to pay for school. If anyone wants to help us out, we would love to make another appearance at Worlds!
Kaila: While in Boston during the school year, I most likely will not be able to make any events due to travel expenses and time but hopefully this summer, I’ll be back racing 505’s in Hampton. We both would definitely love to travel to Poland next year for Worlds depending on funding and travel expenses, of course.