Road To The Cup – Week 4 – East Coasts Edition – 2016

The Commodores’ Cup was held last Sunday under sunny skies and and absolutely smoking northwesterly that was solidly in the low 20s with gusts in the 30s.  The breeze built throughout the regatta and the RC eventually called it after just one full round robin versus the intended format of a triple round robin with sail-off of the top two teams.  Congratulations to CYC who finished 2-0 for the win.  EYC took 2nd with a 1-1 and BYC 3rd with an 0-2.


Fleet 5 seemingly contributed more than its share of participants, all whom deserve a tip of the cap for team racing in heavy, unwieldy sonars in that condition.  With apologies to anyone I leave out, Fleet 5 sailors included, for EYC Matt Hooks, Beanie Eisner, Peter Frisch and Spencer Powers, for BYC Tomas Hornos, Ron Homa (and Ron’s son), and for CYC Joe Fava, Mike Lane, Evan Cooke, Karen Lubeck and Tim Wadlow & Ery Largay who both have made guest appearances on our line.  Congratulations to all.


24 boats representing four east coast fleets descended on the Sandy Bay Yacht Club in Rockport to contest our 2016 East Coast Championships, and half of those boats were from Fleet 5.  The folks at Sandy Bay were warm and accommodating, as always, and put on a really good time.  The regatta featured three straight days of sunshine and a range of conditions that included an outgoing light north easterly that built through the afternoon as it clocked to the south on day one, a dying northerly that clocked right on day two (finally petering out all together) and a fresh, flat water southerly on day three.  The tide was going out all three days.  If I could sum up the tactical theme, though admittedly a gross simplification, right paid virtually every race (until it didn’t, if you know what I mean).  Some boats did well playing the left from time to time, but it was rarely a sure thing, and climbing the ladder up the middle lost to both sides.  On days one and three, our top marks were tucked up by the shore which made the the top third of the beat as squirrely as a Marblehead northwesterly.


Congratulations to Ben Richardson, who led wire-to-wire and successfully defended what he referred to at his “second home field” to win the 2016 East Coasts title.  Ben, along with long time crew Chris Hofstetter & Megin (not sure of last name) was dominant, putting up a line of 1-1-1-1-3-1-1 for six points in seven races.  Are you kidding me?  This was just a masterful performance.  They were fast, particularly down wind when Ben’s instincts from years of laser surfing kicked in.  But this was not a boat speed regatta.  This was all about race course positioning and making sense of the ever changing interactions of incomprehensible current, wind shifts and land effect.  It’s hard to believe that Chris Hofstetter didn’t have a little something to do with that, so an admiring tip of the cap to him.


Taking 2nd was Tomas Hornos, sailing with Beanie Eisner and Kate Wysocki, with a line of 5-4-2-2-1-2-2 for 13 points, which in any other regatta would have been good enough to win.  The formula for winning any regatta is to put up a line of low single digits.  These guys threw out a 5 but and still didn’t win it, which is remarkable to me.  Congratulations to them.  And finishing 3rd was Team Pendleton / Raisides, sailing with Elise Nash and with Jim driving.  They put up a very respectable 2-2-4-4-2-9-3 for 17 point, which also in most regattas would have been good enough to win (think last year’s Race Week)!  Honorable mentions to Dru Slattery, sailing with Linda Epstein and Michael Drumm, who took 4th with 29 points, and Team McNamara who took 5th with 38 points.  Overall, Fleet 5 took nine of the top ten spots in the regatta.   Very impressive!  Congratulations to all, and many thanks to the fine folks at SBYC and the RC volunteers for a great regatta.


A few final EC thoughts.  This was the first EC to invite youth sailors to participate, and though only one junior boat competed, it was a great idea that we should try again.  Congratulations to Hunter Zonnenberg and teammates Jasper Westhoven and Wil Bedford for sailing and racing very well, which is not surprising considering all three are Laser sailors.  They finished 15th beating nine boats, making it obvious they belong there and could teach us a thing or two.  Beyond that, the 2016 ECs was clearly the year of the youth movement as, in addition to them, we had no fewer than four young rock stars join us, including Kate Wysocki, Alix Israel, Lydia Grasberger and Michael Drum (with apologies to any I missed).  All are former Pleon coaches, all exceptional sailors, all great people and all hopefully part of the next generation of Fleet 5.  If ever there were an argument for racing with three at sanctioned events, there it sits.


Back in Marblehead, just three boats made it out for Twilights, as described by our man on the scene, John Casler.  “Very light and shifty winds out of the north and east.  The course was to nun 22 off the fort, then over to can 19, twice around.  John Casler & Connie Blake got the start at the pin and widened a lead to three or four boat lengths over Matthew Colsman and his father Walter Colsman.  They tacked out, however, and we felt safer continuing on toward the nun rather than covering in the light and shifty stuff.  Bad decision, as Eckart’s progeny grabbed the lead and held it the rest of the way around.  The third boat out, Team Martini missed a course change and headed toward 19 first, and eventually withdrew.  The only other excitement came as the course was shortened to 21 only for the second time around.  Just a few minutes before the air died completely.  We both wallowed around in the incoming tide until enough zephyrs ghosted in to get us around the can, leaving it to starboard, with Walter and Matthew holding their lead.”


Out on the MRA line, just eight boats showed up for what I heard EYC sailing coach Greg Wilkinson describe as the best sailing conditions he’s ever seen in Marblehead.  The attrition rate was high as two of the boats retired before the first race and two more after the second.  What’s up with that?  Worth noting is that our fleet managed to get 8 boats on the MRA line while also sending 12 to East Coasts.  Not bad.  Jim Taylor was kind enough to provide this report.


“Gorgeous sunny day, maybe 8-10kts NE on way out, not much chop, but plenty of powerboat wake.  Committee set for 50 deg, we saw 75.  It was predicted to go right, and sure enough, not long before our start, we saw 90 deg.  The committee accepted reality, postponed, and reset for 85.  Breeze had increased to 12-14 kts by this time, so for us the course was changed from a K to a C, 0.9mi.  The breeze built to maybe 13-15kts during the 1st race, with some higher gusts, and the chops got really short and steep, making stbd tack especially painful.  Carrying any speed through a tack was a challenge, resulting in several unexpectedly close crossings, resulting in at least one spin and one IOU (thanks, Ken!).  Between races we retuned for more breeze, so naturally for Race 2 it dropped back to more like 10-12.  The committee stuck with their 0.9mi leg lengths for both races, which made for a full day of yachting!  There were some DNS’s for R2, and we hoisted our own white flag after the 2nd finish.  The committee called it a day shortly after.  It was Team Taylor’s first day out and we showed plenty of rust, (the fwd crew risked needing his Medicare coverage), but aft the floorboards and seats held up fine.  Dave Nelson (& daughter?) rolled snake eyes and were especially fast surfing downwind in R1, kudus to them.”


Congratulations to Dave Nelson, who continued his early season dominance, winning the day with a 1-1 for 2 points.  Team Taylor (in its season debut) and took 2nd on the day, on the tiebreaker with a 3-2.  Also out for the first time this season was last seasons race week winner Jamie Hollie, who took 3rd with a 2-3, also for 5 points.  Honorable mention to Eric Thornton, who was the only other boat to finish the day.


So in Cup competition, Team Pendleton / Raisides retain the lead, despite taking DNC’s instead of BYES for ECs.  Dave Nelson makes his first appearance on the leaderboard by virtue of his 3-1-1-1 line in MRA-1.  Expect to see some shuffling of the deck next week as we throw out our highest scores.




Pendleton / Raisides




Frisch / Hourihan




Team Pandapas




Steve Uhl




Mike Lane




Larry Ehrhardt




Matt Hooks




Dave Nelson




Team Felton




Dru Slattery



Week 5 racing will include the Twilight race on Thursday night and the 2-3 races of MRA Series 1, Day 4 on Saturday out on Tinkers Line.


NOOD Registration is open.  As you know, your MRA fees cover Race Week, but you still need to register directly with NOOD and can do that here.


Mail Bag

Several folks got a chuckle out of the ladies of Fleet 5 stalking hot AC skippers, though one was quick to correct our spelling.  This (with tongue in cheek) from Jeremy Bloxham, “It’s Ainslie not Ainsley.  Ever the pedant, Jeremy.”  We stand corrected, with apologies to Sir Ben.


The Twilight SIs discussion prompted a thoughtful response from MBSA’s Russ Chapman, who wrote “The string rule has nothing to do with which direction you round a mark!  That is a very old misnomer.”  Russ went on to recount a messy and months-long PHRF rules inquiry that ultimately resulted in new SI language involving the RC signaling rounding sides using colored tape.  We forwarded that along to the powers-that-be with hope it might help inform the process.


As you’d expect, that elicited a similarly long and thoughtful response, summarized by this from John Casler. “The situation described in Russ’ letter, per Dick Rose and Dave Perry, is clearly the way to go for an RC boat operating in open water with a full RC.  We have a small twilight booth with heavy old metal government marks where it just ain’t that easy to loop them with green tape.  Twilight roundings are a unique situation, and David’s “string rule” amendment works perfectly.”  Well there you have it.


Chris Schreiber, previously Fleet Captain of the St Croix Fleet (Fleet 40) writes, “I’ve left the sunny Caribbean and returned to Maine, and am thinking about getting a Rhodes to race.”  Chris has his eye on a few boats in northern Maine, but in the meantime could be coerced into doing a little sailing with us if the right situation presented itself.  So if you are looking for an experienced skipper or crew, you can reach Chris at


We got a couple of emails on the Commodores’ Cup.  First, in response to a congrats email from me, Joe Fava wrote in, “I think Brent was the real winner getting to hoist the burgee!”  We agree.  In fact, we feel inclined to point out that, as the Commodore seems to enjoy sailing with Fleet 5 sailors, perhaps it’s time he consider doing that more often.  If you agree, please let him know next time you happen to run into him.


The second was from the clear-thinking and always concise Mike Lane, who sent without comment the picture below.


EYC Flag.jpg

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