Road to the Cup – Week 6 – 2016

Road To The Cup – Week 6

Top-10 as of 7/3/16


I’d like to take a moment to remember Elise Caswell, who passed away unexpectedly last week.  Elise was the free-est of free spirits and just a sweet, gentle soul.  She and husband Steve Caswell were active fleet members through the 90s when they relocated from Marblehead to Bethel Maine.  Steve raced 1790, Pastiche, the boat now being campaigned by Bill Dalton & Ken Cormier.  Elise was a consummate artist, writer, loved the outdoors and and always had a kind word.  She leaves husband Steve and sons Will and Sam.  More info is available here.




Four boats made it out for a classic Marblehead Thursday evening.  Jim Taylor, who apparently single-handed it, was kind enough to share this account. “I watched a gorgeous sea breeze all afternoon from my office window.  Naturally, by race time it had died.  The RC set a course of 22-19 twice around, and you didn’t have to be an Olympian to recognize that the pin end was heavily favored.  Unfortunately, there was a large powerboat moored barely more than four R19s (widths, not lengths!) from the pin.  Team Martini won the pin, just to leeward of teams Casler, Taylor, and Colsman.  As the meat in a VERY tight sandwich (less than 12” between the rails, but no bumping or whining), I fully expected to be seriously shot out the back, but Walter Colsman decided that they were OCS, and started to go back just as the committee announced on CH78 that they could not see the pin (the powerboat, again), and so were declaring that all the R19s were “over early – no, wait! – are all clear!”  Team Colsman got this unwelcome news in mid-spin, and took it more gracefully than anyone had a right to expect.

“Team Taylor (now miraculously in clear air to windward) got the the faint zephyrs first, and as the leg was a beam reach, our barberhaulers paid off big.  Teams Martini, Casler & Colsman rounded #22 not long after.  The second leg was a port tack favored beat in a 2-4 kt easterly against a strong flood current.  The fleet was eating the leader’s lunch on port, as the Team Taylor shore team had managed to rig the backstay inside the main halyard, which trapped the main leech inside said backstay and to weather, which was… bad.  With a small part of a decent lead still intact, Team Taylor rounded #19 first, followed closely by Martini, Casler & Colsman.  On the broad port gybe reach to the finish (a second lap was NO WAY in the cards!), the extremely light weight of Team Taylor’s virtual crew was no doubt an advantage, and ‘they’ extended to a comfortable win.  Team Martini came 2nd, followed Casler and Colsman, (I am not sure in which order).

“Naturally, when we got back to the mooring, we had a gorgeous breeze again, and could admire an equally gorgeous Marblehead sunset.  It was my first time out this season, and I was reminded what a rare treat Twilight racing can be.  It is sort of like sailboat racing, perfect for kids, and more Fleet Fivers should give it a try!”


Thanks Jim, and congratulations to you and your virtual crew.  Say, just who was on the Team Taylor shore crew?  Anyway, John Casler confirmed the finishing order – Team Colsman took 3rd and Team Casler 4th.  He also mentioned that a boat with the number 3021 showed up late, but to my knowledge, that boat isn’t registered.  If anyone can shed light on that, please do.


So with one race to go, Twilight Series 1 is tight.  Team Colsman and Team Martini are tied at the top with 10 points each, with Steve Uhl in 3rd just one point back.


Out on the MRA line, 20 boats made it out for start of Series 2, including the 2016 debut of Team Zonnenberg, with young Hunter Zonnenberg at the helm and dad JP Zonnenberg crewing.  We were treated to a classic post frontal northwesterly, though by all accounts, a very well-behaved one, blowing a steady 14-15 with the occasional gust in the 20s.  The oscillations were significant (it was a northwesterly after all), which combined with the strong outgoing tide, made for some tricky conditions.  Left seemed to be the side to defend, which made for a tough starting dynamic with the boat end of the line heavily favored.  The RC got off three races, the last of which was a 2-legger.


Team Pendleton/Raisides had absolutely no problem making sense of things, rolling a 1-1-1 for 3 points.  In baseball when a hitter gets hot, they say he’s ‘seeing the ball.’  On this day, Charlie and Jim were seeing the laces on the ball.  In fact, they were the ball.  They sailed beautifully and consistently in conditions that make that tough.  Really well done!  I hear they later withdrew from the 1st race in a protest against them and three other boats related to the leeward mark rounding (more on that in a minute), but that is not reflected in scores online, so for now, I’m going with the reported scores and congratulate them on an outstanding day.


Taking 2nd (or 1st pending score change) were Team Cormier/Dalton, who put up an impressive line of 2-5-2 for 9 points.  These guys are both outstanding sailors and getting stronger by the week as they get to know their new boat.  You’d be wise not to lose track of them on the race course, particularly as we build towards Race Week.  And finishing 3rd (or 2nd) was Mike Lane & Renee Heffernan, who rolled a 4-4-3 for 11 points.  Honorable mentions go to Larry Ehrhardt, who took 4th (3rd) with a 10-3-5 for 18 points, and Team Frisch/Hourihan in 5th with a 6-10-4 for 20 points.


For anyone tracking the friendly and playful Heffernan competition (admittedly of my own making), Mike & Renee beat Bill & Yadi on the day, knotting the season competition at 1-1.


A few thoughts about the Race 1 leeward mark rounding.  Due to an unusually late mark drop (with boats on the bottom 3rd of the leg), there was substantial ambiguity as to whether the mark in question was a leeward mark or the right gate.  That ambiguity was greatest for the four lead boats, who were closest and forced to make a quicker decision.  They made the decision to keep it to port, and made that decision together to avoid a nasty fiberglass-crunching event, which was really smart.  The boats behind, who had more time to look over the situation and think about it, treated it as a gate and kept it to starboard.  The event was protested, and the protest was thrown out due to a failure to fly the flag.  But prior to the hearing, Charlie & Jim resigned.  That was not just the right thing to do, but an incredibly honorable thing to do.  The situation was not of their making, but they took the hit and marred a perfect day.  Team Pendleton/Raisides, through their actions, remind us that winning with integrity is way more important than just winning.  If you ask me, they won a lot more on this day than three bullets.  They won my respect and hopefully yours too, and reminded us that sailing is a Corinthian sport.


So, in Cup competition, for the second straight week, we’ve had a substantial reshuffling, this time driven by a breakdown for Team Pandapas (eating two deeps), an exceptional day for Team Pendleton/ Raisides and several DNCs, including Steve Uhl and Matt Hooks.  The top ten are listed below.




Pendleton / Raisides




Frisch / Hourihan




Team Pandapas




Mike Lane




Dave Nelson




Larry Ehrhardt




Team Felton




Team Cormier / Dalton




Steve Uhl




Matt Hooks



Week 7 racing will include the Twilight race on Thursday night and the 2-3 races of MRA Series 2, Day 2 on Saturday out on Tinkers Line.



NOOD Registration is open.  I hear the Laser guys are already claiming to be the biggest RW fleet.  You going to take that?  Please register now by clicking here.


MRA will hold a Fleet Reps meeting on July 18th to collect fleet feedback on the season thus far as well as any suggestions we might have for improving things.  Please share your thoughts with MRA Reps Jim Taylor ( or Kim Pandapas (


Mail Bag

Not a lot of mail this week.  Worth noting is that we received nothing about Twilight mark roundings.  How ‘bout that?


We heard from old friend Bill Dalton, who after lobbing in an attaboy to Team Pandapas for last weekend and getting back the obligatory offer to let us know if there is anything we can do, Bill replied with this.  “Well, a Vulcan mind meld would probably be most effective.”  Based on their Week 6 performance, I guess no mind meld will be necessary.


Speaking of Team Pandapas, several people texted and emailed concerned inquiries about the nature of the Race 2 breakdown, which apparently was loud enough to make it halfway down the line.  Tom Daily, who was next to us wrote, “Just after I was thinking, what was that, I heard you say, what was that?  What was that?”  ‘That’ proved to be a failure of the vertical tang on the stainless stem fitting that holds the headstay.  It broke away from the base.  Here’s a picture of the broken part on the left and an unbroken one on the right.


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Imagine that.  The top part simply broke away.  We were lucky not to lose the rig.  Not sure how you prevent this kind of breakdown, but it’s worth keeping in mind that these original parts are 50-60 years old.  Just saying…  The part pictured on the right, by the way, belongs to Jeremy & Katie Bloxham, who generously lent it to us for the duration of the season or until we can find or build another.  Thanks Jeremy.  Also a shout out to the Commodore Brent Larlee and wife Beth Larlee, who generously gave us the long tow in.  Thank you!!


Mike Lane wrote in with a suggestion that we take a look at this  Apparently, this service can track our boats during races though our phones.  How cool is that?  Think of the possibilities.  You’ll be able to track your progress around the course, seeing the shifts you miss and so on.  Of course, you wouldn’t get the full picture unless we all did it, which would allow us to document every race with an animated video.  How cool would that be.  If anyone is interested in taking the lead to make this happen, let me know.


–kp (

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