Road To The Cup – Week 12

Road To The Cup – Week 12


We had a great turnout for the Twilight on Thursday night as 13 teams came out to do beer-can battle. Of course, it wouldn’t be Twilights without some kind of kerfuffle and this Twilight was no exception, featuring course-change confusion, multiple lead changes, a breeze that shut off completely, rouge waves, mass retirements and worst of all, a regrettable lack of beer. Here’s an account cobbled together from reports sent in by John Casler and Jim Taylor.

This from John. “Perhaps one of the strangest Twilights in which I have participated in 43 summers. A dozen or so Rhodes showed up for a beautiful evening with a moderate (6-8 knot?) breeze out of the south and south east. “28” (Williams Rock) and “19” (can outside the harbor), were posted, twice around. So far, so good. The first round was fun racing, with lead changes among Team Taylor, Steve Uhl, Mike Lane, Walter Colsman, and John Casler.”

And from Jim – “The first leg was a broad starboard reach to #28. Team Colsman won the start with bow out at the pin (hotter angle to the mark on the left) while Team Lane, Steve Uhl (singlehanding) and Veenland/Taylor were in a tight pack holding each other (too) high on the right. Team Colsman rounded first, with Uhl, V/T, Lane, and I think Casler (soloing) following in a tight pack. The choice on the beat to #19 was whether to take advantage of more outgoing current to the left, or more breeze and a port tack header to the right in the mouth of the harbor. Uhl, Lane and Casler chose the latter and made big gains to round first in that order, with V/T (who didn’t go right far enough) and Colsman (who went left early) following. The reach back to the S/F pin was uneventful beyond Steve opening up a big lead, but things began going seriously pear shaped on the run to #22, the new leeward mark. Steve ran into a wall of current and no wind, Lane, Casler and V/T all drifted up from behind into the same water, and we all rounded (barely) into one of the biggest, most violent powerboat wakes in memory.”

Back to John. “With the wind clearly weakening, the course was shortened the second time around, with the first mark changed to “22” (the nun off the fort). Steve, single handing, was in the lead, with Mike Lane, Jim Taylor and me, also single handing, reasonably close behind. As we neared the mark, however, we could see Steve head up strangely, and we knew there was trouble coming as the air died. As the four of us drifted around 22, a fierce, bouncing, multi-directional swell came out of nowhere. Then things got really bizarre. Random shifts and holes appeared and disappeared, each time reshuffling the fleet in what appeared at least to me to be random order – sort of like a crazy game of 7-card stud with deuces, red eights and one-eyed jacks wild. And the air kept dying. I got within ten yards of the last turning mark right behind Steve and Mike, and then it took me another ten minutes to get around the cursed thing. As I headed in, boats were radioing in their withdrawals out of frustration, boredom, and having better things to do.

“Within 30 yards of the finish I spent an agonizing few minutes racing against, and losing to, a moored whaler. The RC finished six boats, giving the gun to Stefan Thibodeaux, followed by Rob & Jenn Ferro, Team Sheldon / Sousa and Timmy Dittrich, followed by me and Jocelyn Cook. I hadn’t even brought a Grolsch! My thanks to Rob and Jenn for their generosity at the mooring.”

And last word from Jim. “A huge shout out to all those who had the patience to stick it out to the finish, especially Stefan, who singlehanded #41 to the big win.”

Wow. No Grolsch?’ That’s a shocking oversight. So, congrats to Stefan Thibodeaux for the bullet and for his perseverance. Finishing 2nd was Rob & Jen Ferro, and finishing 3rd was Team Sheldon / Sousa. Honorable mentions go to everyone else for showing up, having fun and enduring the rogue waves.

John adds, “As an afterthought, I should have been wary of the jinx from appearing last week in the swimsuit edition of Road To The Cup.” Swimsuit edition is right. As this is a family publication, we won’t reprint that picture, but here are a couple of others, courtesy of Rob Ferro.

I was away this weekend so this week’s MRA report is provided by Steve Uhl.

“Out on the MRA line, the forecast looked iffy with light easterlies, and at 11am it was flat, with high overcast and not much to hope for. But 14 boats made it out to the line, which I think is our record for the year. Among the 14 were Debbie Noble making her first appearance of the year, plus Molly Lane driving Harms Way and Walter Colsman sailing with I believe his daughter. Plus of course the three musketeers sailing solo, John Casler, Timmy Dittrich and Stefan Thibodeaux.

“Amazingly, the sail out was awesome as a southeasterly filled in and we all revved up for an awesome day. But of course, at 12:30 as the J70s were in sequence, the wind shut off – as in lower your mainsail and go for a swim off. I know I drifted around, trying to decide who to blame. For a minute, after our recent twilight race, I thought maybe it was Groundhog Day or a Twilight Zone episode. Around 2pm, as I was searching for a tow rope and deciding which power boat looked like the best tow – the southeasterly filled in – nothing to write home about, but solid enough for some good racing.

“The breeze ranged from 125 to 140 which was our starting course, and the boat was heavily favored. Team Hourihan / Frisch won the boat and then went right, which seemed to pay. But Pete & the Kid (aka Team Cooke / Kaznoski) plus Team Lane went left and honestly many converged at windward mark. For what it’s worth – I think in those light conditions, job-1 is getting off the line and sailing somewhere – anywhere – with clean air. Another complexity was that the starboard tack lay line was hard to call because of incoming current. But with no offset mark, coming in on port tack lay line gives up some time in getting the chute up. The calculus of last 100 yards changes a little with no offset to put the pole up.

“But the headline is Team Hourihan / Frisch were gone, on the way to two straight horizon jobs. Honestly, they were just faster than anyone else. I was briefly next to them, but not long enough to pick up any tips. I suspect they got bored after the first 5 minutes of each race as they just sailed away from the fleet. So race 1 was Team Hourihan / Frisch, followed by Cooke / Kaznoski then Molly Lane.

“Race 2, because of the late start, was a 0.4 windward leg. Seemed like a good way to go with the lateness of the hour and fickleness of the breeze. I should note that the EYC RC did an awesome job getting two races in, and even doing several course changes to keep up with the fickle breeze. Anyway, in race 2 the left paid huge – I think just because the breeze was fresher. Once again Team Hourihan / Frisch called it and sailed away with it. Sailing a 0.4 instead of a 0.6 was very different – it’s tough to “bang a corner” because you get there so fast. Or stated another way, it’s tough to come back from behind. Anyway, the finishes were mostly based on how far left you went. Team Hourihan/Frisch took 1st, then Uhl/Lane then Cooke/Kaznoski.

“So for the record, it was Team Hourihan/Frisch winning the day easily with a pair of bullets. They’ll have a target on their back next week. Taking 2nd was Team Cooke/Kaznoski with a 2-3 for 5 points, and finishing 3rd just one point back was Team Uhl/Lane, with a 4-2 for 6 points. Honorable mentions to Molly & Mike Lane in 4th with a 3-4 for 7 points and to Debbie Noble who took 5th on a tiebreaker with a 6-5 for 11 points, narrowly beating Team Taylor/Yarsono with a 5-6, also for 11 points.”

Holy crap! That was really good. Thanks Steve.

So, in Cup competition, we remain all tied up because as you know, there will be no season scoring this year. But the table below has been updated to include all of the relevant stats. In the all-important category of races sailed, Team Cooke / Kaznoski holds onto their 1-race lead. Also worth pointing out is that in four MRA days, four different teams have won the day. Finally, we missed John Casler’s spin a couple of weeks ago, so that is also updated.

Week 13 racing will include a Twilight on Thursday evening, MRA Summer – Day 5 on Saturday and morning booth racing on Sunday.

Other News, Notices & Miscellaneous Scuttlebutt

Fleet 5 Registration Fleet 5 registration this year has been kind of a non-event. Dave Reynolds automatically rolled over all 2019 registrations at no cost, which means that anyone registered last year is registered this year too. That includes 27 fleet members. (The Class Association has done the same thing.) That process obviously didn’t capture our new members, so the next step is to register them (also at no charge). So, if you own a boat and are not on the list of 27 members, please register now. It takes on minute and doesn’t cost anything.

Welcome Ellis Taylor – Fleet 5 just got a little bigger. Amanda & Nat Taylor welcomed Ellis Hathaway Taylor at 6:45am on July 29th. Ellis weighed in at 7 lb 6 oz and 19.5″ tall. Everyone is reportedly doing fine, including the beaming daddy.

Who Wants To Race In The Ted Hood? The idea has been floated to add a Rhodes start to this year’s Ted Hood Regatta, which will be Friday August 21-Sunday August 23. This is typically a three-day PHRF event that also includes 1-2 bigger one-designs. They are considering offering us a start, but frankly, only if we show up in some meaningful numbers. We’ve heard from 6-7 teams so far, which is borderline. If you would definitely sail and haven’t let me know yet, please email me immediately at

Update on What’sApp – Elise Nash has been exploring ways to augment real-time fleet communications. Here is her update. “Over the past few years we have discussed options for how we might communicate in real time, amongst fleet members, information about who is sailing, when and where. While there are numerous options out there, the laser fleet has successfully been using the free phone app WhatsApp to do just that. Tom Dailey has set up a WhatsApp Group for Fleet 5, which essentially functions like a group text. Fleet members can opt in by downloading the app to their phone and clicking on the following link: The goal is to encourage participation allowing members to chat about who is sailing, share pics and even talk some smack, though we would ask that people keep their messages brief and to the point.” Any questions please email Tom Dailey at or Elise Nash at

Phil Smith Racing Photos for Free!Phil Smith has taken some amazing racing photos on our line this year. Here are a few examples of Phil’s work.

You’ll find these and a lot more at He writes, “The R19 photos on my website can be downloaded for free. Hopefully you can let the fleet know. In addition, Smugmug will print copies if anyone wants.” That’s awesome, Phil. Thanks.

Sails & Mast for Sale – This from Mark Rubin. “We have an old main, jib and spinnaker. We also have a 2015 race ready (used during 2015-2018 seasons) Rhodes mast made and rigged by Cape Cod Shipbuilding. Hope you and all of the Pats fans in your family are doing well.” If you’re interested in the sails or owning a spare mast, contact Mark at, or call his cell at 202-591-5981.

Nick Cann Wins Townie Nationals – Congratulations to former Fleet 5er Nick Cann, who dominated a fleet of 17 boats in last week’s Townie Nationals by winning four of the eight races. He finished with a line of 1-1-4-1-1-2-8-6 for 16 points.

Spotted in P-town – There is a nice fleet of Rhodes in Provincetown, many apparently powered by some of our older sails. Here is a shot of one Bill Heffernan’s old sails, which lives on in P-town.

Mail Bag

Mark Toso sent in this inquiry, which frankly could be interpreted in a couple of different ways. “Was one of your deep dark desires to be a writer?” Hmm. So, is he impressed with the impeccable quality of this humble little publication, or is it more like, don’t quit your day job? Hard to tell, right? But to answer the question, yes, but not so deep or dark really, and in fact, I wear it on my sleeve. Perhaps one day, I will become one.

Jim Taylor lobbed in a few thoughts on this week’s MRA. “Best story of the day was Molly Lane showing us how it’s done, and having another generation of Colemans out there. Two mysteries: 1) Why everyone on the North Shore with a big powerboat felt they had to buzz the north line all afternoon, and 2) Why the current was RIPPING harder at the top mark in the second race than it was in the first, after the nominal low tide, in more or less the same direction?

“The grandpa driving #1926 showed his helming rust by seriously bungling two top mark roundings, hitting one and having to abort another. You’d think after all these years… At least one other boat hit a top mark (I had a front row seat as I was aborting) and neglected to spin. Come on people, do the right thing!”

We got a ton of mail about Thursday night. Let’s start with this from Stefan Thibodeaux. “Thursday night was a lesson on even if you are in the back of the fleet in a dying breeze anything can happen. the leaders sailed into a hole and the back sailed around them. It was a gr8 lesson on never giving up until the gun has sounded.” Congrats again. And showing my age and general fuddy-duddyness, when did ‘gr8’ become a thing?

Continuing with Thursday night, there was some apparent confusion around the course change for the 2nd lap that generated a mind-numbing amount of email. Here is an example from Mike Lane. “How did they change the course to 22-21? Was it over the radio? When I went around the third mark, the board read 22, 19. Like an idiot, I never turned on my radio until I called in to withdraw.” Did the mark really exist? Was it green or was it red? Or the very existential question – which side should you round if the mark doesn’t really exist? Holy moly. I’ll spare you the rest, and get straight to the explanation from David Graham, who ran the race.

“Prior to the first “gun” we were pretty well convinced that the SE breeze would fade slightly before sunset. With that in mind, we elected to take advantage of a nice existing sea-breeze by posting a course of “28” / “19”, twice around, knowing that we would likely make a change for the second circuit for the Rhodes, Town Class and the Sonars. Thus, we proceeded to start 13 Rhodes-19, 9 Town Class and 2 Sonars. As the Rhodes 19s were nearing “19” on the first circuit, we became aware that the breeze in Salem Bay was beginning to fade earlier than anticipated and as a result, we elected to change the course for the Rhodes-19s to “22” / “19” where there was still a viable breeze. Shortly after they had rounded Mark “O”, we made a further change for the T/C to “22” / “21”. Thanks for clearing that up Dave.

Finally, this from Jocelyn Cook on another inflection point in her R19 journey. “Well, tonight was another milestone in my skippering — my first solo (granted it was only from Trading up at Cliff Street over to Pleon, but alone nonetheless). Super pumped to have taken the leap to cast off alone.” Congrats on that. It’s a process.

Let’s be safe out there. Please don’t let down your guard.

–kp (

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