All across North America, the DF65 & DF95 are expanding beyond the traditional model yachting enthusiasts and are finding new venues in “big boat” yacht clubs and sailing clubs at an incredible pace!
The availability, instant delivery and affordability of the DF95 & DF65 are helping these big boat sailors build fleets and build interest in sailing beyond their normal membership avenues. At a time when interest in sailing has been shrinking globally, the RC sailing approach has been a welcome, new fun alternative to sailing for these yacht clubs to increase interest and activity! Historically many of the these clubs have found RC sailing too hard to build, too expensive, and too far on the hobby side to get a fleet up and racing.
The development the last couple years of easy to assemble, and affordable boats like the DF65 & DF95 have caused many of these clubs to rethink their approach to radio sailing, and redefining their “frostbiting ” sailing to include RC boats.
A USA IOM Nationals event is to look forward to, and once again we were not disappointed. High level sailing is the main draw, and Garland provided epic radio sailing conditions for us. The venue is well suited for socializing because most of us stayed at the same Holiday Inn Express & Suites and then we walk a short distance to the restaurants or this amazing radio sailing venue. Not everybody was prepared to sail in A-fleet, but everybody had their A-game working on the social side. What great fun day and night!
Some make a bigger commitment to attend than others, and we were blessed with many foreign travelers joining us as is usually the case. Four Aussie skippers made the crazy long flight, with two wives that contributed significantly every day to the scoring and the measurement verification – thank you Elaine and Audree. We had two Brazilians, including Denis Astbury, a Britpop builder of note in our circles. We had World Champion Zvonko Jelacic returned from Croatia to defend his 2016 USA Championship. Stan Wallace came in again from the Bahamas.
And then we had a large contingent of SoCal Nomads, with Ben Reeve and David Woodward long hauling their team’s boat kit from San Diego while their buddies used airlines. What an excellent way to share travel costs and encourage your team to sail together at big distant venues. Well done all.
Class rules require a measurement verification process for ranking events, and a Nationals has a few more stations with a wet tank verification by class rule.
The hotel generously provided the large meeting room, and the fleet took over the extended lobby for last minute work on our boats – and socializing. Measurement was very well staffed and managed with everybody receiving a card with their appointment time as part of the efficiency. Baron Bremer was Sergeant at Arms blocking the measurement room door if it wasn’t your time. We know not to mess with Baron. Forty boats measured in at the 7 stations in about five hours, and Stan Wallace measured in Friday morning because the airline left his sailbox in Atlanta. Fortunately, it arrived in the dark of night and everybody was ready to race Friday morning on time.
Everything is bigger in Texas, and Lake Ray Hubbard is no exception – it is big like Chuck LeMahieu’s personality. The venue provided big wind for all three days. Friday and Saturday, we sailed mostly 2-rig in waves from the long 4.5-mile fetch for winds from the S to SE direction. Usually the waves were large enough to allow surfing. At the end of day-2 the waves grew to heroic scale and got the dock rocking a bit too. Your senses come alive with the crashing waves, the boats leaping to windward off waves, the noise, and the rocking dock. I haven’t enjoyed an experience like that since IOMs sailed in the Dallas Blowout on nearby White Rock Lake, so thank you again Texas!
Sunday the wind direction switched to the North and the wind and waves calmed to the point a few races were in 1-rig and underpowered a little in 2-rig. Overall this was an excellent test of your sailing and big fleet management skill, where speed alone is not an answer because most everybody is fast.
There were many very good sailors in the fleet, but one stands out. Zvonko Jelacic sailing his newish Kantun 2 had no problem defending his USA Championship from last year, and it was great to socialize with him again and to check out his latest design. 17 points in 17 races describes his dominance in numbers, where his worst finish was 2nd (six times).
The A-fleet racing was often great theatre from the elevated on-shore lawn or the restaurant deck. For example, on the last beat in race 7, Rosco Bennett began with a small lead over Zvonko at the leeward gate, and Mark Golison had a chance in third. The end of the beat finishes with a long mostly port tack parallel to the dock with a few short hitches out required. Rosco stretched his lead midway by going farther out and Golison caught a puff to where he was on starboard and crossing Zvonko. Golison tacked to a close cover, but was a little slow accelerating in the lumpy water. Zvonko dipped to leeward and with momentum soon he could pinch up to cover from the front. This left Mark with no options in bad air. It became a drag race to the finish with Rosco just in the lead closely by Zvonko a little to weather and pinching. Rosco needed a short starboard tack to finish, and it looked like he could pass in front, but he was also a little slow accelerating in the waves and Zvonko crossed on port with the finish line close by. There were many close ones like that.
The wind and waves caused boat carnage. The most egregious was when George Pedrick’s sweet blue V10 sank just off the dock near the finish line, and hasn’t been recovered as I write this. Speculation is a hard collision at the leeward gate caused a hull crack or loosened a deck patch. A diver spent an hour looking the next morning. George purchased fishing gear and a grapple hook and cast into the night and the following day to no avail. The only humor in this was fisherman from nearby Bass Pro kept coming to the dock to offer casting advice, thinking he was a really dumb fisherman. Also, a couple of homemade IOMS had their RMG winches break their mounting systems, testament to the power of this fine winch and the challenging condition.
More IOM lessons learned – again.
I can’t say enough good things about the organizing and race management group. Gary Boell had this cockamamie idea to host IOMs at this special venue while living 1,700 miles away. Despite the challenging logistics, Gary and the many volunteers pulled it off. This was first class all the way and their efforts showed.
Fred Rocha came from San Diego to manage the racing, and Barry Fox came from Victoria in BC for measurement and scorekeeping. Special recognition to San Antonio locals John Kelsey and Ken Weeks from San Antonio (the Fiesta RC Yachts boys) who worked the whole regatta.
Host Club: North Bay Radio Controlled Sailing Club (AMYA #38); San Francisco, CA
Venue: Lake Ray Hubbard at Bass Pro docks; Garland, TX