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
Twenty five IOM sailors from California, Oregon, Washington, New York, and Idaho gathered in Foster City, CA to compete in the IOM District Six Championships. This Foster City venue recently hosted the IOM World Championships in 2015.
25 Races were completed over three days where SoCal’s Mark Golison dominated the event wire to wire with a performance that could not be matched or challenged. NorCal’s Gary Boell sailed a strong event placing second with NorCal’s Chris Sullivan also sailing very well placing third.
Long Beach’s Mark Golison just returned from competing in the 2017 IOM Worlds. He submitted this report to SCSN to give us a close up look into his experiences in France and beyond in the IOM world of RC sailing. Thanks Mark!!
Every two years, the International IOM class comes together with 76 qualified entrants from 22 countries for its World Championship. This is a long grueling regatta with 6 day full days of racing over 7 days , there is a midweek lay day.
When I was asked to write a report on my experience at the 2017 IOM Worlds, my first reaction was that it would have been more fun to reflect on my first international IOM regatta, the 2015 Worlds.
Two years ago at the last World Championships, I was hoping to end up in the top half of the fleet, and surprised everyone, including myself, with a much better performance (13th). With another two years under my belt sailing these radio control machines, my aspirations were a little higher. Unfortunately, it doesn’t always work out the way you hope.
Radio sailing at this level is extremely challenging. I have always liked sailing against the best sailors in the world and this class provides that challenge. The difference between success and failure is fractions of a second. Big boat racing now seems as though it is done in slow motion compared to the speed at which things happen with the IOM’s in a breeze.
This particular regatta presented some unique challenges to the competitors. The venue used a fixed control area format. What this means is that you are not allowed to walk up and down the lake to get a good view of your boat. Instead competitors jockey for position in a small “bullpen” area trying to view their boat. Since the boats would sail so far away from this position, depth perception was difficult to determine, resulting in many collisions each race. With a huge penalty for hitting or turning short of a mark, most competitors erred on the conservative side by rounding marks extremely wide. Imagine trying to judge a starboard / port crossing, while approaching a weather mark in the far distance, all while trying to see around a 6’6” competitor at the same time. This was definitely a big issue for all of the competitors.
To start the regatta, there is a single seeding race (5 heats). This single race splits the fleet into 5 heats A thru E. Having a solid seeding race is critical to getting a good start to the regatta. If you have a bad seeding race, you must begin the regatta down in the D or E heats. This puts a lot of pressure on you because just having an OK race in one of these lower heats (finishing 7th out of 20 in the “D” heat) means you get a race score in the 50’s! On the other hand, if you have a good seeding race and start in the A heat (what I did in 2015), you have a good chance for a top ten finish, and at worst, if you end up last, you will only get a 20th place score (although you go down to the B heat to start the next race).
In order to move up heats you must finish in the top 6 places of a heat. Then you immediately race in the next higher heat’s race….and so on. Finishing in the bottom 6 places drops you down a heat for the next race. It can be a bit confusing until you get the hang of this system. I often say that it can be harder to promote out of a B, C or D heat than it is to stay in the A heat. To have a good chance to stay in the A heat, it helps to be conservative and stay out of trouble (collisions & fouls). On the other hand, to promote out of a lower heat, you have to gamble a bit more to go for a top 6 finish in the heat (the top several guys basically all stay in the A heat almost the entire championship) .
Unfortunately for me, I had a bad seeding race and started in the D heat. With bad starts, missed shifts, fouls, and collisions while being fouled, it took me eight long races to get to the A heat for a race. And then, after finally getting to A heat, I had my sail winch die just before the start and had to retire from the race!
In the end after 24 races (and after ranking in the 50’s the first couple of days), I clawed my way back to 33rd place and in the top half of this amazingly competitive fleet.
The organizers did a fantastic job with the logistics of the regatta. Social events, race officials, international judges, food and technology were first rate. For the first time, there was a professional company live web casting all the races which were watched by family and friends around the world.
For me, the best thing about racing these IOM’s is the fantastic competition, seeing great friends that I have made from all around the world, and traveling to amazing places. Next year I hope to give it another try at the European Championships in Croatia.