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Put-in-Bay 2023 Regatta Report. August 4-6 2023
Put-in Bay Yacht Club (Ohio) on Lake Erie is the site of the annual FWC North Coast Regional. Held in conjunction with the I-LYA Bayweek, competitors on boats from 13 foot Hobie Waves to large 56 foot monohulls compete in many different classes over several different racecourses for this year’s bragging rights. The town is actually on an island a couple of miles off Port Clinton, Ohio, and you get there by a nice ferry ride. I had no wait to catch the ferry on the way over, but quite a long wait for the ride back to the mainland - all part of the adventure.
This is my 2nd time to attend this long running and well known regatta. As before, I elected to tent camp on the yacht club grounds, especially since other accommodations are rather expensive for my frugal tastes. Campers have a nice grassy area, with 24 hour access to yacht club restroom facilities, which includes good hot showers. Boat setup and storage was roomy, on the freshly mowed grassy area right next to the yacht club patio. Launching each day is via a single wide ramp, which can get a bit tricky in some winds, but there is usually a helper there to assist you - so no problem.
Each day begins with an 0730 competitors meeting - yes 0730! Area winds generally die in the afternoon, so getting an early start is important. Also, due to heavy boat traffic, both regatta participants and abundant (and large) powerboats - the Wave course is set up several miles from the launch site. For the scheduled 0900 first start, you needed to leave a little bit after 0800 - practically the middle of the night for me. Local expert Doug Seib brought up the tail end out to the race course each day to make sure everyone found their way.
Friday’s races started in about 10 knot winds. Race Committee set up Course 5 - A B C A C Finish with long legs from A-B, and B-C. The 1st race featured Jim Hildebrandt winning by a big margin, with local expert Doug Seib (uncharacteristically) at the back. However, after that, Doug got his groove back, and didn’t finish worse than 3rd the rest of the regatta. Old hands - Bob Everson and Jane Sherrod (that’s me) also found themselves with bad races and poor finishes, including Bob’s boat being particularly fond of A-mark on 2 different races. New FWC members - Sam Falter, Michelle Harman, Ken Farber, and Steve Goodyear showed off their local knowledge and skills with lots of crowded mark roundings, tight finishes, and exciting starts. Excellent work by the signal boat and chase boats yielded 5 races for the 1st day, with the last race in much lighter winds. It was a long sail back to the yacht club, with abundant large powerboat traffic, making for a slow and bouncy ride.
Friday evening featured the Mount Gay Rum sponsored party - rum punch! - as well as a couple different beers. The yacht club offered a reasonable pasta and salad dinner option - which I gladly bought. There are pretty much unlimited entertainment and dining options, many within walking distance, but I was content to stay right where I was at the regatta site..
Saturday began with the usual 0730 competitors meeting, long sail to the race course, and early 0900 first start. Course 2’s - A C A C Finish were the main course choice of the day. Starts were competitive, with crowds at the signal boat end every race. A-mark continued to be crowded as well. Four races were finished before the winds diminished for the afternoon, with another bumpy sail back. Bob Everson had a much better day - with 2 bullets - including 1 where he was practically a whole leg ahead of the 2nd place boat.
Saturday evening featured the Tito’s (from Texas) Vodka party - hard lemonade - and some different beers. The yacht club offered a Taco Bar, which I bought, and it really hit the spot. Except to buy some ice, I never had to leave the yacht club at all. Put-in-Bay is known as a real party town - the “Key West of the North”, but I was fine with all the variety from the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club.
Early Sunday morning brought rain and winds from a bad direction, with unsettled weather forecast for much of the day. Regatta organizers cancelled further races, allowing me to pack up my tent and boat in scattered rain showers. Trophy presentation took awhile due to the many many different classes - such as PHRF A, B, C, D, Singlehanded A and B, as well as something called JAM A and JAM B.
After a quick hot shower, I left the yacht club around 1230, but sat in line for the ferry for almost 2 hours. While waiting, I finished my Book-on-tape - Mr Mercedes by Stephen King - and tidied up the van for the 1450 mile drive home.
The Put-in-Bay Wave Regatta is perhaps the oldest Wave regatta around - with its roots in the old IWCA (International Wave Class Association). The options of “party party hearty” within walking distance, or “relax and chill” make for an attractive trip to a fun location. The race committees know their stuff, and set good race courses, especially if you like those triangle A B C courses. I encourage all you Wave sailors to attend the Put-in-Bay Regatta next year.