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Yankton 2023 FWC Championship regatta report
I arrived in Yankton Wednesday evening, and set up my tent on the freshly mowed big grassy area, and set up my boat by the nice sandy beach. Rod and Lorie Haglund, the Bommersbachs, and the Fleet 291 people made everyone feel welcome while we caught up with old friends, and told sea stories to our new friends.
On Thursday, I hoped to get in a short sail, but winds were rather fickle, so I ended up spending the rest of the busy day in my dorky sailing outfit. A few sailors managed a little sailing despite the light winds. Arriving sailors participated in measuring of all sails. In all, 22 sails were measured on site, with all being within the FWC sail specs. Class Measurer Jane Sherrod (that’s me), along with approved measurers Andy Larson and Eric Dorschner had plenty assistance as they marked and measured the 7 specific sail measurements of each Formula Wave or Hobie sail. For some sails, the luff curve was also measured - after Bob Curry showed us how. By late afternoon, almost everyone was hanging out around the measuring area - helping when asked, visiting, and perhaps imbibing in a few adult beverages. A lively Intro to Racing “chat” by Ryan Richardson (teacher and illustrator extrordinaire) and Jane Sherrod (that’s me) was fun and informative.
Friday brought early gentle winds. Skipper’s meeting, led by PRO Dick Graves, with his merry band of able assistants - Paul, Mary, Lorie, and Wendy - with new trainee Kylar Wessels - gave us all we needed to know about the day’s racing. After a short postponement, Race 1 started with a square starting line and a nice 8-10 knot breeze. Course 2 - A-C-A-C- Finish. A wind shift on the 2nd A to C leg meant you could go around the Course Right Gate, immediately tack, and close reach to the finish in the best wind of the day. Provided lunches were consumed on the water while the race committee reset the course.
The signal boat posted another Course 2 for Race 2. Winds were lighter - about 5-8 knots. About the time the leaders rounded A the 2nd time, the wind died to a whisper. Keeping your boat moving was a challenge. Watching everyone’s unique downwind techniques- from sitting on the “wrong” or “right” side, standing, leaning, on your belly - none seemed to be an advantage over the other. Thankfully, the race committee shortened the course to lessen the sailor’s misery. The race committee then sent us ashore to wait for wind - which had completely died. After waiting a while, the PRO cancelled racing for the day due to lack of wind. However, the forecast was for much better winds on Saturday, and very strong nuclear winds for Sunday. Forecasts also showed good chance of thunderstorms during each night, with 10-20 knot winds. Many sailors staked down their boats - just in case.
Friday evening saw a delicious Taco Bar with all the fixins. Wendy and her minions really outdid themselves. Rave reviews from everyone.
Around 0345 Saturday morning, I woke to a sudden increase in the wind. My tent was well staked and I wasn’t worried. Very suddenly (as I remember), the wind increased violently, my tent (with me inside) was picked up and slammed upside down violently. Suddenly, I was outside but still in my sleeping bag. My tent had literalIy blown up. I waited a few minutes for the unbelievable winds to lessen, crawled out of my sleeping bag, and scampered to my van for shelter from the rain. Arriving at my van, I found a big limb from somewhere had busted out a window, and my van was now full of limbs and tons of broken glass. As the rain dwindled, I made a few trips back the the tent wreckage for my 2 duffel bags of clothes. A potential disaster was averted when I finally found my only bra later that morning. Never found a trace of my lawn chair. The smarter campers took refuge in the bathroom.
The rain stopped in less than an hour, and I thought to go check on my boat - in the dark. The area right off the beach where everyone left their boat was EMPTY! Where were the boats? I found mine with it’s mast broken and jammed against Mike’s motorhome. Other boats were jumbled together in piles and amongst the trailers. Most tie downs did not hold. Lots of broken masts, especially comptips. Rudders castings snapped. Hulls folded over. Squashed mast bobs and mangled brackets.
Daylight brought everyone together to untangle the boats and trailers. It was obvious there weren’t enough whole boats to race, so dazed sailors began packing up boats. A short skippers meeting confirmed the cancellation of further racing, and set the Awards presentation for later Saturday afternoon, to be followed by the usual yummy dinner held in conjunction with the friendly yacht club group.
Trophies were beautiful 3D etched glass, presented by FWC president Ben Wells. Lots of thanks to FWC organizers, Fleet 291 members, yacht club members, chase boat and signal boat workers, and all other volunteers.
Yankton SD, and Lewis and Clark lake are a great place to sail. The lake is quite scenic and pretty. Regatta site has tons of room for boats and trailers with a soft sandy beach for launching. There is good tent camping, and nice bathrooms with hot showers. For racing, there is a well trained and knowledgeable race committee. The Taco Party was great and the Saturday dinner and special desserts were delicious. Although this year experienced some tragedy and a shortened racing schedule, I can’t wait to come back next year.
The Formula Wave Class is a friendly, welcoming and competitive group of sailors. We welcome both new and experienced racers at our events. Join us!
Next stop - Ohio and the Put-in-Bay Regional FWC Regatta. The Key West of the North!