2011 Melges MC Scow National Championship : Lake Keuka, New York - What A Great Location!

19 September 2011

Article courtesy of Eric Hood - This year’s National Championship found its way out to the Northeast and was held at Lake Keuka, one of the gorgeous Finger Lakes in Western New York.   45 teams made it our annual championship despite the gloomy weather reports of cold weather and rain (which did happen).  4 races held which included 2 medium air races, 1 barn burner and 1 crazy Ivan light air spinner.  For those who got to enjoy the sites, beautiful wine country and vineyards, visits to local museums and artisan shops were highlights.   

We will dive into some race results right away, then some race highlights, key learnings, upcoming events and photos.

All complete race results can be found on the class home page at www.mcscow.org 

Joe Rotunda from Spring Lake, Michigan won his first national championship coming off last year’s 2nd place at the National Championship.  Joe sails with the tough West Michigan crowd and hails from Spring Lake, MI.  

2nd place went to Jeff Surles from Pine Lake, WI who won race 1. 

Last year’s champ and the class’s newest board member Cam McNeil from White Lake, MI. finished third.   

Zack Clayton from Lake Eustis, FL finished fourth. 

Class Commodore Dan Fink finished fifth sailing from Pine Lake, WI.

EHood sailing out of Lake Eustis, Florida’s club finished sixth and was top Master.  Thanks to crew Elise Anis from Augusta Sailing Club for sailing in the big breeze.

Local favorite and E Scow sailor Chris Hawk sailed a strong regatta finishing seventh plus won the last race.  

Noel Neuman from Upper Minnetonka won the second race and sailed very well finishing 8th. 

Scott Tillema won race #3 in big breeze despite a broken outhaul on the last leg of that race win.  Scott sailed out of Missouri Yacht Club finishing 9th.  

Tenth went to Richard “Flat Tire” Blake sailing out of Hoover Yacht Club in Columbus, OH.  Hope you got home safely. 

Top Grand Master and 13th overall was Tim Fredman from Pine Lake in Wisconsin.  

Top Mega Master was Dr. Jack Kern from Rush Creek Yacht Club near Dallas who finished 17th overall.  

Our top Youth sailor (under 21) went to Jake Erdman from White Lake, MI who finished 21st overall.

Oh boy we have some serious highlights from this regatta.  First of all if you have not been to the Finger Lakes and/or Lake Keuka you need to put it on your bucket list, a definite spot to visit in your lifetime with spectacular hills, deep clean water and massive lakes in western New York.  

Co-chairs Steve Anderson and Robert Cole with a great team of volunteers took great care of the crew.  Believe me, we were needy.  All four days the temps ranged from a low at night of 35 to high of 59 degrees during the sailing times.  Also, day 1 first two races we had rain and it was seriously cold.  Great (hot) food, great parties and great drinks from “up the hill” as they say at Keuka greeted the sailors each evening.

I think one of the highlights was that we had a shot of having a real shoot out at the end of this regatta with the first six boats only be separated by eight points.  The difference between 2nd and 6th was only two points.  There was an unheard of three-way tie for 2nd when it was all over.  We never got a race off the last day so we sat on that point spread for a day with everyone considering all the possibilities.  The regatta was up for grabs.  

Basically as mentioned earlier we had three great races and one silly race I think everyone but probably our new champ Joe would like back. The serious part though of the silly race is you better race as hard as you can like Joe and everyone else did because it may count just like this one did.  The great news on the silly race was everyone afterwards discussed how we got there, the outcome and ways to avoid getting ourselves in a bind in the future.  

Our PRO and his teams did a great job on the first three races and just simply got caught in tough conditions (go or no-go) for the last one.  One thing we all walked away with was -don’t blame the PRO or volunteers when they give us things we ask for.  So back to highlights.

Race winners – Surles, Neuman, Tillema, Hawk.

Cam McNeil, EHood and maybe one or two others with rooster tails flying off their transoms in race 3 going from windward mark to offset in the biggest puff of the day.  Crazy fast MC speeds.  Great rides all day long on the first day and first three races.

Learning that if you don’t like the breeze you have with the Keuka mountain style sailing then just wait a minute for another big shift.  You could read them though so it was not like they were unknowns like you might see in Colorado or other high altitude lakes.

Great class meeting held by Dan Fink and Bob Cole.  Lots of discussion about our future building into young sailors and new sailors.  Investing our money in technology for the future and other creative ideas to build the class were discussed.  Check the next magazine and web for the minutes. 

Big Thanks and Appreciation to:

Marianne Fink who did a ton of support work for the class before, after and during this event.

A big class thank you and shout out to Ron Stryker outgoing Executive Class Secretary whose offer to serve a couple of years turned into about 6 real fast.  Ron and Herman Van Beek before him has given hundreds, probably into the thousands of hours to our class doing things nobody ever sees.  Ron will continue on helping the class with treasury duties and hopefully we find some time to sail with us soon.  Many thanks for your tireless servant hood Ron from all!!

Meeting new class members like Devon Howe and others from the newest fleet Saratoga, New York. A product of John Kimball’s hard work over the years.

Watching the Coral Reef Sailing Apparel group sell lots of cold weather clothing (including me).  Love those tights, or should I say hydro under gear!

See the Keuka Lake Yacht Club grow their fleet with 2 skippers added to the fleet with Anders Hudson and Steve Mixon joining.   Anders and his dad William bought my very cool new MC with the rubber floor that everyone wants now and the crazy I-45 graphics.  So cool to see young sailors when they get their first boat. Steve Mixon a local sailor just joined the scow world for the first time by a good used MC at the regatta.

Like any long series regatta there are always things we learned.  This regatta was “Don’t Panic” as change is around the corner.  With velocities changing, big giant (but foreseeable) shifts coming through, there were always opportunities to make gains or get back into any given race.  Also, with the big shifts in the windy races you had to be aware of sailing into the waves on Port tack when the big left shifts came through.  Downwind more than ever though I think we saw folks lose big and gain big by either not sailing hard or really sailing hard and focusing on the always new fresh breeze coming from behind.   

Starts while extremely important did not necessarily kill you if you were not in the right spot.  What did hurt you though was not getting off the line with speed.  That was huge because you had to check back in with quick tacking usually right after the start somewhere in the first 1-3 minutes with the shifty breezes.  The three good races we did have a steady direction but the shifts would go up to 20-30 degrees either way off the basic WNW direction.  

Focused sailing was a big deal this week and you could see it in the top group of sailors. Basically, the top boats were steering well, tacking well, gibing well, and starting well.

Several other regattas still in play include next week’s Blue Chip Championship at Spring Lake, MI.  Check the class website for details.

October has two big events down south for those commuting down to the southern winter circuit. First is the Halloween Regatta in Augusta and then the week after is the Masters Championship at Beaufort, SC.  

November you have the Southeast Championship at Lake Eustis FL.

I reviewed about 400 great images shot at the Nationals by Bonnie Gustin a local photographer.  She also had a big Wine Country event this weekend so we are a couple of days off before seeing her images that you can purchase.  

I think the group shots upwind, downwind are spectacular with the big hills and colors in the background.  Every sailor can be seen in all these images.  

Here is a first step to connecting with Bonnie about her images. Go to her website at  http://bonniegustinphotography.com  and you should be able to see her galleries on her blog there.

It was great seeing everyone this past weekend and hope you all made it back safely and quickly to your homes.  

Check in with the crew at Melges for new boats for the upcoming 2012 season.  Many of you saw some new features on my boat 2548 at the Nationals.  The rubber floor is a game changer for comfort, safety and grip.  I love the new Harken traveler system that made sailing in the big breeze much easier.  2012 should be a big MC year as we already know of many Michigan orders lining up because of the Nationals being held there next August at White Lake.

Sail ahead and make your plans now for your favorite upcoming regattas.  See you there!