Sailed the Thistle Great Lakes Championship June 29-30 in Cleveland with Tom Dawson and Justine Buda. Started with boat prep wheeling out the bottom and replacing the centerboard gasket. Drove to Cleveland Friday evening and got there in time to set up the boat and install the centerboard. Tommy picked out an awesome place to stay in downtown Cleveland with a roof top patio. Tommy also brought the fixings for his famous Margaritas.
First start on Saturday was noon, so plenty of time to make breakfast thanks to Tommy again. Got to the boat early, set up and got out on the water. We sailed three races. The first race had puffs well into the twenties and big waves with mixed up chop. Our crew work was excellent and we took a 16 place and fought hard the whole way. The second race the winds lightened up a bit but still full on hiking. We had good speed up wind and down and were relearning techniques to keep the boat going through the water really fast all of the time. By the third race the wind lightened up a lot and we still had the left over lump to sail through. We won the start at the pin and had a huge lead half way up the beat. 4 boats that were 150 yards behind us and got just a little bit left beat us to the weather mark. The wind died to next to nothing going down wind and the Race Committee shortened the race to just two legs. We had a boat jibe on us and had to do two jibes to clear our air and lost three boats right at the finish. After three race we were tied for 12th place and felt hopeful we could still make our goal of a top ten regatta finish.
They had a nice barbecue which was well attended. The pool bar actually had swings to sit in at the bar. FUN. We did a little tour of the water front on the way back to the hotel and got to see a spectacular sun set. Everyone was pretty spent and crashed early. 6:00 wake up call was early but necessary. Tommy still took the time to make us his own version of McDawson McMuffins.
The RC had to set up the race course 5 miles out because of local club races. It was very light air leaving the Rocky River. We got out there 45 minutes before the start and had plenty of time to go up wind and collect our numbers. The wind died to nothing again and the RC had to postpone the racing for an hour to let the wind build and settle in to a somewhat steady direction. In the 4th race we got another good start and found ourselves in the early teens. The wind shifted to the right but we chose the right gate down wind to avoid traffic. As it turned out there was a left shift and a little more wind on the left side and we passed a bunch of boats. When we set the spinnaker on the last downwind leg the topping lift failed and Tommy had to fly the spinnaker all the way down wind without the spinnaker pole. Tommy did a super human job and we did not get passed by a single boat. In between races I climbed the mast to fix the topping lift. A LITTLE CRAZY. The 5 Race was another light air race and we worked the left side up wind and sailed smart down wind to keep our air clear and managed another top ten finish. At this point it was 1:50 and no races can start after 2:00 so the fleet started sailing in. The RC sent out a power boat to warn us he planned on sailing another race. Only 19 boats started the last race. The rest of the boats sailed in and retired for the day over the radio to the RC. The gentle hint to the RC fell on deaf ears. The RC was determined to and did get the 6th race started before 2:00. It was very very light. We started near the boat end and got forced right early. We tried to make the right side work but we were wrong and were in 15 place at the weather mark. We managed to pass a few boats down wind and finish 11th. We were the last boat to finish before the time limit expired. The RC almost stubbornly counted the last race even though the wind was so light that we drifted down wind to the finish with our jibs up, because there was not enough wind to hold the spinnakers up. The boats behind us got dragged past the finish line by the current and were unable to finish. We got a tow in and prepared the boat for the drive home.
The regatta was a Green event, and we received as special award, a bag of compost. We were really happy as a team to make it into the top ten and finish 7th out of 47 boats. I was a little sad that in the last race we dropped from 5th place overall to 7th place overall. Our team learned a lot and we are much better prepared to sail the 2020 75th Anniversary Thistle Class Nationals in Cleveland.
Thank you Cleveland Yachting Club.