2013 Wawasee Open Regatta
Report Submitted by Bob Fanning (WA-22)
The Wawasee Yacht Club has organized and held an E-Scow Regatta for the last 29 years. This year, 29 boats from 9 yacht clubs registered to compete. For those who are unfamiliar with the Class E Scow, it is a uniquely powerful sailboat which has attracted performance sailors for more than 80 years. An E-Scow is 28 feet in length, 6 feet 9 inches in width and weighs a mere 965 lbs. With its planing hull and sail area of 873 square feet, including its asymmetrical spinnaker, its top speed has few rivals in the sailing world.
A sailboat regatta requires much more than sailboats. This year, Terry Moorman and Kelly Queisser were the regatta co-chairs and they were assisted by dozens of WYC members. The organizational responsibility for the regatta included arranging for permits, communication with other yacht clubs, obtaining financial sponsors (Australian Gold and In-Motion Orthopedics), designing T-shirts (Sandpiper Sportswear), ordering trophies (Noble Awards), designating a principal race officer and a race committee, lining up registration personnel and obtaining enough food and drink for nearly 200 hungry sailors and regatta observers. Everybody thinks they are responsible for the weather too, and if they had been, there might have been better conditions on day one.
The forecast was “light and variable”; not good! This meant that 29 E-Scows were sitting on trailers in the boat yard and their crews were more or less wandering around in a daze. The decision to launch was made at 2:30 and race number one began one hour and five minutes thereafter. Dick Tillman, (WA-22) saw wind to the right as did Tom Munroe (WH-77) and several others. At the windward mark, the fleet split and the wind built to take the leaders to the bottom mark in less than 5 minutes. After that, the wind was more shifty. Phil Zalog (H-88), Steve Johanson (TO-33), Brett Hatton (SL-4) and Tillman were able to finish downwind in that order just before a group of 10 boats closed in from behind. The 4 leg race was over in 31 minutes and that was that for the day.
Everyone enjoyed a pulled pork and broasted chicken dinner from the Sleepy Owl, but the party spirit was cut short by an announcement that the first race on Sunday would begin at 9:05 A.M. The wind early Sunday morning was very light despite a promise of wind in the teens. But, by the 9:00 A.M.. warning, however, a very nice breeze from the Southeast was available. Steve Johanson beat the fleet to the first mark, but Dick Tillman rounded the mark second, and was able to cover him from behind, slipped by in a puff, and never looked back. Tillman led the remainder of the race with Bob Herdrich (WA-47) and Toby Sutherland (GL-7) coming on strong. Johanson had to settle for 4th.
The race committee quickly reset the starting line and called for another 4 leg race in order to pack as much action into the remaining time as possible. Race three of the series started in lighter air, but Tillman made a port approach to the line and found a nice hole to slip in to, with Rob Terry (CR-66) (a prior Wawasee regatta winner) in good position as well. Terry led to the first mark and despite some strategic maneuvers, Tillman was unable to get past him and they finished 1 – 2. Pete Price (CR-11) and Herdrich battled back and forth the entire race with Price 3rd and Herdrich 4th.
Again, the committee returned to the starting area quickly with the regatta deadline looming and announced a 5 leg race, which suggested to all that the fourth race was going to be the last. By this time, however, the wind had lightened and it was clear that luck and skill would go hand-in- hand from here on out. Tillman had a seven point lead and was looking good for the regatta win, but with Zalog, Terry and Price grouped together in 2nd, 3rd and 4th, nothing was assured. Tillman opted to stick with Terry at the start and they got hammered by two boats barging in from below the committee boat and thus sat on the line for what seemed like an eternity. Fortunately, the pin end had no wind and so by the time the fleet had cleared the line, no one was more than 8 boat lengths ahead. Dave Irmscher (WA-00) and Casey Christensen (TO-44) followed Tom Monroe, Jr. (yes, Jr.) to the windward mark. Price was in contention, but missed the offset. As he came back to try it again, he found Tillman steaming toward the offset mark and an interesting discussion was had about the economy and the political fortunes of our President. A group of four or five led the way to the right gate with a large group coming in on starboard to the right gate as well. This created an E-Scow parking lot leeward of the gate. Tillman had planned to be there too, but jibed and crossed to the left gate, which was farther away but had clear air. By now, the fleet was very spread out and so was the wind. It was anyone’s guess as to who would finish where. The leaders were within inches of each other at the finish with Hatton 1st, Monroe 2nd, Lon Schoor (H-7) 3rd and Johanson 4th. Tillman battled back to 9th for a total of 16 points which was 8 better than Hatton and good for his second Wawasee regatta win in three years.
It has been your author’s pleasure to sail E-scows for 30 years on Lake Wawasee, and more particularly, to co-own WA-22 with Dick Tillman and to sail with him and Bill Misenheimer over the last ten years. Bill is an excellent sailor and a fierce competitor and Dick is a sailor’s sailor and a great friend. Life on the water is good when you have a skilled skipper and crew, and I am blessed with the best! We invite you to Lake Wawasee next year for the 30th annual Wawasee E-scow regatta. We promise you will enjoy it.
Saturday, Day One Report by Lon
Although 29 boats were ready to race – the wind wasn’t. A light thermal breeze kept everyone’s hopes up that the predicted south wind would get started by mid afternoon. At 2:30 the PRO told everyone to launch and be ready for a 3:30 warning signal. After the 3:35 start the fleet split with several going for the pressure on the left while others were thinking the right would fill first with a favorable south shift. Dick Tillman (WA-22) came from the right as the last favorable shift of the leg came from the right side and he was followed by Tom Munroe (WH-77), Steve Johanson (TO-33), Pete Price (CR-11), and Bob Herdrich (WA-47). The boats split at the top mark after most of the first group jibed at the offset to carry the same shift downwind which brought them into the lead at the top mark. It seemed like Tillman and Munroe must have laid the bottom mark as it took him only 4 minutes to complete the downwind leg, still one and two at the bottom mark. Johanson slipped a couple of boats as Price and Herdich moved up a notch. The wind remained unsettled for most of the race and on the next upwind the course was like Swiss cheese – holes everywhere, and large shifts to spice things up. It made many teams think they were brilliant, but only momentarily as a group that was sitting in a hole, now had what they had – and they sat and watched them go by. The top group of 9 boats each thought they might be first around the next upwind mark if the wind they had would only hold – Mother Nature just laughed at these teams with their hallucinating and wishful thinking, as she poked each of their bubbles and left them sitting in a hole deflated. Well almost everyone - Pete Price rounded first and Steve Johanson regained his confidence getting back the boats he lost on the last leg and passing Herdich as well to be second around. Phil Zalog (H-88) was in 15th place at the bottom mark and resisted tacking on all the shifts, went for the right side and was blessed with a shaft of wind that moved him into 5th at the next up wind mark. Munroe was trying to play the shifts and got a little too far left and fell 7 places by the second upwind mark. Zalog slammed a quick jibe at the upwind offset and rode over the leaders as they were a little late to get in the wind streak that took Phil Zalog into the lead at the finish. The boats from behind rode a new puff down to close the gap and put a scare into Johanson, Brett Hatton (SL-4), Tillman, but they were able to finish just before a pack of 10 boats, which all finished in a very short time. Rob Terry (CR-66) had been slowly catching up after a 360 penalty turn at the first mark and the pirates finished 5th, followed by Munroe and Schoor, while Price dropped 7 boats to finish 8th. The last downwind lasted 6 minutes for the leader and the entire 4 leg race was over in 31 minutes.
Sunday, Day Two Report by Lon
The original forecast was for stronger winds well into the high teens but it that did not develop, and the three races on day 2 of the Wawasee E Open were sailed in light winds from the southeast, right down the long fetch of the lake. The first two races were twice around with a downwind finish taking 34 and 40 minutes and the third race had 5 legs, finishing upwind in 59 minutes. The start times were 9:05, 10:05, and 11:15 – an excellent job by the Race Committee to get a four race regatta in considering we didn’t have wind for most all of Saturday. The racing was excellent from start to finish.
In the first race of day two (race two) Dick Tillman (WA-22), let everyone know he was the boat to beat – Oh, Steve Johanson (TO-33), in his brand new E-Scow, led around the first mark but Dick took over after that and held off all challenges for the lead and won the race. The lead boats came from the edges of the course – the middle wasn’t productive (wish I had learned that before the third race of the day). Johanson lost a boat on each leg, as there were a few “gotcha” places dotting the race course, still a good race, finishing in fourth place. Bob Herdrich (WA-47) moved up a place on the second upwind and held on for a second place finish. NCESA Commodore, Toby Sutherland (GL-7), was one of only five boats in the race to not lose a boat on any leg, going from 8th to 5th to 4th, and finishing in third. Three other boats that did not stumble on any leg and steadily moved up were: Pete Price (CR-11) going from 7th at the first mark to 5th at the finish, Dave Irmscher (WA-00) going from 12th to 6th at the finish in his new boat, and Lon Schoor (H-7) going from 9th to 7th place.
Race three was more of the same. But the cast was a little different. Rob Terry (CR-66) lead all the way and wasn’t about to let Tillman get past to win another race. Tillman was second. Phil Zalog (H-88), winner of the first race was putting up a good challenge for the lead as well but the second upwind left him short on pressure and he dropped two boats and finished 5th. The two boats to pass Zalog were Pete Price (CR-11) and Bob Herdrich (WA-47). Bob went from 9th to 4th and Pete went from 7th to 3rd at the finish, with their big gain happening on the second upwind. Silver fleet winner, Mike Rian (WA-1) had a good first leg to round the first mark in 4th.
After the third race the standings were:
Tillman 7 pts,
Zalog, 14 pts,
Rob Terry 15 pts,
Price 16 pts,
Herdrich 19 pts.
Race four was much of the same except the wind had softened just a little. A lull at the start had everyone leaving the line pretty slow which was lucky for those piled up at the windward end. There it looked like 7 boats would rather be square dancing as they weaved around each other to avoid barging or trying to get free at the committee boat. I was there doing my part – and when I (Lon Schoor, H-7) got done ducking and weaving like I was in an Muhammad Ali Joe Frazier heavyweight boxing match – the rest of the fleet wasn’t that far off the line. This time I was avoiding the middle at all costs and headed to the right since that was closest. It got me around in 10th and I had a sigh of relief. First around the windward mark was Tom Munroe Jr (WH-77) who took over the helm from his father for the last race – how exciting is that! Brett Hatten (SL-4), Pete Price (CR-11), Dave Irmscher (WA-00), and young Casey Christensen (TO-44) followed in that order. The second upwind was critical as some big gains were made by a few boats that needed it and big losses by some that could not afford it – the left shift took Zalog, Terry & Herdrich out of the race and standings as they fell 4-6 boats from 11, 12, and 14. Schoor closed the gap and got in the hunt with a 5th place rounding behind Price, Hattan, Munroe. When Price set their spinnaker it pulled the bow down and he could not avoid going between the weather mark and the offset – it cost him 6 places immediately. After a long starboard gybe Schoor was able to get over Imscher and close the gap on Hatten and Munroe so only a couple of boats lengths separated the leaders. Schoor went to the opposite gate and headed right first but Hatten and Munroe covered from behind and to windward. Things were looking good for Schoor, but this is Wawasee. Near the end, coming in on starboard, we started to get lifted off of Hatten below us but that also meant we had overstood a little too much. The three boats luffed the finish line with Munroe and Hatten at the pin end and Schoor at the committee boat. Only inches separated the boats – what a fun race, even though we came up short. Hatten won, Munroe was 2nd, Schoor 3rd. Steve Johanson was 4th, which he needed to get into the awards, and 5th was Imscher. Price’s spinnaker mistake did not cost him a regatta victory but Tillman’s margin would have been only a point. The last race was hardest for Terry, Herdrick and Zalog and they fell out of the top five in the final standings.