Jacksonville Regatta Report
The 2004 Region Three Championship was hosted by the Jacksonville Model Yacht Club on October 9 and 10. Twenty skippers signed up for the regatta, but by Friday night three would be unable to attend. With 17 boats, it was thought for a moment that we could sail everyone together, but the size of the lake proved to be just a little tight for that many boats. The promotion and relegation system was used to sail two fleets of 10 boats, each with three moving up and down in each heat.
The weather could not have been any nicer. After three straight years of rain and cold at the Jacksonville regatta, the 81 degrees, partly cloudy sky, and steady Easterly breeze was a most welcomed sight. The morning breeze was light and just slightly ENE, but as the wind began to build to a maximum of 7 knots, it clocked around to the East and provided a perfect windward-leeward course parallel to the shore. The seeding races were sailed on a sort of diamond shaped course to get the start off to windward, but once the Easterly breeze filled in, a long windward course with offset marks was sailed for the remainder of the weekend.
Rex Theile and Bob Dudinsky got the day started with a bullet each in the first two seeding heats. It was all Harry Strunk in the last two seeding heats with a pair of bullets. The total for each seeding heat was used to put the skippers into A and B fleets, then their high score was discarded. The B fleet sailed first with the top three spots moving up to the A fleet. After the A fleet sailed one race was complete. The bottom three in the A fleet would then move down to the B fleet and the next race would begin.
John Bottensek took the first regular race of the day with Harry Strunk right behind him in second and Rick Gerry in third. It set the tone for the rest of the regatta. Harry and John would be locked in a battle for the top spot all weekend. The two of them were tied three times and never separated by more than five points during the regatta. John Rowley and Rick Gerry were also locked in a close match for the third spot. Bob Dudinsky was never far out of the top five and did a good job of holding off the charges from Phil Ehlinger, Dick Gerry, and Ed Gelina.
Nearly half of the skippers scored at least one bullet during the weekend. Every skipper had to make one trip to the B fleet and only one skipper failed to make the A fleet. John Gould was sailing in his first regatta in the EC-12 class and just when he started to get things going and was close to moving up to the A fleet, he suffered a mechanical failure and was unable to compete in the last three races on Sunday. If not for his breakdown, every skipper would have made it into the A fleet. That shows just how close everyone is sailing these days.
A total of 14 heats were sailed on Saturday, including the four seeding heats. At the conclusion of racing on Saturday, skippers stayed for a few minutes for the annual meeting of the Florida EC-12 Association. More on that can be found in the Chairman’s report on the News page. The Saturday night dinner was held at the River City Brewing Company on the South bank of the St. John’s River in downtown Jacksonville. When I made the reservations back in May, I was told the average price for an entree was $15. That turned out to be the lowest price on the menu. I hope it did not hit anyone too hard in the wallet, but from the sound of it, everyone seemed to have had a great time and enjoyed their meals.
Sunday morning came in with more of the same great weather, but perhaps a little less breeze. We decided to sail only one lap of the same long windward course from Saturday. After four heats—two races, the breeze filled in again just as it had on Saturday and we were back to racing two full laps.
Harry Strunk was holding onto a slim lead over John Bottensek, however, John’s ever steady sailing and a few small mishaps by Harry soon had them tied again for first place. Meanwhile, Rick Gerry had decided he did not like his fourth spot and began to attack the fleet and move to the front. He proved too much for John Rowley who did all he could to hold him off, but finally gave up the third spot.
It looked like Harry and John B would have to go to the tie breakers to see who would take home the top spot, but one bad start by Harry in the second to last race killed his hopes for a win. Harry would recover form the fall, but the damage was done. Rick Gerry was able to squeak buy him for second place with back-to-back bullets in the last two races of the regatta.
In all, Harry and Rick had four bullets each to John B’s two, but the consistency that John shows on the race course with a string of second and third place finishes was what won the day. Earl Mills had the privilege of sailing in the most heats. He was on the bubble more than anyone, sailing in 17 of the 24 heats for the weekend.
I want to thank everyone for coming and for your good sportsmanship. I want to especially thank my crew: John Garver, Bob Carroll, and Angie Bottensek. I would not have been able to host this event without their help. Thanks also goes to the skippers who helped out as mark judges and to the wives who helped serve lunch, take photos, and write down the finishing positions.
I think moving our regatta to October was the right move and I look forward to doing it again next year at the same time.