Jacksonville Regatta Report
By Joe Walter
Beautiful weather greeted the skippers in Jacksonville — a welcome change from the typical rain over the past few years. A building breeze out of the East to ESE meant a long windward-leeward course could be run parallel to the shore. Each skipper sailed two seeding races, the total was used to set the A and B fleets for the Equal Opportunity Racing System (EORS), and the best finish of the two heats was kept.
All four Jacksonville skippers entered in the regatta put on a less than impressive display for a group of guys who sail this lake every weekend. Baron Bremer posted the best seeding heat score of third place while Florida Champ, John B, could only manage a 6th place best. The result was that all the local boys started the regatta in the B-fleet when racing began. Just like the Jacksonville Jaguars, home field advantage means nothing here. Worse yet was that John and Baron were unable to move up into the A-fleet to start the day, while Joe Walter and Brett Biwer just squeaked by into A-fleet.
It looked like the hometown favorites were in trouble right from the gun. But, soon Brett found himself out in front of A-fleet and sailed on to win the first full heat of the day. Joe Walter would win heat two, but that was about the best the local boys would do. John B managed just one bullet later in the day. The home team was simply no match for the visitors.
The battle for the top spots was between Reichard Kahle, Harry Strunk, and Mike Zellanack, who was back in his first regatta in almost three years. Reichard soon had control of the regatta, posting mostly firsts and seconds. This left Harry and Mike to contend for the number two spot. Harry had the upper hand until a protest dealt him a blow. We all learned a lesson about protesting Harry. He takes it like a man and then goes out and scores two bullets in a row, and says. “Take that!”
There was some very close racing all around. It was evident that everyone is getting better and the competition is getting tighter. Almost half of the fleet scored at least one bullet and nearly three quarters of the skippers posted top five finishes. Bob Greer had one of his best starts ever and sailed well all weekend to finish in 7th. Don Wright put in an up and down performance, but it was on the up side enough to place him in 6th.
A number of skippers like Bill Gale, Dave Thinel, John Rowley, and Bob Dudinsky, put together a few good heats to make the racing interesting. And many played spoiler to the leaders, showing good boat speed and making passing nearly impossible. Guys like Dick Reinke, Earl Mills, James Pardee, John Egizi, and Winston Mathews showed us they can make their boats move and you really needed to work hard if you wanted to get by.
For some, their scores did not show it this weekend, but they proved again that the group is becoming a much tighter field. Doug Bowe, Dick Gerry, and Ed Gelina seemed to struggle a little this go around, however, they still showed that a skipper needed all his boat speed, tactics, and a little luck if they want to pass them. And just to prove I can write a report with every skipper’s name mentioned, Jim Carter, also had a handful of races at the front of the B-fleet. His last place finish does not show the improvements he has made in his sailing skills. This was a tough fight for everyone and I am very pleased and excited about the close competition we are seeing in Florida now.
The regatta could not have happened without the help and support from the Jacksonville club members. Tom Germer and John Garver did an excellent job as co-RDs. Angie Bottensek and Joyce Zellanack were invaluable as scorekeepers. And Baron, Brett, and John B all helped out with supplies like tables, coolers, chase boat, etc. I want to thank all of them for the work they did to make this another wonderful regatta and I want to thank all the skippers for sailing well and, for the most part, keeping it clean and fair.