Spring Keel 2011

Fifty-three boats from six classes showed up for the 2011 edition of the Spring Keel Regatta at St. Francis. This year’s edition was to be a four race regatta (reduced from 5 or more in past years) sailed between Saturday and Sunday. The forecast called for 5-10 out of the NW on Saturday with clear skies and SE 10-20 with rain for Sunday. Saturday arrived with a light Easterly blowing and at the skippers meeting it was decided to postpone on shore and wait out the NW fill. Crews mulled about along the seawall, repaired, double checked and medicated while waiting all the while wondering if there would actually be any yachting to take place. The first thing everyone noticed was the tide book would be of no help for the weekend; a supposed max flood of 3.1 at 10:34 on Saturday morning never appeared. It became real apparent the volume of water from the 98% full reservoirs and feeder rivers to the bay would negate any and all flood tide for the racing that was to take place.

By 1:00 PM the “Wee Willy” was seen heading out to the course and the fleet followed. First gun went off at 1:30 with a W-L-W finish course to Starboard in the continued ebb and solid #1 breeze. The race committee chose to not roll the starts which made some folks scratch their heads, but the radio communication was helpful to keep everyone on time and in line. For all of race one, the breeze consistently went left and built. By the time the second race came around people had dropped down in the headsail inventory to #2’s and blades, though it let up a bit and many went back to the big ones. The same course was posted for race two, though this time it would be to port as the breeze and no one we talked to seemed to notice, but the word from the committee afterwards was that they flew an “S” flag shortening the course from the start. Not remembering how many boats actually sailed another leg they didn’t have to, but I do know there was at least an entire fleet that did…rumor has it these guys just love sailing their boats and may be inflicted with some sort of syndrome. Then it was back to the club for the customary kegs in the regatta room with the not so customary pretzels and chicken sticks for sustenance. The Express fleet somehow managed a private fleet party with more of a selection of food and alcohol and quite a few party crashers. At the end of the day the fleet leaders were:

Express 27 – Get Happy
Folkboat – Peter Jeal
J24 – Downtown Uproar
Melges 24 – Wilco/Smoking (tie)
Moore 24 – Paramour
J22 – Cheeseburger

Sunday dawned wet and dreary looking. Full rain and what appeared to be very little breeze materialized into an annoying drizzle mist and puffy for race one. The course would be a repeat of race one on Saturday only in the opposite direction as the storm had brought SW wind. With the strong ebb fighting the upwind work and the spotty breeze, many boats went from hero to zero and back again. Those that tried the right side for current relief found huge holes and got beat by the slow and steady heavier current outside course. Race two came in fading wind and even more current and this time the RC chose a double W-L with a windward finish all to starboard. This time the right got the breeze and the outside lane couldn’t maintain as well. Sailing well past laylines were paramount to making it around the mark and many spent time being flushed at the leeward mark and having to wait for any kind of fill just to get back to where it was. Too many positions changed to even keep track of and in the end, not all fleets finished and the spread was huge from first to tail end. But all in all, the RC accomplished what they had intended from the start; the four race 2011 Spring Keel was a wrap.



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