Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Where's the Bow?

Scows have always been a bit of a mystery to me. Though I've been told there was once an E-Scow fleet in town we don't have any here in Annapolis anymore. Since neither I nor Rob had ever sailed a Scow of any kind when the opportunity came up to go sail E-Scow Nationals with our co-worker Mike and his regular skipper Chris we jumped at the opportunity.

Last weekend we all jumped on a plane and went out to Oshkosh, Wisconsin for the three day regatta held on Lake Winnebago. With 46 boats attending the regatta including many top sailors the event had a great turnout competitor-wise. Unfortunately, the weather was not all that cooperative and the wind did not make much of an appearance resulting in only 3 races being sailed rather than the scheduled 9. Tom Burton from Minnetonka Yacht Club won the regatta with a strong showing followed by Sam Rogers and Vincent Porter.

We arrived in Oshkosh Thursday morning and got the boat all set up to go out racing. We checked things over to make sure everything looked ok but didn't inspect everything as carefully as we should have which we learned later on. With racing postponed for most of the day we finally hit the water late in the afternoon for a 5:20 start. Unfortunately, we barely had a chance to get a feel for what racing E-Scows is all about as we broke our forestay about 2 minutes into the race.

Obviously, the strong lesson here is to inspect your rig carefully each time you put it up and down. We think the forestay (which is attached at the top with a t-ball fitting) was probably a little sideways in the mast resulting in the breakage. Thanks to some help from the boys at Melges we were able to get a new forestay the next morning to continue racing.

Friday dawned to a hint of a breeze so we all got out on the water good and early and did a number of starts that were all blown off due to shifty dying breeze. Eventually, we ended up drifting back into shore and did some more sitting around waiting for wind. The team kept busy though, working diligently to make those extra go fast tweaks as you can see in the picture below. Rob, Mike and I were also able to hone our football and life skills - Rob can almost throw a spiral now, Mike can almost back up a trailer, and I still can't make small talk with the ladies.

Friday evening we did get two races in around 4:30. We raced in a building breeze that ended up I think around 10-12 kts. We had a good start and a solid first leg in the second race but unfortunately found ourselves slipping back from then on. The fleet was very strong and full of sailors who have been racing E Scows for a long time and we found ourselves a bit humbled unable to find the gears.

One hi-light was that we did hit around 13.5 kts according to our Velocitek on the first downwind. It's a very unusual feeling to be going that fast and have it feel so manageable - the boat feels like most keelboats feel when they're going 4 kts and you look down and see you're in double digits of boat speed. I can understand why the class is so popular.


Saturday was also a light air day and another fickle forecast they canceled racing around 11:00am so everyone could get packed up early. All of the postponments did allow us to walk around and meet some people in the boat park as well as take a lot of pictures of boats. We saw a lot of different setups and some people with really interesting ideas and I know we're all excited to be able to have more first hand experience to offer our E Scow customers.

Thanks to all those who answered our questions and let us take pictures of their boats. The E Scows fleet was a great group to hang out with and I know Rob, Mike and I all had a lot of fun at the regatta and are looking forward to our next one.

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