Sailing 2011: Photos by W L Huffman

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Racing season on Lake Erie starts at the end of May and is always unpredictable; 2011 was no different as it was filled with light winds and lots of rain. Despite the lack of wind and the wet weather we had a great time booze cruising and we took in a bunch of beautiful sunsets.
It was our third year with the new Windlassie, we were coming off a respectable 2010 and we were really excited about taking the next step. We signed up for all of the Cleveland Sailing Association regattas and we had hopes of placing high in all our events.
The season began with a thump as we couldn’t seem to get our bearings straight, we literally would be sailing in the opposite direction of the mark. I was going crazy watching us “fall off for speed” all the time and we consistently finished behind our competition.
This was supposed to be our big year but it was more like a sophomore slump.
The big drama of the season came at Cleveland Race Week when I was fortunate enough to not be on the boat. Peter rounded the mark the wrong direction forcing one boat to blow their spinnaker and other boats to round up. Needless to say he was protested and lost. It was an expensive lesson of following the race instructions but Peter learned from his mistakes and started to correct them.
The other major event at Race Week was when Overkill, a Benitau 36.7 from the CYC, was smashed in the bow by another 36.7 from CYC, Shamrock. I witnessed the collision, along with the 100 other boats that were criss-crossing the starting area. As a result of the collision, their bowman Bobby, was thrown into the lake. Luckily he wasn’t injured and was quickly plucked out of the water. The boat wasn’t nearly as lucky and as a result was totaled out by the insurance company and thereby eliminating our closest competition.
The Falcon Cup is held in the middle of August and is considered more of a “sled race” because you start in front of the CYC and travel 33 miles directly east to Mentor. Since the wind predominantly blows from the west we usually just put up a spinnaker, jibe a few times and the race is over. Sailing is one sport where drinking beer is applauded and reinforced at every turn, Labatt loves to sponsor sailing events and has made me a lifetime fan of the Blue.
The Falcon Cup is known more for how ripped people get than how great the racing is and we are always more than happy to partake.
This year Keith wanted to stick around for the transport back with Mark and me so we could party all the way home.
The year before, Mark and I had stayed the night at Mentor and had a great time over indulging. Our trip home went from being cloudy and wavy to flat and sunny so we took an hour break to swim and drink beers. It is essential to to tie yourself to the boat or it will drift away before you know it. We rigged up the life jackets like diapers and floated behind the boat drinking Labattt and soaking up the sun.
Unfortunately, this year wasn’t as nice and we never ended up swimming and Keith spent three of the four hours passed out on deck.
Peter really improved as a skipper and he became more confident as we started to win. We were no longer just looking to finish respectably we wanted to win.
With Overkill sidelined for the year Peter began to win more than we were losing. We even won enough club races to take home first place in our sailing division and had some really good battles with Fever and Thing.
The sailing season concludes on the first weekend in October with the Fall Regatta and the Chili Bowl. Each crew member is allowed enter a bowl of chili so as usual Mark and I made our blazing chili.
After we pounded some more Labatt and shoveled down one last bowl of chili just like that our sailing season was over.
We took down the mast, wrapped it up and packed the old Windlassie away for the winter.
I made it through my 10th season running the foredeck and for the first time my body really needed the winter months to recover before the next season.

– William L Huffman

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