Freeze Your Bucc Off! Race 3 start

Freeze Your Bucc Off!
Race 3 start

It’s hard to believe that we’re wrapping up the year already.  It’s 11:00 pm, and before I finish writing this letter it will be Christmas Eve!

It has been 10 days since the fifth annual Freeze Your Bucc Off! regatta.   For the second time Gus Rappold has taken home the top honors!
Freeze Your Bucc Off! originated as a fleet building event for the Southern Maryland fleet ( Fleet 69)  and has grown into a bit of a regional attraction.
This year we had registrants from CT, VA, MD, NC, and NY.
The weather forecast was pretty dismal.  We all got set to run a regatta in 10-20mph winds, 45 degree water, and freezingrain…
As you can imagine the forecast turned away quite a few competitors.  The threat of snow in the north kept our Connecticut contingency at home, and some of the locals decided to find indoor activities instead.
Fortunate for all of us the  rain held off, and the air temperatures held above freezing for most of the day.
Our first gun was at noon, and four boats made the start.  This race was a tricky two lap race around the Solomons harbor and around a small island “Ma’s Leg” which is notorious for unpredictable wind shadows & vortices.  Mark Gyorgy’s “Kick ‘Em Jenny” took the early lead and finished just ahead of Gus Rappold’s “Lunatic”.
Our second race had five boats and was also a tricky harbor start with laps around some of the odd features around the harbor.  Despite being an out of towner, without the local knowldege of the tricky harbor “Lunatic” (Gus & crew Hans, of Long Island, NY) tied up the series by taking the second bullet…just one place ahead of Kick’Em Jenny.
By race three all of the seven competing boats made it to the line, and were off on a point to point race (with a few local twists) out of the harbor.    Jeff Neurater’s “Irene” with the aid of his lovely new crew Robyn, sailed off to a first place finish despite lacking a spinnaker and a late start.
Race four was a two lap windward/Leeward out in the river.  The breeze was shifting and starting position was critical.  Lunatic was dialing in for a port-at-pin favored start, taking advantage of the shift, and her competitors mistake…but failed to notice “Wasabi” sneaking around to windward.  Wasabi, sailed by Jimmy Yurko & high school sailor, Tim Roland managed to sneak in to windward and lead the entire race.
Race five was a triangle, again with a port tack favored start, this time the fleet was more wise to the wind shifts as the wind was becoming stronger and more persistent.  By this time the temperature had dropped significantly, and the rain was becoming steady.  Christopher Dragon (Jim Whited/Jen Miller) sailed for the bar.   Lunatic again dialed in for a port approach to the line, Wasabi again tried to get in to windward, but when the gun fired for the start Wasabi’s windward position was of little use as Lunatic came through the line with more speed and effectively provided a lee-bow effect to Wasabi forcing a tack.  The wind continued to shift to the left.  This did provide opportunities for advancement, as boat in mid pack traded tacks.  Lunatic managed to hold onto the lead entering the first turn, while Kick ‘Em Jenny rounded next.  On the reach to the gybe mark the pack was tight, and the wind was building.  We had our spinnakers drawing, and were approaching planing speeds.  Kick ‘Em Jenny suffered a round-up, and Wasabi gained inside advantage at the next turn.  This advantage was quickly lost when Wasabi elected to douse-gybe-set rather than a simple gybe.  This maneuver cost the team valuable seconds as Kick ‘Em Jenny recovered quickly from their round-up and were already up to full speed on port coming into the mark above the now accelerating Wasabi.  All the while, Irene (without spinnaker) was conservatively sailing on the heels of the other boats awaiting a mistake.  Entering the final turun the wind continued to build and we are now in full HIKE mode heading towards the upwind finish line.  Lunatic took first followed closely by Kick ‘Em Jenny then Wasabi, Irene, Dodgem!!, and Team Weiser respectively.
WASABI  dailing down for a downwind start

sailing down for a downwind start

Race 6
With the wind and rain building steadily the race committee decided to switch the course and hold the final on the water event…race back to the dock.  This race was point to point, with a distinct downwind start.  The right side of the line was slightly to windward, so advantages were split…get a lead on the left side, or keep clear air on the right.  Many boats clamored for the left as it was the slightly shorter run and if secured would provide a lead off the line.  The lead was short lived however as those closest to the left quickly became shadowed by the boats to the right and were shown that the little extra distance sailed from the right was worth it, as Dodgem!! (Michelle and Mike Major) pulled right up to the front of the pack and lead a very close race right up to the finish line.   Wasabi edged Lunatic out at the finish, but failed to stage herself properly for the last (and arguably most important) race of the day….to the bar!
Upon crossing the finish line Lunatic had already headed toward the shore with crewman Hans on deck.  Ready to jump Hans lept from the bow of Lunatic (while still underway) to the dock and led the race to the bar.  This mad dash was quite a spectacle, as the downwind race brought all the boats to the dock nearly simultaneously and all crews were scrambling to get to the shore and darting through the boatyard in a sprint to be first.  Frank Patch scaled a wall to secure his position, Irene’s crew Robyn took a swim attempting to find a shortcut…but the crew aboard the aptly named Lunatic won 2nd place honors in this final race.
You may be wondering who beat Hans to the final finish?  Why of course Christopher Dragon…who’se crew had plenty of time to get back, warm up have a beverage and keep finish times of the remaining crews!
So while this year’s Freeze Your Bucc Off!   looked like it was going to be ruined by bad weather, the opposite was true.   The event was an absolute blast.  We put seven Buccs on the water for an incredibly fun time, and the post race party lasted well into the evening.
Gus & Hans took home first and the fleet welcomed some new sailors, Phillip Weiser and Tim Roland.  I can’t think of a better way to spend a Saturday in mid December!