Bluster On The Bay Regatta, Florida.

As the European fleets shiver by the fire and wonder if their boat is thinking about them as much too, in Florida, the Bluster on the Bay Regatta took place last weekend.   Matt Keenan and Craig Yandow sent us this report.

The first annual Bluster on the Bay Regatta turned out to be a huge success thanks to all the classes and sailers that attended.  US Hobie Division 8 in conjunction with Red Gear Racing and the Magnuson Resort, organized and hosted the first annual “Bluster on the Bay” regatta.  Nearly 70 multihulls of varying classes crowded the resort and clean waters of Tampa Bay.  The A’s had the strongest showing with a total of 25 boats, followed closely by the timeless Hobie 16s (22 boats).  Other classes included F16, F18, Wave, and an open fleet.

Having so many boats and only one course, the race officers decided to run a trapezoid course to put some distance between fleets after each start.  This style course proved to work well with only minor delays between each start. 

On Friday, the first three races were held in sunny skies, flat water and light/moderate breeze between 10-12 knots.  A perfect way to kick off everyone’s winter season as these conditions allowed the top classics and foilers to really push each other hard both upwind and downwind.  Bailey, Matt Keenan, Larry Woods, and OH Rodgers all consistently hooking up quickly coming around the top mark made the reaching and downwind legs interesting with many lead changes on the foils with top finishes going to the foilers.

Classic racing was very close with Woody winning both the first and second race.  In the second races, Woody and Craig were nearly even going wild, but Woody went mild sooner and made out, winning another race.  In the last race the wind lightened and he struggled.  Alex won the start of race three and never looked back to take the win.  

The day of racing was followed by the always necessary debrief discussion over some Bud Light Limes (courtesy L. Woods) and a trolly ride to a local brewery and various St Pete nightspots.  We all decided the trolly driver needs a foiler since she drives so fast; there’s no telling what kind of damage she could do on the water.

Saturday we saw another three races in slightly less air, around 8-10 knots and towards the end of the day the course developed several large holes.  More close racing with what must be a record in terms of race wins and places by many different sailors. All boats sailed well though we lost Woody to a broken gooseneck and missed two races.

At times foiling would prove to pay, at other times, the foilers found themselves taking everyones’ stern, sailing back upwind in the wrong direction trying to get the boat hooked up again. Once you’re foiling, it’s a hard pill to swallow and admit that going low and slow is indeed the fastest way around the course.  Ben Hall on classic just nipped Bailey at one finish in a drifter.  At the end of the day when the scores were tallied up, Matt Keenan narrowly held the lead by one point over Bailey White on foiling with all to play for still in the classics as well.

Saturday night a dinner was planned at the resort ball room.  Red Gear Racing, Forward WIP, and Ronstan provided sponsorship for good buffet style food and excellent give-aways for the raffles.  Later in the evening, a moment of silence was provided by Division 8 and long time sailor Brett Moss in remembrance for a true force in the cat sailing world, and Sailing Hall of Famer, Rick White, who recently passed.

Sunday’s breeze was somewhere between 5-8 knots, and most of the time, very marginal foiling conditions.  Bailey White and Matt Keenan both seemed to have found an extra gear for the super light air.  They were able to keep their boats up on the foils, while the rest of the foiling fleet couldn't seem to make it pay.   There was great racing between foilers and classics with the classics generally having an edge as a fleet overall.  In these minimal conditions, maintaining a constant trim fore and aft is critical to prevent any cavitation or hull contact with the surface of the water, which can lead to huge losses.  Bailey is almost 50 lbs. lighter than Keenan, so it is interesting to see the heavier sailors sailing staying competitive even in the light stuff. 

In the end, Matt Keenan took the win for the foiling fleet and Craig Yandow took it home for the classics.  Craig started the winter series impressively, using the first few races on Friday to warm up after a three year hiatus. 

Thanks to US Hobie Division 8, Red Gear Racing, and Magnuson Resort for helping to kick off the winter series right and organizing the event.