Having banked six races toward the scheduled eight, the PRO and Regatta Chair afforded the group a reprieve from the scheduled 7am "Harbor Gun". The prognosticators advanced conflicting theories as to winds but generally favored west in the 10 to 15 range. Westerly breezes run across Lake Keuka, and while the Keuka Yacht Club is situated opposite the widest part of this long and narrow lake, there can be difficulty obtaining a long first beat. The lee of the west shore can be extensive.
The predictions of breeze from the west didn't hold initially so the group awaited developments ashore for a while. Eventually things seemed to improve, so out we went.
While the breeze was indeed a westerly, as is the wont of Keuka, there were wide disparities of direction and intensity, and ever-patient PRO Bob Stevens awaited the arrival of something more reliable and fair. Things built up, but wide swings remained. Key was starting at a point on the long line with the best velocity and moving into the first shift after the start. It was easy to miss the first shift as the air was descending in small tight areas.
After an aborted attempt at race one, code flag P was replaced with I, and the group on the second try started more conservatively. The first shift seemed from the right, perhaps induced by "the bluff" a long promontory towering over the right side of the course. This was another opportunity for Russ Lucas who mastered the maze, connecting the dots for his second win of series. George Welch followed and Vincent rounded out the top three. Bobby Koar took it on the chin with a finish several more back. This sealed the series for Vincent.
Race eight of our series followed immediately in much the same conditions. Vincent retired to take a DNC as his throwout. Bobby went deep right the first time up this time, only to be a victim of timing of the swings - the right side did not pan out for the first shift and instead a big lefty covered the course for most of the first leg. Downwind the first time a long and narrow intense shot continued the southerly side of the course as the place to be. Those who extended their starboard tack past the offset were handsomely rewarded and were gone for good. Gate choice depended on the localized areas of breeze. The second time up, the right side was more favored. In the end, Chad Hillyer, Dick Wight and George Welch showing the way.
Series final results are Top Master Dick Turner CH-5, Top Rookie and Top Woman Leigh Kempton IH-101, Top older boat Peter Hurley MA-11, 10th Leigh Kempton IH-101, 9th Bob Cole KU-9 (tiebreaker), 8th George Welch KU-1, 7th Peter Hurley MA-11, 6th Dick Wight MA-10, 5th John Brown SS-1, 4th Russ Lucas (tiebreaker) BH-8, 3rd Bobby Koar BH-22, 2nd Chad Hillyer T-17, and 2013 Eastern Champion Vincent Porter I-2.
ECESA Championships - Day2 - Keuka
Keuka Lake in the Finger Lakes of New York is a glacially formed deep cut into the surrounding plateau. Some areas covered by the race course are as much as 200 feet deep. The surrounding hills are as much as 700 feet above the water. For winds to reach down from the hilltops onto the lake can require a strong wind or the correct direction, or, the morning and afternoon thermals. At times the thermal and a weather system will coincide, making the best sailing conditions.
The Easterns second day was scheduled to sail during thermal time. Friday's "Harbor Gun" was set for 7am. The sun was just rising as the first of our group arrived to start the day. The usual southerly was already stirring and combined with the system built to a nice 12mph or so.
PRO Bob Stevens was timely and the group assembled for the 8am warning. First day leader Vincent Porter extended his lead in the first one. Working the west shore lift with many returns to the right over the 1 1/4 mile leg was key. Yet during the second beat an unusual extended left shift benefited a few and showed the way the afternoon would unfold. Race 4 to Vincent followed by Peter Hurley and Dick Wight to mix things up a bit.
The second contest was back to back, with air continuing from the south but initially diminished as expected. Upwind the first time the west side worked well again. The center and left were lighter and boats in those areas fell in behind those who worked the right. Downwind the same west side held the breeze. This pattern continued throughout - work the west shore up and down. In the end, Chad Hillyer took this one by a yard over Bob Cole, followed by John Brown.
The air seemed to dissipate during the lunch break only to return, not from the west as predicted but a renewed southerly with some wide swings to southeast and southwest. Several changes of course direction and length were use by a very fine race committee. Bobbie Koar, John Brown and Chad Hillyer scored top honors and won the race to the dock. Just as this race was ending the clouds grew thick and dark in the northwest and everybody scurried for the shore after another three race day.
At the end of day two, after six races, the leaders are VIncent Porter by two points over Bobbie Koar, followed by Chad Hillyer.
Our competitors are from Wisconsin, New Jersey and New York, making a smallish (historically) fleet of 20. Our most senior competitor is Dick Turner, one of the founders of NCESA, still at it at 89.
Keuka Yacht Club, our venue, is on Lake Keuka, a Y shaped long (22 miles) and narrow (3/4-1 1/4 mile) member of the Finger Lakes Region of Western New York. To find Keuka, look for Rochester on the south shore of Lake Ontario, then look south to find the Finger Lakes.
Our first day dawned rainy with a light southerly running along the length of the lake We started at about 11am and by that time the breeze had built to about 12mph. PRO and Timer Bob and Sydney Stevens of Little Egg Harbor set a W5 with legs of about 1 1/4 mile. The breeze remained steady. Most found going to the right shore upwind and to the right downwind seemed to work best. After about 35 minutes six boats rounded the second upwind mark just about transom to transom. Boats with crews of three seemed faster downwind. The race took about an hour and in the end Chad Hillyer T-17, Bobbie Koar BH-22 and Vincent Porter I-2 came out on top.
The second stanza was in similar conditions. The breeze came left all of a sudden at the start. The whole fleet tacked to port soon after the start. Russ Lucas, Vincent Porter and William Hudson rounded in that order. Eventually things shook out with Russ Lucas BH-8, Vincent, Bobbie taking the race in that order.
After a patented Jane Russell luncheon (too nice to be simply lunch), we were out again into a westerly running across the lake.
Legs running east and west are necessarily short so PRO Bob moved us out to a W7. Westerlies typically have wide swings of direction and have short intense blasts, making them particularly challenging. This time Vincent was on top the first time up. As Vincent rounded a blaster came through giving him a quick ride on the layline and he seemed gone for good. The fleet seemed to separate a bit this time into A - a group of four, and B. Things stayed that way with a change of mix in fleet A, until the last time up as the breeze began to shut down for the day. Fleet A closed in and fleet B moved in closer. In the end Vincent held off John Brown SS-1 and Bobbie Koar in that order.
Going into day two, our leaders are Vincent, Bobbie, and Russ Lucas.
This second morning the harbor gun is scheduled for 7am and the goal is to catch the morning breeze and then the late afternoon breeze. The harbor gun has sounded. The air is stirring. It's time to go.