The Wawasee Yacht Club has organized and held an E-Scow Regatta for the last 29 years. This year, 29 boats from 9 yacht clubs registered to compete. For those who are unfamiliar with the Class E Scow, it is a uniquely powerful sailboat which has attracted performance sailors for more than 80 years. An E-Scow is 28 feet in length, 6 feet 9 inches in width and weighs a mere 965 lbs. With its planing hull and sail area of 873 square feet, including its asymmetrical spinnaker, its top speed has few rivals in the sailing world.
A sailboat regatta requires much more than sailboats. This year, Terry Moorman and Kelly Queisser were the regatta co-chairs and they were assisted by dozens of WYC members. The organizational responsibility for the regatta included arranging for permits, communication with other yacht clubs, obtaining financial sponsors (Australian Gold and In-Motion Orthopedics), designing T-shirts (Sandpiper Sportswear), ordering trophies (Noble Awards), designating a principal race officer and a race committee, lining up registration personnel and obtaining enough food and drink for nearly 200 hungry sailors and regatta observers. Everybody thinks they are responsible for the weather too, and if they had been, there might have been better conditions on day one.
The forecast was “light and variable”; not good! This meant that 29 E-Scows were sitting on trailers in the boat yard and their crews were more or less wandering around in a daze. The decision to launch was made at 2:30 and race number one began one hour and five minutes thereafter. Dick Tillman, (WA-22) saw wind to the right as did Tom Munroe (WH-77) and several others. At the windward mark, the fleet split and the wind built to take the leaders to the bottom mark in less than 5 minutes. After that, the wind was more shifty. Phil Zalog (H-88), Steve Johanson (TO-33), Brett Hatton (SL-4) and Tillman were able to finish downwind in that order just before a group of 10 boats closed in from behind. The 4 leg race was over in 31 minutes and that was that for the day.
Everyone enjoyed a pulled pork and broasted chicken dinner from the Sleepy Owl, but the party spirit was cut short by an announcement that the first race on Sunday would begin at 9:05 A.M. The wind early Sunday morning was very light despite a promise of wind in the teens. But, by the 9:00 A.M.. warning, however, a very nice breeze from the Southeast was available. Steve Johanson beat the fleet to the first mark, but Dick Tillman rounded the mark second, and was able to cover him from behind, slipped by in a puff, and never looked back. Tillman led the remainder of the race with Bob Herdrich (WA-47) and Toby Sutherland (GL-7) coming on strong. Johanson had to settle for 4th.
The race committee quickly reset the starting line and called for another 4 leg race in order to pack as much action into the remaining time as possible. Race three of the series started in lighter air, but Tillman made a port approach to the line and found a nice hole to slip in to, with Rob Terry (CR-66) (a prior Wawasee regatta winner) in good position as well. Terry led to the first mark and despite some strategic maneuvers, Tillman was unable to get past him and they finished 1 – 2. Pete Price (CR-11) and Herdrich battled back and forth the entire race with Price 3rd and Herdrich 4th.
Again, the committee returned to the starting area quickly with the regatta deadline looming and announced a 5 leg race, which suggested to all that the fourth race was going to be the last. By this time, however, the wind had lightened and it was clear that luck and skill would go hand-in- hand from here on out. Tillman had a seven point lead and was looking good for the regatta win, but with Zalog, Terry and Price grouped together in 2nd, 3rd and 4th, nothing was assured. Tillman opted to stick with Terry at the start and they got hammered by two boats barging in from below the committee boat and thus sat on the line for what seemed like an eternity. Fortunately, the pin end had no wind and so by the time the fleet had cleared the line, no one was more than 8 boat lengths ahead. Dave Irmscher (WA-00) and Casey Christensen (TO-44) followed Tom Monroe, Jr. (yes, Jr.) to the windward mark. Price was in contention, but missed the offset. As he came back to try it again, he found Tillman steaming toward the offset mark and an interesting discussion was had about the economy and the political fortunes of our President. A group of four or five led the way to the right gate with a large group coming in on starboard to the right gate as well. This created an E-Scow parking lot leeward of the gate. Tillman had planned to be there too, but jibed and crossed to the left gate, which was farther away but had clear air. By now, the fleet was very spread out and so was the wind. It was anyone’s guess as to who would finish where. The leaders were within inches of each other at the finish with Hatton 1st, Monroe 2nd, Lon Schoor (H-7) 3rd and Johanson 4th. Tillman battled back to 9th for a total of 16 points which was 8 better than Hatton and good for his second Wawasee regatta win in three years.
It has been your author’s pleasure to sail E-scows for 30 years on Lake Wawasee, and more particularly, to co-own WA-22 with Dick Tillman and to sail with him and Bill Misenheimer over the last ten years. Bill is an excellent sailor and a fierce competitor and Dick is a sailor’s sailor and a great friend. Life on the water is good when you have a skilled skipper and crew, and I am blessed with the best! We invite you to Lake Wawasee next year for the 30th annual Wawasee E-scow regatta. We promise you will enjoy it.