40 arrived knowing the forecast was for light winds and the direction would probably mean short windward legs as the wind most likely would be coming across the short side of the lake. This is one time we hoped they had the forecast wrong – but no such luck. The three completed races were as tough as any I have sailed on Pewaukee. Shifts were huge, pressure varied greatly across the course, and there was a unique randomness to both and had most of us pulling our hair out and wondering what was coming next and from where. Yet, there is some extreme talent in the E-Fleet and on this weekend Vincent Porter and Peter Strothman, finishing one two respectively, seemed to have the sixth sense needed to master the conditions.
Pewaukee has to be one of the most experienced regatta hosting clubs, and they do put on a terrific event from land to sea. Their RC work was first class from start to finish. The volunteers and staff on shore treated everyone to good parties with terrific and abundant food & drink. You can’t ask for more than that.
Friday was a bust for racing as the wind could not develop or settle on a direction to start a race. The first race was an L8 (eight legs, downwind finish) on Saturday morning in light winds and a course heading of 215 degrees (give or take 20 degrees). Boats up the left side got around first but the fickle winds off the shore punished them some for their efforts as the group following got a puff to slip inside right after the mark. Augie Barkow (V-37), first around, took it on the chin along with Chad Rechcygl (V-83) second around. Lon Schoor (H-7) was next. Schoor abandon the notion of trying to get back into the breeze that sucked all the boats down inside and held a long slow port after the spinnaker set. A new wind came in from the SE and curled the H-7 down toward the leeward gate to round with the lead group and just ahead of the pack. Eric Bowers (M-11) led at the next upwind followed by Vincent Porter (I-2), Rick Roy (V-26), Schoor, and Pat Heaney (H-13). Rick Roy made up the most ground after being in 20th position at the first windward mark. Eric and Pat moved up 5 places on the first lap, and Porter passed a few. Choosing the wrong gate at the leeward mark the second time around cost Bowers his lead as the pressure developed on the left and faded on the right where Eric was headed. Porter was first around the second lap with Bowers, Schoor, Roy, Jon Schloesser (J-80), and Heaney following. The downwind was dicey for Porter, who started to sweat a little as better pressure developed across the course from him, but he was able to get back in time to hold his lead, followed closely by Schoor, Bowers, Heaney, and Barkow. Barkow had lost about 13 boats on the first downwind after his early lead around the first mark, but steadily passed boats on nearly each leg to finish 5th. Lap times were approximately: 8 minutes, 7, 7, 6, 7, 6, 7, 8 = total of 56 minutes. Great come backs were: Tobin Tornehl (V-511) from 32nd to 11th, Lee Alnes (W25) from 33rd to 15th, and Matt Schmidt (V-736) from 34th to 18th.
The next race was another L8 and the wind had backed some to a course heading of 135 degrees, still a pretty light breeze. This race was all Peter Strothman (I-9) who led at every mark. Lee Alnes (W-25), Tobin Tornell (V-511), and Tom Burton (M-9) were chasing Peter most of the race. The legs were short and mark roundings a mess and often very costly. Only the lead group escaped the chaos and pulled away as the packs seem to hang at the marks for quite awhile trying to get around. Choosing the correct leeward gate and course side, not always obvious at the time, paid big dividends going to weather. For most, what looked good quickly turned sour – catch up and lose – a pattern that repeated itself often. Regatta winner Vincent Porter’s upwind roundings were: 13, 16, 9, 16 – and he was often in better position downwind. Augie Barkow again was most consistent as he moved up each leg from 10th at the first mark to 4th at the finish. Jim Gluek (X-751) had a great recovery moving up each leg from the high twenties at the first mark to 6th at the finish. Bill Wyman (J-5) also passed a ton of boats, deep in the pack at the first mark and finishing 9th. Leg times were about: 7 minutes, 5, 6, 7, 5, 5, 9, 8 = total of 52 minutes.
The third race on Saturday, a W7, started at 4:56 p.m. with a wind direction of 120 degrees (again the usual plus or minus 30 degrees). Augie Barkow was leading the regatta after two races with 9 points. Strothman and Burton had 13, Porter had 15, and Alnes had 17. Paul Biwer (V-220) lead at the mark followed by a new name, Tim Kretch (M-4). Strothman was next followed by Porter. With a dismal forecast for Sunday, Porter & Strothman knew that this race could decide the regatta with only two points separating them and the regatta leaders were back – Barkow was 14th around, Burton 20th, and Alnes 24th. For three legs Strothman kept his lead on Porter but on the fourth leg Porter rounded the upwind mark in first with Strothman second. On the downwind Strothman maybe gambled a little to make the pass but failed and rounded in 5th, with Porter still leading. Peter Maas (X-20) had been steadily picking off a boat here and there as he climbed from 6th at the first mark to 2nd at the finish behind Porter. Jim Gluek did the same and finished 3rd after rounding the first mark in 8th. Strothman was 4th, putting him one point behind Porter for the regatta. Tim Kretch (M4) had a great race and finished 5th. Barkow slid back even more, Burton got into too much trouble at the mark roundings, leaving him well back. Alnes was moving in the right direction recovering from 24th to 14th at the finish. This is a clear indication how hard it was to race on Pewaukee in the conditions that challenged the sailors on Saturday. Leg times were about: 8 minutes, 7, 9, 7, 7, 8, 7, 8 = total of 60 minutes.
Sunday had an early start scheduled in the hope of getting a couple of races in. However the wind didn’t settle in to get a start off until 10:15. The course was an L10, again from the SSE. Several boats were over at the favored leeward end, but a quick circle around the end kept them in the race as the first leg favored a long port tack and boats were able to nearly lay the mark as some fresh pressure filled in from the left. Boats over were: Porter, Schoor, Drake Sprinkman (V-50), Frank Davenport (I-303), and Tim Krech. Paul Biwer (V-220) was dialed in for this race and lead for the first seven legs until the race was abandon when the wind shut down at about 11:00. The showdown between Strothman and Porter was developing and they were in 9th and 12th place respectively with Porter passing boats when the race was cancelled.
Vincent Porter had a young but obviously talented team on board - Harry Melges IV on jib, Clifford Porter in the middle, and Henry Rolander. Harry and Henry are 12 years old.