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Hoop's Ride

Get a real feel for what it's like to sail a DN with C2 components as you watch John Harper sail a couple of laps on Sand Lake in Michigan.


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January 19-25, 2014
Lake Champlain, Plattsburgh, New York
By Ron Sherry DNUS44

Equipment Used
• Composite Concepts Hull
• Composite Concepts Plank
• Mast: QIL mast #2
• Non Adjustable Shrouds
• Side Runners: 3/16 X 36 inch Winged Inserts 90 degree 18 inches of .008 flat
• Front Runner: Low Profile 3/16 X 30 inch 14 inches of .008 flat
• Forstmann Boom
• Sails: 2014 North F-01 first three races, 2013 North ABSS last race built by Mike Boston.

Wednesday 1-22
Griffin, Dideric and I left home at 5:50 am. We headed to Loretta’s to pick her up, along with Deb and Richard, and to head to Plattsburgh, New York. We dropped Dideric off with Mike Rehe so he could go to the airport. We drove south to pick up Kent Baker, his wife, Erica, and JR Francis. We chose the southern route because we had a trailer full of equipment and Griffin didn’t have a passport. We had good weather for driving and stopped three times for gas and food. 15 hours after we started, we arrived at our hotel in Plattsburg; it was 9 pm. We checked in at the hotel and with the race committee. We went to the bar and hung out with Dick Wollam, Julie Richards, and many other friends.

Thursday 1-23
At breakfast we learned that the scouts had found a new piece of textured ice, 5 inches thick with ½ inch of hoar (don't you just love to say hoar frost!) frost covering the whole area. On the original site, the ice was 50% snow covered with 2 inch drifts which were rock hard after the brutally cold temperatures we had. The scouts were checking the ice and looking for a launch site. They found a launch site, but when they went to move the Porta Johns, the city authorities asked for our event insurance. The Holiday Inn’s hostess overheard the problems we were having with insurance and she contacted her friend, the mayor, and got everything cleared up. With his blessing, we went down and started setting up. .

Griffin and I took advantage of the down time, worked out in the gym, and took a Jacuzzi to loosen up. The ice was just as described. It was cold and getting late. The wind was light and shifty. We had a skippers’ meeting before the start of the Silver Fleet mini qualifier. And when PRO Bob Schumacher mentioned the word hazard, the ice cracked underneath us and sent everyone scampering away. Steve Madden won the mini qualifier, but more importantly, made the time limit. All of the Gold Fleet sailors were out testing different runners. Steve won with 90 degree high crown minimum “T” runners. Most of the Gold Fleet sailors were having success using short 100 degree 3/16 inserts.

Griffin and I tried several different runners. I felt fastest using my Slipper Runners. It was tough conditions for testing because who ever got the puff first had a big advantage. They called racing for the day because the wind had shifted again and we were too close to sunset. Griffin and I put our travel runners on and headed in. We went down to the dining room and had dinner at a big table with our whole team and T and his team. We went to bed early because we knew the next day would be a big day because the Gold Fleet would start first.

Friday 1-24
There was a nice breeze in the morning when we got up and the forecast said it would build all day. We loaded our boats with runners and sails and went out to the starting line. Griffin and I changed to our 3/16 with wings runners. The wind was blowing from 8-10 mph. We went out for a test sail and my boat felt a little too soft, it was bending too easy. I shortened my head stay 1.5 cm and lowered my sail 1 inch and the boat felt good. The wind shifted 90 degrees and was building out of the south just as predicted. They called the Gold Fleet to the line. I drew position 5, Mark Christensen was 7, and Griffin was 11.

Race 1 Gold
The wind was shifting back and forth on the starting line and had built to about 10- 11mph. I got a good start and headed right. Chad Atkins was the only boat that crossed in front of me from the right side. After he tacked, I went just a little past him and tacked. I noticed he was having rotation problems and was able to sail over him. No one from the left side was close to Chad or I and we went around the course first and second. I kept things real simple with one tack and one jibe on each leg. The boat was rockin’ fast. The mast gave me a nice wide range to steer in and was telling me how high to point with gentle hikes. In the end I was first, Chad Atkins was second, and Mark Christensen was third. Mark had missed the plank at the start, had fallen down, and was being dragged by his boat. He was very happy with the speed he had, coming all the way back from twentieth to third place. Fourth was Oliver Moore who is relatively new and quickly moving his way up the results sheets. Fifth was Don Brush who has been sailing DNs longer than I have but we haven’t seen him in a continental event in a while.

Race 2 Silver
Hal Bowman was first, Nicolas Mabboux from Beaconsfield, Quebec was second, and third was Bill Coberly. The wind was building and the conditions were perfect.

Race 2 Gold
The wind had built to 12-13 mph for race two. I did not change a thing. I checked my runners and they had no nicks. We changed Griffin’s sail from his F-01 to his speed sail. I got a good start and led the whole race. As in the first race, I used my port runner to judge the lay lines. The hoar frost creates a lot more drag than people think, so lay lines were a little wider.

Steve Orlebeke was second. In the first race, Steve was trying his new 3/16, 30 inch, 100 degree runners he built in the PISS camp and spun out down wind. He changed to his 3/16 with wings and was challenging for the win. Third was Mark Christensen, fourth was “T”, and fifth was Richard Gustring from Stockholm, Sweden.

Richard had put together a great regatta with finishes of 9, 5, and 6 in the first three races. In his fourth race, a side stay pin came out causing his mast to fall down. If that wouldn’t have happened, he would have been in the top 5 for the regatta. We figure that when he changed his sail before race 4, his flogging sail must have opened the safety pin on his side stay.

Race 3 Silver
Hal Bowman was first, Eben Whitcomb was second, and third was Bill Coberly.

Race 3 Gold
The wind had built to 14-15 mph for race 3. Again, I did not change a thing. I checked my runners and they had no nicks. I got another good start and led the whole race. Again, I kept things simple and did one tack and one jibe around the race course. Second was Mark Christensen, third was “T”, fourth was Oliver Moore, and fifth was Mike Derusha.

Race 4 Silver
The wind had built to more than 20 mph for the fourth silver race. I was very impressed with how smooth Hal Bowman was sailing his boat in the big breeze. His piloting skills had definitely come into play. Hal was first, John Milbank was second, and Bill Coberly was third.

Race 4 Gold
The breeze continued at more than 20 mph before the start of the fourth race. I checked my runners and they were fine. I changed from my F-01 to my ABSS and lowered my sail 1 inch. I was about 1 second late on the jump and both of my spikes slipped at the start. “T”, Derusha, and Orlebeke all got good starts to leeward of me. For the first time, there was more pressure on the left side of the course. Christensen and Baker both crossed in front of me, coming from the left side. The hoar frost was being blown in the air by the 30 mph puffs at the weather mark. I rounded the weather mark 4th or 5th.

I had a good downwind leg and came into the leeward mark in second place behind Steve Orlebeke. I was outside of Steve, being careful to leave enough room. When Steve started to slide I jerked the tiller to the left instinctively to stay away. The front runner grabbed hard and because of the abrupt change in direction I started to come out of the boat.

As I came out of the boat, my legs took the tiller with me causing the boat to turn hard right. My shoulder got hung up on the side stay and as the boat spun out, I was slingshotted away from the boat. As I was spinning away from the boat, I saw my boat flip over. I was glad it wasn’t sailing away. As I spun around again, I tried to stand up and stop myself with my spikes. Well my spikes grabbed a little too hard and I flipped over backwards and landed on my head. When I finally came to a stop I was on top of the starting line.

I got up and started running back to my boat and I noticed my glove out past my boat. I picked up my glove and when I came back to my boat, Bill Mintz was standing by my boat ready to help. I told him not to touch my boat but he knew the rules. He was making sure I was ok and my boat did not blow into the pits. I tipped my boat up and checked the steering and the side boards for cracks. Everything looked ok, so I got in my boat and pushed off with one foot to make sure I didn’t interfere with any boats rounding the leeward mark.

Best guess was that I was in about 21st place when I started sailing again. I thought I finished in about 18th place and I would be in 5th place over all. Steve Orlebeke was first, Mike Derusha was second, Mark Isabell was third, Mark Christensen was fourth, and Don Brush was fifth.

They called racing for the day. Griffin had made it back out with his spare hull ready to race. Griffin had gotten in a collision at the leeward mark in race 3. He finished the race but his side board was cracked through the mast step. He sailed back in and changed hulls by himself. When he got back out, it was time to change to our travel runners and go in for the day.

We put the boats away and got into the van to drive back to the hotel. Griffin, Richard, and I were all licking our wounds. When we got back to the hotel, we had work to do. Richard had run over his wires when his mast came down so we had to get the sharpening machine out and fix them. There was a plug in the parking lot, but it was so cold the motor was having a hard time starting. It was Wendell’s old machine so I asked him for a little help and the motor started. We fixed Richard’s runners and brought our race runners in to stone.

It was great to finally take the race suits off. My shoulder was bruised and bleeding, but seemed to move alright. We ordered lasagna, appetizers, and Irish coffee and went to work on our runners. When we were finished with our runners, we put them back in the trailer so they would be cold. Erica came in and checked out my shoulder to make sure it was not broken.

When I asked her where I finished she told me 8th. I started doing the math and could not believe it. Griffin and I went to the Jacuzzi and then back to the room. We got a call and our presence was requested in the bar. We went down and spent some time with friends. Skeeter sailors Jordan Glaser and Mark Hancik showed up scouting ice for the Eastern ISA. We went to bed and slept hard.

Saturday 1-25
When we got up in the morning, Bob Schumacher had good news and bad news. The good news was that the high winds had blown all of the hoar frost off the ice overnight. The bad news was that it was blowing 30 to 40 mph and there was no way we would be able to race. They called for awards in 1 hour so we started packing up for the ride home.

The awards were really nice and the trophies are beautiful. Hal Bowman won the Silver Fleet and gave the best speech. He reminded all of us how cool it was to watch the America’s Cup, and how close the boats react to the wind like a DN. He said we can go faster and spend millions less. He also said how a great day of racing like Friday can make up for all of the travel. Second in the Silver Fleet was Bill Coberly, third was John Milbank, fourth was Rich Crucet, and fifth was Peter Truesdell.

The best speech in the Gold Fleet went to Mike Derusha who had a proposal for next year that we don’t start any races unless it is blowing over 15 mph. It was Mike that we had to thank for the smoked chubs and pickled eggs. Tenth place went to “T”, ninth place Kent Baker, eighth place Don Brush, seventh place Chad Atkins, sixth place Oliver Moore, fifth place Mark Isabell, fourth place Mike Derusha, third place Steve Orlebeke, and second place Mark Christensen who severely damaged his ankle on the first start. He is now on anti-inflammatories and wearing an air cast. He told me he wasn’t going to travel 1,500 miles and not sail. First was Ron Sherry who feels very lucky again.

We went to the ice to load our boats. When we got there it was easy to see that Bob Schumacher was 100% correct. It was blowing 40 and the hoar frost was all gone. Steve Orlebeke told me not to even try getting to the boats without spikes on. No one who was taking their boats off the ice thought we should be sailing. We had a great team working out of the Composite Concepts trailer. Richard Gustring, Kent Baker, JR Francis, Griffin, and I made quick work of loading the boats. It was so windy it took two people per hull to carry the boats to the trailer. We got the trailer loaded and headed back to the hotel to load our clothes, Loretta’s scoring stuff, and the AED.

The big decision was whether to go through Canada or take the southern route. Loretta, Deb, Erica, and most of the Central and Western sailors decided to take the Canadian route. Looking at the weather along with the 1 ½ hour shorter drive made it look like the obvious way to go. We decided to take the southern route through Albany, Syracuse, and Buffalo because Griffin had no passport and were concerned about being held up at the border by customs with a big trailer.

Our timing could not have been better. We hit one true white out west of Albany. We were driving along fine and it was like we drove through a curtain of snow. You could not see 4 car lengths in front of you. Fortunately we needed gas and JR who was completing 6 hours of awesome driving stopped at a rest area. We had a burger and chilled for a few. It was my turn to drive and things cleared up after 30 or 40 miles. We expected things to get bad at Buffalo and Cleveland but had reasonably clear driving all the way to Toledo. It took us 14 hours to make it to Toledo but we made last call at the Whales Tail Bar and Grill.

If you are ever in Toledo, it is a must see. They have a DN hanging from the ceiling and that is probably the cleanest thing in the bar. We made it back to Kent’s house and pulled out every bottle he had in his bar. Once Richard’s Scotch was gone I made up a concoction that made Richard’s head feel like it was two sizes too small in the morning. Kent and I got up and went out to the store for breakfast fixings. Griffin and I made up our famous bacon and egg sandwiches. It was Winterfest in Toledo and parties were everywhere. People were out sailing on Maumee Bay. I borrowed a boat and went for a ride. It was rough and drifty, but it still counts, I sailed. We drove home to Detroit at about noon. We unloaded Richard’s boat at Leon’s shop. We got home, dried, stoned, and greased all of the runners we used. DONE!!!

Lessons Learned
I am truly blessed to have a family that supports me but getting to share these events with my sons is the best a dad can ask for. We are creating memories that will last several life times. Having Griffin as a training and tuning partner is awesome. I am sure many friends and family who have gone before us are looking down and smiling. One thing I plan on working on with Griffin is our position in the boat when we round the leeward marks. Using your feet on the ladder, you pull with one heel and push with the other to hold your position in the boat.

Equipment Used
• Composite Concepts Hull
• Composite Concepts Plank
• Mast: QIL mast #2
• Non Adjustable Shrouds
• Side Runners: 3/16 X 36 inch Winged Inserts 90 degree 18 inches of .008 flat
• Front Runner: Low Profile 3/16 X 30 inch 14 inches of .008 flat
• Forstmann Boom
• Sails: 2014 North F-01 first three races, 2013 North ABSS last race built by Mike Boston.

We started building the QIL mast (Quasi-Isotropic Layup) November 5, 2010. The QIL mast has a new mold, new cloth, a new lay-up schedule, a new epoxy system, and a new curing system. We have built 60 QIL masts to date with 0 failures. Since 2010, I have used the same QIL mast #2 for every regatta and practice session I have sailed in North America. Ask anyone who has a QIL on their DN what they think. People like Mark Christenson, Steve Orlebeke, Mike Derusha, Mark Isabell, John Dennis, Hal Bowman, Kent Baker, Jim Grogan, Mike Bloom, Pete Johns, to name a few.

Thank You
I want to thank all of the Officers and Rear Commodores and Scorers who put in so much time to make sure we have a quality event. I want to thank my travel partners, Dideric, Richard, Kent, JR, Loretta, Deb, and Erica for keeping all of our travels fun and stress free. I especially want to thank Griffin who helps me in more ways than you can imagine and gave us all quite a thrill winning the Centrals. I want to thank all of the competitors who make these events so much fun. Remember, these events are 50% social.

Composite Concepts European Dealer