A Hail from the Rail

Matt FisherFleet News, Hoover Sailing Club, Leadline

COVID-19 is creating challenges in every part of our lives.  Everything looks different, but everything must look different to make sure we see the other side of this pandemic as soon as possible.  Fortunately, as sailors, we have an element of social distancing engrained in the on-course action.  With the creative leadership of Fleet Captain Mike McBride and Commodore Steve Lavender, some Thistle sailing has resumed safely at Hoover.

On July 25, the MAD Regatta (More Appropriate Distancing) was held as the sequel to the first successful Hoover regatta, the SAD (Socially Appropriate Distancing).  In addition to mandatory masks, various creative safety measures ranging from double-handed boats, to handing out 10 ft poles to ensure distance was kept onshore, helped keep safety the priority during the single day regatta.  14 Thistle teams competed in conditions that were crazy even for Hoover standards.

With the conditions fluctuating throughout the day, it seemed that in addition to masks for safety, blindfolds for strategy may have helped with some of the decisions forced to be made by the competitors.  Several of the six races saw velocity between 0-10 mph and 180-degree wind shifts, coming most frequently from the NE shore of Hoover where a cliff combined with tall trees creates close to an 80 ft. tall wind shadow for windward mark roundings.  Adam Gilbertson and Tim Vining consistently navigated the conditions and finished 1st, followed by Steve Lavender and Dave Stetson in 2nd, and myself and my dad Matt Fisher in 3rd.  Five different boats won the six races, with the 4th place boat steered by Kit Holzapfel and crew Noel Thurber taking home two 1st place finishes. Our Reed Schworm took home the award for youngest participant (pictured below).

Congratulations to Adam and Tim for 1st place, and I think all competitors who participated would agree that the performance of our race committee deserves a round of applause for making the most of a rather miserable looking forecast.  Jamie Jones was our PRO, supported by Mark Andrew, Ann Jones, Nathan Ward, and Simon Pennells.

Even though the sailing conditions were less than perfect, the special qualities of the Thistle Class shined through.  The competition, sportsmanship, and friendship on and off the water are  helping make the most of a different Summer.  Of the 14 boats sailing, at least five were family boats.  I am lucky to have been on one of those five boats, and continue to love sailing in the Thistle class as it is creating opportunities for me to bond with my Dad, learn from him while we sail, and compete against great sailors.

Thistle News by Ann Jones

COMMODORE STEVE LAVENDER DOES IT AGAIN! Congrats to our very own Steve for passing another passel of boats and coming in third place in the August Pursuit Race. This was the highest attended Pursuit Race ever with 31 boats. Thistles started at 10 minutes and 21 seconds after the start, and Steve passed all but two boats, assisted by the very talented spinnaker work of Kimberly Pasley, who just happens to be married to Fleet Captain Mike McBride. 

THE THREE-GENERATION (GRAND) MEMBERSHIP that was proposed by our Thistle Fleet #126 was approved by the Thistle Class Governing Board and is now an official membership category. Thanks to Jack Finefrock, Amendments Chair, for ably shepherding this proposal through various Constitutional and Bylaws hurdles.

UPCOMING REGATTAS – District Governor Conor Ruppen just published the new list for the rest of the season, and he suggests we contact ThistleClass.com for info on safety requirements, Notices of Race, and more as it is updated:

    September 12 & 13, Atwood, Harvest Moon
    September 26, Sandusky Fall Regatta (not a District Championship)
    October 3, 54th North Cape Blowout, Monroe, Michigan
    Stay tuned for Icebreaker, Crescent Sail Yacht Club
    October 17, Hoover Fall Finale

LOOKING AT THE LAKE – Well, it still LOOKS wide, but is it really? Probably not, because the water level is receding pretty fast. The entire west side of the lake is extremely shallow. A good rule of thumb is that if the land above the water is flat, the land below the water is flat (shallow) too, because both are usually made up of the same materials. If there’s a steep cliff (like the one north of the club on the east side), usually there’s a steep drop-off below the water line, so you’re less likely to run aground there. North of that cliff, Fleet Captain Mike McBride unexpectedly ran aground on one of those points of land that extend shallowly out into the lake. Rumor has it that Mike wants to claim that area for the Thistle Fleet (and I think “Thistle Point” has a certain ring to it!)

But Mike can’t lay claim to Joneses’ Island, because my late husband, better known as “Poor Richard”, discovered that area many years ago. The area in question lies in a shallow triangle between the launch ramp and the east end of the Smothers Road bridge. “Poor Richard” and I found land there in 1982 when we ran aground during a race. Clyde Findley helpfully tried to pilot a rescue boat out to “save” us, but the engine prop got stuck in the mud. Mercifully, I forget how that episode resolved itself. I do remember that Clyde later suggested that “Poor Richard” could have taken off his shoes, jumped over the side of the boat and pushed us free. But my long-suffering husband responded, “Well, I thought of that, but I didn’t want to get my feet wet!” That area rises above the water level every autumn in memory of “Poor Richard” Jones.

Years later, Clyde demonstrated his technique one day when he and I ran solidly aground on the west shore. He pulled the centerboard up, took off his shoes, jumped over the side of the boat and pushed it off. Only problem was, he forgot to jump back aboard, leaving me to single-hand his Thistle. And that’s when I learned that a Thistle steers a lot better to windward when the centerboard is down! (And Clyde learned that he needed to jump back in his boat if he wanted to drive it!)

Anyway, the water is warm and we still have a couple of months’ of sailing left. It’s gonna be a long winter, so we might as well enjoy our favorite Club while we can. SEE YOU ON THE WATER!