Milling Around

Craig TovellFleet News, Hoover Sailing Club, Leadline

Windmill Fleet #60 is off to a liberating post-COVID sailing season. In the past after the Memorial Tournament at Muirfield, we host the longest running Windmill regatta of 52 years, the Midwestern Championship. But, a new Presque Isle Dinghy One Design regatta kicked off the season at Erie Yacht Club (Pennsylvania) as tune-up for the 2021 Windmill Nationals on August 19-22. In support of the Class, we moved our traditional regatta for 2021 to September 25-26. This temporary adjustment extends the season and will be good for the Class in lieu of the pandemic. And, will provide a better breeze. By alternating site for the Midwestern District Championship with our sister Erie Fleet, this event kicked the season off wonderfully drawing 16 teams from 7 states.

Erie Yacht Club (EYC) hosts, Pat and Janet Huntley have a great, burgeoning fleet of Windmills converting keelboat sailors to dinghies over the past few years. Their grassroots approach has the camaraderie from yesteryear. Founded in 1895, the club and facilities are tremendous. Races take place in the protected Bay where ships from the Battle of Lake Erie in 1812 were built and christened—a  few hundred yards from the launch and hoists.
Prelude to the regatta, a hot Friday afternoon of rigging and practicing was followed Saturday by 25 to 32 knots that blew so hard there weren’t swells and whitecaps just flattened out to a sideways mist. Spooky stuff. But, after two postponements, and diminishing to 10 to 15 knots racing ensued. Some 7 boats opted to stay ashore.

Of the Hoover contingent, we had had four competitive teams. Chris and Nancy Demler (the 2019 Midwinter Champs, sailed at Clearwater, birthplace of the Windmill – by builder of the Optimist Pram, Clark Mills) had a good first day. And, in my opinion, Tim and Nate Bachman probably sailed their best regatta to date. Astonishingly Doug Boyer’s maiden regatta voyage, with old college roommate Emaley Baxter, sailed tough and consistently. Then there was me. Gonna need more bev naps, a few more online orders, tuning and of course, practice. See scoring and PICs.

Fleet Report:  Our fleet has growth despite the dormant 2020 with four new, Active members. Tyler Harris is tweaking the former Ferguson boat #4164, Mike Howe (whom crewed with me at Erie) purchased the HSC Foundation boat “Little C,” brought back from Long Island. Simon Pennells owns the original Sailing Instruction boat #3251 and avidly sails club races with his son Jacob. Most-intriguing story is Doug Boyer who has been tuning Roger Demler’s #5047 and raced a competitive Erie regatta in his first event in tough conditions. Better story, Allie and Doug brought into the world Ira Eugene Boyer at 6 pounds 7 ounces and 20 inches yesterday.

In other events the “Get Off to a Good Start” seminar (on May 22nd) has a great turnout with a dozen boats — focusing on starting drills and boat-handling in traffic. Headed by Matt Fisher and a cast of multi-fleet masters with repetition and chase teams, the individual improvement was marked. Windmills had 3 participants honing their skills. By the end of the event, the team of Doug Boyer and Mike Howe had won 3 of the last 4 starts. Bravo! There will be a second “Taking It To Another Level” follow-up seminar next weekend on Saturday, June 26. I encourage even veteran sailors to attend this free club event formulating a starting, windward, leeward strategies before, during and yes, after races.

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