2014 Midwinter Championships at Clearwater Community Sailing Center March 15 - 16
Clearwater Beach, Florida (March 15-16, 2014)

The 2014 Windmill Midwinter Regatta was hosted at Clearwater Community Sailing Center (CCSC) where the Windmill Class evolved, designed by Clark Mills architect of the Optimist Pram. A 16 boat fleet mostly east of the Mississippi and south with a couple snowbirds assembled Friday before the event with a few hours of afternoon practice to acclimate themselves on the bay inside the barrier island. The weather was sunny and clear 75°, beautiful to most people.

Saturday's racing started with a large triangle course in a light breeze from the East Northeast with a slight port favor, shortish line and a slight starboard weather-favored mark and slack current. Intermittent puffs seemed to fill mid-right initially.

As the wind died before the first race below 5 knots the fleet had a hard time fetching the line on starboard tack -- except 2012 National Champions Lin Robson and crew Erin McKee who seemed to have a their own second gear driving over the fleet lifting on the starboard puffs. Most of the fleet had to hold on to acquire any speed working their way left. As the early morning prevailing northeast wind filled from the left (NE) most of the boats on the left corner easily yet slowly crossed the fleet. The third race resembled the first however as the right breeze hinted earlier, the boats that stayed mid-right upwind led to the weather mark. Both races became follow the leader after the weather mark with jockeying downwind and some position changes upwind to the finish.

Race second was a hot mess -- literally. With three minutes to the start, a brief seabreeze changed the course hundred and 180° forcing competitors to launch their whisker poles at the gun. Port tackers hadn’t helm to avoid starboard tackers and vice a versa. As the logjam shook out, the fleet ran “down” to the weather only to resume another logjam. Boats rounded up to weather and split off accordingly create their own lanes upwind to very appropriately have the race abandoned.

As the fleet patiently waited the new breeze under postponement it filled to about 10 knots from the new Southwest direction. With courses still being triangle and the starting line short, the wind intermittently favored either end of the line on for the rest of the day. Regardless of the favor, all starts were hotly contested because of the short lines. The fact that three national champions had to restart is testimonial. And, with the weather mark square to starboard favor and short weather legs, teams had to commit to their upwind lanes early or eat dirt -- or worse sail the shortly unfavored course (left) to clear their air.

The offwind legs were very testy. Teams that committed to the whisker pole along the rhumb line were regularly accosted by teams winging the jib to leeward collegiate style. But as we all know, what goes up must come down -- again creating tight mark rounding situations. There was a lot of hollering and plenty of penalty turns—and as always, some turns lacking. So it goes.

After completing five races, the fleet decompressed onshore and de-rigged for great CCSC dinner. The meal consisted of pork chops for St. Patty's Day, and "Mill Hunky" soul food consisting of Kielbasa, Bratwurst, Sour Kraut, Pierogi's and compulsory vegetarian standards. To jig or polka? That was the question. Good stuff. After the meal Ethan Bixby abdicated his post-race debrief, sail talk to myself.

Not being a professional speaker I implemented the Tony Robbins approach asking each competitor to share with everyone, "What was your best and your worst racing moment today?" The intent was understood that you're to remember your finest and duplicate that effort. Conversely, you're also to remember your worst and never repeat. The discourse was enlightening and humorous. By the end Oprah or Dr. Phil should’ve been MC and therapist. A few kernels of truth were uncovered and hopefully beneficial. Afterwards the race committee announced to move races up an hour in the morning to 9:30 because of an approaching line of foul weather. Good, smart call.

As expected Sunday brought a 15-knot breeze from the east made launching difficult as competitors waited to the last minute to put in to not burn themselves out. To the fleet's complement only a couple boats stayed ashore. Five husband-wife teams of Dede & Bo Plessner, Ethan & Trudy Bixby, Ralph & Sandy Sponar, soon to be married Matthew & Allie, Lon & Meg with Lin & Erin, Lisa & Caroline girls' "Team Elvis" and Sea Scout, Alex Brown were in the hunt. Can’t forget the Godfather of Windmilling Allen & Christina Chauvenet! All boats had their rigs depowered mostly sailing on jib with travelers off. Planing was exhilarating with only a quarter of the hull of the water even when flying the whisker pole. Two very hairy races were sailed, again with once around triangles in survival conditions as the breeze picked up to 30 knots losing a few boats. Great light, medium and heavy air test during winter at a beautiful place is hard to beat. Speaking of hard to beat -- the Bixbies. See attached results...

Next year, I'm planning on also attending the following weekend regatta at Sarasota Sailing Squadron and staying a full week to stop and smell the roses.

Remember to put the 2014 Nationals on your calendar at Hoover Sailing Club, July 17-20th. We look forward to seeing YA'LL! Sign up on www.WindmillClass.com.
PosBoatNameTotalRace 1Race 2Race 3Race 4Race 5Race 6Race 7
15700 / WindmillEthan Bixby / Trudy Bixby61(1)1(2)1(3)(3)(6)1(7)1(8)1 (9)
23497 / C-Monkeys (Redux)Craig Tovell / Connor Oursler112(2)2(4)(4)(8)1(9)2(11)2(13)2 (15)
34955 /Lin Robson / Erin McKee253(3)(OCS)(20)3(23)2(25)5(30)7(37)5 (42)
45702 / HummingbirdRalph Sponar / Sandy Sponar314(4)5(9)9(18)6(24)(10)(34)4(38)3 (41)
55586 / Beauty & The BeastAllen Chauvenet / Christina Chauvenet326(6)4(10)2(12)5(17)7(24)8(32)(DNS) (49)
65070 / Pig HeadedLon Ethington / Meg Gimmi33(9)(9)7(16)5(21)8(29)6(35)3(38)4 (42)
74922 / WimpyDede Plessner / Beau Plessner4512(12)3(15)6(21)4(25)3(28)(DNS)(45)DNS (62)
85252 / BellaColin Browning / Kat Hanson457(7)11(18)11(29)(14)(43)4(47)6(53)6 (59)
92049 / ElvisLisa Fath / Caroline Denton528(8)12(20)7(27)7(34)9(43)9(52)(DNF) (69)
103958 / WMRich Riddle / Ken Freidman5611(11)9(20)13(33)10(43)8(51)5(56)(DNF) (73)
114051 / MarshmellowAlan Taylor / Erik Arnesen635(5)10(15)10(25)9(34)12(46)(DNS)(63)DNS (80)
124049 / Sea ScoutAlex Brown / Allison Martin7016(16)6(22)8(30)12(42)11(53)(DNS)(70)DNS (87)
134947 / StyxCam Carlin / Theresa Loomis7313(13)15(28)12(40)13(53)13(66)(OCS)(83)7 (90)
143650 / MiarahRobert Poston / Sue Poston7910(10)14(24)14(38)16(54)15(69)10(79)(DNS) (96)
155060 / My MojoMatthew Sponar / Allie Coleman8115(15)8(23)16(39)11(50)14(64)(DNS)(81)DNS (98)
16107 / yellowTapp Rinne / Sara Rinne9114(14)13(27)15(42)15(57)(DNF)(74)DNS(91)DNS (108)
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