Lake Chelan Regatta

Sailboats, Scenery, Camping, Wind & Fun – you can’t ask for much more for a sailing regatta! The Annual Lake Chelan Sailing Regatta, organized by the Lake Chelan Sailing Association, brought in boats from as far away as Oregon, the Puget Sound and Eastern British Columbia to join with the extensive Chelan fleet of private and sailing association owned boats. The Flying Scots and San Juan 21’s had the numbers for one design starts combined with classes of over 20’ boats, under 20’ boats and a multi-hull fleet ranging from a 27’ trimaran on down to the single person Hobie catamarans.

Everyone was welcomed and encouraged to come out and race. Water balloons and squirt guns were recommended in the Notice of Race, serious racing with its concurrent level of protests was frowned upon and beginner association members were encouraged to bring a boat out to learn and experience racing with a group of sailors that is all about enabling them to Get Out The Boat.

Low pressure moved through the area Friday before the regatta bringing with it an extensive amount of rain fall. Yet when the boats arrived and rigged on Friday afternoon the sun was out at Lake Chelan. The drying ground was welcomed by the tenters setting up for the free camping at Rusty’s Nut Farm developing into an entertaining evening around the camp fire as the regatta entrants met and spun yarns into the wee hours of the night.

Saturday morning showed up grey and while the campers finished up their dishes the clouds opened up, soaking everything efficiently enough for the Skippers Meeting to be held inside the Sailing Associations boat shed. But, the wind was up out of the East, the course was set and the RC got things rolling at 11am with 5 different starts continuously charging off the line and around the South end of the lake. First up was the Multi-hulls slipping across the line with barely a ripple coming off their transoms in the 5 knot Easterly. Next up was the under 20‘ers, boats ranging from the quick modern VX1, to the classic Buccaneer 18, to the beautiful home built Windmill all the way down to the small Hunter 140 dinghies. An excited group of sailors racing under portsmouth handicap with experience ranging from ocean racing veterans all the way to neophyte sailors enjoying their first racing experience.

Class 3 came to the line with an eclectic group of 3 Moore 24’s, 3 Ranger 20’s and a Mirage 236. With no local knowledge, the three Moore 24’s hit the line hard and chased around puffs trying to learn the lake and its unique geographical shifts. The 4th class was the hugely active group of San Juan 21’s. Coming out in droves, the San Juan’s were led off the first start by fleet favorite and Chelan Sailing Association Commodore Marc Vander Schalie and his beautiful green Rico 21 Kermit. Finally it was the Flying Scots turn at the start line – 5 beautiful classic boats, each kept in like new condition by their loving owners.

With the fleet spread all over the lake and the rain continually splashing down, the R.C. kept things moving with rolling starts when they could, but as the big groups would pack across the finish line they’d hold off on the starts, focus on the finishes and then roll right back into another starting sequence as if nothing happened and they’d been doing starts the entire time. After 3 races Kermit had a solid hold on the SJ21 fleet with a 1,2,1 finish, More Uff Da was pulling away from class 3 with a 1,1,1 and the Buccaneer 18 owned by David Walker was charging around the course right on the heals of the VX1 Rock On putting themselves easily in position to correct over the faster boat once the ratings were applied.

As the classes began starting into the long race 4 the sun finally burned off the clouds, the sailors began stripping off the wet layers and struggled to figure out where they hid their sunglasses in their sail bags. With the sun’s welcomed heat, the easterly that had blown so solidly all morning slowly backed off till the RC fired off three horns and the now dry and warm sailors headed off to the marina after a full day of sailing on Lake Chelan.

Now the real fun of this regatta began – dinner, music and camping at Rusty’s Nut Farm. The place was packed with sailors, tents all over the soft grass, the fire pit prepped for sunset and once the amazing dinner was finished the sun set below the hills, the fire sparked up and the guitars came out of the woodwork for hours of music, dancing and singing under the clear evening skies. Truly an event that brings all the sailors together after racing into a situation you can’t help but be excited to be part of.

Sunday dawned clear and light, forcing the 10am start time to be pushed back to 11. Once the wind filled in across the lake, race 4 was off with a course entirely upwind of the starting area incorporating the first downwind finish of the weekend. Clear air was hard to find with the large fleet of sailboats out on the lake but Rock On & More Uff Da found some wind on opposite sides of the course and led the finish train across the downwind finish line. Not be outdone Kermit finished so far in front of the second place SJ21 they were kiddingly accused of skipping a mark! One more windward/leeward race and the regatta was complete with the fleet sailing into the marina, slipping their boats on their trailers and lounging on the grass in the sun as the results were announced to one of the happiest group of regatta sailors ever seen in the PNW.

Backdropped by the marina, the lake, the shoreline lined with cabins, the hills littered with farms and wineries and the ridge lines out in the distance, race organizer Russ Jones got the awards going while explaining the shoestring budget the Lake Chelan Sailing Association operates on every year while continually bringing in new sailors and teaching US Sailing certified classes by their volunteer instructors. LCSA Commodore Marc Vander Schalie then delivered the awards – The Multi-hull start was split into two groups for the awards. First in the 4 boat portsmouth multi-hull class went to Jeff Rickard on his Hobie 16, second to the FX1 sailed by Dan Fritz and third to the Corsair 750 sailed by Randy Brooks. For the 5 boat Hobie 18 class first went to Paul Vonstubbe, second to Paul Evenden and third to Shaun Roberts. First in the 9 boat under 20’ portsmouth class went to David Walker sailing his Buccaneer 18, second to Brian Dale in his beautiful Windmill and third to Tom Graham on his classic yellow Lightning.

The over 20’ portsmouth class was split into two groups for the awards – the 3 Moore 24’s and the 3 Ranger 20’s with the Mirage. For the Moore 24’s first place went to More Uff Da, owned by Ben Braden, second went to Hood River’s Morjito, owned by Doug Archbald, and third went to Moorosaourus, owned by Jacob and Julia Wenegrat. First in the portsmouth Ranger/Mirage group went to the well sailed Mirage 236 owned by Bob Spaulding, second went to Scott Patterson’s Ranger 20 and third went to the Ranger 20 sailed by Dan Callan. First in the biggest class at the regatta at 9 boats, the San Juan 21’s, went to the LCSA Commodore Marc Vander Schalie and his kids aboard Kermit sailing not only an impressive regatta but carrying the largest double barreled water guns anyone had ever seen! Second went to Wes Vaughn and third went to Chris Popich – barely correcting into third over the fourth place boat owned by Michael Dukes. For the Flying Scots, those beautiful classic boats, first went to Ray Peters winning the tie-breaker over the second place boat owned by Brian Tyrrell and third, just 4 points back went to Rich Obst. Truly a fun happy camping regatta put on by a group of sailors that do nothing but promote sailing in every form you can imagine. Always wanted to try Portsmouth racing? Have a dinghy in your garage you’d love to race? Try the 2014 Lake Chelan Sailing Regatta! Learn more about the regatta and the Sailing Association at their website SailChelan.com

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