Key Largo Commodores Regatta - Florida Keys, USA, March 7/8
Thanks to Jim, Greg and Madhavan for their accounts of an exciting fun weekend on the Keys.
By Jim Myers:
Thank you Upper Keys Sailing Club. What a wonderful sailing weekend with friends.
Friday many of us were treated to some tuning and informal Marc Jacobi clinic. Great fun in beautiful Burronwood Sound. My big takeaway from Friday was that Sally Sharp is a killer in the RS Aero 5 Rig!
Saturday served up a bit more breeze. The RC was hesitant as the soft bottom would not let an anchor hold their pontoon boat in that much wind. They were also wisely concerned about having enough safety support. To their great credit, the RC persevered and managed to set up a triangle course for us with the start off of their pier. I do not think I completed a single gybe without a little swim time but it was great fun and challenging.
Sunday brought us even more wind but thankfully it shifted to more of an easterly and came over Key Largo to a more flat water sound. Melissa Solnick was kind enough to loan me a 5 rig for another fun sail day/clinic for 5 of us. Now before you laugh at a 205lb 6'2" guy in a 5 rig. I recorded my fastest speed ever in the Aero with it: 17.1 mph on the gps. It was a blast. Gybes were easy. I would not hesitate to race in it in 20s to gust in the low 30s we were sailing in. I am ordering a 5 rig!
We all invest a lot of time and treasure to get to regattas. No reason to limit ourselves on the conditions we can sail in. Besides that, having Paul Gingras on my tail all day Saturday sailing a 7 with him in his 5 was very impressive.
I have to acknowledge our lion-hearted friend Boris for going out in any conditions and never giving up. He capsizes, rights the boat and keeps on going! It shows in how much better he is doing on the race course too.
At the awards ceremony I took the liberty to ask the RC what conditions are like there in January. They said it can be just like the 60-70 degree temps we were experiencing. They also said they have capacity in January which would fit our possible FL schedule next year very well. I personally am looking forward to going back. Hope to see all the Aero sailors there next year!By Greg Popp;
Many thanks to Paul Gingras and the Upper Keys Sailing Club for organising and hosting the RS Aero event at Key Largo just concluded. Albeit there was some reservation about this venue as an event my observation is that after the opportunity to sail in Buttonwood Sound and the hospitality of the Club that there is a common mind that this is a great place to sail our Aeros.
For me, sailing in the Keys is nothing new but I can say without hesitation that the fun sail this past Friday in quite breezy conditions was one of the best sailing experiences I have had in my Aero. All of us were relishing in the super long run planing reaches and the massive grins were universal.
The heavier wind conditions Saturday were manageable from a sailing standpoint as proven by the success of those who stuck out doing four races. For me, going out and sailing the course pre race made it clear that I did not have enough gas left in my tank from the several hours out the day before and a lively late evening that followed to press on without difficulty so I was happy to watch the racing.
The bold sailing their 9 rigs were amazing, Mark and Madhavan, kudos! Marc Jacobi was ferocious in the conditions and earned his first place. The others in 7 rigs were also challenged by the wind’s intensity but rose to the challenge. And, the 5 rigs were really in their element with Paul Gingras and Melissa Skolnik doing very well in the mixed fleet and trying conditions.
What we encountered as weather was unusual but the water was warm, the air comfortable and the venue wonderful. Going back to sail at UKSC maybe instead in January should be an objective. I hope that this is a shared sentiment!
By Madhavan Thirumalai;
To me this regatta was more about the sailing and the community then it was about the actual racing.
On the Friday before the regatta, we went out practicing. It was wonderful to see newcomer to RS Aeros, Sally Sharp, on the water sailing her new RS Aero 5 rig. On many of the lineups she was hanging in there with the 7s and the 9s. I did some two boating with Jim Myers - he had a high mode that I couldn’t match. Over dinner, he told me his secret - let the boat find the groove. Don’t push her higher than she wants to go. That clicked for me on Sunday but more about that later.
It was windy and I felt rusty. The thing I do when I feel low on confidence in breeze is to do a few gybes. That didn’t work out so well for me. I went swimming.
We knew we were in for it on Saturday. It was nuking just like forecast said. The race committee was a little apprehensive. The RC boat, a pontoon, was not deemed seaworthy enough to take out in the breeze. And they had only one mark boat / rescue boat.
But we were there to sail and so they give us a course. The start line was off the dock. It was a short weather leg and then a triangle - two reaching legs with the downwind finish.
I went out early. Part of my game plan to shake off the heavier rust. Tried my old gybing trick and went swimming. So I decided to back off and wait for the racing.
The racing was blistering fast. All three fleets hung close together. 14 boats came out. It was one of those afternoons where I was struck once again by how well designed and seaworthy the RS Aero is.
Marc Jacobi won three out of four races. Mark Schwegman had a string of seconds and then won the last race, beating me in one race with a faster capsize recovery. I was third in all but the last race where I capsized 3 times.
After an excellent dinner and sharing stories about epic carnage, a well earned rest.
Racing was canceled on Sunday but five of us went out to try and break some speed records. Jim Myers sailing an RS Aero 5 hit 17mph. I sailed a 7. What a sweet rig it is. Now flying back to NYC.
See you at Sarasota everyone!
ResultsView Full Results File