Great Conditions Saturday at the Choo Choo

 The Privateer Yacht Club hosts the Chattanooga Choo Choo regatta every year on the last weekend of April. We have been coming to this event for the last seven years. The first year we got T-boned and capsized and the next year we finished at the back of the fleet, but we have slowly worked our way up as we sail more and more. We always have a great time!

Given how early in the season it is, we also always have wind ... sometimes too much wind! This year the conditions, wind out of the south/southwest at about 10, gusts to 14, were perfect for a mid-weight boat like Ben and me. The race committee, headed by Steve Sherman, president of McLaughlin Boatworks, decided to run four races Saturday because Sunday morning conditions looked quite light. That was a good call. The wind was good but we saw huge shifts, with wind from 170-270 throughout the course of the day. Sometimes those shifts benefited us, sometimes, not so much!

We tried mostly to get starts in the middle of the line and play the middle of the course, which generally worked well. Twice, though, boats that played the left really made out. In the first race Bill Robertson, of Privateer, was probably in about fifth or sixth place on the last leg, which was upwind. He caught a shift on the left and blew by tons of boats, placing second. In the third race, at the last leg we were leading by 10 boat lengths and had finally learned to cover other boats. Nevertheless, Corky and Molly Hadden, who sail out of Bay Waveland in Louisiana, got just a whisker to the left of us and that was enough. They nosed us out by less than a boat length at the finish by riding a huge left shift right to the line. Boy! Did we gnash our teeth! Fun race!!

We were on the water until 5:30; the day was gorgeous, many of the races were an hour long, and we all came off the course feeling exhausted but satisfied. Sandy Eustis, Dixie Lakes District Governor, organized a short debrief with the top three leaders. Each skipper, and their crew, talked about what they did on the water and what they were thinking. Other sailors also asked questions. After that, we had a great hamburger cookout and plenty of beer.

The next morning, as predicted, there was no wind. The races were abandoned at about 10:30 and we packed up our boats.

Finishes:
First: Ben Williams and Deb Aronson 6 points
Second: Corky and Molly Hadden  11 points
Third: Ed and Tom Craig 18 points