Some Thoughts from the Winner of the Davis Island Regatta


From Tim Porter

Well, I had a few people suggest that I do a quick write up about the Davis Island Regatta and I reluctantly turned into a bit more of a writeup than I planned, but hopefully you’ll enjoy it.  I had what for me was a new and somewhat unique experience.  Just a little background on myself.  I am new to the Flying Scot class, having purchased my first Flying Scot two years ago.  I have crewed a handful of times for other people over the past decade and skippered a Scot a couple times before buying one.  By no means do I consider myself an experienced Scot sailor.  I am lucky enough to have a friend, Steve Shaw, who is both a good sailor and has experience on a Scot.  When my wife can’t come, he is the first person I ask to join me.  We drove the Scot down from Lake Norman, NC on Friday morning with the goal of getting there early enough for the annual pizza party.  We made great time and were able to throw the mast up and chat with some of the locals before heading to the Linton’s for pizza. 

We woke up to a forecast of 15-20 knots.  I had expectations that included being wet and hiking a lot.  As most Scot sailors know, the boat is happier with a little less breeze than the amount for which the forecast was calling.  While I am usually one of the last people to have my boat in the water, we got started early and were the first boat on the dock, which gave us the opportunity to chat with others.  Steve and I were talking with one of our friends, Jeff Linton, and we found out that Amy (Jeff’s wife and crew) wasn’t going to be able to sail.  It started as a little bit of a joke, but we suggested he just come with us.  The idea grew on all of us and Jeff ended up coming out on Cherry-O.  I can’t imagine anyone who has been around Scots for any time doesn’t know who Jeff is, but he is a bit of a celebrity in the sailing world (of course, he wouldn’t say this).  After a quick discussion, we decided Jeff would drive, Steve would do front, and I would do middle.  I thought it prudent to position myself where I could observe both of them to maximize my learning opportunities. 

We went out on the water and hoisted the spin to make sure everything worked and amazingly it went up smoothly and we were moving pretty well.  After getting to the course, we sailed upwind for a bit and observed our compass headings.  We also got a line site and tried to determine which side was favored.  We had much conversation about what to do with the cunningham.  Jeff seemed to think it wasn’t worth thinking about, but somehow it kept getting pulled on the entire weekend.  At some point prior to our start, we did a ritual to ensure that the boat and water treated us well.  The ritual worked as our speed upwind was great and none of “Team Beef” really had to hike very hard.  Downwind we held our own despite Steve deciding he had too much to do, with six hands onboard, and throwing the spin pole overboard on our first set.  We sailed the rest of the day with no spin pole, which didn’t really seem to hurt too bad as we ended the day with three firsts.  Clear starts and going really fast upwind was the trick to the day. 

We were a little worried, as we expected much lighter wind on Sunday.  The breeze came up enough where all three of us were able to sit on the high side most of the day.  We got a replacement spin pole and managed to keep it on the boat all day.  In the first race of the day, we started just to windward of Dave Rink, without a big puff, and we weren’t able to hold our lane.  We had to dig out a bit, but ended up in fifth place.  In the final race, we were in the hunt, but trailing Michael and Jennifer Faugust for most of the race.  We managed to get a good puff right at the end and squeaked by them within a couple boat lengths of the finish. 

In the end what did I learn? I’m not sure whether I learned or re-learned these things, but I walked away with a few notes from sailing with Jeff and Steve. 

  1. When racing a boat always have a ritual to ask for divine help.
  2. The value of the cunningham will continue to be debated and pondered for years to come.
  3. The vang is really important.  Controlling the forestay sag (or lack thereof) has a big impact on the power and point of the boat.  The vang had a much bigger impact on this than I had thought.  We all expect it to flatten the main, but we don’t all think about the impact on the jib. 
  4. Have a clip on your topping lift that won’t let the spin pole fall overboard.
  5. Don’t start to windward of Rink with two big guys on the boat (from Jeff).
  6. It takes two guys to replace one Amy Linton (from Rink).

The most important thing of which I was reminded is it is a great thing to spend time on the water with two people you really like and it is a bonus if they are great sailors.