We're Baaaaaack!

This summer has been a bit difficult but there have been several highlights. My youngest daughter was married to her prince charming on a lovely beach in Florida. I was able to be with all four of my children and nine grandchildren for several days in a row. We sailed in the Sweet Sixteen National Regatta and had a great time sailing our old racing boat loaned to us by Bill Smith. Lana has been able to spend extended time with her grandmother, children and grandchildren. We look forward to getting back aboard Mary Rose and chasing the horizon in search of adventure and seeking out that special project to help those less fortunate than ourselves. We had a chance to spend a wonderful week with my brother and his wife and do some worthwhile projects while there. We are now in Georgia visiting with Shannon and her family and will soon be back in Florida.
This summer also presented the opportunity for my son Shane to sail in yet another Race to Mackinac. This is a grueling race with difficult challenges. He and his team finished second in this event in the J-105 class. This same team also won their class in the Chicago Verve Cup as well as an overall winner of this regatta. This was a very successful year for the boat Sealark and her highly skilled team. To cap off the season this winning team went on to win the Chicago Yacht Club, BOAT OF THE YEAR! (BOTY) This is a prestigious honor and it takes a concerted effort to win this title.
BOTY is a series of regattas are chosen by a committee of multiple yacht club representatives that select a season long series of particular days of racing to be included in the boat of the year BOTY trophy series. It is difficult to win as the regattas chosen to be included are spread across five months of racing. Crew changes, weather conditions, and team focus are constantly changing across a season. Staying focused and sticking to a formula tends to pay over the long haul.
Shane and the rest of the team as a whole are responsible for reading, learning, and keeping their skills sharp. However, if an opportunity does arise to sail a regatta in another city during the winter, some part of the team usually will make the effort. It takes a large crew to make a complete team and the J105 has a weight limit. Course racing class weight limits, generally windward leeward, makes it difficult to have more than six people on the boat. Sealark races with five. However, we keep a team of nearly twelve to fifteen people active at all times. Work schedules make it tough to have a good team consistently, so we strive for an extremely well trained team with lots of bench strength. Sometimes the crew includes rookies. However, the rookies may be new to course racing but they generally have hundreds of miles under the belt as sailors due to our training program. Team Sealark uses the return trip from Mackinac to train new sailors and improve skill sets on those already in the system.
When asked what it means to win BOTY, Shane replied. “For me as a team member, it means the team set a goal and stayed focused over an entire season. It was never a guarantee to win, but we needed to be in a good position on the last day in order to even qualify. Any one of four boats could have won the top spot on the last day of racing, scheduled for two races. We know our responsibilities and choreography and we are expected to execute them depending on the tacticians call. We are happy to be able to sail with committed people that want to achieve.”
Shane went on to tell me,” One of the primary keys to consistency beyond having a deep pool of qualified people, is to call the plays on the race course before the maneuver is executed. An example is a leeward mark rounding. The tactician is required to make a call regarding the type of rounding or kite douse at least ten to fifteen boat lengths prior to the mark. In heavy air, the call is made even sooner. Generally we have three to five types of tactical maneuver for any situation, one is chosen and then executed by the crew.”
Shane told me, “The fun was evident after every race. The team makes the call to "celebrate". Yes we do take time to drop everything and just focus on whooping it up a bit if there is a success. Generally, top five or better is considered a success.”
We are all very proud of Shane and the team he sails with on Sealark. Hats off to the owner and captain Clark Pellett for strong team building and commitment. Well done team Sealark!