Commonwealth Yacht Club

A place for members to find & share information about the happenings of the CYC

May 21, Kentucky Lake.   A forest of masts and sails, eager to start the sailing season ignored the prediction of storms for the start of the CYC Spring Sailing Series.   Great sailing with sun and wind combined with an absence of predicted storms re-enforced an observation when I first learned to sail on Kentucky Lake – “When you want to go sailing, just go. The weather will likely be different anyway. “   A dozen or so sailing vessels tacked around the starting line at 10am this past Saturday with several others arriving late to begin the upwind leg of the CYC 5 mile triangle course.  Little did we know the adventures would carry on well into the night.

     The day’s events contained everything from blood on the deck, sustained tacking duels, lead changes and multiple battles around the course trying to catch the boats in front or hold off those to stern.  A pre start jibing “blow to the head” left blood all over the cockpit and one helmsman dizzy, yet that seemed to focus and propel him down the coarse as he moved way up the fleet in the final results.  The raft-up afterwards featured everything from a laser show to fireworks, to near fisticuffs. It’s great to sail on Kentucky Lake.

      Blow Hard, Psychotic Squirrel and Treasure Chest, the latter within 5 seconds of her start time, jumped the fleet, followed by a mass of sloops beating on port against a 10 knot south western breeze up the first leg.   Sails Call II, Southern Cross, Windblown and several other larger vessels waited for their start time in the rear.  Psychotic Squirrel tacked off to the left, followed by Wind Dancer, seeking advantage closer to the middle of the lake.  Dave Casey on his light Flying Scot, Blue Moon, and Steve Smith on his Oday 28, Hey Jude eventually worked their way to the front of the mob of Dacron sails and began a sustained tacking duel.  First, Casey held a lead on port then Smith crossed on starboard.  Blow Hard followed closely while, behind him, Treasure Chest and Psychotic Squirrel reported dueling Shellback on the right.  Treasure Chest crossed  Winddancer’s bow,  hailing “Starboard” when it looked like Gus wouldn’t yield.  Gus hollered “Why’d ya yell this time?” “This is the fourth time it’s happened!”  Bev yelled back.    Sam Moore, on Bad Kitty, also began moving up on the fleet on starboard.  Behind them a mass of boat were criss-crossing the lake toward the first turn.

    University of Southern Indiana “school boats”, overloaded with students, followed.  Windblown, a heavy ocean cruiser near the rear, crossed tacks several times with the Hunter 30  “Mischief” also brimming with students but with only the head sail deployed. Nick, the rookie helmsman of Windblown, observed, “They are beating us with only one sail.”   I thought, “In heavy seas with the wind blowing 35 knots, you’d chug bilge water for the chance to get back on this boat.”

     The J 40, Southern Cross, of Wayne Cassady, about the fastest boat on the lake and with the largest handicap, paced ominously,  back and forth  waiting for their the chance to pounce on the prey, the little slow boats ahead.  Finally underway, they quickly gained tremendous speed, on toward the sails receding toward the horizon.  Yet, they were not the last to start as other boats arrived even later to begin the course.  It’s kind of like a pickup game in basketball, there are no rules how late you start, you can still have the fun of the chase.

    The smallest boat at 19 feet,  Blue Moon was first around the windward mark, grabbing the lead from Hey Jude.   Blow Hard followed as light air began to build separation for these first boats from the fleet.   In the second pack, Treasure Chest and Squirrel were finding the wind difficult as Sails Call 2, Winddancer,  Bad Kitty and Shellback struggled to catch up.  With the wind lightening on parts of the course and the noon hour approaching, some of the USI school boats, Relentless and Mischief retired back to Lighthouse Landing to let the students break for lunch.  The large J40 approached closer and closer to the stern of this middle pack while the late arriving Flying Scot of Mark Schaberg was catching up too.  Windblown, unable to make much way upwind, and passed by the big Hunter 410 Fresh Aire  decided to retire.  Still on the second leg and in light air, Treasure Chest finally achieved a good bit of separation from the dogged Squirrel and Gus.

      In the lead and searching for the last red turning mark, Casey, on Blue Moon, held east toward the Canal as Hey Jude angled more west toward the center of the lake.  Neither could see the red buoy and were wishing the Coast Guard would put a more visible Red Nun Buoy like the one at Star Lime Works.   The race now was at a critical stage and seemed to hinge on who had the best position on the unseen red buoy.  Farther and farther they sailed down the lake, still no  buoy in sight.  The small red buoy used by the coast guard to signal the entrance to the secondary channel can be tricky to see, sometimes visible from far off yet, with waves it can be hidden from view till just upon it.  This later was the case as Steve suddenly saw it pop up, close off his port bow, giving him a slight advantage. 

     Hey Jude regained the lead from Blue Moon and headed downwind, back to the dam.  We could see her 20 yards ahead, sailing straight for the finish in 2 miles.  Casey first tried going wing on wing but sensing that would not be enough tried to increase VGM by jibing back and forth hoping the lightening wind would slow the much heavier Hey Jude and bring her back.  There was plenty of space to do that on the 2 mile final leg.  Meanwhile, the relative giant J-40, Southern Cross, had finally made her way through the light area, passed all the other boats and was heading home in third.  We wondered, with one of the fastest rated boats on the lake by far, could she catch up?  Close behind sailed John Hafner on the Oday 26, Blow Hard.  Six minutes later, Treasure Chest rounded the mark, while a bit back, Psychotic Squirrel was holding off Bad Kitty approaching to pass.  Winddancer, Sails Call 2 and Schaberg, on the late starting Flying Scot, finally got around the difficult leeward mark in very light air.

      As they approached the finish, Blue Moon, got closer and closer to the slowing heavy Hey Jude. Would the air hold up enough for Steve to get his revenge on Casey from the previous week?  Casey was coming in at a hot angle and from our vantage we couldn’t tell.  With 27 seconds to spare, Steve again proved his ability to sail in any type air to cross to victory.  Dave later lamented trying the broad reaching strategy to increase boat speed.  He said,” If I had just stayed wing on wing I might have caught him”.  Back down the course, Blow Hard, then in fourth, saw the third place Southern Cross unexpectedly head up and proceed to KDM without crossing the finish.  Was something wrong?   Later, the large J40 could be seen turning round and round for over an hour in the KDM Marina struggling to free up the frozen main halyard with the sail half up.  It was lucky the wind was light as the next day we saw up to 47 mph gusts in the same locale.

     Treasure Chest finished next with Bev very excited with the first sail on her newly christened Schock 20.   The boat nearly took off in a downwind plane during one gust. Squirrel held off Bad Kitty to the finish followed by Schaberg’s Flying Scot, who made up a great amount of water, passing 8 boats, after a previous appointment gave him a very late start.  Sail’s Call II was the only one of the big cruising boats able to finish.  Sledd Creek is proving to be lethal to the aspirations of big boat sailors.  Shellback said they were more ”putzing around” than racing but, that is the nature of a “pickup game” and a healthy attitude when one’s cruising boat gets in 2 knot winds. “Putzing” or not they were still a mile further down the course than half a dozen other cruisers that retired. 

       It was reported still more boats were sailing the course later that day. Blue Moon won the single hander fleet.  Final results are attached. A large number of boats received an additional two minute head start so each week offers even more exciting finishes.  We hope to see you this Saturday 10 am for another fun day on the lake.

     After the race, several of the thirsty sailors rafted up at Sledd Creek to do what they do best, recount and embellish the tales of the day’s adventures.  Grills were lit for massive mounds of marinaded meat as beverages were shared.  However, the story was still unfolding; this tranquility was interrupted by a fisherman who, at high speed, badly waked the tethered fleet.  Boats banging, rocking with straining dock lines, sailors hailed the interloper to “SLOW DOWN!”  The fisherman inexplicably yelled we should be “anchored closer to shore.”  What did that mean?   After setting his trot line the piscatorialist put the hammer down and proceeded to mightily wake the fleet again, yelling at Steve and set a flair for fisticuffs as he sped away. Was that a one finger salute?  What the h*** does anchoring closer to shore have to do with anything?

       The glorious sunset and gentle waters succeeded in again settling us down and the now reposed sailors contemplated various responses from turning him in to the Coast Guard, to eating the fruit of the trot line.  Such ideas receded as our friend, and accomplish sailor, Rob Milner approached on his Hunter 25 “ Nowhere Fast” to regale us with a laser light show in the growing darkness.  To the tune of Pink Floyd, he illuminated not only heavenly bodies in space, but also two ladies we supposed were entertaining us on a houseboat 300yards to our stern “dancing in the laser light”- whoops going back and forth in the dark. (Next morning we were not sure if they were women or not. Either way, they seemed to have gained a lot of weight from the previous evening.)  Next came the idea of shooting off the arsenal of expired flares.  Will they still work?-  Alas, only one garnered others attention- guess we really do need to fork over the money to restock with up to-date equipment.  Why each Friday, is it so much easier to restock the beer chest than the safety equipment?  That done, satellites and falling stars were observed overhead as the day’s happenings, as well as world events were discussed to the fulfillment of all.   It’s great to be sailing again.


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