PARTICIPATION: Keep the schedule rolling

Published on March 26th, 2013

Regattas can all be the same if they want to be. Each regatta can offer the windward/ leeward courses, with racers scattering to various restaurants and hotels in the evening. But the Thistle Orange Peel Regatta in Jacksonville, FL has always strived to be a bit different. And this year, it became a whole lot different.

The Orange Peel typically focuses on education and camaraderie with great food and competition mixed in. The typical plan is for Friday to be about on- and off-the-water coaching, with class experts leading both discussion and video review. The day concludes with a sunset cruise onboard Florida Yacht Club member’s power yachts. With at least 15 states represented, about three quarters of the 39 teams are locally housed.

But there are few guarantees when it comes to the weather, and the race schedule for Saturday and Sunday (March 23-24) was soon derailed by storms. Without safe sailing conditions, the education theme kept rolling.

“With thunder popping up on the horizon, we decided to use the time wisely and carried on more seminars,” explained Mike Ingham of North Sails. “The morning seminar talked local knowledge and how to best depower and handle the expected heavy air on Sunday.

“As the day went on and more squalls rolled through it became apparent that racing was not going to happen on Saturday so we decided to do a few more talks. We spent some time with crew’s giving their perspective, then transitioned into class member and US Sailing president Tom Hubbell giving us and update on US Sailing. The day finished with a tremendous meal at the club followed by drawings for prizes from all the sponsors.

“On Sunday we had an early start to try and get three races in. The first race got off but there was some carnage! There were five OCS’s, some break downs, capsizes, some boats stayed on shore worried about storms, and a few of the leaders did not read the course correctly. So we finished with only one race, but we had a great three day regatta.”

Photos by Deb Fewell

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