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Nearly Skunked at Thistle Nationals

Published on July 31st, 2014

Sheboygan, WI (July 31, 2014) – It has been feast or famine so far at the Thistle US National Championship, but mostly scraps for the 54-boat fleet as they finished their fourth day of racing. Light and shifty conditions of mostly 5-7 knots, with the degree of difficulty magnified by cold water temperatures, made for two challenging races today. With five races now banked, Lloyd Kitchin with crew Brian Kitchin and Catia Kitchin hold a six point lead over class newcomer Matt Fisher. Two more races will be attempted tomorrow on the final day, with all scores counting. Event websiteResults

Thistle Nationals – Day 4, by Mike McBride
The goal : 10:00 AM warning, 3 race target.
The strategy: pick a side, and go to the other one.

We went out, and folks blew bubbles and tossed a ball around. Then the committee set the course, gave us a start, and we were off. Who expected that? Luckily we failed to execute on the aforementioned strategy went up the left despite it being the side we liked. It was 2 on-a-seat weather. We rounded the weather mark in the teens and gybed immediately with Lloyd. It worked and we rounded the leeward mark in 3rd. We went up the middle with the usual suspects Fisher, Dieball, Ingham. Unfortunately the left paid and a bunch of folks snuck in. On the reach Gruver complained that we were going high. We didn’t agree. Skip, who was on our transom, commented “He’s grumpy”. Later in the leg I commented on the show as some folks near the front had a luffing match. Our forward said “the people behind us are boring”. At the gybe mark I sent our forward underneath the boom a bit early, thinking she might need extra time due to being 6 months pregnant. She had the pole on the new side almost immediately, and as we sailed the last 75 feet to the mark with the pole set up funny we heard “she’s too good” from a nearby boat. Then it was down to the bottom mark where a bunch of previous boats had set up camp. They were going more sideways than forward so we stuck our nose in. Hudson, to whom we owed room, came back at us. According to his crew he missed us by millimeters. Whew. From there it was back up to the finish playing dodgem on the short little beat.

We sailed around and had lunch, and then aborted a start just to remind us of Tuesday. The second race was in a similar direction to the first. The z flag was in effect. We were conservative enough that we got a 3rd row start, and headed left. Then right. Then left. Then right, perhaps a bit too far. The left came in ahead at the mark. We got pegged course left on the run by Pollak. Luckily it worked and we caught a few boats. We just managed to unhook from Finefrock at the leeward mark rounding. Good thing too, as he footed off to oblivion. Not sure what happened there. There were major clouds to the right, and the land underneath was getting dark. We headed for it. It didn’t help. The committee had sounded a change of course, so we knew the mark was yellow, but we still couldn’t find it on the sparkly water. When we did find it, it was left. So we joined the parade and headed that way. From there it was pretty much follow the leader, but there was an interesting moment. We heard lots of noise after rounding the gybe mark, and turned around to see 3 boats, rail to rail, with the inside boat firmly against the mark, and booms, poles, and spinnakers in each others faces. They all 3 did turns. Serves them right.

The dark clouds did their thing and the wind really kicked up going in. We apparently got too close to the jetty judging by the half dozen really loud noises and the damage to our centerboard. I think we’ll give it a wider birth tomorrow.

Back on shore it was kegs for all. One was sponsored by the CPYC Thistle fleet, and another by those of us from CPYC who made it to Sheboygan. We’ll see if fewer people tack on us tomorrow. Then we had the annual meeting. Craig Smith kept the amendments bit short and sweet. All amendments passed except 40 lb centerboards, which remain illegal. We also kicked off our “first year free” program. If you sell an R&D boat to someone who is not a TCA member, and the new owner measures the boat within 30 days, they get their first year of TCA membership free. That way they will get the Bagpipe, and can come to regattas and skipper their boat and stuff. Hopefully they get hooked, and keep coming out to play.

The forecast for tomorrow is improving. We may get another race yet. If we’re slow we plan on blaming our battered centerboard. And that concludes today’s news from Sheboygan.

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