Coming to the assistance of another

Published on September 2nd, 2014

by Laura Sullivan
One of the many things the Pacific Northwest is known for is water, and with California experiencing an epic drought, I received an urgent phone call from the regatta organizer charged with running the Hobie 18 and 20 North American Championship.

The plan was for the championship to be held at Huntington Lake in central California, an elite sailing venue at an elevation of 7000-foot. But with the lake level at 70 feet below normal, this phone call was all business.

“Do you have any water,” the caller asked. A confident yes was the response.
“Would you be able to take on the Championship,” came the plea. A timid yes followed.

The challenge was on.

We thought it best to hold to the existing dates as sailors had already scheduled their vacation and had their sight set on sailing August 4-8. That meant we had about 90 days to pull it together. Time to get busy.

We picked the site with a reputation for having a breeze and close to California to minimize the impact on everyone’s travel. The choice: Cascade Locks, Columbia Gorge, Oregon.

The Columbia Gorge Racing Association (CGRA) handles the races out of Cascade Locks, which has been a site for numerous world and national championships. They’re prepared to handle anything and everything. They have boats, people and equipment along with a list of great sponsors, and people within their organization to help in all aspects of regatta management.

They were already pretty booked with summer events, but were able to squeeze us into the calendar like bookends between an event on the front end, and another event on the back end. First task completed!

A decided advantage with CGRA is their relationship with various sponsors. CGRA contacted Neil Pryde on our behalf to see if they would provide the tech shirts for the event. Another key sponsor – West Coast Sailing in Portland, OR – signed up to become the sponsor for our Welcome Party.

Seattle local Peter Nelson soon helped with more sponsorship came our way. If you’ve tried to contact companies for sponsorship, you’d know that June/July is a bit late to be making the call. But Peter was successful in engaging the Hobie Cat Company, Hobie Class Association of North America, Zhik, Harken, Jim Sohn, Full Sail Ale, Murray’s, APS, McLube, and Surf City Catamarans.

The CGRA personnel were pretty stretched with back to back events, so we enlisted the help of our Hobie Division 4 volunteers for Race Committee and chase support. We have a wealth of talent and generosity here in the Pacific Northwest. John Culter – hailing from Canada – was our International Race Officer (IRO), who did a great job getting the most out of the conditions that were dealt to us that week. Our chase support and mark set volunteers reigned supreme on the water. Tim Dorwin, Bob Combie, Will Nelson, Kelly Havig, Todd Christensen and Lowell Ellis all came prepared to support the event, not just to watch a great show of extreme sailing.

Due to the reputation of the Columbia Gorge as the fourth windiest spot in the world, plus a current that can kick up the waves, a wind limit of 20 knots was put on the event. This limit was exceeded, causing some interruptions to the schedule, but in all the 18’s got in 13 races and the 20’s completed 14 races.

When one of the days started the with the wind over the limit, we strategically reconvened at 4:00 pm for a late afternoon /early evening sail. This was the most pleasant sailing of the whole week, with the sun going down behind the mountains on one shore, and the moon coming up over the mountains on the other.

The après sailing was well thought out too. In all, the formula for success was met:

Beautiful weather + Good breeze + Yummy food + Good friends = Memorable event

Full results:

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