Fast Boats Just Want To Have Fun
Published on April 17th, 2015
by Bruce Mahoney and Bailey White
When your boat has speed, you have the need to feel it, which was the genesis for a new “Speed” division at the 29th Annual Elissa Regatta on April 10-12, hosted by Houston Yacht Club.
The idea, created by A-Class sailors at the club, was to bring together anything that’s small and fast so we could share our latest developments, and to race with no ratings on different types of courses.
Classes included the A Cats, Foiling Kiteboards, Windsurfers and a Flying Phantom that just arrived the day of the event. Throughout the weekend we sailed 500 meter time trial courses, W/L buoy races and a distance race. We all wondered who would win overall. The kites would be fastest on the time trial, but how would they fare in the buoy racing? How would the Flying Phantom with its cloud of sail and masthead gennaker do against the A’s? This event would help us learn, and no matter what, be a lot of fun. Plus it would appeal to a wide variety of sailors.
People came from as far as New Jersey to try the event. Just in the A-Class, we had entries from at least four states, including New Jersey, Louisiana, Georgia, and Texas. And the class had a variety of equipment from DNA Z and J to eXploder Z and JZ to LR5s and EVOs with Cs to a straight board Marstrom making for an interesting regatta.
We started Friday afternoon with a 500 meter course, set as a beam to broad reach. Everyone got a maximum of five attempts per day on the course and your best time counted as your position in the 500m “race”. The weather started at 18kts that quickly dwindled down to about 6kts. The early runs were the best and we all came in with grins as the format was really fun. The A Cats led the day as for various reasons they were the only ones on the race track. Top 500m average on Friday was 16.2kts in less than ideal conditions, but it’s pretty fun to get in your boat and just see how fast you can go without caring about VMG.
All craft started on the same line, with the kite boarders and windsurfers starting beneath a mid-line pin mark and the cats starting above it to ensure that no mast got tangled in strings. Worked perfectly.
In the light air, John Tomko & team aboard the Flying Phantom had their day in the sun after smoking the A Cats and Windsurfers downwind. The A’s would claw back upwind, the kites couldn’t get moving and the windsurfers got a good rowing workout, but the Phantom was fast and deep with the masthead kite up and looking good. You can see the highlights of the whole race here:
Sunday was a 6-mile distance race around the upper bay with a short beat, long run and several reaching legs before beating to the finish in 9-15kts. The distance race was won by Bob Hodges in the A Cat, and again several other classes were not able to make it to the course for various reasons.
It was great again to sail some reaches and a 3 mile run on the foils most of the way.
I don’t think any of us have ever sailed through as many small fish. Some rudders were kicked up because of them. Bailey White managed to get a fish off one of his rudders while trapezing downwind during the run. He probably wasn’t the only one who had to do this. A new skill for sure. Take a look at some footage here:
We raced against the clock to get some 500m runs in before the 2pm deadline, and squeezed in a few passes in a puffy 14-22kts with plenty of start line chop. Conditions were getting big quickly but backed off shortly after the 2PM limit. Philip Crain on his Foiling Kite laid down the best pass with a 21.1kt average. The RC stayed out with us so we could do more “unofficial passes” where we had a 17.2kt A Cat average. These numbers might not seem that famous but the competitors had their hands full to lay down a clean run in the challenging conditions. We all spent some time that afternoon discussing how to tune the boat for “Next Time” which is always a good sign that the format was fun.
Bob Hodges won the weekend, with Bruce Mahoney and Bob Webbon tying for second one point behind. That’s 2 foiling A Cats and a well sailed C board boat within 1 point. The different types of courses were each won by a Foiling Kite, Flying Phantom and Foiling A Cat showing that each has their strengths.
We plan to schedule similar events later this year, and hope that we’ll get some Moths and other crazy fast boats to come and play for round two.
Click here for full results.