Bringing together like-minded people
Published on September 15th, 2020
by Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News
When the Melges 24 and J/80 were launched at about the same time, there was chest pounding as to which was a better class. Same thing happened with the Melges 20 and J/70, but when the debate entails one design boats, it is the wrong question to be asking.
When I wrote, It’s about the Beer, not the Boat, it was in response to another one of these pointless debates, but this time it was between the 50-year-old Laser and the newer Melges 14 and RS Aero.
I do tire of hearing people compare boat performance and then using that as a basis for judging what is the better one design class. To me that is short-sighted chest-pounding.
The purpose of a one design class is to bring together like-minded people to enjoy comradery and competition in a boat they enjoy and feel competent sailing. When everyone is doing the same thing for the same reason, the beer tastes better at the end of the day.
Therefore, it was refreshing to read Scott Olson’s report about what was occurring at Lake Norman Yacht Club in Mooresville, NC:
“The boat doesn’t really matter, it’s the people you’re out there with.” – Marcel Sloane
When our family relocated from Northern California to Charlotte in North Carolina, we had no idea what the sailing was going to be like on an inland lake. We joined LNYC and quickly connected with the U20 fleet. The sport-boat thing was our first experience with a boat that didn’t live on a dolly.
The club race series at LNYC have one design class starts on Saturdays and Portsmouth racing on Sundays. We raced the U20 on Saturday and I sailed our Vanguard 15 on Sunday with my 6 year old daughter. In Portsmouth, we were the odd duck amongst the Flying Scots, Highlanders, Scows, and San Juan 21s, but were in the mix, boat for boat around the marks.
I would leave the V15 on the beach, rigged and ready for anyone that wanted to try it. When I pushed them out, they always came back smiling, with the most common likes being the quick rigging, launching, and simplicity of the boat, plus it being comfortable even for sailors that are old enough to have used rotary phones.
The second V15 was added quickly over beers and a quick Craigslist search. Pete and Lennox who sailed together in college, and Lightnings for years after, wanted to relive those early years. They made a trip to Annapolis for an ugly but surprisingly stiff and fast V15. That boat put the snowball into motion.
Twenty-four boats later, we now have wives/husbands, kids/parents, first-time sailors, and national one design champions, even a periodontist, racing and sharing what happened out there.
One of the best qualities of these boats is the tiny amount of time needed to go from covers-on to sailing off beach. Given the schizophrenic wind here, and the rig and launch time of 10 minutes, we’re able to take advantage of the breeze anytime it picks up.
We drop the marks, pick the rabbit for starts, and mix it up. It’s the difference between going to the driving range and hitting a bucket of balls versus the five hours to play a full round.
Since the fleet started, we’ve had very well attended travel regattas. During the South Atlantic Yacht Racing Association Jr. Grand Prix Championship circuit, we get the parents off the beach, away from their laptop, and onto the racecourse right next to the juniors.
I’ve never heard a kid brag on their dad’s ability to hold down a chaise lounge, but I do hear my kids question every bad start and why I wasn’t in front Grandpa Jones.
Next time you’re at Lake Norman for a junior event, I’ll put you in a boat. It’s the best way to avoid rigging an Optimist! The V15 US Nationals are in Nashville this year, October 10-11. Need a boat? Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.