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Rookie road trip in RC racing

Published on March 29th, 2023

Southern California yachting enthusiast and yacht broker Len Bose, who is often found competing offshore or in his local Harbor 20 fleet, shares his rookie road trip experience in radio control racing:

It has been a long time since I had this feeling similar to walking into class on your first day of grade school or going out on a date with the person you feel could be “The One”. Walking into the Corinthian Sailing Club (Dallas, TX), I had flashbacks of wondering if I would recognize anyone, will I fit in, can I compete with this class, or even more frighting will her father answer the door.

This was the 2023 Blow Out Regatta for the DragonFlite 95 on March 25-26, and as I approached the club, I felt the kids were sizing me up; I am sure there were a couple of jokes said about me wearing the typical California beach wear and sandals. I walked in the club’s front door and I ran straight into “Dad” aka, Chairman/PRO Chuck LeMahieu.

He quickly sized me up as the RC boat novice I am. He smiled and gave me a big Texas hello and welcome. No pun, we quickly broke the ice when Dad asked me “Do you drink?’ the smile on my face was like a pressure release value while he and I discussed the difference between scotch and bourbon whiskey. “Dad” became Chuckles and I had a new best friend.

My next concern was taking my boat out of its travel case; this was the first travel event I had attended with a DF 95. After finding my space within the crowded yacht club, I began commissioning my boat which was much easier than I thought it would be.

My next thought was how I should have gotten there earlier as top competitors Mark Golison, Tony Gonsalves, and Mr. Texas himself – Brig North – were well underway. I had reviewed the entry roster, and I had already understood the grade curve was going to be steep in this class.

I found my space in the back of the club which made me flash back to grade school sitting in the back of the room. Chris Collins came by and said hello; I was feeling better because now I knew someone. I then introduced myself to Dan Shier with the day getting better by the second.

With my boat commissioned and the B-Rig in place, I took a deep breath and started to head outside to 15-18 knots of cool breeze. Dad, I mean Chuckles said, “Len have you ever sailed your B-rig before in breeze, come over here let me take a look.” Like I said… things were getting better every second; thank goodness LeMahieu reached out to me because my boat would have blown apart just exiting the clubhouse door.

After about six minutes later he got me sorted, after which I dropped my boat in the water as the wind was quickly subsiding which became the story of the weekend. Sailing a couple of races and letting the butterflies release from my stomach, I returned to the club to change to my A-rig. Just then I hear, “Welcome to the event, I’m Tony, how was your flight?” My voice stuttered as I said his last name before he could – “Gonsalves, I watched all your videos on YouTube.”

He gave me a quick smile and said “Let me know If I can help you with anything?” With my A-rig in place, I headed back out to launch my boat and of course, the wind was starting to pick up. After launching my boat and sailing a couple of quick donuts in front of the dock I heard, “ Len, bring your boat to the dock let’s make a couple of adjustments.”

I smiled and thought to myself, that’s Brig North helping me out with some pointers. I could not sail my boat back to the dock fast enough. After about five minutes, Brigs relaunched my boat “Now that looks better, you’re ready,” North said. I’m thinking to myself … this is really cool!

After about three or four practice races, LeMahieu came out the door reminding me that his famous guacamole was going fast and the ordered BBQ had just arrived. Most of the class had returned for the best BBQ brisket I have ever had.

I had taken a seat on a park bench outside on the deck alongside Mark Golison, who I have known sailing in Southern California for years along with Chris Collins and then had the honor to meet the person that really gets things done at these events – Carrie LeMahieu.

I also was fortunate to meet class secretary Russ Gardner (Russ, if you are reading this, I need to apologize again for that Port/Starboard foul at the finish line on day two… so embarrassing!) The day ended with a couple of Chuckles provided top-shelf bourbon watching the sunset on White Rock Lake. PERFECT!!!!

The grading curve was steep and I finished with the fewest amount of gold stars next to my name, similarly to the spelling bee charts we had in grade school. Gonsalves came up to me on Sunday asking me if I was having a good time. My reply: “It’s all good, just wish my performance was better.”

Gonsalves reminded me this was my first event, and to take notice of my grade curve when I return back to my local club. “I’ll remember The Dallas Blow Out” and use it as my battle cry at my next Dragonflite 95 event.


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