Cool Weather Conditions, A Hot 2008 MC Scow North American Championship

Cool Weather Conditions, A Hot 2008 MC Scow North American Championship Related topics:

5 May 2008

Article courtesy of Andy Burdick. Big winds, cold temperatures, icy water was the forecast for this years MC North American Championship on Pewaukee Lake. Unfortunately, this kept some of the mainstream MC competitors from attending this years championship. For the die-hards that did venture out the competitors we greeted with some excellent sailboat racing over two days. The Pewaukee Yacht Club and PRO Russ Ackley put on a first class North American Championship.

As the fleet left the dock on Saturday there was a mist in the air but as we approached the starting sequence the rain was gone and clouds with winds out of the SW-W at 8-12 were what we had to race in. Perfect really! Race one featured a port end favor starting line. It was critical to be down at this end as 1. It was extremely favored. 2. It set you up for the left hand side of the course which was also very favored breeze wise and shift wise. All the lifts were coming off the left. Shift and new breeze – so, it was key to be there. The gun went off and Andy Burdick got a nice jump right away as he port tacked the fleet. The rest of the fleet slowly folded to port after the start and some of the boats got to the left of Burdick and that was good for them as the breeze kept coming in from the left. As the first race progressed the breeze tended to go to the right as an approaching cold front was on the way. As this race went on you needed to be in the middle of the course sailing the shifts – getting off to one edge was not productive at all. Downwind this was the case too. In the end Andy Burdick had a nice lead at the finish line gun. Pete Toumanoff a Masters National Champion was second. Inland Champion Dan Fink was third and Peter Dobbeck racing #955 was fourth.

The RC ran a second race right away as they were anticipating a change in weather for the afternoon. Our PRO Russ Ackley had a beat on the weather and knew that it would be key to get our next race in. We had ideal conditions again as the breeze stayed in that 8-12 range, clouds but still no rain. Race number 2 started and this time the right side was a bit better. The line was square going into the start but there was better pressure on the right side of the starting line. In the MC more pressure can mean 5-8 degrees more height as you sail upwind. That is a great amount. Being in the pressure in any boat is important but in the MC upwind, it is critical. You have to be lined up for the pressure. Burdick again rounded the top mark first followed by Al Haeger from Lake Beulah. Rick Wilftert from Okauchee Lake followed in third. As the race progressed these boats would remain in line but mostly because they focused on the right hand side of the race course. The breeze had now swung 30 degrees to the right as the front approached. The top sailors in this race recognized this and it paid off. Just after Burdick finished the race a rain and wind squall hit the lake with gusts over 20mph. The breeze really swung right then! The fleet handled the wind without a problem and all finished. Everyone sailed in for lunch at the PYC.

The breeze stayed up so the RC called off the racing which was a very smart move. The rain officially arrived and the wind was over 20. The forecast for Sunday was 60 degrees, sun and winds out of the SW at 10-20. With 2 races in the bank why not wait for some better weather! The PYC hosted a great party on Saturday night. Pasta with Pete which is a big hit at this yacht club. Thanks PYC and the Pete’s for making this event happen!

What was fast on Day 1:
The key to the racing in this 8-12 wind range was what I call transition speed. When the wind was on you had vang on hard and the Cunningham snug. But that was in the streaks. When the breeze left you had to transition to the “powered up mode”. The good scow sailors keep there boat on a constant angle of heel all the time – they never over heel and the boat never goes pancake flat. They know how to transition their boats. When do you do this? First, you have to have your head out of the boat and you have to be aware of the breeze coming at you. When you have your vang and Cunningham on you need to ease these up on the backside of the puff. So, before the puff leaves you want the Cunningham totally off and the vang eased or off completely. The boat will obviously power up, maybe even heel a little more (so now you really need to hike hard…..). As you leave the puff you are now set up for the next step – a lighter velocity zone. Easing the main slightly so the mast gets straighter and the sail fuller helps too. This coupled with a foot mode for speed allows you to go through the lighter velocity. You are now fully powered up. As you see the next line of velocity approach you begin to work hard for depower mode. First – hike out well in advance of the velocity. Get your vang on so you can ease the main if the boat begins to overheel and then as the puff hits pull Cunningham if you need it. Doing this upwind was the key on Saturday. There was never enough wind for the traveler to drop and the outhaul needs to be firm so that there is a shelf in the sail along the boom. Anticipation and transitions were the key in day 1.

Sunday was sunny and perfect! We waited for the wind to arrive but it was worth the wait! A nice SW to W wind developed on this beautiful sunny morning with a velocity range of 8-14. Ideal MC racing conditions. One race was the plan – a lengthy 3+ race course. Shifty was the condition so staying on top of the wind and where it was coming from next was the key. All the same boat speed transitions applied today but “head out of the boat” was the real key. Big velocity lines would stream down the lake so you had to race to that position. Whatever the angle was you had to take (sail the lifted tack). Andy Burdick kept his steak of race wins alive winning the third and final race. Dan Fink was second and Dave Abbot sailed a nice race for third.

Thank you Greg Riemer and his wife for organizing the 2008 MC North Americans. Thanks to the RC team of Russ Ackley and Larry Krause. Perfect job! Carl Spencer is the commodore of the PYC and he handed out the many awards. Thank you PYC for a fantastic Championship!


  1. Andy Burdick
  2. Peter Toumanoff
  3. Dan Fink
  4. Peter Dobbeck
  5. Dave Abbott
  6. Eric Oppen
  7. Al Haegar
  8. Rick Wilfert
  9. Deb Zeigler
  10. Steve Rotier
  11. Tom Calvy
  12. Mike Hamer
  13. Paul Moran
  14. Sarah Seeboth
  15. Ron Curio