Bob Cole Interview

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17 March 2011

Today , we are talking with Bob Cole from Lake Keuka, New York. Bob is a current board member of the MC Scow Class and a member of fleet 76 at Lake Keuka. Bob is extremely active and has traveled to 40 MC regattas in the last 6 years. That being said we want to visit with Bob today and share with us all the great reasons we need to visit Lake Keuka and sail at the upcoming 2011 MC Nationals or one of the many other great events for scows there each year.

EHood – Thanks Bob for joining us today. I just realized when I looked at your regatta stats on how much you have been traveling to other venues to race your MC Scow and I know you like E Scows too. Today we want to visit with you about what I think is a “Bucket List” destination spot on the scow circuit. Can you give a brief history of scow sailing and your club at Lake Keuka?

Bob – 40 regattas? Really? Can you tell I love racing the MC Scow?

It’s a challenge to give a “brief” account of the rich history of scows on Lake Keuka in the Finger Lakes region of Western New York. The Keuka Yacht Club dates from about 1872. The first scows on Keuka were A Scows from about 1905 and A Scow sailing was strongest from the mid 20’s into the WWII years. The E’s came into the picture after the war and I had my first E ride as a young boy in the late 50’s. The Keuka E fleet has been in continuous operation for over 60 years, hosts the annual Eastern Class E Sloop Association regatta every fifth year, and has hosted two E Scow National Championships. The MC appeared on Keuka within the last decade and I credit Spring Lake scion Scott Cioe with his leadership bringing our MC fleet #76 into existence. Our MC fleet has shown steady growth and in 2009 Keuka Yacht Club hosted the MC Masters Championship regatta.

The Keuka Yacht Club has arranged to provide much more information about the club, Lake Keuka, the region, and some services of interest to visitors. On the website click on “About Us”, scroll to just below the map of the area, and click after “If you are interested in lodging”, for a listing.

Another great website with a great deal of information and images of the lake is The Keuka Lake Association

EHood – A rich club history for sure. Tell us more about the unique region of the country you are located in. I mean you have some many great things from Wine Country to Watkins Glen and more. Give us a sense of the immediate region for those on a sailing team who might want to take an extra day or two to look around.

Bob – For 2011, Fleet 76 has scheduled its annual regatta, the “N’orEasterns” for September 10-11, the weekend just after Labor Day and just before the MC Nationals at Keuka scheduled for September 14-17. This time of year offers warm water, a more open house rental market, fewer power boats, winds are picking up, and the beginning of the fall colors. We’re happy to offer our greater region for your entertainment. Chautauqua Institution, Niagara Falls, Watkins Glen auto race track, are just a day trip away. Museums as well are nearby including the Rockwell Museum of Western Art and Corning Museum of Glass in Corning; the National Soaring Museum near Elmira; and the Glenn Curtiss Museum of Local History (read aircraft restorations from 1908 and later) in Hammondsport. Not to be missed are the Keuka and Seneca Wine Trails – tours of the many boutique vineyards and wineries in the area. Lake Keuka itself is a great place to spend some time touring the lake shore by power boat and harkening back to the days of the steamboat as a major source of passenger and commercial transportation.

EHood – Now I have done the drive from a couple of different angles over the years and it certainly does not bother this road warrior . Share with us some drive times from say a couple of areas like Grand Rapids, Chicago, Kansas City, Chattanooga, Charleston, Dallas. What would be some travel tips for staying in the region and the unique layout of the lake? I know my last trip there you had me in a bed and breakfast just down the road from the club and it was great.

Bob – You and I, Eric, know about some drives, don’t we?

Let’s see, a visitor to Keuka coming from Grand Rapids would spend about 9 hours on the road; Chicago about 10 hours; Kansas City about 17; Chattanooga about 14; Charleston also about 14; Dallas about 22; and Eustis about 19. Interstate highways bring visitors within about 15 miles of Keuka Yacht Club.

I know this sounds like a lot of time, well, certainly is a lot of time on the road. If folks ask around about Keuka and the 2009 Masters, I’m sure the word is positive. We know it’s a big commitment of time and folks can be sure Fleet 76 and Keuka Yacht Club will strive as always to make our visitors as comfortable as can be.

EHood - With our upcoming MC National Championships I know there were a lot of drivers on choosing the date. Fill us in on both what those drivers were and what it is like sailing on a drop dead, gorgeous, unbelievable, bucket list lake (how does EHood really feel). No seriously give our group an idea of a typical late summer sailing day on Lake Keuka.

Bob – Let’s start with the evening before. I have always loved looking into the night sky from a place with clear air and very little light pollution – Lake Keuka - one can see the edge of the universe from Lake Keuka on a late summer evening.

Lake Keuka is a bit more than 700 feet above sea level and is surrounded by hills another 300 feet higher. The lake was formed by glacial erosion. The lake is about 21 miles long, from Hammondsport to Penn Yan, and at its widest point, our sailboat racing area, is a bit over a mile wide. Vineyards dot the landscape on the hills overlooking the lake, in amongst large maple and oak forests.

Mid September might see a bit of mist on the water as the sun rises. Soon the air moves from the south. The sky is clear of clouds and is likely to remain that way. The wind changes after the early morning, according to the weather system in play, very often to the west, and if so we set our race courses on the east side of the lake, about a mile east of the club. If the system brings us north or south breeze, we can set a course in line with the north-to-south run of the lake and have some very long legs with opportunity to play one or the other shore. We rarely have air from the east, but if we do then we reverse the setup for west wind. I’d think the most typical breeze is 8 to 12 mph on these late summer days. The race course is a very short sail from the clubhouse, by the way, and very convenient to observers who can see the action from the docks at the club or venture a short distance and time in a spectator power boat.

Eric, I hope anyone reading this will look for a number of photos of the lake, many on view at the Keuka Lake Association website, and some photos of art work, paintings mostly, and many of those are on view at the website of West End Gallery in Corning. The photos and paintings offer some views of the things we love about Lake Keuka –things of beauty that keep us coming back year after year to play at our sport in a beautiful venue.

EHood - Last question. If you could bullet point and sort of review the above with “Bob Cole’s Top Ten Reasons To Attend The MC Nationals” what would they be. I can think of ten in my own mind but we would like to hear from a leader like you who lives there.

Bob – This is easy, although maybe not ten reasons, and certainly not just about Keuka.

The Nationals is our annual gathering of friends from all over the country, coast to coast and Canada (including our Canadian sailing friends) to Mexico. I have sailed in a number of classes and I have found a real home in the MC among the many friends I’ve made and will make in this class.

We have set up an entertaining time over the course of 8 days including the “N’orEaster” MC regatta, interesting nearby things to see and do, between the regattas, and of course the Nationals. I think this format offers families the opportunity to separate the drives to and from by attending these interesting opportunities over several days.

This time of year promises lesser traffic on our roads and on the lake. We think this means some savings to our visitors in locating lake shore house rentals. Sharing a house with sailing friends can help reduce costs. We will do our best to offer housing situations with hosts around the lake on a limited basis, by the way.

We are working on an arrangement with Coral Reef Sailing Apparel to offer gear on site. We know this will extend to Melges Performance Sailboats who will offer some equipment assistance to sailors in need to keep us on the water and in the hunt.

Hospitality. While we are together, Fleet 76 and Keuka Yacht Club promise to provide food, drink, entertainment, racing and more, to satisfy all and sundry.

Finally, thanks Eric, for the opportunity to tell the folks a bit about our beloved Lake Keuka. We think you’ll fall in love with it too.

EHood - Bob from all of us here at Team Melges we want to thank you so much for this great snapshot of Lake Keuka. For those wanting more information please visit the following sites and stayed tuned to the MC Scow class website for detailed information coming out late winter for the 2011 MC Scow National Championship.

Keuka Yacht Club
Keuka Lake Association
Corning Museum of Glass
Curtiss Museum
Rockwell Museum of Western Art
National Soaring Museum
Steuben County Conference and Visitors Bureau
Yates County Tourism Bureau
Rental Plus (house rentals)
Keuka Lake Wine Trial
Seneca Wine Trail
Watkins Glen International Race Track
Watkins Glen State Park
Keuka Lake State Park
Hickory Hill Campground
Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada Tourism
West End Gallery