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19 July 2011

A big thank you to David Harrison and his team from Oshkosh for hosting a great ILYA Championship regatta. The weather was great, wind was good, people were awesome and fun was had by all. Also, a big thank you to the race committee who did a great job getting in 5 solid races!

Day one saw overcast skies giving way to sunshine and a nice 6 to 11 knot southerly breeze. Four great races were held in varying velocity. What was amazing is that on a beautiful Saturday, on such a large body of water, we had no power boat traffic or waves leaving us with really great sailing conditions for the duration of the day.  

The first day was a battle all day long with lots of lead changes and different leaders at different stages of the day. We saw 5 different race leaders at one point or another during the day. The key always seemed to be on the runs and maintaining your position or making a move to pass and take over the lead.  

When the smoke cleared at the end of the day the team of Harrys' had the overall lead with Deb and Jim Gluek 5 points back, in third was Ben Biwer, fourth was Lesa and John Gutenkunst, and in fifth was past ILYA Champ Hans Meyer.

On our boat, USA-210, we had our rig set at base all day, never changing the set up only shifting gears with the vang and jib lead and main trim. We settled into a jib lead position of 4 holes showing aft of the car.  We trimmed the jib pretty hard  in the flat water and moderate breeze and this seemed fast. Never too tight to stall the leech tell tale or backwind the main. We found at times in the real flat water we could trim the main very tight with a bit of vang on and it would flatten out and we would gain major height without losing much boat speed. In the third race, when we had a bit more chop, this was not working at all so we sailed with a softer main sheet, no vang and a more bow down mode. Downwind is where the biggest moves were made all day. Getting the right boat attitude or heel was important along with proper main set up and trim. I found that heeling the boat with a bit more vang on the main than I am used to was good, and at the same time a slightly tighter main sheet was good as well. It would help heel the boat and build speed and apparent wind angle which allowed us to sail faster and lower. Also, board all the way down was best....

Saturday evening the fleet all came together at the Boat Yard bar and grill for some cocktails and talk of the day followed by a group dinner. It was a really great evening for all of us.

Sunday saw us drifting around waiting for wind for a couple of hours. The heat started to get the best of us on Team Melges so we threw off our shirts and hit the water for some cooling off. Unfortunately, this did not turn out so well for my Skipper as he accidentally kicked the bottom corner of the rudder getting back in the boat and badly cut his foot. With blood pouring out of my 10 year olds foot, I decided it was probably best to head for shore and get it looked at. ILYA Commodore, Rick Trester was standing by in his powerboat and graciously towed us back to Millers Bay. While we spent the next few hours in the ER getting Harry's foot looked after, the fleet was able to start a race in a nice 5-8knot SW breeze. Unbelievably, the race turned out in our favor as Lesa Gutenkunst and Hans Meyer were able to hold off Deb and Jim to finish 1,2 which narrowly gave us the overall regatta victory. While you never want to win a regatta like that, we'll take it!  

For me, crewing for my 10 year old on a Melges 17 was really awesome. It is impressive to me how great this boat is for so many different people. We have 10 year old kids driving, to 60+ year olds driving and a wide variety of crews, including dads, husbands, girlfriends, wives, etc. It really is a great boat for just about anyone and it's still one of the most fun boats I have ever sailed.

Winning the regatta was a bonus for sure but there was so much more to it than winning a sailboat race. The time we spent together training for the regatta was invaluable. The great job my kid did driving the boat was really impressive to me and concentrating all day on Saturday for 4 longish races was not easy even for me. It was a great opportunity for me to pass on some of the tricks I have learned over the years in sailboat racing, and hopefully some of it will stick. Beyond the sailing were the trips to Ardy and Ed's for hot dogs and root beer floats, Hobby Town, for the remote control airplane, South of the border for tacos, being kept awake late in the evening by Rock Fest and Kiss jamming to thousands of crazy concert goers, and of course spending 4 hours at the ER while the fleet was out cranking around the race course. It's not all about the sailing. It's about the experience, the memories you make with your friends and family, the stories you will tell for years to come. It's about  the bond you make with your son, your daughter, your wife or husband, girlfriend or boyfriend. It's about lessons you can pass on, it's about teaching the next generation to love the sport like you do. This is what it's all about!