Justin Hood Wins The 2011 MC Scow Blue Chip Championship

26 September 2011

The Event
The annual Blue Chip Championship had 24 different qualifying champions attending from all of the 2011 class regattas this year around the United States. It is a rare regatta in that you have to earn your way into the event by sailing well at previously held events during the course of the year. A traditional regatta with a long history of great racing on a crazy tight, fun and fast lake called Spring Lake located near Grand Haven, Michigan.

Oh boy here we go! Does that sound like the beginning of the National Championship highlights from two weeks ago. Well it was pretty close to same thing weather wise. It was predicted to be raining and in the high 50s for the whole weekend. However we got lucky and had three great races with some sun on Saturday. PRO Steve Schiller along with Nancy and Pete Price made a great call ending Saturday before race 4 started and before the ice cold rain started late in the day. Winds for these for three races were varied. Race 1 light/medium, Race 2 Crazy Ivan light, Race 3 strong medium. For Sunday three races with a gray overcast sky and occasional drizzle. Winds were good though out of the east and we had two light mediums and one medium air race to finish up races 4-6. So we got them all in and I think everyone would agree that 5 of the 6 were great races.

Saturday night highlights were our traditional dinner at the Arboreal. Rick Trester the current commodore of the Inland Yachting Association gave a great update on all the current happenings within the I.L.Y.A. Eric Hood brought everyone up to speed on current news from Melges Performance Sailboats and also some new things happening with the MC Scow both boat and sails. Also, updates and early promotion of the 2012 MC Scow National Championship at White Lake , Michigan was discussed.

The Racing and Learnings From The Event
There is a lot to talk about here. PRO Steve Schiller gave us great lines but you have to realize when you are on lake where locals say welcome to Spring Lake where "Nature Smiles For Seven Miles" and the lake is only a couple of hundred yards wide at the most – guess what . The breeze can be a little shifty. However, even though this is a tricky lake it is a lake where on this particular weekend the breeze was down on the water and showing. So you just had to pay attention big time in the last 60-90 seconds pre start and be ready to move quickly to another spot if possible. The line was set up for 24 boats to start and some small change left over. Starting was fun, was challenging but it also was very serious because all of there quickly discovered that the first 90-120 seconds of these races much was put in place for the rest of that race. Not the end of the world but it was a big piece of doing well at this regatta. So key learning – flexibility with not much time left before the start. Sort of like approaching a gate. I loved sailing on Melges 32s because not so much on starts but for sure at gates the trigger many times was pulled in the last 10-15 seconds on which way were going. Very fast, very exciting , great boat handling is key to being successful. Same with starting be nimble and ready to change. Other key learnings for Spring Lake sort fell back on three things we talk about a lot. Staying in the dark water, great boat handling through your tacks and clean air. I can tell you twice during this event I got camped on a couple of times which all of us did during the tight racing but it really sets you back quickly in the tight skinny races courses we had. So paying attention to best available pressure, anticipating what the nearest boats next to you are doing and really working hard on great quick tacking. The new board system is really fantastic as it is two steps instead of three when tacking. No way to convert old boats sorry. So back to dark water. Please know and learn this when sailing. All lakes are different. If you do not go out and pre-sail the course before racing you are setting yourself up for some "misses". You need to know if the air is showing early, on-time, late and/or if it is up and off the water or down on the water.

The Results
Great racing throughout the fleet. Everyone was focused on not winning the famous "Gutter Ball" which goes to the last competitor who sails in every race. All skippers finished all races this year by the way. We have had some wimps over the years try to back out of this qualifier for the "Gutter Ball" but everyone " was in it to not win it" this year. Seriously though the racing was tight , tough and at the end of the day only three sailors stayed in the top ten every race. Justin Hood won with a 1,1,4,5,1,7 and a 9 point lead over second place Cam McNeil with who had 28pts. Other race winners were Chris Hawk of Keuka , N.Y. Who won a close battle with Ehood during race 3. Then Andy Molesta came charging out of the box with a solid victory on Sunday morning for race 4 narrowing the gap with Justin Hood down to 1 point going into race 5. Last race was won by Dan "Squad Car" Fink our class commodore who put in a solid strong performance this regatta and finished third overall.

So here are the top 10 and Division Winners
Justin Hood 19, Cam McNeil 28, Dan Fink 32, Andy Molesta 33, Jamie Kimball 34, Brett Hatton 50, Ehood 51, Ted Keller 55, Richard Blake 57 and Chris Hawk 74 Top Youth and Top Woman was Allison Price, Top Grand Master was Rick Trester , Top Master was Eric Hood and Gutter Ball with big smiles and actually the first Blue Chip invite for 2012 was Mark Hardenbergh.

Too see all the race scores go to www.mcscow.org and they should be there shortly. Chris Eggert has 60 great photos at his Facebook Page.

Some great racing still available but like the Geese we need to start going south. MC Masters at Beaufort, SC and Halloween at Augusta during October and then the S.E. Champs at Lake Eustis, Florida in November.