2006 U20 East Coast Championships
Sailing in November, what a beautiful thing. Goombay Smash and crew left for Lake Norman, North Carolina on Thursday, November 9th for the 2006 U20 East Coast Championships. This event was to go down in history as the largest U20 One Design event with 27 boats on the starting line.
On our way down, we encountered a small problem as a 4 Semi accident closed Interstate 75 which was backed up for 35 miles. Being the adventurous type, we decided to use some back roads of Kentucky to get past the traffic. I don’t know if you have ever driven the back roads of Kentucky, but doing it with wide sailboat in tow is quite a thrill. After exploring every double wide trailer in southern Kentucky, we were able to rejoin the highway 2 ˝ hours later. Yes, only getting 35 miles in 2 ˝ hours. When we arrived in Mooresville, North Carolina, we felt we needed a drink. We noticed that there was a place right next to the hotel. So we inquired at the desk to see what kind of place it was. The man at the desk said it was a nice place, so we proceeded over to the local establishment. As we headed over, we ran across another U20 that had just arrived and they joined us as well. After having some good food and drink, we headed back to the hotel, where we ran across some other U20 friends. They had indicated that they had been looking for us. We told them that we were at the bar right across the street. Their reaction was quite funny. They indicated that they would never go to a bar with a name like that. Oh, did I forget that the bars name was the “Velvet Hammer”. They thought that it was a gay bar (not that there is anything wrong with that).
Friday, was a day for rigging and practice racing. We got the boat rigged early and went out for a float. There was little or no wind, but it was sunny and 78 so we were happy. We came in and got some lunch. When we returned the wind had picked up a little and we got in about 4 to 5 practice races to get warmed up. We returned to shore to enjoy a great tailgate party. The Ultimate 20 class has adopted the Goombay Smash as the official drink of class. Being the one who brought this tropical drink, I was asked to mix for the crowd. The food and drink was again great. I mixed over 20 gallon pitchers of Goombays. Everyone was cheering my name. Some of us then went to a local establishment “Vinnies” for more food and drink. It was the first time I have seen the same person thrown out of a bar twice in the same night. After they threw this person out, they realized he did not pay his bill. So they brought him back in to pay his bill and then threw him out again. They must hate when sailors come to town.
Saturday was a beautiful day, sunny and 78 with 8 knots of wind building to 15. My crew who was calling tactics got some inside local knowledge and said we needed to go right if we were to catch the lift on shore. So after the start we went right and when we came back, things didn’t look so well. Darn J24 guys! We did fight back 7 places but still did not finish well as we end up 20th. Each race we improved. Second race still could not find the groove and finished 17th. The last race was a little more respectable. We were able to clear out from the pack at the start and get upwind pretty well. We had a shift downwind which we took advantage of. We pulled up next to a J80 and proceeded to pass them downwind and stayed ahead of them upwind. They didn’t seem all too happy about the situation, but we enjoyed it. After the 3 races that day we were in 16th place. Not great, but we were still sailing in November and not working, so life was good. That night we had a great dinner sponsored by Lake Norman Yacht Club.
Sunday came with a drop in temperature to 55 degrees. The wind was blowing. I spoke with the president of the class who is from the area and he indicated with the wind direction that the puffs would be big and vary in direction. We dressed for the occasion and got of the dock early to get a feel for the conditions. As we left the harbor we headed upwind. The wind was 18 to 25 knots. We worked our way upwind to get ready to set the spinnaker. As we headed downwind to set the chute, we proceeded to wash the spinnaker. After the crews learning experience, we were able to get the chute out of the water and up. We took off at 15.5 knots and flew past the race committee. We crossed the lake in less than 4 minutes. We got the spinnaker down and headed back upwind. The puffs were up to 35 knots and out of many different directions, which could cause auto-tacks or jibs. One of my crew members was not that nimble to move around the boat in these quick conditions, so in the interest of safety of my crew and my boat, we headed in.
As we were taking the boat apart to get ready for the haul back home, we watched other boats come in as well. Unfortunately, two boats came in without their masts; several boats broke jib halyards, or ripped their jibs. This helped me get through whether I had made the right decision on coming in. All in all, we had a great time.
Gregg Henning – Goombay Smash