Coronado Yacht Club in San Diego, California was the site for the North Americans April 17-19, 2015. An idyllic setting for racing it was indeed, with plenty of parking, open bay for racing and breeze starting promptly at noon, a civilized time to start racing.

The small number of entries was due in part to the huge distances in the USA for many Dutchman sailors. It is four days of steady driving one way to San Diego from the New England area of the country. Because of this, some years ago four FD sailors got together and had a 4-boat road trailer built to transport their boats. It usually "lives" in Paul Hemker's Ohio shop, centrally located in the country.

Dave Ellis towed the trailer west for the Santa Cruz, California regatta last fall where it then lived at US FD President Buzz Ballinger's shop until it was time to tow it down to San Diego for this regatta. Unfortunately, Buzz's van blew its engine halfway up "The Grapevine" mountain pass north of Los Angeles. The regatta was in jeopardy with half of the fleet stranded. Ellis, who was to tow the boats back to Ohio after the regatta, got several impassioned phone calls asking for help. So, up from Southern California, through Los Angeles traffic he drove, over the Grapevine and to a small town that seemingly exists solely to fix blown up engines. Then they drove back over the mountain pass and through LA traffic and down to San Diego with the trailer and Buzz He was without his boat, for it was atop his broken van on a garage lift. They arrived there the night before the start of racing. Whew.

Friday morning was set-up time for these boats and a bit of practice for those who were there earlier. Nine boats were registered. The Wrenn brothers, after a few long distance phone calls, graciously allowed Buzz to use their boat which was still on the big trailer. So the only boat on that trailer not used was that of Lin Robson, who had shoulder surgery after an injury at the Worlds in Oz this summer. It is not a wimpy sport.

Coronado Yacht Club had nobody to be the Principal Race Officer for Friday, so Dave Ellis, with help from Wally and his rigid bottom inflatable boat and John, the anchor guy and "P" flag holder, did all the tasks.

The first race wind was from just north of west, straight from the Pacific Ocean over a narrow beach and road forming the bay. It crept north during the race for the course of triangle/windward/leeward finish, with the start/finish about 1/3 up the course. Paul Scoffin found himself battling with Buzz Ballinger and Mike Meszaros for the lead, finally getting by near the finish.

The wind veered to the NW and with one power boat to do everything the Race Committee moved all of the marks and made their best guess as to where it would settle. It worked. Two more excellent races were held, each about 45 minutes long for the middle of the fleet. In race two a solid 15 knots with some gusts occurred, with a little less in the third race.

The RC had announced during the competitor's meeting that after three races Tim Sayles was going to sail around the fleet after the finish and get a consensus as to whether a fourth race was wanted. He reported back, "All NO," from the fleet. So we sailed back to the club.

Saturday and Sunday, again with noon starts, had a little less breeze, but good courses and great racing. The Coronado Yacht Club ran our races and had other classes start on the race course, but there was little interference with the faster Flying Dutchman fleet.

Paul Scoffin reeled off a series of wins except for race 5 when he had a "boat rigging issue" that he didn't want to talk about. Doug Dommermuth won that race and a popular win it was. Doug placed fifth overall at the end. But he gets bragging rights for a race win at the North Americans. After that Scoffin easily won the rest of the eight races, with the second as his throw out. He needed Lin Robson to give him more competition. But he and crew Barr Batzer sailing a new Mader, won this event convincingly.

Meanwhile, Buzz Ballinger and crew Curt Hemmintsen put together a string of seconds and thirds to take the runner-up position. Mike Meszaros with Gerhard Pamuschka was third, with long-time FD sailor Tim Sayles with Taylor Ballinger in fourth.

The weather was warm and sunny, the water refreshing and clear, the Club accommodating and friendly and the racing challenging and fair. What more could we want?

After racing on Sunday all stayed to help load the big trailer and hook it up to Dave Ellis' truck and away it drove across the country to Hemker's shop to live until another event.

Clearwater Community Sailing Center will be the site of the 2015 USA Flying Dutchman National Championship. The event will be held October 29 through November 1. Registration will be held Thursday and racing will commence on Friday, October 30. The Notice of Race can be found here.

CCSC is a new Tampa area venue for the FD class. A number of Olympic classes have recently adopted it for training and major regattas. The Center is located just inside the Clearwater Pass and open Gulf of Mexico waters are a quick sail away. Two major hotels are next door to the Center and many more small and large are just across the Pass bridge in Clearwater Beach. Clearwater Beach itself is recognized as one of the best beaches in the country.

For more information on arrangements, transport opportunities and accomodations, contact

Tim Sayles: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Lin Robson: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


NAT2014 5652 300It was a tough start for the FD Nationals at Santa Cruz on Friday. The weather forecast for the weekend promised light winds from WSW, typical for the time of the year, however the local sailors knew better and warned participants on shore that the breeze typically fills in and sure enough – we ended with heavy air, 15-18 mph from SW, gusts to exceed 25 mph which is nothing for the enduring FD's, but requires skills and perseverance.

After the first day of racing, we managed 3 races, however only one FD made it to shore without capsizing, and several competitors had to retire. US-36 a brand new Mader '12 skippered by Lin Robson, of St. Petersburg, FL (SPYC) and his crew Ian Gregg out of Brisbane, Australia lead by three solid bullets – followed by local US-1453 Buzz Ballenger from Santa Cruz (SCYC) and his crew Kurt Hemmingsen in second and US-251 Tim Sayles also SPYC and his crew Ondrej Lehecka from Seattle (Czech Republic originally) in third despite having to retire after a dramatic capsize. Going into last race of the day, a massive rain storm swept across the race course to reduce visibility to less than 100 yards, which launched the boats on 6-8 ft. rolling surf at top speed of 20-25 mph. Local US-1 skipper Zhenya Kirueshkin-Stepanoff of SCYC and his local crew Evan Diola (SCYC) had to retire with a broken goose-neck.NAT2014 5751 300

Saturday turned out to be a better day with a little less breeze on the course. "The Wounded Moose Deuce" US-1445 from Seattle skippered by Peter Carr of Sloop Tavern Yacht Club and his courageous crew Eric Andersen made it through three races to finish competitively in fourth overall, followed by local sailor Gordon Dollar of SCYC onboard "Betty Boop" US-1454 and his crew, Oregon based, Duane Ehleringer, who also owns Pacific Flying Dutchman where he builds all-carbon FD's. Competing in US-88 Mike Meszaros from Inverness YC and his Austrian crew out of Sacramento, Gerhard Panuschka had a bad spill and capsize in 1st race, filled the bulkhead with water which unfortunately ended their day.
Luckily, US-251 with Tim and Ondrej made it to the starting line despite an all-night rudder and tiller repair effort. They improved their performance to finish second for the day, still in third overall after US-1453 Buzz with substitute crew, Evan Diola in second by a 3 point lead. The regatta leader, US-36 Lin and Ian remained untouchable with a straight line NAT2014 5861 300of first finishes.

Sunday, Oh Happy Day arrived and the weather Gods had mercy on the competitors. We finished up with two light wind races, but no less drama in the middle of the fleet. The Wrenn brothers in US-301, Jeff and his crew Chris of Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis, MD were determined to finish in good style and mix it in the top of the fleet with a best finish in last race in third. We saw some big wind shifts on the course, positions changed frequently and it was Tim and Ondrej in US-251 who came out best of the day aside from the leader. US-1452 a classic '84 Mader skippered by local SCYC sailor, Jean Jimenez (JJ) and his crew Peter Henck made it around the course to recover from the prior races challenges.

A dominating winner of the Flying Dutchman Nationals 2014 – Congratulations to US-36 by Lin Robson and his Aussie Crew Ian Gregg who sailed a terrific regatta and good luck at the Sydney FD Worlds in December!
Overall top finishes 7 races, 1 throw-out:
1. Lin Robson, SPYC, US-36 and Crew Ian Gregg - 7 points
2. Buzz Ballenger, SCYC, US-1453 and Crew Kurt Hemmingsen and Evan Diola – 17 points
3. Tim Sayles, SPYC, US-251 and crew Ondrej Lehecka – 18 points

NAT2014 5923 300All in all, a great regatta – fantastic job of the race officers and volunteers of Santa Cruz Yacht Club, led by PRO Mr. John Buchanan.

Pictures by Krystle Quynh Pham

The 2014 NAs proved to be three days of working through issues, arrangements and curious weather passing through the Tampa Bay area.  Veteran PRO and FD sailor Dave Ellis ran the racing out of the St Petersburg Sailing Center, setting  windward/leeward courses relatively close to the harbor entrance.  The changing conditions interacting with shore effects were challenging and put a premium not only on boathandling but also quick responses.  The last weekend in April was in a transition period on Tampa Bay.  During this time the Gulf water temperature is still low enough to allow sea breezes to develop on the Bay, but also bookend fronts that typify spring weather still influenced overall patterns.

The 2014 North Americans will be held April 25-27, at the St. Petersburg Sailing Center in downtown St.Petersburg, FL. Many know that three FD Worlds have been held at this site, 1962, 1997 and 2006.

April is a great time to sail in St.Pete, and the Center is an easy place to stage a regatta. There will be three days of great racing in the Bay east of the city, a evening at Chez Robson and plenty of things going on for those staying near the Center.

Early registration is appreciated, looking forward to seeing as many as possible in April.  Notice of Race can be found here.

All the best, Lin