- Written by Dave Ellis
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.