It 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.
The 2014 NAs proved to be three days of working through issues, arrangements and curious weather passing through the Tampa Bay area.Â Veteran PRO and FD sailor Dave Ellis ran the racing out of the St Petersburg Sailing Center, settingÂ windward/leeward courses relatively close to the harbor entrance.Â The changing conditions interacting with shore effects were challenging and put a premium not only on boathandling but also quick responses.Â The last weekend in April was in a transition period on Tampa Bay.Â 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.
For those who have not heard, after a long and successful tenure as President of the U.S. class, Tim Sayles has handed the reins to Buzz Ballenger of Santa Cruz, CA. Buzz is known worldwide as an expert sparbuilder, boat builder and competitor in dinghies and keel boats.
Florida’s Gulfport Yacht Club hosted the Flying Dutchman Nationals on lower Boca Ciega Bay in their usual style of minimal on-shore amenities and great on the water racing. The fleet was smaller than some Nationals because of a scheduling conflict for the West Coast fleet. The quality, however, was very good.
A front moved into the Tampa Bay area early Sayurday morning and brought rain and plenty of wind – too much in fact and that brought on a postponement.Â Gusts well over 30 knots were reported on the Gulf and so plans to set of to race there were abandoned.Â At 1300 racing resumed in the light air that remained after the front passed through.Â Buzz and Kurt were the big winners in two of the three races, pulling in two firstplaces.Â The breeze showed much variability across the course so those teams that were practiced in boathandling and paid attention to conditions did well.Â
After six races on Boca Ciaga Bay Lin and Arthur have a commanding lead with 5 bullets. The rest of the fleet had good close and tight racing during which time winds were up to 14 knots gusting to perhaps 18 with the wind getting particularly shifty and gusty reaching the top mark. PRO Dave Ellis had planned to set the course to sail on the Gulf Saturday however with a front moving through and winds up to 30 knots racing was postponed and will probably sail on the bay again.
When Kathy and I returned to the United States late 2004 after living in Italy for nearly four years, we had to relocate to the east coast due to Kathyâ€™s work commitments. We chose Orange Park, Jacksonville from five options, for various reasons, one being that water was close by and I could return to sailing once again.