It makes me shiver just thinking about it. I can't recall a regatta when I actually had to ask someone to push me back on my boat after the lunch break, because I was too cold to do so – or want to – one or the other. The temperature for the day never broke 12C, but on the other hand, the rain did (12mm+). I mean, if the fact that your teeth chattered more than your sail in irons didn't let you know that it was freezing, than having a Grand–Master Laser sailor (Jens Biskaborn) tell you he can't remember a more miserable day for sailing, would. Oh wait – that might be a bad parallel – he might just be too old to remember (I'm in trouble now)!
OK, sorry for the improper introduction, but those are the first words that come to mind when I think about the 2006 Pumpkin and I just had to get it out of the way. So anyways, we had a decent turn out for the Laser fleet with 12 boats; seven of which were from FYC, with two sailors, Jake Prapavessis and Mark Perquin, racing lasers in their first regatta. Of course the usual oldies were there: Rick Goldt, Jens Biskaborn, Frank Harmgardt, and Steve Carroll. "Oldies" is just a politically correct word for "very experienced". (Sorry to disappoint the reading audience, but the only appearance the Hound (Steve Dietrich) made at this regatta was in this report – I know our ratings are "dropping"). And then there were the usual "young guys": Oliver Darroch, Jon Dietrich, myself, and of course, Brad Biskaborn. There were some other fleets at this year's Pumpkin: Wayfarer, Y–Flyer, Laser II, Open... but none larger or more important than the Laser fleet. Just kidding. But I know you really just want to hear about the Lasers anyway. (Al Schonborn's wayfarer perspective can be viewed here).
The winds on Saturday gusted a maximum of 30km/h, while the majority of the time it was slightly less. We managed to endure four races and I think the only reason we stopped was because the race committee was frozen solid and couldn't blow the start whistle. After four races, Brad Biskaborn held first place with four bullets, followed by Steve Carroll with all seconds except for one, interrupted only by the "one–day–wonder" Jens Biskaborn, who took one second, and two thirds. Oliver Darroch would have been in fourth had his upper mast section not snapped during the fourth race, resulting in a DNF and a relaxing motor boat tow back to the main dock. I think that makes two Laser masts that have snapped at Fanshawe this season, right Brad? You have to remember to let that boom vang off every once in a while.
...Especially if you have a brand new boat. Brad and I were lucky enough to be sailing new Lasers bought only a few weeks earlier after getting a great deal from Pride Marine in Kingston. Our old boats, or at least Brad's boat and my Dad's old yellow bullet (the famous 61007) were both sold to members within FYC. I count about 17 Lasers at our club now and growing. At any given Laser racing days or nights that we organize we get more Lasers just from within our club then an entire fleet at some of the FYC regattas that I can recall two and three years ago. The Laser fleet is where it's at!
Now back to the racing, after that short Laser fleet commercial. So Saturday we all went home soaked and cold, with the equally wet sailing stuff just thrown in the car. At least, that's how it was for Brad, Jon Dietrich and I. My Dad and Frank Harmgardt managed to leave the club half an hour before us and they made their exit known in the parking lot. When your cold, don't expect sympathy from someone who's warm. Of course when we get home, the old guys are sitting at kitchen table looking all nice and comfortable sipping hot chocolate. No sign of the geritol though. Leave it to the Masters to get warm and dry first. Then the evening rolled in along with Steve Carroll and the six laser sailors in the house all gathered around a 19 inch LCD computer monitor to watch Brad's Australian DVD which wouldn't play on a standard DVD player. Go figure. So we watched as Olympic sailor Michael Blackburn crossed the Bass Strait from Tasmania to Australia downwind in a Laser. Inspiring no doubt, but somewhat irrelevant preparation for Sunday's sailing on Fanshawe; at least, that's what I thought.
Then Sunday came around along with a tropical heat wave and a temperature of 17C. Wow, time to break out the sunglasses! We had three more races in the rather enjoyable weather. The first race had relatively light winds, allowing for a shuffle in the results, as well as time for on the water communication between sailors. Friendly of course; especially when the sailor behind you is waving at you through his sail window, saying that he's "coming for you". I can't believe I actually let Brad catch up right at finish line but it's what any nice brother would have done. And filling the role of the Laser "talker" was Jens Biskaborn, who proclaimed to the fleet that he was "feeling fast". Must've been that geritol. The wind really picked up for the second and third race, creating a couple survival downwind legs. Unfortunately those hot chocolate drinking Masters had some trouble surviving and were ultimately voted off the upright position. Along with the swimming, they also had some trouble with mainsheet knots. What can I say? All in a good downwind leg at Fanshawe. As to be expected, as the winds picked up, the usual names were at the top: Brad Biskaborn, Steve Carroll, and Rick Goldt. Sorry Dad, but you were one of the hot chocolate guys. Jon Dietrich also had a great last race beating me for fourth just before the line. In the end, Brad Biskaborn maintained his Pumpkin championship with five firsts out of seven races. In second was Steve Carroll followed by Rick Goldt and Oliver Darroch, who managed to find a new mast section and sail for the second day. In fifth was Jens Biskaborn, only one point ahead of me... what a heart breaker. And Jon Dietrich was only two points behind me.
Alright, I'm getting complaints that this is too long from family members who want to read this. So I'll stop here. The Pumpkin Regatta 2006 was definitely a first on several levels for me (the weather, the boat... except for the results) and it was a great time, as it always is in the Laser fleet. Thanks to all the volunteers who helped with the race committee and the safety boats, despite the weather. I know that all the sailors who participated appreciated your contribution to making the regatta successful. So until 2007, that's what I saw from the deck of my Laser.
Pumpkin Regatta 2006 Volunteers:Regatta Chair: Bob Kennedy