by Mike Darrah…
The Duck Challenge started out with a bang…but ended with fireworks! Last year, the Duck was rumored to be a bit tame, with one day cancelled completely for lack of wind. Not so this year, with great breeze out of the north east, a solid turnout of 16 boats, and a first-class cookout Saturday night, complete with 4th of July fireworks… in August.
Fleet 50 had 2 boats representing this year. Mike, Angie, and Liz on Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, and Bobby Astrove, Lisa-Marie and Jim Lane (since As You Wish… was still waiting on some new uppers) sailing Pandora II, one of Bobby’s beloved “woodies”, against a fleet of fiberglass. Ed Lane once again crewed for Joe Buczkowski and his son Zach aboard Irie. The fourth member of the Lane Clan also made an appearance as Rowan joined Team Humuhumu in a critical support role for Saturday and Sunday: cub-sitter.
Mike, Angie, and Josie, better known as “the cub”, tried to bolt out of DC at noon, but didn’t actually escape until almost 2:30pm, turning the 2 hour drive into a 5 hour crawl through Friday traffic. They eventually arrived just a few minutes after Liz Williams who had battled the same slog, but were consoled by the fact that their rental house was just a block and a half from the marina. Joe and Zach had a delay of their own Friday night, spending a couple hours on the side of I-95 to change a trailer tire that blew out in spectacular fashion on the drive up from Hampton Yacht Club in VA.
Nonetheless, by Saturday morning all teams were rigging in the parking area and greeting old and new friends on a crisp 65 degree day. Team Humuhumu immediately noticed two things about the boat next-door: the inside was very, very pink, and the skipper was wearing a Coast Guard Academy sailing fleece. Turns out Kayla Neuman, like Mike is a CGA alumni. Kayla, however, graduated in 2016, whereas Mike graduated… earlier. And, much to Jim’s chagrin, Lisa-Marie has now started scheming up plans for a pink boat to match her spinnaker!
A great day of racing calls for a great cookout, and our hosts at Havre de Grace delivered. Lead by friendly host Pat Phelan, the party included delicious BBQ chicken, pork tacos, salmon, all the cold beer you could drink, and eventually two gigantic tubs of ice cream. To counter the calories, sailors engaged in a strenuous cross training program including corn hole, ladder-ball, exaggerated sea-stories, and trying to see how many people can fit in Jim’s precariously perched hammock as it swings out over the edge of the dock (three!).
As promised, Pat and crew delivered quite a nightcap: the town’s Independence Day Fireworks show, rescheduled (4th time due to weather) from the 4th of July just for the Duck Challenge crew.
The breeze was up on Sunday, pushing 18+ at times, and easily accommodated three races before 1300. The wooden wonder Pandora II came alive in the tougher conditions, Bobby and crew grabbed a 2nd place finish right off the bat and a 5th in the last race, ultimately moving them up into 7th place overall for the regatta.
Humuhumu continued to catch the shifts and stayed toward the front of the fleet, including a 4th and 5th on the second day, and the consistency paid off with a 4th place overall, only 1 point (!) out of what would have been a three-way-tie for 2nd place. Oh what might have been. But Kayla and her crew, in the very-very-pink boat, put on a clinic in the strong steady breeze, scoring three straight bullets on Sunday to win the weekend with a whopping 13 point lead over any other boat. Whatever they are teaching in New London these days, it works. 2019-0825 Duck Challenge Results
All-in-all it was a great weekend both on and off the water, and a perfect warm-up for the PRSA Fall Series, coming September 8th to a Potomac River near you!