by Bill Cabrall
Leesylvania State Park in Virginia just south of Washington DC has a special relationship with Lightning Fleet 50. The park was established with input and political support from Fleet 50 member, Jim Dillard, back in the day, and as a result the facilities at the marina include a large boat/trailer parking lot adjacent to 2 hoists with finger piers on one side and tree shaded camping space next to a picnic pavilion with heads, power, and storage space on the other, creating the perfect infrastructure for a regatta. Fleet 50 trades a work day at the park for use of the pavilion, coming out way ahead in the bargain.
This year, for the Doc Gilbert Regatta, 15 people turned up for the pre-regatta work session at the park, and the regatta itself saw 21 boats line the parking lot, with teams coming from Southern Virginia all the way to Connecticut. When we arrived the park was sparkling clean, the lot was blocked off for Lightning sailors, and a perfect weekend was in store.
The forecast indicated a cool cloudy day on Saturday with wind from 8-15, and then rain on Sunday. With that in mind, the well organized RC set up for 4 races on Saturday and 2 on Sunday, and we were off and running on time for a noon start.
Heading out to the course, we discovered that, for this event, even the RC boat would be something special, as a restored Oyster ‘Buy Boat’ showed up, anchored, and started setting the line.
Saturdays 4 races showcased the joys of regional racing with a good race committee, here ably led by Bruce Bingman and Taran Teague. Just after the first start the wind went 40 degrees right and they were able to quickly abandon that race, bring us back, reset the course and restart us in little more time than a general recall would take. For the rest of the day they ably adjusted the course as the wind oscillated, and gave us clean beats and runs every time. I particularly liked the fact that the RC announced course changes on the radio as well as at the turning marks.
By the end of the day, 4 good races had been completed, and the scoring was very tight. I looked to see how deep top 5 finishes went in this fleet and noticed that the boat in 14th place had a 4th in one race, a sure sign of close finished and a tight pack. There was a lot of conversation about the relative benefits of potential throwouts at the BBQ Saturday night. The cooking was overseen by Lindsay Bach, a former chef, who has volunteered to cook for the last umpteen years. He and his sous chefs did a wonderful job, feeding the 60-70 of us on time without any fuss or bother.
Sunday morning, unfortunately, dawned cool and wet. It was raining steadily as the fleet assembled, and forecast to continue all day, with a line of severe weather scheduled to hit the course right about the projected finish time of race #5. The fleet was polled, and a decision made to call the event after 4 races.
Results at regatta network: http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/18807#_home
Photos by Carl Schaefer: https://www.facebook.com/carl.schaefer.526/media_set?set=a.10157171235174904&type=1
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