Hold on to your feathers, Fleet 50 flew to the Duck Challenge Regatta!

2019 Harve De Grave Duck Challenge

2019 Harve De Grave Duck Challenge

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!

Rowan and Josie waved goodbye and cheered on the Fleet 50 boats from the park at the end of the wharf as the fleet headed out, at which point Josie promptly forgot about being upset and had a blast playing with her new friend Rowan for the rest of the day.
It was a short sail to the racing area, and after a brief postponement to let the wind settle, the fleet was off in a gusty 10-13 knots.  Irie crossed the finish line (appropriately marked by a giant inflatable duck) in third after a good start, but it turned out to be a little too good of a start: OCS. Cue sad trumpet.  Humuhumu caught a couple of right shifts and held on to second for a good start to the weekend.  The second race saw big shifts followed by a big drop in wind, including some all-ahead-drift conditions that mixed the fleet and resulted in a lot of throw-outs, but Bobby, Lisa-Marie, and Jim managed to snake Pandora II through the chaos and grab a 4th.  After some significant delays, the wind filled again, building to 15+ at times, and allowed the race committee to squeeze in a third race before calling it for the day.


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!).

How many Lane's can one hammock hold????

How many Lane’s can one hammock hold????

The cub proceeded to instruct everyone in corn hole technique, repeatedly demonstrating that it was much easier to get the beanbag in the hole if you just walk over to the other board before throwing it in.
The Cub, teaching everyone the best way to win at Corn Hole!

The Cub, teaching everyone the best way to win at Corn Hole!

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.

Team Humu Humu

Angie, Liz & Mike

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!

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