Moonshine Musings

Last week at this time I was sitting back on the porch at the Virginia Inland Sailing Association (VISA) in Smith Mountain Lake, VA, enjoying the last bit of my pulled-pork and smoked brisket dinner and sipping on a wonderful blackberry moonshine.  Given that we don’t have any sailing this weekend, I thought I’d take a minute to write up what I remember from the moonshine.  Four Fleet 50 boats — Lisa-Marie, Nabeel, Ron, and Will/Alex — were at the regatta.  In addition I was there sailing with Nabeel, Bruce sailed with the Kelly’s from Annapolis, and Lisbet sailed with Charlie Wardwell.

VISA has a ton of great pics up on their facebook page ( and the regatta also received coverage on the local news channel.  The TV news clip even features Lisa-Marie and Jim Lane’s son, Ed, who sailed with Greg Kelly and Bruce Heida on Sunday!  Full results have been posted to the ILCA Results page and you can keep reading for more details from the regatta.  If you were there, feel free to add your own observations and recollections as comments to this post!

The first thing that I have to say is that Charlie, Randy, and the whole crew at VISA did a fantastic job in hosting the regatta.  We were greeted with a wonderful breakfast of biscuits, gravy, bacon, and coffee on Saturday along with a beautiful day.  The wind  took its time to fill in, such that it was close to 2:00 before we hit the water, but there are worse places to be stranded ashore than the balcony at VISA overlooking the lake with a cold keg close at hand!

Once we were on the water we had a great afternoon of racing.  The RC set a reasonably long 1-lap course with the start/finish close to the gate end.  The goal was to get in a number of races (12 were planned!) over the weekend.  A week on, I don’t remember the specifics of each race, but I do know that starting position was premium given the fact that we were only racing 1 lap.  Sailing with Nabeel and Kristen Lopez on Shadowfax we had our moments of brilliance on that first day — even winning one race — but also a few moments of, well, dimness…an OCS (going back is deadly in short course racing) and a few times where we were buried on the starting line.  Our speed and crewwork were good, though, so we knew that if we could get off the line we’d be OK.  The wind was shifty as it built, settled, shifted, built again, and then faded, so the RC was resetting the course for each race.  After our ups and downs we were thrilled to get a solid mid-line start in the last race of the day and then go on to find the breeze and the favored side to win it.  That’s a nice feeling to have as you sail back to the dock!

The party on Saturday night was phenomenal…moonshine, music, beef brisket and pork that had been in a smoker all day long (along with all the sides and fixins), cold beer, and, well, more moonshine.  My parents were visiting the DC area over the weekend and came down to the regatta with me to spectate, imbibe, and meet folks.  As always, the entire Lightning crowd was so friendly and hospitable — they had a great time during the day watching the racing and chatting with people, and were warmly welcomed at the party by the sailing crowd as well.  They’re already making plans to come back next year!

There wasn’t much wind when we started trickling in to the club on Sunday for a 9:30 first warning signal.  The RC postponed ashore as locals assured us that the wind would fill–and they were right.  After about 45 mins ashore, the RC headed out and we followed them in a light but building SW breeze.  We got 5 races off before 1:00 in a breeze that settled in nicely in direction, but fluctuated a bit in velocity.  Picking the favored side and playing “connect the dots” to find pressure became key, especially in the lighter phases.  The left was generally the side to favor, but getting there wasn’t any guarantee of success given the stiff competition.  Again we had good speed, and this time we were able to hold our own and finish in the top 5 to top 10 in most races.  We were chasing Pat Phelan for 7th place, and we went back and forth with him all day.  After a great job in race 2 (or 3?) in finding the breeze on the left and legging out on the entire fleet for a bullet we were feeling great…only to have Pat come back and win the next race with several boats between him and us!  So it went over the afternoon as the breeze built (we were fully hiked and playing the backstay by the end of the day) but ultimately Pat not only kept his spot in front of us, but improved a bit to 5th place while we ended up in 7th on Shadowfax.  One of those great moonshine mason jar trophies would have been fantastic, but the weekend was a blast all around with great sailing and great people.  I’ll certainly be back next year!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *