Ultimate 20s take off on Saturday at the Carter Lake Open.
During the regatta, I assisted the PRO, Tom Ruwitch, on the race committee signal boat. The CLSC owns its own small flotilla of motorboats. Tom, Doug and Dana, and I ran the starts from a good-sized Bayliner cabin cruiser, while another team took finishes downwind while aboard another cabin cruiser, and yet more r.c. team members operated a Boston Whaler as a mark boat, and a jet-powered rigid inflatable boat (r.i.b.) that was our chase boat and general utility boat.
PHRF (Pacific Handicap) fleet copes with a modest breeze.
Light, variable, switchy air is the bane of lake sailors, and especially of race committee members who hope to get off a regatta that will be a fair test of sailing skills – and won’t leave the competitors stranded in the middle of an airless lake and force abandonment of a race. In spite of sometimes uncooperative weather, we got all the boats to complete three races, with a fourth race for the Star Class.
Three Catalina Capri 22s join the PHRF fleet for a Sunday start.
We used a variation of a rolling start for the three classes entered in the regatta – Stars, Ultimate 20s, and a PHRF (Pacific Handicap Rating Formula instead of the Portsmouth Handicap typically used in New Mexico) mixed fleet which contained three Catalina Capri 22s and various other boats. The last few seconds of each start countdown was broadcast on VHF radio.
Enough wind fills in for some nice spinnaker runs.
At the beginning of each day’s racing, once we were satisfied that a fair start could be achieved and that we had the likelihood of completing a race, we would lower the AP (postponement) pennant. Precisely a minute later, we would raise a colored flag for the first class to start, marking the beginning of its five-minute sequence. Exactly a minute after the start for the first class, we would raise the flag for the second class to start and begin their five-minute sequence, and then similarly for the third class to start.
A Star passes by PHRF fleet boats.
Later in each day, the starts would be more spread out, with typically each class starting separately and apart, as the effect of different boat speeds and lake weather had its effects. And, with light air on each day, there was always a certain amount of waiting around as Tom and the rest of us tried to outguess the wacky and sometimes frustrating mountain lake weather. This was also a good opportunity to learn some of the idiosyncrasies of weather on Colorado’s Front Range lakes.
Although I didn't get any souvenirs of the visit to Carter Lake, I took plenty of photos and met a lot of nice people. I also took advantage of the trip to replace my frayed gloves at a chandlery in Denver and to learn a great deal about the community sailing program in the Denver area.
Despite light winds, I enjoyed the trip and the warm hospitality. On Saturday evening we were treated to a fine and generous barbecue dinner by a professional caterer who urged us to eat heartily. The organizers did a great job of hosting, and produced a lot of great prizes for the racers and for a fund-raising raffle.