Ben Lobaugh Online

I think, therefore I am. I am, therefore I sail

Category: Racing (Page 1 of 2)

2017 Final Goosebumps race on Tatonka

It was a blustery and rainy kind of day. Winds at 15 mph with gusts of 26 mph according to the on land weather stations. Into this went five intrepid sailors on a 24 foot boat…

Actually, the weather was perfect for us sailboat racers. We are a bit of a crazy lot. Our skipper, Heather, picked up a bright yellow San Juan 24 named TaTonka near the end of summer and this was her entry into the racing scene.

Armed with five racers on the boat we decided to deploy the 152 genoa. I was flying the main loose with the genoa driving, and overpowering, the boat. Since we had probably 70 years worth of racing experience on the boat we thought we could handle it but it was sure a handful.

As we jockeyed for position with the other boats coming up to the start line I heard a snap and turned to see Heather staring at a length of broken tiller she was holding in her hands. We had no steerage and with the strong gusty conditions and an already overpowered boat we were are risk of becoming wildly out of control and endangering other boats. What happened next was accomplished so quickly that the writing of the paragraph took longer!

When I turned and saw Heather holding the broken tiller thoughts of all the bad outcomes flashed quickly through my head along with possible solutions to avoid them. We needed to get under control FAST! I cried out, “BLOW THE SAILS!” as I ripped the mainsheet out of its jam cleat. Our illustrious genoa trimmer reacted just as quickly as me by blowing off the genoa sheet. He then hopped over to the stub of a tiller remaining and tried to manhandle us into submission. Heather leaned over the stern and dropped the outboard motor into the water.

After blowing the mainsheet I hunted for the halyards holding the sails aloft. By the time I found them and ripped them out of their jam cleats the other two crew members who had been ballasting the boat on the cabin top were in position to yank the sails down as quickly as possible. They too saw what had happened and positioned themselves to quickly control the situation.

As the sails fell to the deck I was able to look up and around us to the other boats in the fleet. Amazingly we did not endanger or even come close to fouling up any other boats starting with us! From the time the tiller broke to when we had the boat under control and were motoring away from the fleet it could not have been much more than 30 seconds! It really pays to have an experienced racing crew onboard.

We were standing there looking at each other in amazement of what just happened as we slowly motored back to Tatonka’s slip when Heather said, “I have a spare tiller in the cabin.” I looked at another crew member who just said, “Find it!” I found replacement tiller and tossed it out onto the cockpit. Sensing success he also  instructed the other crewmen to swap out the headsail to the 100% jib while I was searching for a toolbox. We had the tiller and headsail changed out in no time and turned around to get back into the race!

We slid across the start line amidst cheers at our amazing turn of events. My watch said we missed the start by seven minutes. That is a significant amount of time to make up.

As we swept around the race course we attempted to identify our competitors and inch up on them. We may have been seven minutes late to start but we were amped up at this point and ready to take on the world. The wind strengthened and died out, the rain came and went in varying degrees but we never stopped pushing ourselves and the boat.

We crossed through the finish line feeling good about ourselves because we passed one boat. It was a slow cruiser but we did not care. Seven minutes late and we passed someone! After putting the boat to bed we joined the other racers to learn the results.

We placed 15th out of 22 boats!

That means we caught and passed 7 other racers out there!

We were giddy!

Fantastic accomplishments when you consider we:

  1. Broke a tiller
  2. Had to change headsails
  3. Installed a new tiller
  4. Missed our start by 7 minutes

Oh, and not only was this Tatonka’s introduction to racing with Heather as owner it was also Heather’s first time helming in a race, ever.

Well done Tatonka crew, well done.

2017 Final Goosebumps race on Tatonka

The fearless crew of TaTonka

2017 Final Goosebumps race on Tatonka

I promise the old green guy is a lot younger than he looks ;). Camera perspective

Inspired story behind the Seattle Pink Boat Regatta cancer fundraiser

For the past few years I have been participating in the annual Pink Boat Regatta, a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation. The event is faithfully put on each year by Ashley Bell. This evening I ran across an article where she writes about why she became involved in the Pink Boat Regatta here in Puget Sound. It is a very inspiring read.

How Sailing Brought Me Closer to a Breast Cancer Survivor — My Birth Mom

Pictured above is the boat S/V Nefarious. The same boat Ashley crews aboard during the Pink Boat Regatta.

Pink Boat Regatta 2016

This weekend Zippey and I participated in the Pink Boat Regatta. The Pink Boat Regatta is a fundraiser for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation, and a fun way to get people out on their boats raising money to save lives.

I have participated as crew for the Pink Boat in the past, however this year Zippey and I wanted a more active role. We entered late but still managed to raise $850. Thank you to all who sponsored!  Altogether the boats raised $60,592!

Weather the day of the race was fantastic…for sunbathers. The race took place on Lake Union in Seattle. There was little to no wind. For crew I had racers AJ and Shane onboard. It was the first time I had sailed on Lake Union, and AJ and Shane had limited experience also. Sailing in the lake is challenging. The wind conditions are ever changing with the hills and buildings around the lake. In a photo below you will notice my sails on port side while the boat directly in front of me was on starboard, and we were both moving forward on the same angle!

Zippey was in the first start. We started pretty well. Zippey is a small boat and slower than most of the boats in her class but she held her own well as we went around the first mark in 3rd place.

As we came up to the second mark the wind died out. It took 15 minutes to get the few boat lengths we needed to round the mark. While we were coming up to the mark the 3 of us had looked around to determine the best tactic for the next leg. It seemed that what wind was available was in the middle of the lake. As we painfully slowly worked our way out there we watched as the entire fleet got close to the second mark and parked. A few of the boats even had to fend each other off with boat hooks because they were simply drifting without wind. It turned into a big party with cheers and singing.

After we had worked our way out to the wind in the middle of the lake it magically disappeared and filled in along the edges. We watched as most of the fleet slowly sailed passed Zippey. The next time around we determined to follow the racers we knew sailed in Lake Union often and went around the edge…the wind died on the edge and filled in the middle!

Zippey had a hard fought battle to get around her 5 buoys but she did it with grace and style. Shane, AJ, and I had a great time out on the lake and were grateful for the opportunity to help out in our small way those suffering from cancer.

I cannot wait until next year and am already starting to plan on how I can dress Zippey up in more Pink!

2016 Catalina Regatta

I had the honor of running the race for the excellent Catalina Association of Puget Sound on Father’s Day.

The day consisted of three separate races. As the wind built and changed during the day I was able to set three entirely different courses, all of which wound up being perfect for the conditions.

During our races the youth 29er and Laser racers were out doing their national qualifier races. Lots of boats out. It was a great day.

Thanks to the wonderful people at the Catalina club for allowing me to manage the races 🙂

Here are some photos of the event.

I raced a Tiger

imagejpeg_0-1Wow wow wow!

I have been racing with Joe Bozick on his Sweden 36 Breeze all year. Breeze is fast, real fast. She usually takes the gold. Breeze is a racer/cruiser. That means she is fast AND comfortable. I could comfortably live on Breeze for an extended period of time.

Recently I was treated to an entirely different kind of sailboat, a sportboat. This particular boat is a Flying Tiger 10m named Anarchy. It was my first experience on a true 100% racing boat since I have been racing and boy was I treated.

The race started, the wind was low, but before we even had our sails all the way up we were flying across the water at 6 knots. Nobody else could keep up! I think we reached a max of 9 knots during that race. It was short and we never had the sails set well. Boggled my mind at how easy it was to go fast in the Flying Tiger. On Breeze we dial everything in and then make technical tweaks. If we had done that on Anarchy during the race we likely would have lapped the other boats!

Now I have come to the realization that while I do indeed want a boat like Breeze, something fast and comfortable, I also need a boat like Anarchy, a pure race boat built to zoom zoom. I have already been scheming in my head as to how I could best utilize both boats during the racing season with split crews. I see a fun windy adventure ahead of me when I am able to realize that dream!

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