arizona 2013

Big wind and winter hats in Arizona — what the what?!? Great Vipering weather for Laurent Dion and crew on Viper 145. Photo courtesy Tom Errickson / Sailboat Shop

The Arizona Yacht Club Birthday Regatta held January 18 – 20 saw 10 Vipers on the line with more than half of the boats from out of state.  The road warrior award clearly went to Rafe Beswick, who towed his boat more than 1500 miles from Olympia, Washington to get away from the gloomy weather of the northwest and enjoy the sunny and clear Arizona weather.

Each day there was good breeze in the morning from the north, which would settle down as the day progressed.   An early start of 9am on Sunday saw the best races on the final day, with the wind in the high teens for the initial races.

Dr. Jimbo Sears started of the 2013 West Coast Circuit in the same manner he finished in 2012, holding a lead throughout the weekend.  Brad Milligan with his regular crew of Nico and Ryan tried their very best to steal the show but could not pull it off.  Continuing their partnership from the 2012 NAs, Tim Carter and Tony Chapman finished in 3rd overall.  Rafe Beswick, complete with Darla the dog as part of the crew, enjoyed a bullet in the last race of the weekend to move into fourth place overall.   Unfortunately Rafe hit the road before he could collect his long distance award of a bottle of tequila.  The weekend also saw the original west coast Viper sailor John Riddell out on a Viper.  The next stop on the West Coast circuit is the San Diego NOODs in March, which should see at least 15 boats racing on the typically windy South Bay course.  Results below, but first, Rafe Beswick’s first hand account of his trip to the desert:

Lake Pleasant or bust!

By Rafe Beswick
Tony Chapman first put the bug in my ear at Whidbey Island Race Week about how fun the mid-January Birthday Regatta on Lake Pleasant is, and it sounded pretty good last July.  It sounded even better in January in Olympia, Washington where it’s between 30 and 40 degrees, gray and damp every day for months.  It was also an easy sell to the wife, who loves Arizona, but not so easy for producing a third crew.  Having sailed the boat often double-handed with my wife, I worried not and took off with Viper 131 in tow behind the trusty Astro Van on the 1400-mile trek to central Arizona with an email sent to Tony seeing if he could procure a third for us to sail with.
The trip down was relatively uneventful, leaving late Monday and stopping early at the Troutdale, Oregon McMenamin’s hotel that has a fantastic heated outdoor wading pool.  Day two saw us bed down in Wells, Nevada and wake to the coldest temperature I’ve ever seen, -9º F.  After fueling up that morning my fingers were almost white, and I was wearing gloves.  The drive south on Highway 93 was lovely as always.  I’ve passed through on this road three times now, and the beauty of the area never fails to impress. And it’s lightly traveled, always a plus.
Rather than press on all the way to our motel in Anthem, we stopped over at Arcosanti, a rather anachronistic leftover from the ‘60s and ‘70s.  I could go on overly long about the place, and I won’t, but Google it.  It’s architecturally fascinating, in a beautiful location, and they have guest accommodations that are basic, but nice.  It’s about 50 miles north of Lake Pleasant right next to a federal wilderness area in the Cordes Lakes area.

After a beautiful morning hike to view an ancient petroglyph, we continued on south and eased into Anthem to check in at the Hampton Inn where we’d be staying for the regatta.  They deserve a plug.  Really nice facility with a good breakfast, and pet friendly with no surcharge for having our dog with us.  After dropping off a few items, we made the 20-minute commute to the marina to set up, found a few fellow Vipers there doing the same and got ready for launching Friday.

The arrangement of things at Lake Pleasant is a bit different than I’m used to, probably a function of it being a manmade lake.  There are two launch ramps a bit removed from the marina, one at either end, and no parking immediately adjacent to either the launch ramps or the docks at the marina.  This resulted in a bit of hiking each morning and afternoon, or you could snag a ride on one of the golf cars that zoomed up and down the boardwalk as ersatz shuttles, but when there are clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid 70s every day, a 15-minute walk is not a burden.

We were fortunate enough to have an excellent local sailor whistled up by Tony, Jason Schwyn.  His experience with the lake and local race management was instrumental in getting us off on the right foot as we flirted with being tardy to the start area, as did many of the other Vipers.  With Jason on board I was able to focus on racing and not worry about the starting sequence or course, and we secured a second in the first race.  I won’t go through a blow-by-blow of the regatta, but of the 10-boat fleet, two California boats were dominant, James Sears’ 148 and Brad Milligan’s 143, finishing within three points of one another at the end of the event, and halving the point total of Tim Carter and Tony Chapman on 187 in third.  I was pleased to finish with a fourth overall, four points out of third, given I sailed with just two on Saturday and Sunday, and with dog and wife Friday and Saturday.

RC work was very proficient and appropriate for the event, making best use of the wind we had, focusing on getting races off, sometimes at the cost of a biased line or course.  We got three races started each day, though the last on Saturday was abandoned by most of the classes, and I’m proud to say the Vipers were first to quit.  There was definitely a repeating wind pattern of strong morning northerlies that eased off by noon and then the wind ghosting in and out from other directions.  Tony’s going to see if he can’t get the Viper starts earlier next year to take advantage of the morning breeze.

Kudos to AYC for a very nice event, and thank you, Tony, for arranging some group moorage for the Vipers at the marina.  I think I can speak for everyone who participated that we felt welcome and looked after, and one couldn’t have asked for nicer weather in the middle of January.

The trip home for us was uneventful for the most part, but the cold returned quickly, sinking into the teens as we traveled up through Utah into Idaho to soak in the abundant hot natural mineral water at Lava Hot Springs.  The worst driving conditions lay ahead in Oregon where we had to brave a brief spat of freezing rain in eastern Oregon and then some snow on I-84 between Troutdale and Portland that sent a Mustang skittering about, but the all wheel drive on the Astro took all that in stride and we made it home without incident back to the now welcome and almost warm feeling 38º F of the Pacific Northwest.

Sail Boat Skipper Total R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9
1 148 F.N.G. Sears,James 15 7* 3 1 2 1 1 2 2 3
2 143 Sinnerman Milligan,Brad 18 1 2 3 1 5 6* 1 1 4
3 187 Bitusa Carter,Tim 33 3 4 6 5 6 7* 3 4 2
4 131 Dragonfly Beswick,Rafe 37 2 7 4 7 3 9* 7 6 1
5 46 heroin Jackson,Greg 40 6 1 7 6 2 3 5 10*DNS 10 DNS
6 145 Red Red Wine Dion,Laurent 40 4 9 RAF 2 8 10*RAF 2 4 5 6
7 27 Moves Like Jagger Brown,Steve 52 8 5 8 3 4 4 10*DNF 10 DNS 10 DNS
8 133 Zippy Bull,Dale 57 9*RAF 8 9 9 8 5 6 7 5
9 110 V110 Scott,Paul 64 5 6 5 4 10 RAF 8 13*DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC
10 146 Tony’s Boat Riddell,John 73 13*DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 10 RAF 7 10 8 3 9 RAF
11= 33 Blue Bayou Davis,Phillip 104 13*DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC
11= 104 Locomotion Feo,Ed 104 13*DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC 13 DNC