Memorial Day is traditionally the kickoff to the northeast sailing season, but Mother Nature did not cooperate in 2013, bringing big winds of 25+ knots with gusts into the 40s, canceling racing for 14 Vipers at the Larchmont Memorial Day Regatta and for the Marblehead Viper fleet. The West Coast Vipers continued to remind everyone how most of us live in the wrong part of the country by having seven races in the typical Long Beach Chamber of Commerce conditions. Teams from host Alamitos Bay YC owned the top of the scoreboard, with Ed Feo’s Locomotion team coming out on top.
In the meantime, the Western Long Island Sound Vipers decided to turn their lemons into lemonade. First, there was the requisite Saturday night BBQ, hosted by Peter & Carol Bauer. While huddled around the keg in the garage, people started working out the logistics for a Monday afternoon sail from Larchmont to Cedar Point Yacht Club (host of the 2013 Viper New England Championship June 1-2) — 22 miles by water. The forecast called for a downwind ride, so why not?
First step was to agree to wake up early on Monday morning to launch boats, stash them on moorings, drive trailers to Westport, Connecticut, leave a few cars behind, and drive back to Larchmont. Once a couple of engineers got involved, the logistics were under control. Next step was to find crew — most teams opted to sail doublehanded to maximize the beer-to-person ratio aboard. Then the weather needed to cooperate, and for the first time all weekend, it did — sunny, temperatures in the low 70s, wind around 10 knots from a downwind angle. The tide was flooding (i.e., foul) the entire 22-mile sail, and the wind faltered a bit off of Greenwich, causing teams to sail a bit hotter toward Long Island to keep the boats moving — though the extra distance sailed allowed for some boathandling practice with a half dozen gybes toward the Connecticut coast. Boatspeeds were 9-10 knots for a large portion of the trip, not bad in 12 knots of wind, and the fun factor was high. Teams pulled into Cedar Point around 5 pm, dropped sails, noticed that Jonathan Nye and Viper 195 had beaten everyone up from Greenwich due to the later than planned start from Larchmont, and then promptly rehoisted sails as curious Connecticutians (Nutmeggers?) came down to the docks and asked for rides. Given that there are now two Vipers at Cedar Point YC and the sparks of a fleet at this fantastic one design club, the Viper owners happily obliged, and took 9 Viper prospects for a sail around the Saugatuck River. As an added bonus, Vipers 40, 121, 161, 162, 193 and 195 are now all rigged and ready for New Englands this weekend, where 28 Vipers are currently registered. There’s still a lot of sailing to go in 2013, but Joe Healey declared “this was the best day of sailing of the year” — high praise for a guy who frostbites and has already been to Miami and Charleston this season.