2004 TEXAS LIGHTNING DISTRICT CHAMPIONSHIP
White Rock Lake - Dallas, TX

June 12th - 13th, 2004

COMPETITORS RACE 1 RACE 2 RACE 3 RACE 4 RACE 5  TOTAL PLACE
13953 Scott Anderson        
Jay Martin
1 1 1 1 1 5 1
15117 Jeff Bodkin
Debralee Swancy
Ed Dodds
2 2 2 4 2 12 2
14344 Clancy McKenna   
Beau Howard                 
Kelly Howard
3 4 5 2 4 18 3
13806 Clark Newman      Sylvain Newman
Deanna Newman
5 5 3 3 3 19 4
14817 Ralph Bilnoski
Alyssa Bilnoski
Kai Chandler
4 3 4 5 6 22 5
14736 John Wascomb
Ardis Good
Steve Bell
6 7 6 6 5 30 6
10020 James Crittendon  
John Womble
8 6 7 7 8 36 7

 

By Jeff Bodkin 15117  

Once again Fleet 35 sailing out of the Corinthian Sailing Club in Dallas was host to the Texas District Championships.  Attendance at this years Districts was down slightly with only 7 boats participating but a great time was had by all in attendance.  The racing was extremely competitive and we saw a wide range of conditions over the course of the weekend.  I would encourage all of you to mark your schedules and try to make it down for our Leukemia Cup regatta or District Championships next year. 

Saturday

Race 1 proved to be a real work out with an Olympic course set and consistent gusts in the 25 mph range.  The race started with a sprint to the left to take advantage of the shoreline effect.  Scott Anderson managed to round first with your author right on his transom.  Both boats set kites and took off on a screaming reach into the gybe mark.  Scott caught a hard puff just as he prepared to turn the boat was forced to round wide at the mark opening the door for me to get inside and lead going into the leeward mark.  After rounding, Scott chose to head right and picked up some nice lifts up the western shoreline which allowed him to regain the lead by the weather mark.  We lost a bit of ground on the run but were able to keep in close enough to Scott on the beat so that we were within 2 boat lengths at the finish.  Third place went to Clancy McKenna who kept the two of us honest in our fleet management and caused plenty of sore necks from looking back to cover him.

 After our finish the fleet went back into the Club for lunch and enjoyed some much needed rest and sandwiches.  Luckily the winds moderated to a much more crew friendly 15-17 mph for Race 2.  After promising my crew Debralee that things would be much more subdued in the next 2 races (a missed hiking strap had her head in the water at one point in race 1) we cast off our dock line and headed out to the race course.  I don't recall too much about this race other than the right side seemed to pay off better than in the first race and that everybody had a kite up this time on the down wind legs.  I do remember loosing quite a bit of ground to Scott at the leeward rounding due to a fouled spinnaker halyard on a late douse though.  This allowed Ralph Bilnoski to get back into the game and he managed to push us quite hard over the next leg.  In the end it was Scott Anderson sailing very consistently and managing the course well for the win.  We managed to keep Ralph behind us and finished second and third respectively.

 Upon finishing, we were treated to some on the water drama as Clark & "Doc" Newman rushed to repair a broken gudgeon before the start of the next race.  While the committee re-set the line and prepared to go into a sequence for Race 3 they toiled to get their boat fixed; just managing to join the sequence on time.  Good seamanship guys, and thanks for the entertainment while we waited for the next start! 

 With the races held back to back; conditions were similar to those in the last race, however a slight backing trend favored the Eastern shore of the Olympic course in the third race.  Scott was the star of this one, taking Buddy Melges' age old tactical advice to heart by winning the start, going left to reach the weather mark first, and extending his lead over the next 4 legs.  That left me to contend with strong challenges from Clark Newman and Clancy McKenna.  Coming out of the gybe mark Clark made a sharp move to weather of us, and after passing, held on to second around the leeward mark.  Through hard work and a few lucky shifts we managed to claw back into second place by the end of the next upwind leg.  l don't  remember much happening downwind in this race despite increasing oscillations in the wind.  As we rounded the last mark we looked up the course to find Scott already of the way to the finish.  We immediately split tacks and began to grind down the distance between us.  By working the boat as hard as we could; and with my crew continuing to do a great job of calling the shifts, we managed to give Scott a scare finishing only a boat length behind him.  So close and yet so far away seemed to be the story of our regatta.  Meanwhile, Clancy McKenna and Clark Newman continued to duke it out for 3rd; with Clancy just managing to keep his bow ahead at the line.  

 Upon reaching the dock and putting away the boats for the day we had an opportunity to relax and share stories over a keg of beer.  Probably the best tale was from Jim Crittendon who surprised us all with his story of capsizing during race 3.  I completely missed it!  All in all, it was a great opportunity to catch up with old friends like John Wascomb who made the 6 hour trip from Jackson, MS.  We really appreciate the travelers who come out to visit us at this regatta and I want to thank John again for his support of our fleet.  But my lasting impression was how neat it was to see so many families sailing Lightning's together.  I would like to recognize Ralph Bilnoski and daughter Alyssa, Beau Howard and wife Kelly, and best of all Sylvain "Doc" Newman who sailed with son Clark and daughter Deanna.     

 Sunday

Arriving at the dock that morning we were graced with pleasant breezes from the South at 10 -12 mph.  The forecast was calling for the winds to shift to a more Northerly direction later that day so we were happy to get an early start and avoid the calms that would inevitably come with the change in direction - more on that topic to come.  Working hard to get 2 races in the Committee set a gold cup course and sent us on our way.  We began Race 4 with another drag race to the left with Clancy leading the way and Scott and I stacked to weather on his hip.  A bit of a header allowed Scott to tack away and gain a 2-3 boat lead by the weather mark.  As the breeze began to soften Scott extended his lead around the reaching legs and held his own up an uneventful second beat.  It was after rounding the weather mark and heading down towards the finish that things began to get interesting.  From over my shoulder I could hear that most dreaded of sounds, boats closing on us with more wind.  Trying to avoid the hole to leeward of us proved to be our undoing as we delayed our gybe and Clancy was able to get past us.  As we raced for the finish we tried one last tactical gybe to try and reach the boat end of the line before Clancy could make the pin.  Unfortunately, we called this one a bit too close and our kite brushed his backstay.  We immediately dropped our spinnaker and began our penalty turn trying desperately to get the board down before we lost any more places.  As it turned out, Clark Newman was right on our heels and beat us to the line as we limped the last 4 boat lengths to the finish. The race for 3rd was getting pretty hot as Clark Newman kept within 2 points of Clancy going into the final race.      

 With 2 hours of racing remaining the race committee decided to give us our monies worth with a very long Olympic course.  Our first crack at Race 5 began with a general recall as we all were pushing hard to finish the weekend with a win.  After a clean second start the fleet split towards both shorelines.  Scott and Clancy duked it out on the Western side but our choice to stay with the left paid off and we managed to cross the both of them just before the mark and lead them down the first reaching leg.  As we ghosted around the course the wind began to die off in earnest fading below 10 mph for the first time that weekend.  With stellar sailing and lighter crew Scott once again passed us on the second beat and held his lead down the long run.  Further back Clancy and Clark were pushing hard with Clancy managing to gain a pretty good lead by the time they reached the final beat.  It was at this point that the wind decided to drop off completely leaving us bobbing in winds that boxed the compass.  Scott and I managed to trade the lead many times in that half hour, but the breeze finally began filling in from the left and pushed him across the line for the win.  As the breeze settled in we also crossed the line and were treated to a very spirited race for third.   As Clark charged in from behind he managed to gain an overlap and threw in a tack to force Clancy away from the finish.  With only 10 boat lengths of race course left Clancy was unable to recover and the Newman's locked in third for the race!

As most of the crews put their boats away I began tabulating the scores for the regatta.  After checking the score sheets several times it was apparent that Clancy, Clark, and Ralph were all within 4 points of taking home a trophy.  In the end however it was Clancy who took home the prize beating the Newman's' by only 1 point!  In second place was your author and dominating the regatta with straight bullets was Scott Anderson.  Congratulations Scott on a very consistent performance. 

 I would also like to thank Bob Gough and the Flying Scot Fleet for running  a fantastic regatta for us.  Without their help we would not have been able to stage such a great regatta.  I hope all of you will take up our invitation and that we will see you next year at our districts or the Leukemia Cup Regatta.