Team TAP Goes to Chicago, IL, Aug 2016
SIBC club members Todd Williams, Amar Patel and Paul Reddick represented the Skidaway Island Rhodes 19 Club for the second year. Here is their story in their own words.
Make sure you congratulate our SIBC members next time you see them. They finished 9th in a field of 20 – on an unfamiliar lake, without any local knowledge, and on a strange boat!
Day 1 – Our expedition started with an advance party with Amar coming up a day early to scope things out. Talk about an extraordinary welcome. Chicago reminds us of home in the way we treat our guests. Highlights are: pickup from airport to pick up transportation, to the Kovatz residence, to the Corinthian Yacht Club and graciously meeting everyone at the harbor.
Day 2 – Today was…well it began as a story about luggage. Paul had a suitcase with our jibs which American Airlines, er, lost. Major panic. Oops, they had the bag from an earlier flight – here it is! Meantime Amar does circles around the airport a dozen times while the parking Nazis threaten to haul him away as a terrorist suspect. Next stop is Amar’s Grandmother’s home. This took some planning…a couple of days in advance the idea came up that maybe Amar could see his Grandmother and Aunt before we became overtaken by race week. Now to check out the house in Wrigleyville driving Amar’s cousin’s (Pritesh’s) Honda Ridgeline. Definitely a super plus and heavy thanks for the accommodation – too bad he can’t swim but we will still take him sailing during his next visit to Savannah.Speaking of accommodations, we went the VRBO (Vacation Rental By Owner) route again this year. It’s a cool old house 2 blocks from Wrigley Field where the Chicago Cubs play baseball. Maybe we’ll get in a game as they are playing the Milwaukee Brewers over four games while we’re here this week.Last stop was the marina for Todd and Paul to finally see the venue and our chariot called SCHOLAR. We saw the boat and agreed it is in prime condition for racing, unlike last year, with the exception of cleaning it, evicting several generations of spiders, and finding, umm, a backstay . Team TAP
BLOG 2 – Day 3. Well we’re exhausted and the week is just beginning. So this message will be shorter than other reports. Today was devoted solely to two practice races but before we got out there we had to get Scholar rigged up and ready to go. That mainly involved having to locate, borrow and install a backstay from another Corinthian Rhodes 19.
We are really impressed by our race venue this week. Entering Lake Michigan, the water has an aquamarine color as if we were sailing in the tropics. Equally impressive are the views of downtown Chicago, about 5 miles south of Montrose Harbor.
After a long day on the water, we enjoyed dinner at an Irish Pub. Thanks to Dick Watson for hosting us this evening. During dinner it was mentioned that Scholar was Mary & Peter Kovatz’ first owned Rhodes 19. We believe this R19 compares positively to the best boats in our Savannah fleet.
We have a very early start tomorrow so we’re signing off for now.
BLOG 3 Day 4 and 5. Oh what a first two days!
Yesterday is tough to write about, mainly because we came off the water, relaxed and then went back on a sailboat to watch the late evening fireworks over Navy Pier. Spectacular is an understatement.
The first day of racing was, well, the toughest for us in that we were learning the boat. That was definitely challenging but we felt good when one of the other sailors yelled out to us that it had been too long since SCHOLAR had raced this fast.
Today started out with an early morning thunderstorm passing West to East though Chicago. Fortunately it passed before the start of the race; however, we had seven buckets of water in the bottom of the boats.
We had three grueling races starting at 10:30 and ending at 3:15. The wind was variable at 5 to 18 from the South shifting hard West with heavy Lake Michigan chop.
We are in the top half of the fleet, 9 out of 20. The fleet is very competitive, and the conditions are very challenging. Fingers crossed for tomorrow!
The Chicago crowd have been extremely gracious hosts thoughout. Thank you. Pics tomorrow – technical difficulties today.
BLOG 4 – The Last Day
Today, our last day, started out early. We got to the marina, had the skipper’s meeting and were told by the Race Committee (RC) that two races were planned. Then we launched for Lake Michigan. Quite honestly, all three of us have been in our fair share of bad weather. This was different and we were quick to react. The RC boat was not out there with us yet, purple clouds were fast approaching on the horizon basically on all four sides of us, we turned around and headed back to harbor, in the meantime beginning to see lightning in the area.
Within a few minutes the weather closed in with intermittent showers and wind gusts clocked at 37 mph. After a wait of about an hour the RC announced that the weather was clearing and they were going to try to get in one race. So back to the sailboats we go. We started the 7th and final race. A long race with SIX legs and our second best finish of #8; the best was #7 in our first race – we were and are still stoked about that performance. Also exciting was a visit by the US Air Force Thunderbirds practicing for an event tomorrow. They made a very impressive show swooping low over the sailboats and the Chicago skyline. So close to us at times we could see cockpits. Pics of them and our joint album to follow separately.
Overall we finished the series as #9 of 20. Our personal racing highlights were:
Rounding one windward mark ahead of our Marblehead friends and leaders of the pack this week. Unfortunately they caught up to us downwind. When we say these girls and guys are good – they are REALLY GOOD!!!
Speaking of catching up with us downwind – we did the same to others as well at times. On a few occasions we came from behind with some aggressive spinnaker tactics.
Our starts this week were always at the top. We were never really late on starts and crossed on time which is something you need to do in order to be competitive with this lot.
For the first time in our three National appearances we finished in the top half. We sailed hard and fast. No boats were damaged and nobody got hurt.
Lastly and probably most importantly we feel we have solidified Savannah’s relationship with the national R19 class. We can also confirm that next year’s national regatta will be held at Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, MA.
Chicago has been great and is a fantastic venue for sailing events – looking forward to coming home and sharing our experience in person with a Fleet 49 pizza party. Hopefully some of those pies will be deep dish.
See you all soon,
Team Todd Amar Paul – signing out!