Mark Albury Regatta
October 3 and 4, 2009
Miami Yacht Club
By John McKnight, Hobie 20

The acrobatic stingray leaped out of the water 30 feet off our starboard bow. The ray's thick gray body glistened in the afternoon sun. His white underbelly flashed as his "wings" propelled him into the air. His long pencil thin tail flapped behind him as he splashed back into the aqua green waters of Biscayne Bay. In another second the ray leaped from the water again, headed straight for our boat. He flopped back in the water right beside our starboard hull. I thought for a second that the ray was going to land right in my crew's (Mike Powers), lap. Mike and I were startled. The stingray was startled. It was a magical moment for us during the annual Mark Albury Regatta.

We were in the midst of sailing a series of three short distance races in the northern reaches of Biscayne Bay. The races took place in the pristine waters nestled between the city of Miami to the west and Miami Beach to the east. The backdrop for the races was the condominium canyons of these two major metropolitan cities. We were also skirting the hoity-toity enclaves on the numerous islands dotting the bay. We sailed past a plethora of multimillion dollar mansions nestled on islands with names like San Marco, Star, Hibiscus, Palm, and Rivo Alto. The strange juxtaposition of this outrageous wealth and the simplicity and serenity of the bay with all its wildlife was a contradiction to the senses.

Race organizer, Jaan Roots, for the second year in a row had put together an intriguing series of races to challenge the mind as well as the body. He published a race booklet that outlined each of the different short distance races. The sailors had to be on their toes all the time. The race instructions delineated each of the courses to be followed. This required map reading. This required knowledge of fixed bay markers. This required being able to read the water depths. This required team work between the crewmembers on each boat. This required concentration. You had to basically memorize each race course before it started, because there was scant time to pull out the instructions to study them during the race. Several sailors reported being confused about where they were supposed to go next. One moment of hesitation and several boats would sail past you. We had to sail under the fixed 56 foot high Julia Tuttle Causeway Bridge during the first two races. In the first race the ebb tide current was ripping against us. We had some wind, but when we got under the bridge, the wind was partially blocked by the bridge supports. We had a diminished wind and water flow of three knots going against us. Most crews had to paddle to keep from getting sucked back under the bridge. We also had to go under two drawbridges between races, and that was a challenge. First we had to wait for the drawbridge to open. Then we had to go to the side of the opening and go hand over hand along the wooden bumpers on either side of the opening under the bridge. There was little margin for error. If you got too close to the wood and barnacles, you could scrape your boat. If you got too far away, you couldn't reach the wood bumpers to pull yourself against the current. All this made for an interesting day of sailing on Saturday of this two day regatta.

Sunday, the second day of the regatta, the race committee did four windward/leeward buoy races on the Miramar course just on the other side of the Venetian Causeway from the Miami Yacht Club. We had a shifty 8 to 10 knot breeze most of the day. This made for some fabulous racing. PRO, Donita Leavitt, and her race committee did a perfect job of running the races both days. The flags and horns were crisp and on time all day.

This regatta is named in memory of Mark Albury. Mark was a past commodore of the MYC and an avid catamaran sailor starting back in the 1960s. Dave Albury, Mark's son, sailed in this regatta. Many of Mark's family members attended the award ceremony on Sunday afternoon and helped distribute the awards.

For our entry fee we got much more than two days of challenging racing. We received two very nice long sleeve T-shirts. We had lunches delivered to us both days on the race course. Saturday after the races there was wonderful pasta and chicken buffet. There was unlimited beer, rum, and soft drinks served each day after racing. Sunday, after racing, hot dogs and French fries were provided. If you did well enough to finish first through third, you received a trophy hat for both skipper and crew. Hat trophies were given out for series races for both Saturday and Sunday. And overall hat trophies were awarded for the first three boats for the whole weekend series. Only nine boats competed in this regatta, but those who made the effort to attend were handsomely rewarded for their efforts. I would like to give many thanks to the folks at the MYC for putting on a premier catamaran event. If you come next year, watch out for those flying stingrays.

These are the results when all seven races were combined.

Tornado Spina/Livingston
Nacra F-18 Roots/Saldanha
Hobie 16, spi. Pierce/Dawn
Hobie 20 McKnight/Powers
Nacra 5.8 Albury/Black
Hobie 20 Valdivia/Saramy
A-Cat Schaefer/Lopez
Hobie 20 Claudio/Garcia
Hobie 16 Mendoza/Cicencia

Jaan made up a complete excel spread sheet with all the finish times and places. If you want a copy of that, let me know and I will send it to you.


John McKnight
Commodore, Catamaran Association of Biscayne Bay (CABB)
(305) 251-7600
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