Catamaran Association of Biscayne Bay Cat Fight Buoy Races March 14, 2010, Miami, Florida By John McKnight, Hobie 20
We had our hands full. It was blowing 15 to 20 mph all day. Boats were flipping and crashing all over the course. It was one of those spectacular beach cat days with bright sunshine, strong winds, and lots of thrills and spills. The kite boarders were out in force swirling and twirling, doing their pirouettes and jumps. The sailboarders were slapping across the bay like flat black stones being skipped across a pond. The Rickenbacker Beach was a kaleidoscope of colors, kites, cats, and sails. Our PRO, Donita Leavitt, set our start line close to the beach so we were smack dab in the middle of all the action. It was an amazing day to be on the water, enjoying our favorite pastime.
We had eight boats show up to race. For the first time we had a Hobie Wave fleet. Well, okay, there were only two of them, but that was the first time they had their own class. There were two A-Cats, one of the older wooden boats and one of the newest high-tech boats. We had two Hobie 16s, one with a spinnaker and one without. There was a Blade F-16 and my Hobie 20. Nelson Eads had trouble with a new traveler on his A-Cat and could not sail in the races. Two other Hobie 20s had planned on racing, but didn't. As Oscar Garcia Coni was sailing his H-20 to the start area from the marina, he hit a sandbar, dragged a daggerboard, sent his crew flying on the trapeze wire, and flipped the boat over. His crew got beat up when he ricocheted off the hull, so they retired to lick their wounds and fight another day. Lenny Valdivia brought his H-20 to the beach but elected not to sail. Parking on the beach was tight because of a triathlon taking place the same day.
Our Race Committee included Ken Batzer from the Biscayne Bay Yacht Club. Donita and Ken set up a double windward/leeward course for the larger cats and a single triangle course for the two Waves. All the boats started together, but the Waves sailed a shorter course so that we all finished about the same time. This worked well. They ran four races in all. We also had lots of help on the water. We had a Coast Guard Auxiliary boat doing chase and mark boat duties. We had Tom Paelinck out with his big power boat, coaching his daughter Eva on one of the Hobie 16s. My friend Mike Harris was out with his motor boat taking pictures of all the action. Mike Powers pulled the Hobie Waves over from the MYC with his Lagoon 42 and it was anchored, serving as a spectator boat for Sue Bennett. There was almost as many motor boats helping as there were sailboats in the races. Thanks to all those who came out to lend their support.
The four races were fast and furious. The races were short, averaging only about 20 minutes each. On the last leg of the first race, I was running neck and neck with Chris and Hans on their F-16. We got hit by a huge puff and my crew, Dave Coker, and I watched the F-16 do a classic two hull pitchpole. The boat buried in the water up to the front crossbar. The sterns hovered for a few seconds straight up in the air. It was spectacular....I wished I had a camera. Hans was toward the front of the boat and just rolled into the water, but Chris got catapulted into the air from the back of the boat like he was shot out of a cannon. He flew between the boom and the hull. He said later it reminded him of some mountain bike crashes he has had. Fortunately neither one of them was hurt, but they did not finish the race. Eva Paelinck and Katie Flood, on their Hobie 16, also went over in the first race. They are both light weight teenagers, and they probably did not have enough weight to hold the boats down in the gusty winds. They are real troopers......they righted the boat and sailed the rest of the races. They continued to improve during the day and got a third in the last race, their best of the day. Taylor Palmer and Mac Agnese also flipped their H-16 in the gusty conditions (see the pictures below).
Bret Moss, on his A-Cat, dominated the three races he sailed. He didn't make the first race...... he said something about attending a wedding the night before. If you snooze, you lose, as they say. He took all bullets in the races he sailed, but came in second for the day when he had to eat a DNS for the first race. Teenagers, Taylor Palmer and Mac Agnese, came in first for the days with consistent sailing all day on their H-16 spi. Dave and I came in third for the day. Chris Stater and Hans Ever came in fourth. Teenagers Eva Paelinck and Katie Flood came in fifth on their stock Hobie 16. It the Wave class, John Sherry took all bullets, and Mike Powers took second place.
During the start in the last race, Chris Stater bumped into the transom of my Hobie 20 (see the picture below). He got the worst of the collision because his hull split open. At the time he did not realize this and as he sailed the last race, his hull filled up with water. As they were sailing back to the Sailing Center after the races, they noticed their hull was sinking. They pulled up on a beach to check it out and found the hull full of water. They borrowed some epoxy putty from the kayak rental guy and made a temporary repair. They sailed back to the Sailing Center in a howling 20 knot blow.
It was another exciting day of sailing on Biscayne Bay. Everyone was spent after battling the challenging race conditions, but we were all smiling as we disassembled our boats and snacked on some lunch. It is days like this that keep me coming back for more.
The excellent photos below were taken by Mike Harris. Mike is also a long time cat sailor. Thanks Mike!