2013 Windmill Class National Championships

The 2013 Windmill Class NAs were sailed July 18 to the 21st in Deltaville, Virginia at Fishing Bay Yacht Club (FBYC). Twenty competitors from five districts from faraway Roswell, New Mexico to New Hampshire to St. Petersburg, Florida braved high winds and hot summer heat to race a three day, nine race series.

Located an hour east of Richmond, Virginia at the mouth of the Rappahannock River on the Chesapeake Bay resembles previous NA host Rock Hall, Maryland's quaint fishing and farming, rural surroundings. FBYC has a unique set-up on the peninsula where dinghies launch from the front of the club off the beach to the Bay, while the larger keel boats dock 50 yards on the opposite river side of the peninsula. The larger boats in the protected marina have an air-conditioned party house with full kitchen and showering facilities -- as well as air-conditioned showering facilities for camping and RV parking 30 yards off the marina. The convenience was a wonderful asset for the avid campers that weekend.

Some measuring on Wednesday evening for early arrivals alleviated the scheduled measuring on Thursday. Roy Sherman and Ralph Sponar as well as a cadre of helpers knocked out weighing boats and a few new suits of sails. Matt Sponar organized Junior nationals with some regular class members as well as the local youth sailors. Thursday's light air forced the race committee to postpone for sea breeze growing to medium 10 mph. It was a great opportunity for learning, fun, and class exposure. Results from the five race series are on the website (www.WindmillClass.org).

As competitors unloaded into their rigs for Friday morning races two prevalent factors needed to be pondered. Although the open water of the river and bay confluence make one suspect current to be a factor, the shallow water where racing was to be belied that concern. However, with an impending weather system, warming of the land, and cool ocean water, the breeze could come from just about anywhere despite the prevailing winds. How was this for element mix going to end up?

Most crew were veteran family teams whether husband-wife, parent-child, or old friends. Team weights were plus or minus 25 pounds and about 50 on the spectrum from the highest to lowest. Past national race committees have opted for what I would call "lazy leeward finishes" -- not having to reset the line or wait for the tail end of the fleet catch-up to run more races. FBYC had a nice variation of courses normally finishing at least half a leg to weather, allowing for competitors to split off from one another, cover and duel Good Ole School -- as opposed to following or chasing the leader downwind for a crapshoot.

Day one -- as always, Friday races are important towards the success of the Regatta. Weather forecasts showed a large storm front coming in for Saturday so it was imperative for the race committee squeeze out as many races as possible -- in case of a blowout in subsequent potential Sunday drifter. Winds were medium to heavy with choppy marginal waves from the shallow course. The earlier reference to the impact of land and sea temperatures versus the prevailing wind would make figuring a favored course side difficult. And, not having a predictable current made forecasts even more vague.

The race committee did a good, diligent job of having perfectly short (20 boats long plus 2) and square starting lines, plum weather marks making weather leg formula even more murky. As always, starts and clear air would be paramount. Fleet speed was very even. However, the flat water favored lighter crews and skippers that point versus heavy crews where skippers that foot for speed. The separation upwind techniques could garner five or 10 more to weather. As you can see from the first four races of day one three national champions and a fast Team Sponar traded off.

Speed differences even among some top a boats were apparent. We could point well with speed, but offwind were dragging a box of rocks -- where Arthur (Anosov), Ralph (Sponar) and Larry who won Race 5 {despite recovering from Lyme Disease from a tick} (Christian) were all dynamite off-wind. Roy (Sherman) was always in the scrum, especially on the second and third day there pointing ability and veteran experience which applies to Allen(Chauvenet) who had a great 3 races on Sunday as did Colin Browning with Nancy Demler who garnered a bullet comfortably in Race 7.

Being "pond sailors" without land references we relied heavily on the compass, sailing on the lifted tack and while looking for pressure up-field and competitor positioning -- almost always looking to tack back to the middle of the course because of unpredictable wind swings on the corners. It allowed us to peel away the onion and not expose ourselves on getting out on the fringe. And, between starts, we would watch the Mark Boat and Pin End moves showing us a trend from right or left to know which side of a course we preferred to hedge.

As far as I'm concerned it was one of the best times of my life -- and after a 23 year drought and as many bridesmaid's dresses going 5, 4, 3, 2, won -- with my buddy Brendan Demler. The camaraderie was great, especially when somehow my boat ended up in the FBYC pool Friday night. And, the Osprey that landed on my masthead eating my wind indicator in Race 8. It must've been a sign.

Be sure to pen in 2014 NAs same time and date (July 18-21st) at Hoover Sailing Club "Home of 19 National Champions" in Westerville, Ohio... It'll be big fun!

Craig Tovell

2013 Nationals Photos
PosBoatNameTotalRace 1Race 2Race 3Race 4Race 5Race 6Race 7Race 8Race 9
14200Craig Tovell/Brendan Demler141(1)2(3)2(5)1(6)2(8)2(10)3(13)1(14)(DNC) (35)
25527Arthur Anosov/Sonja Duncon212(2)1(3)1(4)2(6)(11)(17)1(18)11(29)2(31)1 (32)
35702Ralph Sponar III/Matt Sponar333(3)4(7)3(10)3(13)8(21)3(24)4(28)5(33)(13) (46)
45048Larry Christian/Alex Gould408(8)3(11)4(15)(13)(28)1(29)4(33)10(43)7(50)3 (53)
55586Allen Chauvenet/Chirstina Chauvenet424(4)9(13)10(23)6(29)5(34)(DNF)(55)2(57)4(61)2 (63)
65045Chris Demler/Cam Demler456(6)5(11)(9)(20)4(24)3(27)6(33)8(41)8(49)5 (54)
71718Roy Sherman/Maggie Arnesen455(5)(11(16)5(21)5(26)4(30)5(35)6(41)9(50)6 (56)
84481Colin Browning/Nancy Demler469(9)(10(19)7(26)9(35)6(41)7(48)1(49)3(52)4 (56)
95070Lon Ethington/Meg Gimmi707(7)8(15)6(21)8(29)(DNF)(50)DNC(71)5(76)6(82)9 (91)
104689Tim Bachman/Nate Bachman7211(11)6(17)(12)(29)10(39)7(46)8(54)9(63)10(73)11 (84)
113064John Coleman/Allie Coleman94(14)(14)13(27)14(41)12(53)9(62)9(71)12(83)13(96)12 (108)
122049Lisa Fath/Caroline Benton10812(12)15(27)16(43)16(59)(DNS)(80)DNC(101)7(108)11(119)10 (129)
135400Dyer Harris/Sandy Sponar11213(13)16(29)13(42)15(57)(DNS)(78)DNC(99)13(112)14(126)7 (133)
143049Eric Francois/Emily Francois117(DNF)(21)DNS(42)DNS(63)DNS(84)10(94)10(104)14(118)12(130)8 (138)
153800Carroll Sparwasser/Eric Arnesen12115(15)7(22)8(30)7(37)(DNF)(58)DNC(79)DNC(100)DNC(121)DNC (142)
164051Alan Taylor/Michael Davis-Ruskovitz12810(10)12(22)11(33)11(44)(DNF)(65)DNC(86)DNC(107)DNC(128)DNC (149)
175399Phillip Durand/Kaitlin Durand14016(16)17(33)(DNF)(54)DNS(75)DNS(96)DNC(117)15(132)15(147)14 (161)
185170Miles Booth/Richard Biggs14718(18)14(32)17(49)14(63)(DNS)(84)DNC(105)DNC(126)DNC(147)DNC (168)
1960Charles Noon/Noon Lizzy15117(17)18(35)15(50)17(67)(DNS)(88)DNC(109)DNC(130)DNC(151)DNC (172)
205255Lansing Williams/Sue Caswell168(DNF)(21)DNF(42)DNS(63)DNS(84)DNS(105)DNC(126)DNC(147)DNC(168)DNC (189)