From Kevin Orff, skippering Tres Locos:
What a great weekend at the second circuit stop at Fort Worth Boat Club. Alan Woodyard, Eric Simonson and I (Kevin Orff), raced #919 with a total of 7 competitors in some challenging conditions. As a cold front moved in on Friday night, we woke up to +20 knot conditions with monster puffs that came down without warning as we sailed in choppy big part of the lake.
During pre-race tuning and warm-ups, I didn’t see a single kite as I too was comforting the thought of keeping my spinnaker in the bag all day. This dream was shattered as Keith Zars on Voodoo Baby rounded the weather mark first and flawlessly popped his shoot. As we rounded behind him, Testosterone flooded my brain and I called for our set. Eric looked over his shoulder to me with his “Seriously???” glance, but without a second thought, up went our kite and we started our chase for Zars. We did seem a little slow though as Keith started plane-ing away from us…. What were we dragging…. Oh its our foredeck Alan hanging on to the shrouds. With two pulls, Eric had Alan back on board and we were back in the race, but Keith was gone. We could never catch up to Keith and then Vincent Ruder had a great final weather leg and squeezed us into third place.
In race two, conditions remained fierce, our upwind speed felt good, but we were missing a little point. At the first weather mark, the two leaders goofed and sailed up to the finishing ball from the prior race instead of the off-set mark giving us a huge break and an inside advantage. We crossed our fingers and had an awesome set….and everyone stayed on the boat!! We had a strong leg, maintaining a healthy lead, just a gybe and a douse left before we can relax and head back upwind. Unfortunately in this gybe, I failed to hold the boat down long enough to get the pole set and the next puff sent us into a broach. This time it was the back two guys in the boat that were swimming. Eric managed to get on the boat quick and Alan got the chute down lightning fast as I watched while being dragged along by my death grip on the tiller. Voodoo Baby screamed by, but we managed to get organized and sailing within 30 seconds. The boat was surprisingly quiet for the next leg and we held on for a second place.
By the third race we figured that staying on the boat was key but with little reward as we managed another third place, followed by a second in the last race of the day (Keith Zars was wise and went back to the club after the third race). Maybe falling off the boat isn’t so bad after all. Despite a day of 2-3-3-2, our tenacity (or stupidity) was rewarded with a first place position after the first day of racing.
Some one shut off the fan on Sunday as we were wondering if we had enough wind to start a race. No one was complaining on our boat with the Saturday’s soreness breaking through Sunday's hangover. But by the scheduled first gun, we had a nice 5 knot breeze to take a Sunday stroll around Eagle Mountain lake.
After sitting out Saturday, Stuart Lindow had fresh legs (pun intended), the Vincent the Veteran was quick and Keith Zars was sailing by himself in the lead of the first race. I could not figure out where to sail and found myself in the middle of the race course, which is the worst place to be in light winds. With a fifth place, I saw our gold medal fade away, now we had to fight to stay on the podium.
The second race was going to be our last race of the regatta, it’s go time. We tested course left on the first leg, right boats beat us…. Second trip to the weather mark, we went right……left paid off and we were in the toilet… Heading downhill we floundered in the middle then Alan called to Gybe and go course left. I looked over my shoulder and saw nothing for breeze on the left, questioned Alan but thought….. at least I can blame him for losing the regatta. We gybed and then the breeze filled our chute and gave us a private ride to the leeward mark. We rounded, stayed course left, passing the fleet one by one. All there was left was the unstoppable Voodoo Baby. But the left kept paying off, but as the finish approached, our luck, I mean our lefty was diminishing. It was an upwind finish, we were on port heading to the pin and Keith had us in his starboard targets. As the starboard hail was pronounced, we got the last little lift we needed to cross his bow and cross the line. How sweet is the sound of the horn when you finish first, and it’s even better on the last race of the regatta.
Although Keith Zars won the regatta, I think team Tres Locos came away with a far better story. We learned a lot seeing two very different wind conditions and I am very thankful to the PRO and the FWBC for setting up a great race course and to keep us racing.
Next on the sights is Circuit 3 in Austin. For those of you on the fence to head up to hill country, please make the trip. These away regattas are a ton of fun on and off the water. And for those that want to race but need some help with your trailer or other logistics…. Let me know and I am happy to help to get you ready to travel, once you are set-up, it’s pretty simple…. Maybe you can have some good stories too!