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Race Report: Columbus Day Regatta 2021 Biscayne Bay  Bottom

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    Columbus Day Regatta
    October 9, 2021
    Miami, Florida
    by John McKnight

    This was one of the weirdest regattas I have ever sailed. There was near zero wind for the first two hours of the race, then the wind built up to about 8 knots for the remaining three hours of the race. Thunderstorms and frightening lightening finished off the day. It was a bizarre day to say the least.

    Fourteen boats registered in the Beach Cats Class with a total of about 67 boats of all ilks in the regatta. All week long everyone was checking the forecast for race day. All week long it did not look good. The forecast for the day of the race was 1 to 2 mph from all points on the compass, not good. Some beach cat sailors started bailing out two days before the regatta because of the iffy forecast. Only 10 or the 14 registered beach cats actually started the race.

    Three boats come from the Miami Yacht Club, and they had to be towed to the start area. Kenny and Dana’s trawler came in handy for that job. The Langhoffs launched from the Miami Rowing Club. A Weta came from the Key Biscayne Yacht Club. The remaining five boats launched from the CABB Beach on the Rickenbacker Causeway.

    As we were assembling our boats at the beach the water was like glass, dead calm. Terry and I hurried to assemble my Hobie 20. We knew we would have to paddle to the start line which was about a half mile offshore. We launched at 9:15 for the 10:00 warning flag. Shortly after we launched I realize I had forgotten the one most important piece of equipment on the boat ——— the all important bridle vane. I was not going to try and sail around in 1 knot of breeze without my trusty wind vane, so we went back to shore to get it.

    After we got the wind vane we had about 35 minutes to make it to the start line. Terry had to paddle and paddle. After a few minutes a ghost of a breeze help carry us to the start area. We arrived just as the first warning flag went up. There were still several beach cats well short of the start line. They were going to be very late for the start. The gun went off which was immediately followed by the general recall horn blasts and flag. It seemed that the one knot current heading south had push 20 boats over the start line early. The PRO had warned us about the current, but there was not enough wind to even fight a 1 knot current.

    The start was postponed for about half an hour while boats tried to get back behind the start line. Those that had motors had to use them to get back in position. The second start was commenced in zero wind, but the boats all drifted across the line heading south down Biscayne Bay. If it wasn’t for the current none of the boats were going anywhere. It was 10:30 when we finally got started. We drifted, and we drifted. Terry checked the GPS, and it said it would take us 4 hours to get to marker C, the halfway point of the race. At this rate we figured it would take us 8 hours to complete the 18 mile course. I told Terry if we didn’t get any wind by 11:30 we were going to retire from the race. That’s what happened. After two hours of drifting I had had enough fun for one day. We were the third boat to retire. Numerous other boats retired by calling in to the RC on channel 71.

    So now we were 1 1/2 miles from shore paddling against the 1 knot current. Our fun meters were just about pegged out. We ate lunch, and Terry paddled. We drank Gatorade, and Terry paddled. We watched the sails flap, and Terry paddled. Finally about noon there was a breath of air out of the southeast. It started at 1 knot, and we were glad to have that reprieve. It slowly built to 2 and them maybe 3 knots. We were finally able stop paddling and sail. I was happy, Terry was really happy. I think we finally got back to the beach around 12:15. We had had enough. We packed up the boat and had snacks and drinks under the palm trees.

    Those boats that had continued on were also finally getting the weak wind. The wind continued to build. They were actually sailing. They said later they were having a good time. Drew and Claudia were the first beach cat to round the C marker. The return leg was a broad reach. Everyone was enjoying some refreshing speed going back north. The spinnaker cats were loving it. The Langhoffs were able to fly the chute and foil on their Nacra 15. See their linked video. They all said it was a good run the 9 miles back up the bay.

    Then about 2:30 after all the beach cats had finished ominous dark clouds were building up over Miami. The black clouds we moving toward Biscayne Bay. Back at the CABB Bach those who had sailed the whole race were hurriedly taking their boats apart in anticipation of the fast approaching thunderstorm. The lightning was starting to snap, crackle and pop. Kaboom, kaboom! Everyone on the beach was helping secure the few remaining cats. We got that done and headed home in the pouring rain.

    The RC boat was still on station taking finishes when the boat owner decided he had had enough with all the lightning snapping around the area. They pulled anchor and headed back to the dock. There were a number of monohulls and a couple of cruising multihulls still on the race course. I would assume they also headed for safe harbor. The regatta was mercifully over.

    Here is the link to the video shot by the Langhoffs on their Nacra 15. What a ride! Watch how quickly they passed the two monohulls in the first minute of the video. Check out how much coordination goes on between this father and son team to keep the boat flying down the bay. Keep in mind the skipper, Alessandro, is only 11 years old. How good of a sailer were you at 11?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCIvG8QDyeI

    Here is how the beach cats finished the race:

    Kenny Pierce, Dana Powers and Oscar, Stiletto 23, 3:31:59
    Randy Macpherson and Oliden Estevez C-2 F-18, 3:40:09
    Drew Mouacdie and Claudia Schmid, Nacra 6.0, 3:42:43
    Hans Evers (solo) F-16 3:43:00
    Norm Hansen and Fermin de la Camara Hobie 20, 3:47:24
    Alessandro (11 years old) and Martin Langhoff Nacra 15, 4:05:29
    Jon Ewing (solo) Weta, DNF
    John Mcknight and Terry Greene Hobie 20 DNF
    Rafael Quesada and Juan Nunez Hobie 20 DNF
    Carlos Rojas Nacra 6.9 DNC
    Jared Sonnenklar F-18 DNC
    Jerry Stegenga (solo) Hobie 16 DNF
    Petra Sobek Hobie 16 DNC
    Manny Leon Hobie 20 DNC

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