Team racing in keel boats? Why not! Welcome to the inaugural edition of the Great Lakes Team Racing Championship. Six teams representing Chicago, Detroit, Rochester and Minnesota converged on Bayview Yacht Club in Detroit this past weekend to determine the best on freshwater. I was part of the Chicago team, jointly representing Chicago Corinthian and Chicago Yacht Clubs. I had Zac Hernadez and Brian Davies on my boat, with Augi Hernandez, Lindsey Bartel, and Sam (Stevie) House on the second and Mark Teborek sailing with Sue O’Neil and Nick Kofski on the third.
The format was simple: Two round robins in Ultimate 20’s, sailed on the river right in front of the Bayview Yacht Club. Day one saw breezy conditions with puffs and shifts rolling in over the yacht club. We stormed through the first round robin going 5-0. We had two really exciting matches against two of the Bayview teams, Not Adam and Belle Island. Both races saw multiple penalty spins, including an opponent forced to do a 1440 after a contested mark rounding. Luckily a few calls in our favor and clean, fast sailing put us in the lead at the end of both races
We started the second round robin late in the afternoon against the third Bayview team. Aggression got the better of us on the start and 2 of our team’s boats had to head back and restart after OCS’s. Augi’s team made a valiant effort to slow down the competition but had his hands full with 3 opponents. We ended the day 5-1, with a half point lead after team Not Adam was docked half a point for a collision in their first match. Sailors returned for shore for a beer or 3 at the keg and some BBQ in the Club. Certain members of the team were definitely hoarding the brisket!
On Sunday, we were to finish the final round robin to crown a champion. When we got to the yacht club, the glassy conditions put that in doubt and brought out the postponement flag. Much to our relief, the wind filled in coming straight down the river for a perfect 10-15 knot race day. The wind still had the shifts and puffs of the previous day and we managed to find every hole in our first race against the charging team of Not Adam. Firmly in last, our teammates made a valiant effort to pull us back. However, just as we were back in the race, a call did not go our way at the leeward mark and the race slipped away as Mark’s boat had to spin. We finished the second round robin 2-3, losing another race with 2 boats over the line early and no chance to recover. Our final win over Belle Island was one of the more exciting matches of the weekend. The race had collisions and leach changes all over the first 3 legs, before a few calls on the downwind leg cemented a stable combination of first and second place at the leeward mark for the win.
Team Not Adam dropped one more race but it was not enough for us to pass them. Because the final race of the round robin missed the timeline, it came down to winning percentage and ended with a 2% margin in the favor of Not Adam. Congratulations to Nate and Ian Hollerbach and ice boating legend Ron Sherry on an awesome win! Bayview did an excellent job of planning the event in just 6 weeks, and we are looking forward to next year’s edition.