The 11th Annual Shackleton Series is now underway! The annual commencement of the revered series always generates excitement and creates a delirium of joy amongst those in and around the marina, for participants and spectators alike. As you know, the closer we get to Race Day, the more we begin monitoring the weather and most importantly, the wind conditions. With the following observations scrolling on the Sale Creek Ticker just outside the marina store office, a true optimist and believer of trend analysis would be all psyched up about Race 1 taking place on November 3rd.


October 27 - NNW 15-20

October 28 - N 15-20 gusts to 30

October 29 - N 15-20 gusts to 31

October 30 - WNW 10-20 gusts to 28

October 31 - W 10-20 gusts to 22

November 1 - WNW 10-15

November 2 - WNW 10-15 gusts to 22


Woo hoo! Yep! Plenty of reason to be ecstatic and happy about this upcoming day on the water, as seen here on the foredeck of Moriah - or perhaps now it should be called The Boat Formerly Known as Moriah. (More on that  later.) No doubt that it was another beautiful and sunny autumn day in Tennessee...but I was just kidding about the Ticker thing, although that would be another cool item to have to go along with the giant NASA type countdown clock on the upstream point and surveillance chopper that have been mentioned in the past. By the way, whatever happened to those things? Anyway, expect to see me walking the docks with a tin can soon collecting those entry fees to afford this next expenditure.

Meanwhile, sailors who are pessimistic in nature and have been around long enough to know how things can go on the water, especially if it involves a sailboat race, knew exactly what was going to happen. The weather from the outer fringes of Sandy that was responsible for our prosperous wind conditions as of late had abated and we were now in between systems. And it certainly was not long between weather systems as the subsequent day's winds turned out to be southerly 10-15 plus (sigh). It has become such a common lament over the years that the Autotext feature in our word processing software inevitably inserts the text at some point in the race report:  "At least it was a pretty and mild day, making the lack of wind a bit more bearable."

Yes, it was a beautiful looking day along with a beautiful looking fleet with quite the variation of boats. First, we had some of our regulars from the marina - defending champs Maniac, along with True Blue, and myself sailing solo inLuna Teak. No changes from last season for these three vessels, other than perhaps various crew additions, subtractions, and rotations. Long time Shack veterans James and Kristen Drozdek are no longer sailing their S2 27Carol Lynn, but rather, a BEAUTIFUL Tayana 37 named Tatiana. And although the boat and captain are both familiar in the Sale Creek family, another boat will be making its Shackleton debut, skippered by Chuck Alexander. Yes, you read that correct. THE Chuck Alexander for which our 4th place trophy is better known - if you follow Sale Creek racing you know that one does not "finish 4th" but rather, "finishes Chuck." Oh, and there really isn't a physical trophy (yet). In lieu of that, at the annual trophy presentation banquet, Chuck will be glad to shake your hand and say, "nice effort, better luck next time." Anyway, he and Amy were piloting  Camille, another BEAUTIFUL yacht from the fleet, a Cheoy Lee 41 sloop. And as mentioned earlier there is a name change toMoriah - but we are not quite sure how to pronounce it - well, actually we are and Captain David has reminded us many times. Does anyone remember when recording and performing artist Prince changed his name  to that weird looking symbol?


What in the world was THAT all about? Oh yeah - must be that artsy, eccentric, and avant-garde mindset. Puh-leeze! Changing your boat name to a symbol, though? Now THAT is innovative and cutting edge!

But what is it? Three pink vertical lines? Actually, although somewhat abstract to my untrained and crude artistic eye, this is a representation for a commonly utilized hand gesture - no doubt often on seen on race courses everywhere throughout the country (except for here, or course!). And no, it is NOT sign language for "We're Number One!" That said, however, it is quite often  the general response salute TO those that are waving the victory sign FROM those who were less successful on the day and did not triumph. I have yet to figure out what I am going to call the Mariner 36 in these race reports but figure I have a paragraph or two to come up with something. Which means, at the speed I have been writing and publishing these recaps, I will have something by the time we start Race 4.

Another boat making it's winter racing debut and new addition to the Sale Creek fleet is Eric and Christine Davidson's speedy little SR 21, PDQ³. This is a nifty, low profile boat that I have a feeling requires the same placard as the one mounted in Maniac's cockpit:

It is going to be interesting seeing The SR up on a plane in three foot swells. But Eric and Christine have plenty of winter sailing experience as crew, have been learning their new boat extensively since launching it, and are well equipped with proper attire to help keep them warm and dry.

Although it has taken several years, our infectious sport of winter sailing has finally begun to spread outward and it does indeed prove that if you build it, they will come... if they are crazy enough. Of course we have had crews from nearby Privateer Yacht Club sail for the past several years. This year is no exception as we once again welcome Chris Cyrul and crew back sailing the blue masted Wavelength 24, Whatta Ride! (Ha! I remembered the exclamation point at the end.) Also, we would like to welcome from downriver Harbor Lights Marina, Chris Edwards sailing his cleverly named Hunter 340, Knot On Call.  Chris reportedly recruited crew members telling them about the racing up here while taking them out sailing recently on a nice, breezy day. Brilliant approach! NEVER try to draft deckhands on a windless or rainy day! Finally, completing today's fleet was a sharp, well appointed Catalina 22 from Weiss Lake and The Rome Sailing Club. Ginger Noble and her husband and crew trailered their Catalina 22 Mother Ship (what a cool name - with shirts to match!) a good distance just to participate in our series. Some fine folks, indeed! And that "crazy enough" remark above? It really does not start applying until you are out drifting around in a freezing rain and fog just to get an extra point or two. For it was, as you already know...

"... a pretty and mild day, making the lack of wind a bit more bearable."

At this year's inaugural skipper's meeting a new motion had been put forth to add a separate fleet in our series - (sheesh, here we go again). This in addition to the already proposed Full Keel Class, which would consist ofTatiana and Moriah - er, Moriah III perhaps? Or maybe Moriah iIi would be more accurate, visually speaking? I don't know - call it a work in progress, and look for a different name for the Mariner 36 until I figure something out or am told by the skipper otherwise. But yes, there is a push for a Cruising Class within the fleet - the only catch is you have to cook a meal on board during the an oven. This motion was made by Chuck on Camille and actually seconded by Rodger from Food Acres fame... the day after the first race when he heard about this proposal - look for the S2 35 to make a return to the Shackleton Series in the near future! I did mention at the skipper's meeting that the Race Committee would actually consider recognizing this fleet... but all meals cooked aboard MUST be shared with the RC and finish times will be determined by the tastiest meal and so on. And although presentation does count towards one's grade, large portions given to the judge(s) can certainly overcome a plate that fails to be garnished with some decorative parsley or something. Oddly enough, no one took me up on this and I went home after this race with my stomach still growling.

Speaking of race, yes there was one - not that you would know it by reading this report so far. Honestly, not really that much to report about. A short simple course sailing upstream for a couple miles and back was plotted out - we even put off the start a little bit to allow for the light southerlies to arrive that were promised. What we got  was the furthest thing from southerly 5-10. We had a northeasterly breeze around 5 or so to start the race that kind of diminished and became a little more variable direction-wise as things went on turning it into a classic drifter.

Along with the "at least it was a pretty and mild day... blah, blah, blah," cliche, there is another phrase that the word processor automatically inserts randomly throughout these types of documents - "DNF". We already knew there would be one DNF at the skipper's meeting - that would be Shawn and Brandi  on True Blue. It was mentioned then that Shawn would have to motor over toCamille at 2:00 to pick up Amy so her and Brandi could return to the marina to attend a prior engagement on time. Meanwhile, Shawn would continue the race with Chuck on Camille whileTrue Blue retired, thus meeting the rule that a boat has to finish with the same number of crew they start with. Or is the rule just the "same" crew they start with? Regardless, that is one rule that is kind of ambiguous in The Shackleton Series, so we will let it slide either way. Sometime thereafter though, we heard a broadcast over Shack Radio (VHF Channel 72) that stated, "The race is over! The race is over!" At first I checked to see if Maniac or Whatta Ride! had finished and were boasting about it - to ready myself to make the proper hand signal. But no, their chutes were still flying - well, hoisted to be more accurate (not enough wind at the moment for anything to fly). Turned out it was Captain Chris on Knot on Call. I replied that the race is NEVER over. He responded, "it is for us. My wife just said so." Actually they had a couple hour ride back to Harbor Lights, so that was understandable - especially if they wanted to make it before dark!

Speaking of spinnakers, there were a few of those out today - some on boats that based on their course position should not have physically been able to fly (fly - again being used generously) a spinnaker the way the wind (also a generous term) was blowing. It simply appeared that the Full Keel Class simply wanted to show off every sail in their inventory. And between these two boats and Camille - we are surprised there is not a world wide Dacron shortage! These boats carry a lot of cloth! Regardless, it was interesting to see four boats headed in opposite directions flying spinnakers.

Above photo - from left to right - Tatiana, The Pink Bird, Whatta Ride!, and Maniac.

So I was apparently in error when I told David that he could not fly a spinnaker like a jib. It seemed to assist him okay as he was able to close in a little on Tatiana - that is until, James and Kristen hoisted theirs. We give an "A" for effort but alas, neither of the Full Keel Class boats would finish this race either. Just not a good day for the heavier boats. The exception here though would be Camille, which drifts rather well for a 22,000 pound vessel. She sails even better in actual wind!

In the end it was really a two boat race for the right to proudly flaunt the "we're number one!" signal. Whatta Ride!actually lead boat-for-boat for the majority... of the upwind leg. Maniac would get the upper hand, though and emerge victorious in Race 1. Congrats to them and thanks to everyone for toughing it out on what really was a beautiful day. Unfortunately, as we wind up another entry into the Shackleton Diaries it appears that the forecast for Race 2 is a repeat of Race 1. But at least it will be a "pretty and mild day, making the lack of wind a bit more bearable," I say ignoring the flock of hand gestures directed at me right now. See you next time!



Tim ChambersJ 29Maniac105 (S)2:20:272:13:2710
Chris CyrulWavelength 24Whatta Ride!156 (S)2:27:342:17:109
Eric AlmlieJ 24Luna Teak168 (S)2:43:262:32:148
Eric DavidsonSR 21PDQ³158 (S)2:46:282:35:567
Ginger NobleCatalina 22Mother Ship2852:56:502:37:506
Chuck AlexanderCheoy Lee 41Camille1653:12:003:01:005
James DrozdekTayana 37Tatiana189 (S)DNFDNF1
Chris EdwardsHunter 340Knot on Call171DNFDNF1
David BarrowMariner 36???192 (S)DNFDNF1
Shawn DouthatRanger 33True Blue179DNFDNF1

Race report written by Eric Almlie. ©Copyright 2012 All rights reserved.