Something just isn't right here. Temperatures in the mid 70s. Warm and gentle southerly breezes. Short sleeves.  Sunblock. This is not your father's Shackleton Series! Inappropriate as it seems, these were the conditions we had to endure for the first Shackleton encounter this season. Brutal, just brutal. But you know, after last year's tribulations there were ZERO complaints about the weather today. In fact, I don't believe that there is a participant in this series that would not greatly welcome these mild conditions every race. Does it sound like we are softening up and growing a tad weary of sailing in the cold and frigid air? Well,.. YEAH! Ya think? There IS a reason we are the only boats on the water for 3 months out of the year! After 8 seasons of this it is only a matter of time before we pack up and relocate the entire series to Florida. SOUTH Florida! Of course I say that now but we all know come January, all our participants (self included) will be eagerly, yes eagerly, suiting up and sailing without regard to the curves Mother Nature throws our way. Yes, the Shackleton Spirit lives on inside us all! Plus it is in our contract. It's like joining the mafia - once you're in it, you're in it for life!

Indeed, conditions today were ideal. Well, except for one minor detail. The wind must have been socializing at a brunch somewhere, looked at it's watch and said, "oh, hey! I'm late for a thing!"  But if there is one circumstance in this series we have come to depend on it is the lack of wind at the commencement of any race. There is only one other thing that will happen with more certainty - and no, it is NOT a Maniac victory! (Even though that is high in the rankings.) Rather, it is inevitable that we will receive a torrent of verbal assaults from David Barrow at some point in the race - normally right around the start. The jeering is now coming off the red J24, Beatnik, of which David is crewing on with Captain Mike. Mark, the regular crewmate onboard Beatnik over the past few years has moved on to sail in the mountains of Colorado, which means he will be skiing this winter. Although there is  a sailing club in Denver, we would imagine the winter sailing there is a bit on the slow side. We will certainly miss Mark's presence here at the marina and in the Shackleton races and wish him all the best.

Back the the verbal abuses - I do anticipate a little more jawing aimed in my direction from said red boat this season as both Andre and I have teamed up on another J24 that as of this writing, still has an identity crisis. In other words it has yet to be named. So now we have some match racing going on, boat for boat, mano a mano. And of course, there are those that feel the combination of myself and Andre aboard one vessel is going to result in a minimum of six groundings per race. For these Nostradamus wannabes, we offer statistical data from last year's series that quash any of your dooming prophecies. Combined, Andre and myself ran aground only ONE time. This out of the 7 groundings that took place last season. Yeah, yeah, yeah - I know Dutchess did not sail every race last year and I am conveniently leaving out groundings from prior years. But I am focusing on a trend analysis here and based on that, all indicators point to a year of free passage between our keel and the muddy bars of the river. Still, there is no depthfinder on this boat so stay tuned...

There are no new faces to introduce this year (at least as of yet) so our fans are back with the familiar lovable band of misfits. One change, however, is that the all girl crew (Amy, Brandi, Ellen, and Michelle) is now sailing on Michelle Cash's Ericson 29, Lady Kiki. Seen below, sparring with Bob Rupe on Nightwind, Michelle becomes part of an elite class within our group that few Shackletoners are a part of. I think there now needs to be an official 3rd classification of sailboats - we already have "racer" and "cruiser". The 3rd class should be "residential", for Lady Kiki doubles as Michelle's home. Although being part of this group is a prestigious honor it does not provide for any additional series points nor any kind of inflated handicap number for having more living essentials aboard that add weight. If we allowed for such, every non live aboard with a thousand pounds of extra junk on their boat would be screaming for better numbers. For the record, no one who has sailed their home in the past has asked for a better handicap. Meanwhile, those with the extra dead weight on board for no reason, have!

Now that you have been brought up to date, the preceding filler text was just written to give you something to read until wind arrived, which was about 30 minutes or so into the race. Good thing it came as we were staring down at a LONG day (and perhaps night) with only a fraction of the 8 mile course completed. So now the REAL action begins! The wind delivered as promised - southerly breezes around 10 making for some nice sailing. Maniac led the way (there's a shocker) followed by me and Andre in Boat X (as it shall be known until a real name is announced) with Beatnik directly behind. I was caught a bit off guard at first that there was no separation between us and Beatnik - I had figured one of us would have pulled away from the other - after all, this is something we have been accustomed to seeing over the years. Then I remembered, "oh, yeah - we are sailing the same model boat! We are SUPPOSED to be in proximity of each other!" This match racing is kind of fun! Carol Lynn and True Blue followed and Nightwind and Lady Kiki continued their tack to tack battle.

It was quite a pleasant upwind ride to near Possum Creek. There was a vagrant buoy loitering on the water near one of our rounding marks at Camp Vesperpoint. But this was of really no concern - at least I didn't think it would be.  I had inadvertently left out the fine print on the maps which normally restricts us to "pass all buoys on channel side unless otherwise indicated". So as long as everyone rounded the green can at CVP (on both the upwind and downwind legs), the extra green can was inconsequential. Those of you familiar with these race reports probably already know where I am heading with this.

 The downwind leg was also quite nice as spinnakers came out from their race off season hibernation. It is a shame that all boats in our fleet are not spinnaker clad, as it is quite a sight to see them all airborne. For those unfamiliar with the big nylon sails, pointing towards the heavens is a vital step in proper spinnaker flying. It also helps to have crew in such an endeavor. Over the years I would estimate that 90% of my spinnaker flights have been done while sailing solo, much to the bemusement and amusement (and any other "usement" one can think of) of the nearby fleet. I really didn't know what to do with myself today without running back and forth from the foredeck to the cockpit 87 times. Going to have to find another type of weight reduction program.

There was one twist (not literally) for the kite flyers in this race - a designed short leg from Buoy 5 to 6 that would most likely require a spinnaker take down. If by chance our old friend and skipper David Freye of Banana Split fame is reading this, the takedown would probably have not applied to you - the true wind was pretty much a close reach. For those unaware, Captain David was notorious for carrying a spinnaker I dare say almost head to wind whenever such occasion arose.  Well today as we all rounded Buoy 5, which was the green can alluded to earlier, all spinnakers dropped briefly en route to Buoy 6 (the 3 hour nun) before being rehoisted and flown to the finish line. The exception here was the chute on Carol Lynn, flying splendidly while the S2 advanced towards Buoy 6. As we wondered how James and Kristen were accomplishing such a feat (knowing that  the book Captain Freye's Stunning Spinnaker Stunts has long been out of print) the old adage "don't talk to strangers" (let alone, heed their advise) came to mind. Apparently the intruding buoy  had victimized a couple of boats into rounding  it instead of the proper green can that sit quietly just upstream. James and Kristen would realize this before it was too late, taking down the chute and going back to round the real Buoy 5 (and not the imposter).  It would be costly though (adding on extra sailing distance is never NOT costly) as Carol Lynn was definitely a threat to the front running J boats. Well - except for "you know who."

Shawn and Chuck onTrue Blue had dropped their spinnaker and opted not to rehoist after rounding Buoy 6, figuring they had nothing to gain or lose at this point. That still didn't prevent them from having some fun. Yet another setback for Carol Lynn asTrue Blue performed a little wind thievery heading to the finish line. There's one in every race, isn't there? Obviously Anthony West's book, Wind Bandits is still out there in heavy circulation. Again, I reach to the ghosts of Shackleton races past for reference - our old friend Anthony (regardless of the boat he was sailing) was quite good and insistent at covering any hapless nearby competitor.

And now the moment you have all been anxiously waiting for - the results of today's contest. Drum roll please. Moving right along to the 2nd place finisher... oh, I forgot to announce the victor you say? No, I didn't. We all know who it is. Okay, just to keep up the formalities - congratulations to Maniac, yada yada. For the rest of the fleet, Round 1 of the J 24 battles would go to Boat X, although Mike and David were close behind. Match racing is indeed a blast! It would be a photo finish between True Blue and Carol Lynn and also a very tight finish betweenLady Kiki and Nightwind - both Carol Lynn and Nightwind would correct out in front of their respective neighboring adversaries. Good sailing by everyone and what an awesome day for a sail! Again, there will be no complaints if every other race this year has these conditions! See everyone in Race 2!


Tim ChambersJ 29Maniac108 (S)2:28:222:13:477
Eric AlmlieJ 24Boat X171 (S)2:40:332:17:276
Mike BurrusJ 24Beatnik171 (S)2:42:202:19:145
James DrozdekS2 27Carol Lynn189 (S)2:59:562:34:254
Shawn DouthatRanger 33True Blue153 (S)2:59:552:39:153
Bob RupeS2 24Nightwind2464:35:304:02:172
Michelle CashEricson 29Lady Kiki2114:35:154:06:451

Race report written by Eric Almlie. ┬ęCopyright 2010. All rights reserved.