2013 Dillon Open

With storm clouds looming around the lake, two U20's rounded Mark #9, several boat lengths apart. With spinnakers launched in a modest breeze the two U's sliced through the light chop on a close reach toward mark #2. Soon after, the breeze built enough to get both boats planing. But, keeping them on a plane was no easy task; the wind angle was forward enough to make flying the spinnaker a borderline proposal. With the boats often heeling more than desired, they rode the edge of what was possible on a U20. If the wind moved any farther forward they would have to fall off and lose ground toward the next mark, or would completely lose the ability to fly the spinnakers. If the wind grew any stronger, the result would be a broach. The helmsman and spinnaker trimmer had to work together in a circumscribed dance to keep the boat planing, yet upright. It was like "sliding along the edge of a sword", one false move by either and you would get cut, badly!

Attendance at the 2013 Dillon Open was down compared to recent years.

This happened in no small part due to the low water level at Cherry Creek reservoir. Many boats are still in Cherry Creek and will escape only with great difficulty. The U20 fleet attendance was also diminished but not because of water levels, instead it was due to broken boats.

Brad Lawson has not yet received his new mast after breaking his at Cherry Creek earlier this year. Jim Ulatowski has his boat in the shop for repairs after Juiced! hit a stump at Cherry Creek two weeks ago.

Jim's snail/cover for his sprit pole went swimming and hasn't been seen since. The fleet seems to have had an unusual amount of mishaps lately.

At Aspen, Mark Allen broke a rudder gudgeon and during the first race on Saturday at Dillon the spinnaker sheets on Underdog started coming apart. Between races, crew member Peter Muller asked for the "sheet-shortening-sword"; I paraphrase, the exact name he used was "line-shortening-tool". "Sure Peter, I have one of those in my pocket".

Fortunately, we didn't have to use the "line-shortening-tool", instead, Joe Chinburg took the problem in stride and worked around it for the remainder of the weekend.

Although 5 U20's had registered, only 4 made it to the starting line.

 From Salt Lake City, Mark Allen on Junta was back for more racing with the Colorado fleet. Marty May on Red Line, Tom Downing on Velocitize and Cliff Begnaud on Underdog were also in attendance. We were fortunate to have very good wind on Saturday which made for exciting racing in this closely matched fleet. Race committee did an admirable job of keeping things moving and providing us with appropriate race courses. The regatta seemed to be as well run as any we've seen.

The secret to winning at Dillon is always about choosing the correct side of the course for the best wind velocity and wind angle, and, if you got that right, you would be at the front of the fleet. This is not an easy thing to get right because the answer to your questions about which way to go are constantly changing. Each boat got it right at times and every boat took turns in the lead, but if you got it wrong on the next leg of the race, your lead was cut shorter than the neck of a samurai after having his head chopped off.

It was after 3 races in excellent wind conditions that the two U20's continued to "slide along the edge of the sword", and as they did, the blade appeared to get sharper. As mark #2 was approached, the RC chase boat was observed flying the "S" flag (shorten course) as well as the "N" flag (Abandon). Junta had closed the gap between themselves and Underdog, but they were not in a good position to pass. At this point, the real problem for Underdog no longer lay behind, rather, the problem was the finish line; the line was only 30-35 feet long. The U20's were sailing so close to the edge that any gust of wind or change of direction could cause a boat to round up or broach and hit the RC boat.

Even if a hit was avoided, Junta would be right there for the pass if Underdog broached. Any attempt to bear away in a puff would likely result in hitting the pin. The solution for Underdog, was to let the sheet s out, flog both the spinnaker and the Mainsail for a few seconds, then coast through the finish line. Junta finished moments later and we were all very happy to have avoided being cut. After 4 races on Saturday, Junta and Underdog were tied for 1^st with 7 points each.

It was with great anticipation that the 4 U20's took to the lake on Sunday morning. The winds were already blowing as we sailed out and cumulus clouds were growing all around. Thunderstorms were forecast to be in the area, so we expected some excitement. Lady luck smiled upon us and the winds cooperated while 3 races were held before any storms could hit the lake.

For a while, it looked like the day would belong to Velocitize as they made great starts and often led the way to the windward mark, but it was with a quick stroke of his Katana that Marty May on Red Line sliced his way to a win in the first race with Mark Allen taking second. The crew of Junta were not intimidated and after a beautifully executed riposte, they won the second race of the day. In race #3, Marty and crew were leading the way going downwind toward the finish. The winds were light and Junta was not far behind. By sailing lower than Red Line, Junta put themselves in a position to pass, and after the next jibe, Junta was in the lead. It was a short leg to the finish and a strong puff of wind was working its way down the course. The puff hit Marty first and Red Line quickly jumped up on a plane. With spray flying off the bow, Red Line closed the gap on Junta and took a stab at passing right at the finish.

But it was too late for Red Line, Junta lunged down and crossed the finish line before Red Line was able to convert the puff into a pass.

The skill displayed by team Junta would make Miyamoto Musashi proud.

Mark Allen took the 1st place platter back to Salt Lake and hopefully this will encourage some of his local U20 fleet members to make the voyage to Dillon next year. Congrats to Mark, Katie and Peter.

Six of the nine regattas in the Fleet 4 series are now complete. The Peak Seven Regatta at Dillon on August 24-25 is the next event. Also, after the next regatta, one throw out will be applied to the season scores. Regatta scores and Fleet series scores are attached.


Cliff Begnaud
Underdog #126