Since 1941, Shawnee Yacht Club has served to promote sailing on Lake Shawnee for the recreational benefit of the local community. Besides the opportunity to sail on beautiful Lake Shawnee, the club provides:
Now we've lost Elna after having just lost Ted in March. Over the 31 years Ted was the Director of Shawnee County Parks & Rec, Ted and Elna raised their family next door to SYC in what is now the Garden House. They were always supportive of SYC. In their later years, with Ted's health in decline, Elna was Ted's constant companion, driving to their appointments, such as the monthly Friends Of Ted Ensley Gardens meetings. It's the end of an era.
"Bill and Sharon started dating in 1981. They met at Lake Shawnee Yacht Club in Topeka. Bill sailed a 24 ft Kitty Wake boat. They enjoyed many years of sailing day and night on the lake."
Seldom does one get to relive some of the great memories from their youth. I got to do just that last week at the MC regatta on Lake Lotawana.
I first raced on Lake Lotawana as a skipper in 1964. Neighborhood friend Fred Magerkurth crewed for me. We sailed against about 40 other C scows in ridiculously high winds. 80% of the fleet was unable to finish all the races. Our first Lotawana regatta win was in the late 70s, forty years ago. Our last Lotawana regatta win was, drum roll please, this year. Yea! What a trip.
The conditions were perfect for us. Winds were forecast to be 15 gusting to 20 out of the North. At about 14 MPH with just me on the boat, I have all the controls maxed out. Winds above that and I'm going into survival mode. Adding a second crew makes the boat comfortable to about 20 MPH. Choosing to use my Guss sail, which is slightly flatter, put us right in the sweet spot on boat performance. We balanced the helm by adjusting the boards up slightly, dropped the traveler maybe three inches and kept the boat nearly flat. Using the "ease hike sheet" technique we were able to keep the boat powered up and had great speed and drive.
Next important item was getting a good start. I like to be at the pin end with about 2 minutes to go. Sailing on Port tack against the hord of Starboard tack boats gives me great flexibility in finding a hole to start in. This worked well in five of the six races. In the third race the fleet was just all jumbled up with no hole developing and nobody really moving up towards the line in some sort of dash to start. We didn't start poorly but it wasn't our finest start. The start of the last race was really interesting. I was going to be early and was starting to look for some way to bail out. Looking left there was no one there! I turned back down and then back up. Had great speed and came off the line with an easy boat length lead that soon grew to three or four. If you roll off the starting line well, there are only a half dozen boats to race. Just like at Lake Shawnee.
So now you are rolling off the line what do you do? Half or more of the fleet will be killing themselves with backwind or poor positions. Wait a while and most will drop back leaving only a hand full of boats to deal with. Remember, it's a geometary game. The lead boats are usually taking the long tack first. Now it is consolidate consolidate consolidate. Every time the angles favor you consolidate. At Lake Lotawana with its lots of gusts and shifts, there are many opportunities to consolidate. Or be consolidated on if you are not looking.
One last thing. Leverage. When boats are separated laterally on the course, a small shift has a great effect. In the fourth race we were in second place with some gap back to the rest of the fleet. Because we could afford to lose some space we placed our boat well to the side needing only a slight shift to move us past the lead boat. We got it and won. That all sounds great but there were several times when I shouldn't have let others get out to the side on me and it cost me some places. There are times when I need to be conservative.
Another "one last thing". Lotawna runs a great regatta. It takes a LOT effort to put on a high class regatta like the Orlando Webb Memorial. Competitor housing, registration, scorekeeping, race committee, rescue and safety, communications, food and beverage, entertainment, treasury, building and grounds. Great job by a well oiled team.