Featured Story

Sailors find themselves ‘Up the Creek’

Not only did the Menantic Yacht Club sail its eighth series of Sunfish races this past Sunday, but we also ran the annual “Up the West Neck Creek (WNC) Race.”

This is always an extremely difficult race to sail, and Sunday was no exception. Flipping went without question in the strong quirky wind.

The race itself was straightforward. To save time, and with a westerly wind blowing, the same start line that was used for regular racing during the day was used with a starboard rounding at the windward mark to head up the creek. One mark was placed up the creek near Daniel Lord Road landing and the finish line was moved to in front of Bill Martens’ house at the mouth of the creek.

The only thing a sailor can predict about the Up the WNC Race is that the wind will be totally unpredictable. Whether the wind is blowing really strong or is almost nonexistent, constant vigilance, watching your tell tales, ripples on the water and leaf movement from trees on land, might help some during this race.

The narrowness of the creek and obstacles such as houses that can block the wind or change its pattern are what makes it a really difficult race. On Sunday the wind was quirky, constantly changing direction and strength. One minute or, I should say, one second the wind was blowing straight at you and the next it was coming from behind or from either side. Watching other sailors didn’t help determine your course. If you don’t have a sore neck by the end of the Up the WNC Race, you have not done your job. Constant sail trimming is a must.

Sailors were all over the creek. It can be treacherous sailing if you’re not intimately familiar with the waterway. There are many shallow areas on both sides and at one time or another every sailor probably ran aground, some more than once. A few sailors were seen running aground and falling overboard at the same time.

The lead kept changing among Peter Beardsley, Jack Lane, Denise Fenchel, Paul Zinger and Erik Langendal. At one point, Peter was feeling safely in first, only to have three or four boats suddenly pass him. His game plan was to just sail straight up and then down the creek, not following the wind shifts, but he went off that plan and realized it was costing him a lot of time. Finally, he went back to his original plan and it worked: Sail straight and let the wind come back to you.

The finish was really close, but Peter crossed the line first, followed in quick succession by Jack Lane and Denise Fenchel. Peter had a great day placing first in regular racing and in the Up the WNC Race. Denise also had a wonderful day, placing fifth overall in regular racing and then third in the Up the WNC Race.

Congratulations to all who participated!

Results of the Up the West Neck Creek Race:

Name                                     Place

Peter Beardsley                   1

Jack Lane                                2

Denise Fenchel                    3

Paul Zinger                            4

Eric Langendal                      5

Jake Siewert                          6

Lee Montes                          7

Linda Gibbs                           8

Susanne Hulme                   9

Ellen Leonforte                    10

Will Lehr                                11

Kyle Hvidsten                       12

Jonathan Brush                    13

Tom  McMahon                  14

Cooper Manning                 DNF

Rachel Beardsley                 DNS

Mary Vetri               DNS