2019 Florida District 4 - Davis Island Yacht Club - from Eric Bussell

2019DIwinners 2019Morgans
Winners 0 Mid fleet - Eric Bussell and Rich Wojnar, Mark and Michelle Taylor (3), Jeff and AMy SMith Linton (1) and Rob Whittemore and John Wake (2) Chris, Monica and Oliver Morgan enjoying their time in Tamo Bay!

From the Midwest District Blog - by Eric Bussell

The extent to which local regatta hosts go out of their way to welcome and accommodate travelers continues to blow me away.  During the snowbird series, the whole Florida team has taken things to another level.  Thanks to Mark Taylor and Jeff Linton, our boats were at Davis Island Yacht Club with the masts already rigged.  Andy Hayward graciously allows us snowbirds to park our boats and vehicles on his property just outside Tampa of all winter for free.   To help with logistics, Mark Taylor offers to have our car and boat at his house waiting to save on Uber costs and travel time.   They’ll always let us crash on the couch if we need to stay until Monday to catch our flight.  This past weekend, Jeff and Amy Linton hosted a football watching gathering on Sunday and offered us burgers and beds.  How do you return the favors?   

Turns out Michelle Taylor (from Kankakee IL and a fellow Cubs fan) is a huge fan of Monicals Pizza from Central Illinois so I smuggled 10 frozen Monicals Pizzas to Tampa in a cooler bag.   I planned to buy a handle of Captain Morgan for Andy and Lisa Hayward on Saturday before the racing, but Melanie McNally insisted she could go out Saturday and grab that for me while we were racing.  So even while I’m trying to repay my debt of gratitude I end up going deeper in the hole.  These people are just awesome.  Even the local PRO (not a Scot enthusiast) was gushing over how awesome, friendly and easy going our group was.  Rob Whittemore drove down 12 hours from Fishing Bay YC and finished an impressive second.  When accepting his trophy, he emphasized how special the Florida group is and how the Florida circuit is great for our class.   I couldn’t agree more!  Word will certainly keep spreading and I noticed last night that 20 boats were pre registered (with a month to go) for Lake Eustis with a large contingent of snowbirds planning to make the trip south.  I suspect we’ll have more than 40 boats on the line.

The atmosphere at Tampa was amazing.  Amy Linton and her team hosted a great regatta from start to finish.  The atmosphere at Davis Island Yacht Club is paradise, especially to those of us escaping winter storm warnings.  The Yacht club allows us vans to park and camp and they have a full service bar and restaurant so you don’t have to leave the club if you don’t want to.   Multiple hoists and plenty of dock space make getting in/out smooth.  On Friday night, we took a hop on hop off water taxi through downtown Tampa to a fun bar with live music.   So much fun!   Bill Bruss and I loaned our jackets to Tom and Melanie McNally who were struggling in the “cold” temperatures as we sat there comfortably in short sleeves.   It was a great night and we looked forward to having 28 boats on the line on Saturday.  With big wind expected for Sunday, we heard rumors that we would be getting all of our races in on Saturday.      Rick Wojnar and I would be racing together for the first time, even though he is an accomplished sailor from my home club at Clinton Lake.  Rick usually sails with his dad Chris at the Midwest District regattas and has recently started to travel more outside the district.  I picked him up at 5:30am on Saturday from the Tampa airport as he flew in on the red eye out of Denver.  I had rock star crew and the weather was looking perfect for the day with winds expected to be in the low to mid teens with gusts up to 20.   Hugh Haggerty and Allison from Ephraim also flew down for this regatta so we had multiple boats from the Midwest District representing.      The racing was incredible in a competitive fleet that reminded me of sailing in a NAC because of the fleet was so deep with talent.   We sailed very well and had a great day finishing mid fleet in the standings.  There would be no racing on Sunday.  For finishing mid fleet we came home with a huge Mad Sails flask in recognition of that milestone.   It was the type of fleet where if you slow down or get out of rhythm just slightly, you quickly fall back in the pack.   The winds weren’t quite as strong as predicted with moderate pressure and the chop since the wind blowing across the bay.  After the top 5 or so boats, it was a hornets nest of 20 boats in every race.   The mark roundings were action packed and could be treacherous if you made one bad move.   We had many good ones and couple not-so-great ones.   When we made a minor mistake, we’d lose 5 boats just like that.   The boats in front of us never seemed to make those mistakes, but many were within reach in most of the races even thought our score may not reflect that.   Rick and I kept our focus and made adjustments and feel we improved our boat speed, breaking into the top 10 in the last race.   We would finish 13/28 oats while Hugh and Allison finished 9th on a borrowed boat.  It was a solid day in beautiful conditions in a big fleet of very friendly but very formidable competitors.   It just doesn’t get much better.  


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