PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - Fluky winds and sudden shifts turned the first day of the Inter-Lake Yachting Association's annual Bay Week series into a crapshoot.
“Anyone could have won. The wind was off and on,” said Mike Deye, of Toledo Ice Yacht Club, co-skipper of Menace, the top boat in the performance handicap racing fleet division Class C.
The 92-boat PHRF fleet sailed a 15.7 mile course that wound around Green, South Bass and Ballast islands.
“The day started out good, with the wind blowing 14 to 16 knots out of the southwest,” said principal race officer John Bureau. “Then three or four minutes before the boats were ready to start, the wind died.
“It happened just that quickly.”
The Class C battle was so tight the lead changed several times, according to Cory Wisnieloski, of the Menace crew.
“The last windward leg was one of the most exciting I've ever sailed,'' he said. “We went back and forth the entire time with Wizard, the new Hobie [Viva Las Vegas] and Thriller.
“Any one of us could have won, but we caught them when the air got light.''
Co-owner Robert Foeller watched the other boats to see where the wind was. “We made good decisions based on the boats ahead of us,'' he said.
Thriller, Wizard and Viva Las Vegas placed second through fourth, respectively.
“We were in the lead group,'' said Viva Las Vegas' skipper, Steve Attard, of North Cape. “A few times we were first, then we went to third and we finally landed in fourth. We just ran out of race.''
Yesterday's contest was the first time the new Hobie 33 had its sails up. The California-built boat was launched in a thunderstorm Friday night, Attard said.
The Class B race was also a squeaker, but Ron Schebil's Jump II, of North Cape, prevailed over Jerry Frabutt's Jazzy.
Kent and Sandy Gardam's Foghorn, of North Cape, was the winner in the Jib-and-Main Class A.
The fluky winds gave some other Toledo boats a tough time.
“The wind was swinging around and we watched the Interlakes to see which way it was coming,'' said John Greiner, whose yacht Red Cloud took third in PHRF F. “Some guys made out and some didn't.''
Doug Haag, who crewed aboard Harold and Eileen Hoffman's Kaleidoscope, said the wind blew up to 20 knots when they were between Kelleys Island and Ballast Island.
“There was so much wind in the puffs, we were thinking about taking down the chute,'' he said. “Then we got in the lee of the [South Bass] Island and it suddenly went flat. There were holes and puffs of all kinds.''
The three-day series of races will continue today.