PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - The fleet of cold, wet and bedraggled sailors furled their mainsails, packed up their spinnakers and breathed a sigh of relief. After battling 25 to 30-knot winds in the last race of the 111th annual Inter-Lake Yachting Association Sail Regatta, it felt good to be safely back on shore.
"The wind was pretty much out of the north all day," said John Greiner, skipper of Red Cloud, a Santana 35 from North Cape Yacht Club that finished fifth in the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet Class E.
"We were well out in front, then everything went to pot."
"At the first mark the wind was blowing 16 knots and we really go well in that kind of wind. But it died off Catawba Island and all the boats in back came up on us.
"Then the wind came back with a vengeance and was puffing up to 30 knots and the race started all over again."
"There were some near collisions out there and some of the smaller boats were out of control."
Revolution III, skippered by James Lengyel of Ashtabula Yacht Club, won yesterday's fourth race en route to overall and PHRF Class A honors.
For Ron Schebil's Jump II, of North Cape Yacht Club, the overall winner in PHRF Class B, it was almost a replay of Tuesday's race, which he won
after a long tacking duel with Jerry Frabutt's Jazzy.
Going into the final event, only one point separated the two J/33s.
"This was our big day," Schebil said. "At one point the whole fleet was ahead of us, but the race was really just between our two boats."
"Once we established a position on our fleet, our strategy was to stay on or ahead of Jazzy all day," he said.
"Jazzy was slightly ahead of us all the way to Green Island, but there was a short beat to the finish and we got in a tacking duel.We came out on top."
"My crew made some great sail changes and that helped us do well."
"It was just like match racing or the America's Cup." Schebil said.
"I never had so much fun racing in my whole life."
Jump II's crew members were Colleen Philips, Don Phillips, Ben Mercer, Jeff O'Connell, Craig Spears, Ron Heilner, and Todd Hartman.
Several other Toledo-area skippers were among the winners,
Bill Ducy's Shortwave, of Point Place Boat Club, won all three races in the Cruising Division and Class B. Ducy raced the 27-foot Hunter with only his wife Carol and their little dog Scupper as crew.
"Monday, we were flawless," he said." Tuesday we made a couple mistakes. Today all we did is try to get the boat around the course, and we won."
Last year, Shortwave placed second overall in the ILYA
"I've been sailing here for 14 years," Ducy said. "I guess we're getting better as we get older."
Eric Bradley of Jolly Roger Sailing Club sailed to the top of the Interlake fleet. His parents, Bob and Betsy Bradley, were his crew.
"My strongest point is tactics," Bradley said. "I don't know a lot about these boats, so I try to figure out where to position myself and try to maneuver the competition into a position where I control them."
An E3 seaman in the navy, Bradley is home on a month's leave. After that, he will be heading overseas to Italy.
"My girlfriend lives on the
island [South Bass Island]," he said, "By sailing in the regatta I get to visit her."
Big Storm, skippered by Jim Frederick of the host Put-in-Bay Yacht Club, finished first in the Offshore Multihull Division.
Jim and Chris Davis sailed Orange Crate to second place in yesterday's race and overall in Class A of the Jib-and-Main Division.
About 14 boats withdrew from the race, mostly because of equipment failure.