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PUT-IN-BAY, Ohio - The night before the final race in the three-day Inter-Lake Yachting Association Regatta is when you remember what your mother always told you - don't drink too much, go to bed early and don't forget to do your homework.
If you're racing in a handicap fleet, that means running the numbers. Like, how much time you owe the other boats (or vice versa) on the course, based on seconds per mile. And figuring out how high you have to place that day in order to win the series.
If you won the earlier races and just have to defend your place, then you can sail conservatively.
If you're losing, you can afford to take a flyer.
Len Strahl, the Windsor, Ont., skipper of Lionheart II decided to go for broke and walked off with the overall performance handicap racing fleet division and Class E trophies.
"We already had our class," Strahl said. "We were more interested in winning it all."
"We had a rough start and were sitting in fourth place on the first leg, but after we rounded the mark, we led all the way."
Lionheart II and Jeff and Marilyn Mackay's Wizard, which won in Class C, were the only boats in the division that never lost a race.
"Wizard's class started too early for us to cover them, but in every race we caught the fleet ahead of us," Strahl said.
"We had a lot of talent on my boat. For this race, I got the best sailors in my area."
Strahl is new to Bay Week, but the boat has raced it before. It is the former Obsession II of Sandusky's Norm Winkel.
The skipper is experienced, too. Among other races, Strahl crewed on True North, the Canadian boat in the 1987 America's Cup.
Both the PHRF and non-spinnaker fleets sailed around Green Island and Ballast Island to a finish line off Peach Point.
The course was unchanged from the previous day, but there was more air and it came from a different direction, providing two close reaches and a beat to the finish.
"We didn't exactly have our class locked up, but we felt pretty confident going in," Wizard's co-skipper Marilyn Mackay said.
"We flew an asymmetrical spinnaker with a staysail on the first reach and it worked really well. We were doing eight knots with the staysail up."
Wizard, a North Cape Yacht Club boat, kept a loose cover on Powder Horn and Racer X and beat them both across the line by four minutes corrected time.
Wizard won its class and took second overall in the PHRF division, only a quarter-point behind Lionheart II.
An asymmetrical spinnaker also paid off for John and Michelle Glanville's Kicks, which won the last race and nailed PHRF Class B.
Going into the last race, the 33-foot Kicks was only 3.5 points ahead of Robert Coleman's Hellion in a fleet with boats that ranged from 24 to 43 feet.
"The money-maker today was starting on the left side of the course in clean air," said Ray Matuszak, Kicks' tactician and downwind helmsman.
"We were the third boat at the weather mark, so we knew we were doing good," he said.
"We put up the asymmetrical and basically were going the same speed as the larger boats. The A-sail kept us in the race until we reached the weather leg. That's where we picked up our time."
The practically unbeatable Orange Crate, skippered by Jim and Chris Davis, of North Cape, dominated the jib-and-main division and Class A.
Nick Smith's Tangueray, of Jolly Roger Sailing Club, the top boat in the Cruising Class division and Class B, also posted wins in all of its races.
Toledo Ice Yacht Club commodore Aaron Stange, with crew Brent Marriott, won five of the 10 Interlake races, beating Bob and Betsy Bradley, of Jolly Roger Sailing Club, by two points.
The Interlake fleet sailed two races yesterday. Stange won the first and was runner-up in the second.
"Our spinnaker blew out in the first race and most of the way around the course we had it duct-taped," he said.
"We kept a close cover on the Bradleys," Marriott said.
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