Daily Masters MidWinters East Reports from our own Merrily in Clearwater, FL


Thread starter #1
Hi all. I've just arrived at Clearwater, FL for Masters Midwinters East. I won't have much time to moderate this week, so be nice to Bradley and don't be mean to each other! So says I. Yikes! The Gouvernail is wearing off.

My husband John and I drove down with the Laser on top of our GMC Sierra truck. I had to climb up on top of the truck using a stepladder to get the Laser in place. There was a cold biting wind in Ohio when we got the boat, and I'm glad to be out of there. We also brought our 15 foot Boston Whaler for John to cruise around while I practice tomorrow. John has a Laser now that he will start sailing this summer. For now, he is a powerboat man. That suits me when I need safety patrol.

Tomorrow we go to the Clearwater Sailing Center to get a spot for the Laser, and I will practice as much as possible. It has been 3 months since I sailed, so I have some "rust" to get off. Before that, though, we have to do a little stopgap repair on the Whaler. On the way down it bounced on the trailer at the bow and wore away the gel coat and into the fiberglass. The trailer setup is faulty, we realize now, and John had to do some alternative strapping down on the highway. He is going to epoxy the two inch hole in the morning. I hope the work doesn't cut into my time on the water! The Whaler has to be taken care of though, so what will be, will be.

This will be my biggest regatta so far. I've only sailed in one regatta away from my club, and that had only a dozen Lasers, four Force 5s, and 6 Radials in staggered starts. Already at the Clearwater Yacht Club there are 44 people signed up for this Masters event, including three women.

I was reading the Laser Class rules on the trip down and started to get nervous about the rub rail on my boat. I had forgotten about it. I put it on there with 5200 when I first got the boat and thought I wasn't going to race. Then when I got excited about racing, I e-mailed Jeff Martin, ILCA class secretary. He replied at first and asked for details on the rub rail. I sent the info to him with pictures and he never gave an answer. Next I posted about it here on the Measurer's Forum, and Gouvernail/Fred Schroth said that he would let someone with rubrail sail, but he would question their boat handling skills. :rolleyes: No kidding, Fred. That's why I put it on there. So anyway, here I am wondering what will happen in the real world. Wish me luck, it's a lot of time, effort, and money to come here over 1000 miles.

Just so you know, I am seriously considering trying to get the rub rail off of the boat before the spring sailing starts at home. For one, my boat handling has improved. :) And I suppose, having a strip of rubber all the way around the gunwale slows you down when you roll tack. It has to have a bit of friction over smooth gelcoat.

So I'm off to review the Racing Rules of Sailing now and looking forward to tomorrow. The weather will be mid 70's, sunny, and light breeze. Wonderful.
Re: Masters MidWinters East


You "shoulda" set the GPS for Jensen Beach and joined us yesterday at Masters Midweek Madness. Ryan Minth put 16 of us thru the paces of starting, tacking, gybing, mark rounding and some great tips on rigging, boathandling, and sail shape.

Today, we hit the water for a bunch of short course races in perfect sailing conditions -- 10 to 15 and 70+ degrees. Everyone in the group who had never been to the USSCMC was really impressed with the facility and sailing area. We will all be lobbying to do a Midwinters there in the near future.

See ya in Clearwater!
Re: Masters MidWinters East

thats were i sail out of. dont we have a nice peice of the river. but all we need is a locker room. How was it out there my Mom was PRO for it.


Thread starter #5
Re: Masters MidWinters East

What was I thinking?

I woke up when it was still dark this morning. I was rested and even stoked and ready to grab some breakfast and get going. Looked at the clock. 4 a.m. Well, I didn’t want to wake my husband so I lay quietly and fell half asleep. I finally started to really doze when a car alarm went off. 5:30 a.m. My husband still snored. Whoever owned that car never went out to turn off the alarm. Every 15 minutes it went off like clockwork.

I wanted to get an early start because we needed to go to West Marine for supplies to fix the Whaler before going to the Clearwater Community Sailing Center. We did a light check on the Whaler trailer before heading out. There was a burned out turn signal, which led to some unpleasant language on John’s part. The taillights on the trailer are a closed system to prevent water infiltration, and he couldn’t get it pried open without destroying it. So we were off to West Marine for a whole new taillight, too.

The West Marine on Gulf to Bay Blvd was HUGE, and we found out that it was the third largest one in the country. It even does boat repair and has certified mechanics. There was no time to explore, even though I love hardware stores. We bought our goodies and headed to the CCSC.

The CCSC is on Sand Key. Inside is Clearwater Bay and outside is the Gulf of Mexico. I checked in and signed a release absolving them of any liability in the case of my death. You know--the usual. I paid my 5 bucks, which got my boat storage and use of the restrooms and showers, and launching rights down a nice shallow ramp into a sandy area. Clearwater has beautiful fine white sand that draws people to the area.

We got the boat off the top of the truck with the help of a passerby that I snagged—it’s not wise to start off exhausted. Then I proceeded to rig my boat. It had been 3 months since I sailed it, and it seemed like I’d forgotten everything. I was s l o w. I kept having to go back to the truck to get the next thing that I’d forgotten.

As I rigged the boat, a young woman who was getting ready to go out came over to talk to me. Paige Railey!!!!!!!!!!!!! She asked me how I liked sailing the Laser and why I was sailing the Standard instead of the Radial. At 165 right now, I’m just too heavy for the Radial, I think. (Note to self—lose ten pounds.) She also introduced her coach, Kai. Unfortunately, I had just spritzed my face with that liquid suntan lotion and gotten some in my eyes. The distraction from the stinging made me forget to ask for her autograph. DANG!! John and Paige had a great conversation about their mutual alma mater, Clearwater High, while I cried. What a nice young woman. Maybe she will train again tomorrow while I am there. I’ll have a marker ready just in case.

I launched and sailed for about half an hour. My goal was to sail the rust off; however, I seem to have forgotten how to sail altogether. And the carbon tiller recently acquired with the purchase of John’s used boat kept coming out of the head on the rudder. I did a lot of spinning. So I went back in for a sandwich and to switch tillers. I was chowing down when who should come by to shoot the breeze but VTGent, from the forum, AKA Al Russell. He is sailing in the Master’s regatta too, and he checked out the carbon tiller situation for me. He said the line is too big for the cleat, so I’m going to switch it out tonight for some smaller stuff and see how that works out tomorrow.

Al and I went sailing together for a while, and he told me I was slow and I wasn’t pointing. Ow. He gave me some pointers before we sailed our separate ways. I practiced gibing and tacking for at least an hour and came to a meaty conclusion. I was hoping to not come in dead last in every race. My conclusion is that I’m going to be lucky to not have to be towed in so that they can start each race in a timely fashion. Yup, oldfart, I shoulda gone to Midweek Madness and practiced. What was I thinking? Pray for me.

John worked on the Whaler while I sailed. He got a layer of epoxy over the damaged area to keep water out of the fiberglass. He also switched out the taillight, and crimped and put sealant over the wire connections. When we did the light check, however, there was even louder swearing. The turn signal still does not work. Must be some connector.

When I pulled the boat out and hosed it down, someone said, “Rubrail. You must be Merrily.” One of the Clearwater Yacht Club race committee members had read the first post of this thread this morning. He seemed to think that they would let me sail. I also learned the sail to the racecourse is 45 minutes. I repeat, “What was I thinking???”

We had dinner at one of our Clearwater Beach favorites--Frenchy’s Rockaway Grill. The waitress was shocked when I asked for French fries as an appetizer. Just give me greasy starch and give it to me now!

I am tired and sore. Hope I get a good night’s sleep.


Thread starter #7
Amendments to yesterday's post: The light bulb in the taillight was visibly burned out. The filiment was fried and broken.

Paige Railey ties her outhaul to the boom, and she doesn't use a clew hook either. The outhaul block was tied to the grommet with several strands of tiny line, and the inhaul was tied through the grommet the same way, I think, with tiny line. I reckon if she has trouble tying it in high winds, she easily finds help with it.

The water temperature is 58 degrees and I wore my dry suit. Good thing, too. I capsized 3 times in 8 mile an hour winds.

Today the quest is for strap on hiking pants, more practice, and a visit to Sarasota.

I got some sleep.

I'll tell you about today's sailing tonight! Have a great day, everybody.
Good luck in the races Merrily:)...I would love to feel sorry for you with only 3 mph winds:( but i'm having difficulty since I had to chop a 1/2 inch of ice off the car to drive for 2 hrs :eek:to get to work(usually takes 20 min.)

I'd rather be sailing

Best of luck sounds like fun:D:D:D
Ah good ole Clearwater it can blow 3 kts one day and 25 kts the next day. Good luck and make sure your husband tows you out to the starting line it will save you a lot of energy!...


Thread starter #11
Hey! I got Paige Railey’s autograph! She signed my copy of the Laser Sailor that has her picture on the front. I also explained to her that I was trying to do fundraising for my district regatta series, and she is willing to sign more stuff. Stuff to give as prizes or stuff to auction. Let me do a little market research right now. Would anyone be interested in buying something she had signed? It’s for a good Lasering cause. What sort of item might you be interested in?

Today the winds were lighter than yesterday. It was a drifter when we arrived at the Community Sailing Center at 11. I took my time rigging the boat and met a few new people, including “Michelle” of the Laser Forum. Hi Michelle! She wasn’t too enthusiastic about sailing in the light winds so we didn’t get a chance to sail together. She will kick my a*s tomorrow. I also met a guy from Bermuda who walked up to my boat, looked at the rub rail, and said, “Rubber bumpers. That looks like a good idea. I should do that.”

It was 76 degrees with those big cotton ball clouds. The wind started to build, a bit, and I put on my dry suit and set out. I was still in chicken mode with the dry suit, but I had a bad experience last year being in water that cold, and I don’t want to repeat it. The water is warming each day by a couple of degrees Fahrenheit, so I’ll be perfectly happy to wear my hikers and a light fleece shirt tomorrow. Soon after I started VTGent sailed out and helped me to tune again. I pointed better today. I had a shackle on the clew yesterday that lifted the sail off the boom quite a bit, and I replaced that with a line and a clew hook. I also restrung the tiller retaining line with some smaller stuff, and it worked out really well. You really don’t need the pin with the right setup.

I’m still slow and Al stopped and waited for me quite a bit. Thanks for your help, Al! At least I did not capsize today in the 6 mph winds. That would have been really pathetic.

I had to go in around 2, because we had a commitment this evening. I wanted to wash and polish my boat before setting out. Paige Railey was out on the water with her coach and some other young contenders by then, and VTGent said he was going to sail out to them. It was awful tempting for me to chuck all commitments and head that way too, but I didn’t do it.

I did the boat cleaning and polishing and got a shower. By that time VTGent came back in. He had sailed out to Ms Railey and half a dozen girls in Radials, along with their coach, and was invited to sail with them! I LOVE sailing and the collegial spirit of it. He did some short races with them on a very narrow starting line and usually was mid-fleet. He even won one!! You go, Al! I have got to stop being so damned responsible.

John helped set up my boat as shore crew today and ran some errands. He scoped out the ramp at Bellaire Beach for tomorrow’s Whaler launch. The plan is that he will tow as many Lasers out to the Gulf as possible and also take photos. The trailer light issue is on hold. Hope we don’t get a citation.

We drove to Sarasota, about an hour south of Clearwater, and had dinner with a friend—the commitment. I’m really glad we did as we had a great time. We ate at the Old Salty Dog restaurant on Ken Thompson Parkway. The patio is right on the Intra-coastal Waterway, and the water reflected silhouetted palm trees and an orange sky. No need for French fries today. I had seafood gumbo and peel and eat shrimp. There was a Yellow Crowned Night Heron that flew up and perched on the railing a few feet from us. He was begging, and he paid for a piece of fish by allowing his picture to be taken. The flash didn’t scare him at all.

So that was a nice wrap up to the day. I’m going to lay my stuff out and head to bed. I may get my butt kicked all the way up and down the Gulf of Mexico tomorrow, but it should be a blast. I don’t know when you’ll next hear from me. Tomorrow? Depends on if my fingers still work at the end of the day.


Thread starter #12
Weather update--it shouldn't be a drifter. Winds at 10 gusting to 20. I may sail radial just to give myself a break.
Re: Daily MidWinters East Reports from our own Merrily in Clearwater, FL

Thank you Merrily for such great and detailed reports! Your reports are causing me to start making plans for next year's Masters Midwinters East. Good Luck (and get some sleep).. Peter Drasnin D25
Re: Daily MidWinters East Reports from our own Merrily in Clearwater, FL

Hey Peter,
Are you planning on going to Mid Winters West this year... Love to hear about it here on the Forum!

P.S. Wishing I was there sailing with you, Michelle and Vgent... Have a blast Michelle!
Re: Daily MidWinters East Reports from our own Merrily in Clearwater, FL

I don't even have my first Laser yet (will soon)and these are making me want to go next year.


Thread starter #17
Re: Daily MidWinters East Reports from our own Merrily in Clearwater, FL

I don't want to be the poster child for DFL, but I am! That's Dead Freakin' Last, to the uninitiated. I did have a couple of triumphs today. I did not capsize, and I did not need to be towed in so that they could start the next race in a timely fashion. We headed out late, just before noon due to light winds in the gulf, and it was a 45 minute sail from Clearwater Bay to the starting line. It was really cool to sail out the pass. The tide was coming in and there was wind and current on a scale this pond sailor has never experienced.

I got to the starting line about two minutes before the starting gun, and I was totally intimidated. I didn't even sail up to the RC boat, which was a 40 foot cruising sailboat. I just decided to follow the crowd. Also, I have never been in a race in which the windward mark was so far away that it was invisible. They gave us a compass bearing. At the gun I was about 20-30 seconds away from the line. This was a very bad sign, I knew, but I'd decided to just sail, to get my sea legs, so to speak. So follow I did, and as these things go, the wind died at the tail end of the course, and I was waay behind. They shortened the course, and the winner crossed the finish line to windward, and I was at the leeward mark. I rounded and thought about quitting, but decided to stick it out. It may have been near the half hour limit for finishing after the first to cross by the time I crossed.

I sailed back to the start and an RC boat came by a tossed me a sandwich and a bottle of water. It was the BEST sandwich I have ever had in my life. I think that means that I was really hungry, because I've had some great sandwiches.

The second race I got a fantastic start, and a few seconds off the line, the race was postponed. We started two or three more times, due to winds below 3 knots at the first mark and also massive numbers of boats over early. There were 48 boats, BTW. Finally we started and I was only so-so, but better than my first race. I even rounded the leeward mark ahead of one person--a shining moment. Then I fell behind and sort of lost track of things. I rounded a windward mark and sailed up close to some people who I thought were way ahead of me, including Michelle, and it turned out they'd moved the mark, at least that's what I thought. I went back and rounded the other mark, and headed downwind. I was trying to figure out where to go after that. It seemed like there were boats everywhere, kind of milling about. Then an RC boat came by and offered me water, which I thought was weird in the middle of a race. I asked where the next mark was. The incredulous reply was, "You finished the race when you rounded the last mark!"

Well, thank God for that. It did seem to be going on forever.

Third race, I really seemed to zone out at the start. The five minute gun went off, and then suddenly it was one minute until the start. So I got up to the line and got an OK start. I tried following one of the rock stars, but he was pulling away like he had a motor on that thing. Those are illegal, right? I rounded the windward mark last, but pulled ahead of a couple of people downwind. Then at the leeward mark, some joker on starboard cut across me and another woman without really giving us a chance to tack in a timely fashion. We had a little pile-up, but hell if I was doing turns. It wasn't worth protesting either at the back, I guess. It ruined whatever rhythm I had going, and I finished last again, shortly after those in front.

John took the Whaler out, and I hope we have some great photos, but the wind just wasn't there to make it really impressive. We shall see after the return to Ohio (brrr). John towed a few boats in because the wind completely died. I was first in line and got plenty of boat exhaust. I had a headache that I noticed at the end of racing.

We got to the Clearwater Yacht Club and had a nice carbo laden buffet. Great potato salad. VTGent had arrived just before us and was there with his girlfriend, and we dined with them and the CLYC Fleet Captain. VTGent did OK. In the third race he took a 10th right behind the rock stars. Congrats, Al! After dinner some people had coffee, and it made me realize why I got a headache. No afternoon caffeine. Yikes! Tomorrow I'm stashing some diet Coke on the Laser.

Note from Al concerning racing with Paige Railey. "It's a good thing they had those itty bitty sails."

The best thing that happened today--I had mainsheet cleats installed on my boat. Tackleshack did the job. I bought the cleats and they installed 'em for free first thing in the morning. It really saved my hands, and it's why I'm typing right now.

Oh yeah, the ocean was pretty cool, too.


Thread starter #18
Re: Daily MidWinters East Reports from our own Merrily in Clearwater, FL

BTW, I sailed the Standard rig in those light winds. A woman with a Radial beat me. :(


Thread starter #19
Re: Daily MidWinters East Reports from our own Merrily in Clearwater, FL

I was awakened at 4 a.m. with a persistant caffeine deprivation headache. Five hours of sleep is plenty, right? I'm drinking multiple cups of tea now.

The weather calls for 5 to 7 knots today, better than struggling for 3 yesterday. Here's your gem for the day: Sailing is more fun when there is wind. :cool:
Re: Daily MidWinters East Reports from our own Merrily in Clearwater, FL

Thank you for all your stories, Merrily! I can't wait to reach the age of a master! It must be great to sail out there, even in the back of the fleet (just blame the darn rubrails). I am sure you - as everyone else in an event like this - learn a lot!
To avoid the headaches: drink a lot of water! it is warm out there and you are active. Caffeine actually de-hydrates, so stay away from coke and drink water or some energy drink instead.
Good luck!