Hamish & Frances Ferguson sent along this article and photos describing their trip to the 2016 North American Championships at Huntington Lake, California.
Our trip to Huntington Lake, California for the Sea Spray North American Championship 2016
For this journey south we decided to head down to the Columbia River at Umatilla and drive on the southern shore on I-84. As the wind is usually blowing up river we passed huge numbers of wind turbines on the hills on both sides of the river.
At Biggs we turned south on US-97. The road rises quickly to about 5000ft so the air is cooler and the scenery is interesting. We visited Lavalands Park and then drove up to Crater Lake where the road gets to about 7000 ft. altitude. The lake itself is stunning and the interpretative centre is well worth a visit.
Soon after entering California when we were filling up with fuel at a gas station, we had a minor mishap when 2 trucks pulling holiday trailers pulled in and one of them turned a little too tight and caught the Sea Spray masts on the side of the holiday trailer. After a controlled curse on my part and a survey of the situation, we pulled the masts out of the side of the trailer leaving a 2 ft. by 1 ft. gash in the trailer, which I suggested be repaired temporarily with duct tape! Our damage consisted of a bent halyard mast and a broken bottom casting for the sock mast. I straightened the halyard mast as soon as I arrived at Huntington Lake. However, the sock mast had no rotation control and boom vang take off point. I used the sock mast for the regatta and decided that I did not need the vang or the rotation control.
We continued our sightseeing by visiting the Shasta Dam which not only generates power but also provides the fresh water supply and flood control for northern California.
Having done our sightseeing, it was time to get to Huntington Lake without delays! We arrived on Thursday at the campground. We put the boat trailer in the parking lot and the motorhome in its camping spot. We used the mountain bikes to get from the motorhome to the boat. The boat was assembled and I went sailing on Friday and Saturday. The weather was beautiful, sunny and warm. The wind came up at about 10:45am, at about 18 knots and disappeared at 5:30pm. Some of the locals did not take their sails down at night – but I did.
The Championship races started on Sunday and continued on Monday and Tuesday. I was the only Canadian and, knowing who was going to be there, I felt that I should at least finish in the top 4, if nothing broke down. Well, nothing broke and I finished 3rd. Mike Butler had boat speed to burn and won every race, winning the regatta. Jay Gardner who also has a very fast boat finished 2nd and his wife Pam Simonson finished 4th. Pam and I, over the years (almost 40 years!) have had many close regatta results.
I started the regatta with a hot streak and got second in the first 2 races with Jay finishing behind me. If you look carefully at the photo with the 2 of us approaching the finish line with the pin end favoured, I am coming in on port tack and Jay is on starboard. By my judgement I was ahead but not clear ahead. I got to the mark and headed up and “shot” the mark to finish. Then I immediately let the sheets out and turned the boat down and sailed behind Jay. It worked, I got second and did not get T-boned by Jay who had right of way!
Observing the other boats:
Mike Butler had a pair of beautiful dagger boards which were professionally built using carbon fiber and came off an A class cat. I understand the A class is now using curved boards which lift the lee hull higher out of the water resulting in less drag. Also, he appears drive his boat low on the beats and gets excellent speed. All the boards for Mike, Jay and Pam were made to the minimum thickness of ½” whereas mine are 5/8”.
All the sailors were using sock type mast, including me.
Off the wind I was, at times, quite competitive especially when I gybed in the middle of a gust.
Pam and Jay, together with Steve and Melinda Sherry did a great job to organize the event.
See you on the water in 2017,