By Ted Keller

The first weekend in May means it’s time for the annual Cowtown Classic regatta hosted by Hoover Sailing Club. 2021 marks the 25th year of the regatta and Hoover Sailing Club did its best to host a fun event in our current COVID-world. The club is located on Hoover Reservoir on the northeast corner of Columbus, OH. The sailing club is active with multiple one-design fleets, including MC Fleet 54.

The 2020 regatta was postponed until the Fall and revised to a one-day format to best meet COVID precautions. This was a successful way to safely host a regatta and the Hoover team decided to continue that format this Spring.

With the clubhouse closed, the model is ‘bring-your-own-everything, and let’s-meet-up-and-sail.’ Despite the closures, Mark White and his team of Hoover volunteers decided to offer up a little more incentive for the 25th edition. Each participant received a commemorative coffee mug. There were free soft drinks, snacks, and beer for the sailors to gather, with proper social distancing, in the parking lot after sailing. And the regatta was free of charge to participate. That added up to a pretty sweet deal!

Twenty-nine sailors from five states made the trip to Hoover. Long-distance travelers included Bob Karslake from Wichita, KS (sails at Chautauqua NY), Dan Fink (WI), and Chris Hawk (NY). A strong contingent of sailors from nearby Atwood, OH made the trip together as well as sailors from Cowan Lake, OH, and Indianapolis, IN. The group was ready to knock the winter rust off and kick off the 2021 season.

Spring regattas – you just don’t know what you are going to get weather-wise. During the end of the week, the forecast kept alternating between S-SW winds of 10-15 and 16-20+. Would it be a nice hiking breeze or hang on to your hat conditions? PRO Tom Fee’s Race Committee team planned to run five or six races through the afternoon.

The lake at Hoover runs north to south, and wind from either of these directions is a plus. A south-southwest breeze allowed the RC team to stretch the length of the legs. While more stable than the east or west directions, there were still plenty of oscillations to be found and one could move up through the fleet and pass boats by playing the shifts and staying in phase.

Just before Race 1, the breeze cranked up to 15-18 knots, a little higher in the gusts, and the fleet got a workout right out of the gate. The breeze would pulse in, pull back to 10-15 for a bit, and then pulse in again. But the trend was building and it looked to be headed to ‘hang on to your hat’ day.

Richard Blake, with his daughter Sarah crewing, and Brian Pace got off the pin end of the starting line nicely and battled around the track to finish first and second respectively.

At the start of Race 2, the wind built to a higher level, with puffs into the high teens. Matt Fisher and I had a tight race to the finish with Matt edging out by a nose at the line.

We started Race 3 in winds gusting 20+, and as the leaders rounded the windward mark, the race was abandoned. There were two crash boats on the course, and with the cold water, safety was the top priority. Perhaps a little hard for the leaders of race 3 to hear, but understandable. The breeze continued to build through the afternoon with gusts over 26mph, racing was called and the boats were pulled for the day.

It was hard to find much separation at the top after just two races in a fleet of 29, and the regatta ended with a four-way tie for first place. While we all would have loved another race to shake things out, Mother Nature would not abide, and it was left to multiple layers of the tie-break rule.

Final results:
1) Matt Fisher (Hoover)
2) Ted Keller (Hoover/Torch)
3) Brian Pace (Hoover)
4) Clark Wade (Hoover)
5) Richard Blake (Hoover)

Top Master: Surge Vanderhorst
Top Grand Master: Mark White (Hoover)
Top Mega Master: Bruce Moore (Atwood)
Top Junior: Ben Keller (Hoover/Torch)

Congratulations to Matt Fisher on winning the 2021 Cowtown title! He has been racing the MC more and more and training often, and the time he has invested is paying dividends. Matt is the defending Master Nationals champ and will contend for the title at the Nationals in Clear Lake this June.

Thanks to Tom Fee, his RC team, and all the Hoover volunteers for allowing this regatta to take place while making it a great experience.

With an active and energized local fleet and a great group of visiting sailors making the trip, Hoover Sailing Club really puts on a not-to-be-missed event. Mark your calendars for the first weekend of May 2022 for the Cowtown Classic. Those finishing in the top 5, or top of their age division, have earned a half or full point for their 2021 Blue Chip qualification.

Full Results: