A look back at the NAs: From A to Z

Posted August 29, 2014

The ABC’s of 2014 Sunfish North Americans

By Amanda Callahan

A - Andres Ducasse -- starting off the regatta with two bullets and finishing up the last day with nothing worse than 3rd landed him on top of the very competitive 60-boat fleet which boasted 5 former World and North American Champs.

B - black flags -- with a little current and a feisty fleet, PRO Clinton Edwards had no choice, most of the second half of the regatta was started under a black flag. (See also O- OCS)

C - Commodore’s Crawl -- They brought back an old (and amazing) tradition! Everyone at the regatta was invited to follow the Commodore’s Society of past club Commodores behind a golf cart towing a sunfish filled with a keg and icy drinks to various spots near the club. Gilly Chamberlain and Todd Edwards regaled the crowd with their banjo and guitar duet. At the next stop crawfish corn bread, gumbo, and Vidalia onion cheese dip was served and the parade ended at Weezie and Basil Kennedy’s House where the Commodores served up a southern fish fry that was a real treat!

D - Dilatory (tending to delay or procrastinate) decisions lead me to a pawn shop charter boat. Three days before the regatta started, I called Anne Edwards (see below) to see if there were any charter boats available. I know she wanted to rip my head off, but she located a boat. I asked her what condition the boat was in and if she would sail it herself. She said it was good, but encouraged me to bring ALL of my own gear. Satisfied, I got my flight. What she didn’t tell me is that the boat I was sailing was purchased at a pawn shop for $300. As they say, beggars can’t be choosers.   

E - The Edwards Clan -- Anne, Todd and Clinton - as far as I can tell they made the whole regatta possible - from organizing, to rounding up 26+ charter boats, to measuring all the boats, to running the races, and providing loads of entertainment. Thanks for all of your efforts!

F - friends, new and old -- I met so many great people over the course of the week (and relied on their generosity to get to and from the airport and grocery store). The Sunfish Class is comprised of so many characters; it is such a fun class to be part of.

G - Golf carts -- so many golf carts, so many golf cart rides, so much fun.

H - Hospitality -- the southerners have a reputation for friendliness and going above and beyond. They met and exceeded all of my expectations. (Special shout out to Vice Commodore Boo and Martha Heausler for hosting me last minute!) 

I - “It’s cold out!” or “It’s never like this.” - With the start time set for 1:30pm, the race organizers were definitely counting on the regular sea breeze to fill in before firing off races. But it was “cold” (cold according to the locals means a frigid 80+ degrees) and as all major regatta hosts know, the normal weather pattern didn’t show up according to plan.

J - John Birkett - Junior Champ! And Savannah Baus - Midget Champ!

K - Katrina - 10 years after Hurricane Katrina ripped through the gulf, evidence of the storm continues to linger in Bay St. Louis, one of the areas hit hardest by the storm surge. While many areas are beautiful and brand new, it is hard to miss all the driveways that lead to empty lots.

L - Lefties confound locals - on the last 2 days of sailing the left side of the course seemed to be paying off dividends, much to the dismay of the locals who were expecting the breeze to go right as it usually does. (See I - “It’s never like this!”)

M- Mississippi - well I didn’t see any alligators, but this little slice of the state was a real treat to visit! And all those stereotypes are not true at all! Except for the bit about firearms - that one is true!

N - New Orleans - About an hour away from Bay St. Louis, the bright lights and allure of New Orleans drew the attention of many sunfish competitors. Some stayed out way too late for a race night and paid the consequences. But hey, the beignets were worth it! 

O - OCS - I’ve only been to a couple of Sunfish NA Championships and one Worlds, but it seems inevitable that OCSs and Black Flags come in to play at these big events. With the sizable wind shifts we saw, it was imperative to get to the favored end of the line. (I know from personal experience if you weren’t on the correct end, you were instantly 30 boat lengths behind those at the favored end.) As a result, there were usually some major stacks ups which forced people unwillingly over early.

P - Pay it forward - The Ladies Auxiliary at the Bay-Waveland Yacht Club donated $500 to help lower the entry fee for the juniors’. The reality is that we need more juniors to get into sunfish sailing, so to minimize one obstacle to entry is a great thing! On the heels of that generosity, a “Pay it forward” collection was taken up to offset the costs for juniors at next year’s North American Champs. (Bonus P - Pralines - they gave them out at registration and I had one for breakfast every morning. Yum!)

Q - The Quadrennial - The Pan American Games are held between athletes from the nations of the Americas and are hosted every four years in the year before the Summer Olympics. The Games are contested in 36 sports including 10 sailing events, one of which is sailing in the Sunfish. So the Pan Am quad is coming up next summer in Toronto, and the Sunfish NAs was a qualifying regatta, with four country berths being awarded to Chile, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico. (Jonathan Martinetti and Greg Gust qualified Ecuador and the United States respectively at that Midwinter Championship earlier this year.)

R - Rush Creek Yacht Club - Hosts of next year’s North American Championship. Hope to see everyone there!

S- Spanish speaking South Americans - Holy Cow those guys and girls are fast!

T - Terry and Peg Beadle, who drove down to the regatta from Michigan, were honored during the prize giving ceremony for their 27 years of service to the Sunfish Class. Over the years the Beadle’s have run the Class Office, sold Sunfish equipment, managed World’s Registration in addition to countless hours promoting the class. Such dedication from those two, we owe them a huge debt of gratitude!

U - UV - Sunblock. It was hot, it was sunny. You get the point.

V - Volunteers - it takes an army of people to pull off a great regatta like we saw at the Sunfish North Americans. Huge thanks to everyone who helped out!

W- The water boys, James Edwards and William Trapani, with captain Harry Chapman, were the most enthusiastic that I’ve ever seen, and if you were dehydrated, well that was your own damn fault.

X - x-ray flag - plenty of those. And let’s be serious, how many words actually start with “X.”

Y - Yankee -- as the sole representative from New England, Yankee was my unofficial nickname for the week. I guess there is still some bitterness about the way the Civil War turned out...

Z - the Zane Challenge -- after waiting for wind for most of the second day, Zane Yoder challenged Bob Findlay to a boat race around a crab pot and back with the winner to collect $150 from the loser. It was wildly entertaining and if you missed it, there’s some good video out there on the Internet. 

Want to stay connected with the Sunfish Class? Join our mailing list and we'll periodically send out Class news and featured news articles.