Thursday, November 15, 2012

A Record Year for WYC at Duck Dodge by Ken Howe

The 2012 Duck count is 25 for WYC boats and members which is probably a record year for the WYC participating in Duck Dodge races on Lake Union.

Besides competing against all the boats for a gold duck there was plenty of competition between Deception skippered by Alexia Fischer and Rascal skippered by Greg Mueller.  When Charlotte joined the race the WYC competition was intense. Rascal leads Deception in the photo but at the finish Deception won.  Rascal did win all the other races against Deception after this one on June 5th.

Adrian Johnson sailing the WYC 505 won a gold in the first race in May.  Alexia Fischer in Deception won a third place bronze duck. The duck decal is not on the 505. 

In the first race of July, Tom Schaefer sailed the 470 to a third place finish and was the sole WYC victor of the night. He described his race this way. 
“The 470's new duck is only bronze.  Now I know that for some of you seasoned Duck Dodge veterans, a bronze duck warrants a big yawn, but newish WYC member Sue Spaulding and I are pretty stoked!  Consider that: Sue and I met for the first time about two and a half hours before our race start.I had never sailed this particular 470 before.Sue had never sailed ANY 470 before (although she did race 420s a few years back).About midway through the race, I noticed that the dinghy contingent looked pretty small and that we appeared to be beating some of them.  As we neared the end of our gentle spinnaker run to the finish line, the dudes in the 505 that had captured the gold duck told us that they thought we were on our way to bronze--and they were right.  The 470 will wear her new bronze duck with pride and look forward to greater glory in the future.”
Nate Verge added a bronze duck to the stern of the Lightening on August 14.  Some boats have competed over several years and built up their ducks across the transom, on the hull, or up the mast.

In the last Lake Union race (Sept. 4) Nate Verge won a gold duck with the I-14.

Evan Abramson won a silver and bronze duck this year on the Laser. He described why they are not added to Opus, “I have a silver duck marked "Opus" on my desk. None of my ducks is on a boat.”

The Ranger 26, Rascal, did amazingly well.  The crew won 4 golds, 1 silver, and 2 bronze. The race order on the mast above the boom is silver at the bottom, then gold, gold, gold, bronze, gold, and bronze.

Silver (June 19)
Gold  (July 31)
Gold (August 7) 
Gold (August 14)
Bronze (Aug. 28)
Gold (Sept. 4)
Bronze (Nov.3)

Kerem described the year on Rascal: 

“As far as the crew goes, Greg, Rob and I have been doing DD on Rascal probably for 4-5 years now. Jonathan and Adam were new to Rascal this year but they consistently joined us for most of the races this summer. We also had Mike Klacynzki and Brandon Whitehead join in the last few races where we won golds and Kendra Loebs was with us on some winning races as well. I may have missed a few other names who may have dropped in for a race or two but the names I mentioned were the regulars for this summer. 

As far as the starts and spinnaker sets go, it wasn't always that good. I think it got much better over the years. When we first started doing DD 4-5 years ago, we used to come dead last and feel accomplished for completing the course without hitting another boat. We couldn't even imagine being close to winning a duck. Then what changed it was that some of us (Greg, I and Caglar) started to crew regularly on boats  like Magic Button, Stomp Dancer and Shada, which were competing in races on Puget Sound. We learned a lot from those experiences and applied what we learned to DD and then started to win ducks finally. 


Greg Mueller also described what it was like sailing Rascal:

“I believe almost all the ducks Rascal has gotten either Kerem drove and I did foredeck (older ducks), or I drove and Kerem foredecked (this year).  
It was an interesting role reversal for us and I would include it in the story.  

We got the black duck last year(?) on Bastille Day theme.  I made a 10 ft tall guillotine on the back of the boat with dropping blade.  I made balloons with faces drawn on them 
and we'd chop somebodies head off, toss the balloon, and then squirt a ketchup/water mix out of a bike bottle for spurting blood.  I don't think Deception ever had any spurting blood.  Standards have fallen. “ 

Other boats sailed in Duck Dodge races.  Semih Tareen and Hawkeye King both skippered Charlotte.

Semih described his Duck Dodge experience:

I skippered twice at duck dodge this year. Once on Charlotte, once on Deception. 
Both were a success! (no accidents, and decent finishing time without an award)
The great experience for me was realizing that no matter how I planned my starts (which side of the line to start, on what tack, etc...) I realized that there could've always been a better way.
Interesting moments included other boats that would lose speed and come to a stop right at buoys, so everyone would have to go around them.
Maneuvering around buoys with all these other boats, making sure you follow rules of the road and not crash was for me the biggest accomplish of Duck Dodge.
Rafting up afterwards, having skippered a boat, gives a great sensation of relief, success, and this gets acknowledged when Duck Dodge virgins show up to give me a kiss.
Best part of my DD skippering experience was to be a member of a club (WYC) that trusts members such as myself to take their boats out to DD, and then meeting other WYC members at the raft up to share stories, food and drinks. We are a beautiful community of sailors, and participating in DD as a skipper affirmed that for me.”

Hawkeye described what his first experience of Duck Dodge was like when he joined Deception’s crew for a race in June. (A correction-Deception won a bronze not a gold but at night it can look gold)

“My First Duck Dodge or "How I lost my virginity to a mast"

Tuesday night, and FINALLY made it out for a duck dodge!

Out on Deception with Alexia at the helm.  It's a different story for me, racing with relative newbies, since I've mostly raced with my pop and his regular crew on the SF bay. There, I was always the noob!  Alexia handled the tiller like a champ though, and we sailed to a gold-duck victory!  

I don't remember much about the race.  Upwind, mark rounding, spinnaker set, downwind, douse and head up to the finish.  Pretty uneventful overall, unless you count sailing-by-committee as eventful.

The real fun started after the race when we circled in for the "raft up".  "Hawkeye, this is your first Duck Dodge?" I was interrogated with surprised, mischievous looks.  "He's a virgin!" someone exclaimed.

The Duck Dodge Virgin ritual was quickly explained to me- which was both titilating and embarrassing.  Social phobia quickly set in and I rode the way to the raft in relative quiet.

After a couple of hot-dogs, generously provided by Julian (thanks, Julian!)  I received the direct order by two WYC commodores (Ken and Alexia).  "Virgin!  To the raft!  So I set off across the raft with Ken Howe, mysteriously bobbing in my wake (turns out he was letting me take the brunt of the embarrassment).

Everyone knew the ritual, and welcomed us aboard; as often as not with a bottle generously extended in greeting.  I quickly developed a schpiel: "we are Duck Dodge virgins on an appointed quest for female captains, designated kissing wenches or attractive masts".  Ken generally stood behind me with, looking away wearing an "I don't know him" demeanor.  There were easily 30 boats in the fleet, and was a little worried about contracting and quickly spreading herpes throughout!

As we neared the far reaches of the raft up it got quieter and felt like we were reaching a kind of ad-hoc ghetto.  After crossing (and kissing) a few empty boats we found the Keg Boat.  A group of dead-drunk sailors was carousing below-decks.  We climbed on and I began my well rehearsed line, but was quickly interrupted- first by a "kissing wench" being hoisted forwards, and second by loud insistence that I chug some beer.  The boat had two kegs down below, and the group of seven was doing their damnedest to put them to rest!
"Chug or kegstand?" they insisted.
"Kegstand!" I shouted in reply!
The next thing I knew I was upside-down below decks, chugging for dear life.  It was a pretty good run, about twenty seconds, and made a bunch of new friends.
The rest of the night was a blur, and now I can only recall a general feeling of enjoyment.  The next day, however, was not so enjoyable!”

Affiliate boats Waka, Frenesi, and Perspicacious sailed in Duck Dodge too.  

Matt Newlin of Waka described his year in Duck Dodge where Waka won three silver ducks.

 “I crewed for Alexia on deception in an early season race where we did pretty well. Michael Welty, and Sparks were there too....and? I think it was the first BBQ night, and we used the automatic spinnaker-shredding jib.
Later, Whitney rotisserie grilled a duck during DD on her boat, Carmen.I crewed for Kregg on Charlotte, sans chute, and we finished just behind Deception and a ways behind rascal. We had a good start. I crewed for Greg on Rascal for the last race, I think, got a good start, and won easily.  Everything went smoothly.  Despite the good company, experiences on Waka were mostly negative, except for a couple of good light air races and a DD virgin who liked some real kisses.”  Waka (sail #4277) passes Deception after winning a silver duck:

The competition that Deception excelled at was winning black ducks.  The crew of Deception won more black ducks than any other boat competing in 2012.  Each race had a theme and the black duck was given to the boat with the most creative interpretation of the theme.  A very stupid sailing “maneuver” could win the duck over decorations but it had to be an amazing blooper.  When a police boat stopped one of the racers in the middle of the race for out of date tags that was an event that won a black duck for their boat.

Deception won black ducks on Pirate Night June 12, Tropical Night August 7, and Committee Re-appreciation night Sept. 4.  The decorations on June 12 and Sept. 4 were so beyond any other boat that two black ducks were awarded to Deception on each of those nights. Deception ended the summer with a total of 5 black ducks, 3 bronze ducks, and 1 silver duck.  Creative crew costumes like the duck warn by me completed the look of Deception on the nights that a duck was awarded.

Alexia Fischer opened the competition for black ducks with her spectacular conversion of Deception to a pirate ship.  She risked permanent brain damage from fumes when she painted everything on with a marker pen.  The 2nd black duck was awarded when the race committee learned of the effort she put into creating the black cannons with all those pens.

Sailing the race with all the cardboard was a challenge: the bow sprit fell off early, the cannons caught the jib sheets, seeing out of the cockpit was difficult, and a small hole “needed” to be cut into the stern piece.  Deception was a hit with photographers that night and several pictures are on the Duck Dodge Facebook page.

Deception spent most of the summer with the main crew of skipper (Alexia), foredeck and tactics (Julian Reese),Grinders and spin sheets (Adam Heinricy and Semih Tareen), and foredeck crew (Jonathan Sparks and Michael Welty).  Ken Howe joined in June on main. Semih Tareen was our amazing grinder.  He didn’t seem to even need a winch handle. Members who helped out on different races were Bryan Nichols,Ken Inoue, Hawkeye King, and Alex Minami.  Guests were Ellen, Phil, and Johnny Miller. 

Tropical night the extra crew helped in the approach to the beer barge.  More hands to grab the cups of free beer were needed. The five foot inflated palm tree and all the inflated monkeys won Deception a black duck that night and a picture in 48 degrees North sailing magazine’s September issue.

It is going to be hard to top the WYC performance in 2012 next summer.  
The final event of the season was Rum Run on Nov. 3 across Puget Sound from Shilshole. Alexia and the crew of Deception brought back the pirate ship so folks at the locks could get a good laugh.  Adding a stereo and large speakers on the foredeck made it possible to add cannon sounds and play the theme of Pirates of the Caribbean at the start of the race.  No black duck was awarded but it was fun firing on the committee boat. 

Collecting ducks this past summer was definitely fun.

Want more video?

This is the video of being awarded the black duck on Pirate Night

Try these starting with the Black duck award after the last photo showing the duck being awarded.

This is a video of that plane flying over our boat on Tropical Night

This is a video from Toga Night

This is a video of the start of the Pirate Night race

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Ken Howe gets the scoop from club member Karem on Rum Run, a popular sailboat race on Puget Sound from club member Karem.

Karem writes:
Yes, we did win a bronze duck. We had a pretty bad start because we got fouled 3 times within 2 minutes at the start. Even though we were the starboard boat, we had to crash tack to avoid a collision and then tack back again and then again to avoid another collision. We made up for that lousy start with a pretty straight upwind leg pointing high in clean air almost in the same tack all the way to the West Point mark and then a great spinnaker run afterwards. By the time we rounded the Meadow Point buoy, we were already quite a bit ahead of the pack and only saw 2 boats ahead of us and those were the True Blue and a J-24, which I believe had the name Death. Death tried to reach across to Port Madison keeping their spinnaker up. We contemplated doing the same, however, after some discussion among ourselves, we decided to douse at the Meadow Point mark and switch to our headsail. True Blue did the same. 

Our reasons were: (1) we thought the ebb would push us further north and we'd have a hard time keeping a straight line across to Port Madison had we had our spinnaker up (which would force us to douse eventually and sail back upwind with our headsail to make it through the finish line, all of which would translate into lost time), and (2) we saw some squalls approaching from southwest, so didn't want to risk getting caught in that with a spinnaker. We took advantage of a small trick, however. We moved our spinnaker block to the outer rail on our downwind gunwales, and ran our lazy sheet through that to use it as a reaching sheet to have a better trimming angle for our headsail, which probably helped with our boat speed quite a bit. Halfway through the reach to Port Madison, True Blue decided to host their spinnaker (probably after seeing Death), but we decided to stick to our original plan of using just the white sails. So, it turned out to be a a pretty interesting finish, we saw 3 different strategies playing out: True Blue's strategy to go with white sails first and then hoist the spinnaker, Death's strategy to stick to spinnaker all the way and our strategy to just sail a VMG course with the white sails. 

Our strategy paid off really well. We maintained our lead from the rest of the pack all the way to Port Madison, but at the same time closed the gap with True Blue and Death. At the finish, it was pretty much us, True Blue and Death. We didn't know Full Moon had finished way before all of us, so we were pretty convinced that we were going for a podium finish regardless. We didn't know whether that was going to be a gold, silver or bronze. Death ended up quite a bit downwind with the spinnaker, so they had to douse and sail up to make it to the finish line. At that point, we knew they had a much longer distance to cover and that it was pretty much between us and the True Blue. True Blue lost a lot of time messing with their spinnaker hoist/douse, which put us within a boat length behind them. That is when we (and True Blue) made a really bad call. We mistook a fishing boat and the orange buoy that marked the end of a gill net that they were deploying as our finish line. By the time we got close enough to realize that it actually wasn't the finish line, we had put ourselves in a really bad position because the gill net was now lying between us and the actual finish line. Both True Blue and we had to sail around it. That mistake gave Death enough time to recover from their lost time, so they finished 1-2 boat lengths ahead of us. We thought they got the gold and we were now competing with True Blue for the silver. Our bow was overlapped with True Blue's stern up until the last few boat lengths, but we were having a hard time passing them because of the bad air we were getting from them. At that point, I decided to fall off somewhat to get some clean air, and that gave us a final push ahead of them and our bow crossed the finish line about 1-2 feet ahead of their bow, so it was a really close finish. We got the horn from the committee boat, but they didn't, which surprised both us and them because we thought we got the silver duck and they got the bronze. Upon sailing by the committee boat to claim our duck, we learned that we actually won the bronze and True Blue got nothing. We were told the Full Moon won the gold. Since we never saw them, they must have been really ahead of us. It was a very fun Rum Run overall.