– by Steve Harris
From time to time, as we rebuild our sailing programs at BLYC, it seems easy to feel discouraged. While we had a great season, the numbers were still relatively small. I know that Governor Paligo was discouraged several times throughout the season as well.
This past weekend, I gained a new perspective on how we define success for club racing. It’s easy in our area to compare ourselves to the stronger participation over at Hoover, or some of the larger Lake Erie clubs. I know that most of the events I’ve worked as a race officer lately have been large, “stereotypical” regattas with beer tents, parties, bands, and plenty of onshore activities. Usually, these have included a number of top-level teams and often sailors who are more than a bit serious about the rules, course configurations, and more. But this weekend, I had the opportunity to be the PRO at Cave Run Sailing Association for their Grand Annual Regatta. It reminded me that we do this (or should do this) for fun first, and everything else second.
Cave Run Lake is a man-made Army Corps lake near Morehead, Kentucky completely surrounded by Daniel Boone National Forest. There are no structures on the water – even the Club doesn’t have a physical “home base” from which to operate. However, even without the clubhouse amenities that most of us are used to having, CRSA is a vibrant, fun group of sailors who just love to sail and race. Being that the lake is nestled in the mountains, light and shifty air is usually the norm – it certainly was this weekend. I know a lot of sailors who would never even attempt to race in such a venue, but to the members of CRSA, it is home and a place of which they’re justly proud and happy to be able to enjoy their sport.
The “base” for the weekend was a shelter house in the woods in one of the National Forest’s camping areas near the marina where most of the members dock their boats. Most people either stay on their boats for the weekend or camp. The Club provided breakfast and lunch both days and a phenomenal Cajun dinner on Saturday evening with… you guessed it… BLUEGRASS music. (Yes, everything was cooked in camp) It reminded me more of a weekend camping with friends (even though they put me up in a nearby hotel) than it did a “typical” regatta. It was relaxing and fun.
Winds on Saturday were very much light and shifty (180° shifts within one 5-minute starting sequence at one point) but we were finally able to get off four races – good, not great races – but four nonetheless. Everybody seemed happy with the day – After all, they’re used to these conditions. The wind gods were far less kind on Sunday. With no wind visible on the water and forecasts of 0-3 kts all day, we stayed ashore, talked sailing, traded war stories, and then gave out the awards about 11:00 am and everyone packed up and headed home.
There are a lot of things about the weekend that some may view as not being a “success.” Like our sailors here at BLYC, Cave Run is also struggling with participation, building a strong junior program, trying to get new people into the sport, and an aging group of current participants. But, I think it just may be the most enjoyable event I’ve worked this year. No, it wasn’t some high-level championship – we didn’t have the big parties sponsored by Mount Gay Rum – the winds were, well… barely wind – but, it was a great time sharing the camaraderie of fellow sailors and a day on the water. What could be better?
I think we can all learn a bit from the folks at Cave Run.