The First Mother’s Arms Challenge, held November 1, 2003, was an outstanding success. The turn out was small, only six boats competed. That was a good thing for this previously untried venue. The weather was great, a 15 to 30 knot breeze out of the north-northeast. Most of the tacking was done before entering the narrow river channel on the north side of Mother’s Arms. The water was a little thin near the beginning of the natural river part of the course. Some minor bumping was reported. My own program was thwarted by a fatigued chain plate discovered during tuning the blue Catalina (Sapphire). Fortunately, it was discovered at the dock and not beating to windward in the 20 plus breeze on race day. That is the second set of chain plates I have replaced on Catalina 22’s. A wise person would take note of this information and examine the bent stainless under your deck that holds the shrouds that hold the mast upright.
The course was about six miles long. Numerous surprised fishermen observed the passing parade of sailing machines gliding through the usually exclusively powerboat section of the river. The racing wasn’t real tactical, it was much more about boat speed and boat handling. The puffy wind was accentuated by being in the narrow channels and additionally affected by the proximity of the Florida flora. Omni-directional and with anything but consistent velocity, the wind and winding course required close attention. Micro- managed sail trim, crew position, and extraordinary helmsmanship were mandatory.
Jeremy Summers’ S2 7.9 elected to avoid the narrows of the river and did not finish. DJ McCabe and Alex Canale in a C22 finished just behind Mike Caputo and Christina Rumsey in the Holder 17. Behind them Mike McKeown’s C22 Proud Mary with crew Jason and Eric, followed Patrick Daniel with Karen and Randy Pawlowski on board. The notorious Dixie Chicken with Ralph Jones and Bernice Siebuhr used the generous San Juan Portsmouth number to claim a first. Patrick Daniel’s PDQ took second and Mike Caputo’s Slingblade finished third.
Afterward we met for refreshments and awards at Wolfy’s. I was pleased with this event and received numerous comments of a highly approving nature. Sounds like a great opportunity for a repeat whenever the water is high enough, hopefully with more competitors, including me.