The Last Rum Race of 2012 by Matt Homan

The Last Rum Race of 2012

Written by Matt Homan, appreciated by Willie Blevins

Winds were surely blowing as the boats were being assembled on the ramp. The temperature was around 60 degrees with wind chill dropping it a few more degrees. Patrick Daniel was the first out of the marina leaving a large wake, while being heckled by Andy Forrest for doing so in a no wake zone. Hey, what can you do? You are in a Viper 640 in 20+ MPH winds. Ron Semans and Blake Labreche were next into the chilly water to climb aboard the Laser 2. Andy followed on my Laser and Brent Carter chased the spiders off his International Sailing Canoe. Brent explained later at Wolfy’s that he did capsize the canoe before the evening’s race started, which meant he was going to be really cold for the duration of the last Rum Race of 2012. The 29erXX couldn’t make it due to some incomplete repair which left Maryann Carter to crew with me on Millihelen. Even with Maryann arriving at her usual just in the nick, we were able to assemble my Catalina 22 in record time and motor out to the start line with five minutes to spare. I gave the helm to Maryann and hoisted the sails with one minute to go. I sounded a horn at 6:20PM and the boats were off. Millihelen did a quick 180 and headed west down the course. We had a perfect view of a classic Lake Monroe sunset with four perfectly trimmed sailboats heading for the mark that was unusually upwind. The wind from the west is very unusual, but with hurricane Sandy less than a week past, the weather patterns were still a little odd. The puffs were sometime gusts which made Millihelen take a bow once or three times, but Maryann held true. By the time we made it to the mark we needed to tack in order to get a good rounding. Brent had made his rounding and was trailing the Viper. Maryann made the turn with such grace and precision that Millihelen didn’t stop humming her speed tune. <insert Matt’s reaction of “did that just F’n happen? That never happens,” look.> NOTE: Maryann has never sailed on a Catalina 22 prior to this night, so WOW, she not only showed me up, but also Willie. (willie here, no she didn’t.)


We are not humming!

After trimming the sails and angling for speed and planning the tack to the mark I looked up to see the Laser 2 being helmed by Stevie Wonder. “Man, that Laser 2 is all over the place. Didn’t it round the mark already? Is Andy going back to the mark?” A few minutes later both the Laser and the Laser 2 round the mark. We cross them with plenty of room. I now had the helm of Millihelen, we tack and yes… we lost the speed humming (of course, darn it)!  This was then followed by a flawless mark rounding and back to the finish line in lighter winds, but still a nice breeze to finish off the season.

Rum Race 10/17/12

Rum Race 10/17/12

Thirty rum races completed this year, only two left in 2012. The last Rum Race will be Halloween and that brings a new question to light. What are we going to do on Wednesday night until daylight savings time starts up again?  Suggestions are welcome. However, if the weather continues to be like last night my suggestion would be


go sailing anyway.

The parking lot sweep found Matt assisting Andy with rigging the Laser. Norm assisted Richard with rigging the Fat Cat, and Ron assisted himself rigging the Laser II.

Getting some instruction from Matt about rigging the Laser

No Hard Feelings

Getting ready

Getting Ready for the Rum Race

the Crew always does the work.

Once Andy was in the water, Matt and I went to Millihelen to rework the backstay adjuster and check out Matt’s new genoa.

Andy gets some practice for Laser racing in the BVIs

Matt and Andy launching the MiniMatt


We had enough breeze to be fun, and comfortable, apparent wind was abeam as we headed west. After rounding we were closed hauled heading east. The predictable header in front of the condominiums kept us from making the finish line on one tack, unlike the Fat Cat which scored a perfectly unusual lift right up to the flag from well below the lay line. I hear Rolling Stones, “You can’t always get what you want”.  The most excitement we had was being rolled by Maryann  and Brent in the 29er. At least it was quick.

I am strongly advocating a change in the course for next year. I believe it would be easy to create an equilateral triangle by adding one more mark. We have sailed the existing course some ninety times in the past three years, I think a little change would go a long way.

Sunset Sailing

Looking for that lift


Fat Cat managed to steal Black Jack’s victory this week by two corrected seconds and Andy scored the Malibu Red. The diversity of boats that participate in the Rum Race is fairly unique and we do have a good time doing this.  So bring a boat or catch a ride, you only have two Wednesdays left, this year.

Patrick has provided some video of this Rum Race from a slightly different perspective…

Rum Race 10/10/12 Big Bow Down

Rum Race 10/10/12

There was WIND! Enough for twelve boats even, but not too much. Northeast wind is great for a spinnaker reach down and tight reach back. We started right under Free Spirit. The Catalina 27 has a surprisingly large bow from an overtaken position. Little did I know…

Youtube video on the Viper

I sailed with Matt Homan and John North on Millihelen (Catalina 22). We started well but the wind was just far enough back to keep reaching from being effective, so we headed up. The Kraken (SJ-21) had headed up to get a better line to practice with the spinnaker. We were staying even with Fisk and Paulie (Ole Yeller SJ-21) for a while as they were using the genoa. Black Jack (SJ-21) Pete and Susan had launched their chute in a timely manner and started out in front of everybody. We got above Free Spirit, trying for clear air, but they followed us up and I thought we were going to Deltona. We bore off, set a whisker/boat pole and went behind them on a course that was lower and faster for a while. Patrick’s Viper started toward the end of the window and snuffed us out for a second as they blew by with the big A-sail. Andy was racing Matt’s Laser in preparation for the coming big event in the Virgin Islands. That is another story and I will get to it a little later.  Maryann was driving the 29er so fast we did not even see them go down wind. However as they returned we crossed bow to bow, as starboard tack stand-on vessel I held my course. She dipped, avoided the Catalina bow eye, and continued upwind. The Laser, Laser 2, and all the San Juans, had rounded and were headed east. To make the mark we had to remove the pole and come up, which cost all of the gains we made on the Catalina 27. Free Spirit completed the starboard rounding ahead, tacked immediately and sheeted in. We went to windward on starboard a couple of extra boat lengths and followed suit. Most everyone was well ahead of us by now. Free Spirit was not pointing with us but she was making good time. I may have been pinching a little (imagine that) but we would not have to tack to make the mark. We caught the Laser 2 taking a nap, but that didn’t last long. Free Spirit tacked just before making a dent in the sea wall and headed out toward us on starboard. As the gap narrowed John and I both made regular observations, she is bow down and making hull speed. Decreasing range, without a doubt, constant bearing? Not quite, can we cross? Get a little closer.  How about now?, increasing bearing definitely, we can cross, not going to be a big gap though. One boat length apart, and that big freaking bow was directly amidships, we got this. Free Spirit headed up. WHAT? Just as quickly the big boat turned down to a non-combative course and we headed to the finish line. Matt and I did have conversation about my “not my boat” comment, I think we are OK. Just another happening Wednesday night on Lake Monroe. Brent and Maryann won the Rum.


Rum Race 10/03/12

Black Jack going slow

Photo courtesy of Christine Barber and Targeting Pro

Rum Race 10/03/12

This phone message from the crew of Black Jack Pete is an accurate summary of the Rum Race of October 3, 2012. It inspired me to create the verse that follows.

“Help, I’ve been becalmed and I can’t get back. If you get this message in the morning I am probably still out here. We’re in the Bermuda triangle of the three anchored boats and we can’t get out.”

Andy Laser sailing

Andy is headed for Lake Monroe’s Bermuda triangle.

Actually the triangle was in Lake Monroe in Sanford Florida, and, only a few hundred yards from shore. I also know for a fact that they were towed in about the same time we made it in, and no lives were endangered.


Rum Race 10/03/12 – Slow Fun is Better Than No Fun

To race this weekend is the plan, and not to be an also ran

Wednesday night we’d race for rum, and test the boat for things to come.

Added tweakers, sheets, a pole, cut the tiller and filled a hole,

Just to learn what we forgot, we set the chute in the parking lot                          .

When the kite was in the air the wind came in from who knows where.

The kite was quickly highly loaded, we doused before the mast exploded.


We set the chute in the parking lot.

It needs more cleats and turning blocks, but not tonight, we left the docks.

The wind was light, the temp was fine when we crossed the starting line

Tom and Pete were right behind but missed the button to start the time

They went back, we followed suit, it’s a lot more fun with two.

This time clocks were started ticking, Timex, you know, takes a

The mighty Box of Kittens roared, we even remembered to lower the board.

The left, the current, now clear ahead, but out in front the wind was dead.

The Viper and the 29er were soon out there where the wind was lighter,

we kept up well for a pretty good while, behind was Fisk that made me smile.

Eventually the wind just died, once again the forecast lied.

Hour and a half and still no mark, by now the time was half past dark.

The 29er was even slow, we offered a line, they did not say no.

The Kittens little motor purred (actually it rattles like a dumpster full of aluminum)

Just enough fuel to reach the channel, drop the tow and find the paddle.

Later at the bar for scoring, we all agreed, it was almost boring.

The Viper finished in 1:42, the other eight did ultimately make it off the lake.


Patrick’s video provides a great summary also, especially about two minutes in…


Jager Race 09/30/12

Jager Race 093012

The Weather Channel said the temperature was going to be 82 degrees with a “feels like” of 97.5.  I think the “feels like” use to be something called the heat index. I was not particularly inspired by the maximum wind prediction of 4 knots either. Curiosity overcame apprehension, and I know that a day spent sailing gets added on to your life. To the lake it is.

As long as I keep procrastinating about fixing my own boat, I have an excuse to sail on someone else’s boat. Circumstance has allowed me to sail on several different vessels in the past few months and it has been quite educational. This past Sunday I had the opportunity to sail with Kristen and Mike Padgett on their newly acquired San Juan 21. A variety of somewhat predictable but unavoidable issues that come with sailing a “new” boat prevented us from making the start of the Jager race. We did get on the water along with nine other boats.

Three other San Juans, Ole Yeller, Dat Dang Boat, and John’s Juan, did make the start. Show Me and Kermit and Panacea filled out the multidimensional Precision fleet, 23 feet, 21 feet, and 18 feet.  Free Spirit, the Catalina 27, Wile-E, the 29erXX, and Grounds for Divorce, the Mac 26M added the diversity that we commonly enjoy.

Typical outboard anomalies forced us to sail out of the marina, and the racers were well on their way to the second mark by then. We chose to join the fleet at the second mark, landing right in the middle. To ensure we did not interfere with the actual racers we made efforts to stay well clear.  Not racing allows a unique opportunity to observe. Brent, sailing the 29erXX, was out front, but not nearly far enough. No reflections on Ron, but Maryann’s shoes are difficult to fill. Fisk and Paulie were riding the windward rail on Ole Yeller as were Andy and Diane on Show Me. John’s Juan and Free Spirit had just rounded the second mark and were climbing upwind also.  Dat Dang Boat had found it necessary to withdraw. We crossed the Precision 21 and 18 as we sailed a modified reverse course.

The winds were very shifty and we had multiple opportunities to discuss sail trim and steering techniques. Off the wind we sailed a course and trimmed the sails as the wind shifted and changed velocity. Upwind, we set the sails and steered to the tell-tales, discussed tacking angles, and heel angle, and weather helm. It was a good review of fundamentals and provided a well received demonstration of how the “new” San Juan dealt with the mild to moderate conditions. At the scoring table I acquired a few of the highlights second hand from the competitors. Show me did manage to cross ahead of Ole Yeller, once, and any moments ahead of Ole Yeller are noteworthy. John’s Juan was actually raced with two sails. Extreme conditions have precluded that on some previous occasions. John was pleased with the acceleration his Juan exhibited in the variable breezes while dueling with Free Spirit. Wile-E only capsized once which is adequate for moderate celebration. Mike and Kristen and I cut some corners and dodge a few weeds to get into the marina, but docking was uneventful, all in all a successful first time out in the newest addition to SJ-21 Fleet 29.