The Great Schooner Model Society
The 1998 schooner season began on a beautiful spring day, April 11, at Surgent Cove (our unofficial home port). Once again, Marla and George Surgent opened their house and docks to a large gathering of modelers, spouses and spectators. Thanks Marla and George!!
The regatta included 8 multi-masted ships, including a pair of new 3-masted Atlantic Schooners, built by Frank Pittelli and Buck McClellan, and a 2-masted ketch built by Don Miller. Everyone was thrilled to see a much larger number of schooners within the fleet. All ships, new and old were spruced up after the long winter and everyone was ready to race.
Given the traditional puffiness of Surgent Cove and the captain cobwebs from the winter, the first race start was a mess. No less than four of the boats got tangled 30 seconds before the start. As is our custom, the race was postponed until the tangle was freed. Then, the clock was reset and the race began. George Surgent's Sharpie Schooner hit the line with precision and never looked back. He won the first 1 lap sprint with little trouble. Marty Hayes' Bugeye, the defending champion came in second, followed closely by Herb Jones and his infamous Gloucester Schooner.
In the first race, Buck McClellan's Atlantic Schooner showed some good handling characteristics, but was taking on water through some unknown location. The water eventually caused some radio problems and he had to drop out. Overall, however, everyone thought that his Atlantic looked great and sailed nicely in it's maiden voyage. Frank Pittelli kept his Atlantic out of the races, given that it had not be sufficiently balasted yet, preferring to race his "Red Baron" Trimaran. Although the Red Baron sounds and looks competitive, it suffered at the hands of puffy wind conditions and the short, ever turning course.
Four official races were held before lunch, with George Surgent, Marty Hayes and Herb Jones swapping the first 3 positions. Other top-3 finishers included Don Miller and Doug Brimmer, two new society members.
As always, the pot-luck lunch had plenty of food, fun and stories. Mel Conant, the Commodore, convened a short meeting to discuss the proposed yearly schedule and to award the racing cup to George Surgent for his fine performance. After lunch, everyone returned to the docks for a few more unofficial races, with a number of captains allowing the younger members to drive their boats around the course. A couple of the junior members showed excellent driving skills, and were encouraged to build their own boats to gain "bragging rights".
It what could only be considered scale-hurricane conditions, a regatta was held at the Calvert Marine Museum in Solomon's Island, MD on September 12, 1998. All of the Society members were in attendance, except for the Jones brothers, Herb and Bob, who have been since reprimanded.
The morning races were held in the harbor area with gale force, puffy conditions. Most boats had a difficult time staying dry inside, but four heats were held around the bouys. George Surgent cleaned house winning a first place in all four races, showing the speed and sea-worthiness of the Sharpie design. In a "told you show" manner, the two Atlantic Schooners present placed second in all four morning races, with Buck McClellan taking second in the first race and Frank Pittelli taking second in the other three races. Both Buck and Frank showed that zero-freeboard didn't prevent the Atlantic from competing in rough weather, although Buck eventually had too much water in the boat and drop out of the last two races.
After a wonderful pot-luck lunch under the light-house at the museum, the races continued inside the somewhat protected cove in the afternoon. In moderate-to-light, puffy conditions George and Frank raced around a short, tight turning course, where the Atlantic had a clear advantage, resulting in three first place finishes for Frank, with Don Miller taking a second (after virtually rebuilding his boat because of some trouble) and George taking two other seconds.
With his total domination in the morning, George Surgent earned the Society Trophy, although Herb Jones was not there to transfer it properly.
On an almost perfect lake, under almost perfect model sailing conditions, the 1998 Vintage Model Yacht Group Regatta was held in Spring Lake, NJ on September 19-20. A large contigent of the Society attended, including Mel Conant, George Surgent, Don Miller, Marty Hayes, Frank Pittelli, Herb Jones and George Steele. Notably absent was Bob Jones (who was the one who insisted last winter that we try to get more exposure for the Society?)
The Regatta was hosted by the Spring Lake Marble Headers for schooners and skipjacks of all types and sizes. There were 6 boats competing in the Schooner division, 3 boats competing in the Skipjack division and 5 competing in the Open division. Scoring included both static judging and racing, with static judging essentially representing 2/3 of the total score. Herb Jones scored well in the static judging for his Schooner and his Bugeye, and George Surgent scored well for his Sharpie.
There were 7 races in each group spread over the two days. In the Schooner division, a beautiful Schooner built by Allan M. finished first or second in all of the races except one, where he finished 3rd. That gave him an overwhelming and well deserved first place victory. Herb Jones placed second, due mainly to his static score, having finished fourth in all but one race, where he finished second.
In the Skipjack division, three Society members dominated the field (because they were the only Skipjacks racing!!!) On Saturday, Don Miller cleaned up with 5 first place finishes, stomping all over George Surgent and Marty Hayes. On Sunday, however, after some overnight adjustments, Marty Hayes stomped all over Don and earned two first place finishes. Aside from the normal aspects of racing, the crowd was interested to see how Skipjack sailing differs from the more gentile racing of the high-tech boats. As tradition dictates, the Skipjacks bumped and cajoled there way around the course, yielding only in the face of certain danger. Don, George, and Marty did the Society proud and swept the awards in that order.
The Open class pitted George's Sharpie, Marty's Bugeye, Herb's "Junior" Bugeye, Mel's Lynx, Don's Batteau and a store-bought, high-tech kit from Germany. On Saturday, George had some excellent and not-so-excellent starts, giving him a fair share of first places, with the kit boat taking the other first place prizes. Marty did well also, although his large Bugeye had some trouble with the strong winds. On Sunday, George did well again, earning another first place. Marty also did well. When the points were tallied, Herb took third, George took second and the kit boat took first.
All in all, the regatta was great and the Spring Lake Marble Headers deserve a lot of thanks. The lake and conditions were near perfect and the racing was tough, but fun.
The Society finished the season at the home of the Surgent's. As always, George and Marla opened up their house and welcomed everyone to a wonderful day. A large portion of the Society attended and a large number of boats were on the water, including a new, high-speed schooner built by Buck McClellan. Six races were held prior to lunch, with George Surgent, Marty Hayes, and Herb Jones sharing the lead positions for the most part. George's Sharpie again performed well and he closed out a winning season in fine fashion, capturing the coveted Society Cup for the winter.
As is our tradition, lunch was enjoyed by all, a brief meeting was held to set a date for the annual meeting and everyone returned to the dock for some more racing. During the afternoon, captains and boats were randomized and everyone tried to acquaint themselves with different controls and different sailing characteristics while trying to race around the course.