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Blue water, white sails and friends.  Clear Lake at it's finest!
13th Sep


Crow’s Nest 09/14/23

Lake Mendota is known for an expansive racing space, gorgeous views and large regattas.  In 1999 the ILYA E Invitational was sailed there and more than one hundred E scows attended that event.  Fast forward 24 years, the E Scow turns 100 years old, they’re back in Madison, WI and more than one hundred boats pulled in the parking lot ready to do battle and have fun over the course of four days!

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Noll


The regatta setting was one not all too unfamiliar to Clear Lakers who were around prior to our current clubhouse… Regatta organizers used a city park as the launching and meeting point due to a lack of a physical clubhouse. Tents and chairs were brought in to create a makeshift, temporary regatta center and headquarters.  The boats were dry-sailed mostly in the parking lot; that dry-sailing and open parking lot made for great conversation areas for the sailors from 15 states, representing nearly 30 different yacht clubs!  Previous National Champions finished everywhere from 1st to 90th in the highly competitive fleet, which also boasted champions on the World, National and Regional levels in the E scow and many others classes; to amass such statistics would take a degree far beyond that which I have!


Of course racing was the main attraction but given the milestone of 100 years, the regatta organizers took time to schedule plenty of social events which included silent auctions and speakers for everyone’s enjoyment. Many legends of sailing were in attendance at the event; Gary Jobson, Peter Harken and Gordy Bowers just to name a few.  Mr Jobson was signing his latest book, “A Century of Racing E Scows”


Day Zero dawned roaring like a Lion and didn’t relent all day.  The sailors came in and setup boats, finalized their registrations and stayed on shore.  A few brave teams went out on the water for a tune up and workout in the breeze; those sessions were short lived as the breeze was blowing close to 30 at times.

Photo Courtesy of Anna Suslova


Day One, Thursday was a gorgeous one with nice temperatures, slightly overcast and decent breeze in the 8 – 10 knot range. I said it was over one hundred boats; it was in fact one hundred twenty six (126) E scows all jockeying for position on a one mile line for the first start.  I’m sure it was an exhilarating experience to be there seeing all those boats and hearing the noise of crackling dacron.  A one mile starting line meant the first windward leg had to be long as well… Two miles ought to do the trick.  While the wind was decent, with that many boats it was quite the slog up the first beat.  The Z-9 Team of Brad Price, Will Price, George Kennedy and Kelly Purviance had a great start and made some great moves to place themselves nicely in the top 30 at the first windward mark. After a long, hard fought race, they finished in an amazing 22nd place!  Can you imagine finishing a race, looking back and seeing 104 boats behind you?!?!

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Noll

Emily Haugerud and her team of Dave Haugerud and Stu Oltrogge made some very nice moves in the first race after struggling at the start.  Rounding in the 80’s at the first windward mark they continued to plug away and pick off competitors ahead of them. They eventually finished right in the middle of the fleet in a respectable 63rd place.

Photo Courtesy of Hannah Noll


Race 2 started with less breeze and oscillating shifts… It sounds like Mendota is having the same issues we are here in Clear Lake!  Those off the port end of the line who quickly tacked to port were quickly in control of the fleet. Emily and team sailed a very consistent race, fighting the whole way, not giving away any ground and picking off boats as they could in the large fleet.  The Z-9 sat in 50th place overall with the Z-23 in 62nd place overall as the fleet headed back to Marshall Park to tidy up boats and get ready for the evening festivities.


After a fun evening the sailors returned to Marshall Park for Day Two of racing. What started as a promising day quickly turned sideways.  Race 3 was underway a few minutes before a General Recall was signaled due to a shifting and dying breeze.  More breeze came in, however, it quickly fizzled out.  Then the waiting game began…  For the better of the day the sailors sat on Lake Mendota waiting for a breeze that never came in.  Unfortunately the PRO Mark DeGuire and his crew abandoned the day’s racing and sent everyone back to shore.  Friday evening’s events were held in the park and featured Gary Jobson, Dick Wight from Barnaget Bay, NJ. Lance Puccio from Lake Mendota delivered a toast in honor of the late Bill Mattison and Buddy Melges.


More of the same on Day 3… Sitting around waiting for the wind became an unfortunate trend.  This time the PRO kept the sailors on shore as they searched for wind.  The on land activities consisted of everything from a timed ice bath challenge to volleyball to keep the sailors busy.  The entire group of 500 people held it together and waited patiently until the final call of no sailing on Saturday… It was another early start to the 100th Anniversary festivities.  Saturday night’s social event was held at the historic Edgewater Hotel in Madison and featured Dr Tom Hodgson and Bill Goggins from the ILYA.  They detailed the progression and evolution of the E scow through 100 years.  From a gaff rig with cotton sails to a speedster with an asymmetric spinnaker, dacron mainsail and kevlar/mylar jib.


The final day Sunday showed some promise and the RC brought the fleet out on the water!  Finally more racing!  Right away at 10am the warning signal was fired and the fleet set off up the course… Then someone flipped the switch off and the race committee once again called a general recall.  You may wonder why a general recall is being called so long after a start… Since the races are named in honor of Clubs around the country and it’s just an eight race series, they don’t want to abandon a race which would then take you to the next race number, skipping over whichever race was abandoned.  If you do a general recall it starts that race over and the general recall has no time limit after the start.


Sadly after the shutoff some teams opted to cut out early and head for shore.  As more time went by more transoms were seen by the RC who ultimately called the day of racing off, ending the regatta, with one lone boat left on the water.  That boat was the M-9 of Tom Burton who’s final scoreline of 1, 4 won him his 3rd E Scow National Championship.


Both Clear Lake representatives stayed in the same positions naturally as no further races were added.  Brad and his team finished in 50th place overall while Emily and team finished in 62nd place.  Emily and the Z-23 finished as the Top Female Skippered boat in the fleet well ahead of any of the other lady drivers.


I would like to give Brad, Emily, Mark Tesar and Eric Protzman a huge round of applause for their efforts at this regatta.  It was tough sailing and tough to be on the race committee as Mark and Eric were.  We as a Club are so proud of our sailors and race officials; wherever they go, they sail with grace, but most importantly, they race with grit and determination.  The Top Female Sailor is now Emily’s for the second year in a row… Brad has improved his results tremendously year of year and his confidence is booming in his new sled.  His 22nd place finish in Race 1 was truly remarkable!


At the end of the regatta (or maybe a couple hours before publishing) Emily commented; “ It was an epic event that we’re glad we participated in.  While the wind didn’t show for the majority of the 4 day regatta, the 2 races that were completed were in great conditions and we had a ball sailing in a fleet of 126 boats.  The parties and being able to see friends were terrific!”

Photo Courtesy of Stu Oltrogge


Everyone from Clear Lake knows how difficult it is to put on a regatta of this magnitude; we also know the frustrations of our racing expectations not coming to fruition. Does anyone remember the 2021 MC Nationals…?

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