2015-01-22 / Nature

Frostbite Fleet Put to the Test

By Joe Berkeley

Peter Shope finished first overall for the ninth day of racing in the Laser Fleet 413 series of frostbite sailing, but all 22 boats that rigged up for the spirited southerly breeze that ranged from 0 to 20 knots were considered winners. The conditions on Sunday, Jan. 18, put mind, body, and spirit to the test.

Coming off the previous weekend when Shope finished fourth overall, he made it his business to sail at the level that won him the U.S. Master’s National Championship last summer. His scores of 1, 4, 4, 2, 1, 2, 3 were enough to win the day by a significant margin.

Shope said not being over early at the start was a big part of his plan. He almost always started at the committee boat or one or two boats to leeward. His strategy was to come off the line strong, and tack on the shafts of wind that careened down the course.

Kay Van Valkenburgh, from Boston, enjoyed the conditions. He said, “The wind kicked my butt. It was really shifty. I capsized twice.”

Shope concurred. Numerous times during the day, he was sailing in close proximity to other Lasers and would hear a “girly scream” followed by a splash. Many talented sailors capsized as a result of the tricky shifts.

The fleet welcomed new sailor Scott Pakenham Baker to the line on Sunday, while Olympic hopeful Christine Neville was in the Lauderdale Olympic class regatta in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. For those wishing to support Christine’s campaign, her website is christineneville.us.

Joe Berkeley is a freelance writer and the official scribe of Fleet 413.

His work is at joeberkeley.com.

Return to top