2015-01-29 / Nature

Frostbiters Get a Workout

By Joe Berkeley

The race committee had their work cut out for them on Sunday, Jan. 25, when 24 competitors hoisted sail in the Laser Fleet 413 Frostbite Series. America’s Cup veteran and Fleet 413 RC Moose McClintock estimated the breeze at 18-20 knots and noted there were moments when six to seven boats were capsized at the same time. “Good thing we didn’t do windwardleeward courses,” he said. Nick Ewenson, who was the skipper of the crash boat, agreed, “It looked really challenging. I’m happy we had a rescue boat. We had three spars break, and the rescue boat hung out next to people who flipped.”

Peter Shope’s prior preparation, practice, and perseverance led to a perfect performance on Sunday. In a sporty breeze that saw puffs of 30 knots, Shope, the reigning U.S. Master’s National Champion, won all six races.

Equally gracious in victory and defeat, Shope reflected upon how he strives to enjoy the entire process of competing in Lasers: practicing on the water, training in the gym, racing, and hanging out with competitors after sailing. He said, “I think I was sailing fast today. I was feeling very strong, so I could put the bow down. You have to hike hard to do that. I was always trying to be the boat in the most wind.”

And there was plenty of wind. Shope observed, “It was a beautiful day. If it had been any colder or any windier it would’ve been a problem, but the conditions were great.” Good thing. Shope, Dan Neri, Mark Bear, and a host of other Fleet 413 sailors are preparing to attend the Laser Masters Midwinter regattas in Florida the second week of February.

Fleet 413 spark plug Scott Pakenham Beaker is driving a trailer load of boats to Florida and has one spot left. All you have to do is fly to Florida and bring your hiking pants. Reach him at Beaker27@aol.com.

Ted Hood finished the day in second place overall and it was his kind of weather. Hood is quite speedy on reaches in big breeze, and he does a great job of getting aft and hiking hard off a taut strap with straight legs.

Marriage appears to agree with newlywed Peter Hopple as he finished third overall for the day, his best performance since he joined the Newport Frostbite Fleet. His bride, Joelene Hopple, laughed, “I would like to take complete responsibility for it.” Hopple said, “I’m not really a finesse guy so the conditions were good for me. I was fast off the line and tried to get as big a lead as possible upwind.”

Competitor David Gray, of Middletown, is a ship pilot in Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Long Island Sound, and Alaska waters. He commutes from land to the ships he pilots aboard a 55 foot pilot boat designed by the legendary C. Raymond Hunt and Associates. The close-quarter maneuvering in Fleet 413 keeps him sharp for his job.

Frank Hennessy thought it was a fantastic day even though he lost his hat and glasses.

Joe Berkeley is a freelance creative director who finished the day in fifth overall. His work is at joeberkeley.com.

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