Making Memories at the East Coast Championship

Thanks to Travis Odenbach for this report: Over the weekend of October 17-18, Severn Sailing Association held the annual J/24 East Coast Championship in Annapolis, MD. Each year, almost every team on the East Coast looks forward to this long-standing regatta. The event attracts some of the very best in the Class; but not only that, it usually supports one of the best parties in the J/24 Class as well. Obviously, this year has been a little different to say the least. I was truly happy to see that 22 boats made the trek to participate. It was a breath of fresh air to see the J/24 family out in force. Everyone was safe and kept their distance for the most part. What SSA showed us is that we can run regattas safely and hopefully others will follow their lead. The racing was challenging as always. Annapolis provided us with a true Annapolis weekend. Light air with lots and lots and lots of power boat chop. The breeze ranged anywhere from 5-10 knots all weekend with 20 degree shifts thrown in there just to keep it interesting. My team of Patrick Wilson, Chris Stocke, Wilson Stout and Collin Kirby did an excellent job at getting the boat around the racecourse. I truly would not have had success if it weren't for these guys. So what did we learn this weekend while sailing in lump and light air? The first lesson to us came quickly on Saturday to focus on our own race. The third race, we port tacked the fleet and saw Tony Parker below us heading out right. We all agreed that with Tony being a local, we might as well keep going this way. Boy were we in for a surprise the further right we went. A massive left shift provided us with our excellent place in the back of the pack, and to make matters worse I decided to hit the mark. What a moron! But after a quick pep talk by Patrick, the team got back on track and decided to worry about our numbers and our speed. This allowed us to salvage a seventh and take away a big lesson going forward. Worry about your race, your gut feelings and stay on the lifted tack and out of trouble. Those are things you can really control in a race, and they seemed to keep us in the top after that race. The second lesson was a progression throughout the regatta. The winds were light and sometimes variable, so we had to set the boat up for max power. We ended up making sure we had enough headstay to power the genoa up, and we made sure to sail the boat as flat as possible unless going through a big chop. The key here is constant communication with your driver if you are a trimmer. The trimmer must let you know they are easing or that you have ups at all times so you never detach from the breeze and that you are always sailing as upwind as you can. I truly think we improved on this all weekend, and it was the difference maker in the end. At the end of the day, getting to sail with great friends and keeping it light was a joy and no matter the outcome it was nice to be around some great people. Just the mention of great friends and keeping it light and fun makes me reflect on one person in particular: Geoff Ewenson. He was the Honeybadger's East Coast Championship tactician the last three out of five ECCs. Geoff passed away suddenly last week, and the entire sailing community around the country (and I am sure around the world) felt the loss of a man bigger than life. Finding out the news last week made me buckle at my knees and become overwhelmed with sadness. But reading his wife's brief post helped me shed some light on the sad and heart wrenching situation. His wonderful wife Mary said that she was lucky to have shared the time she had with him and that hit a nerve with me. I have decided to celebrate his life with the amazing memories he has given me and so many others. One of those memories reverts back to the first East Coast Championship Geoff did with the Honeybadger team. I believe it was about three minutes to the first start, and Geoff dipped below. All of a sudden, I hear music blasting. I couldn't tell what kind of music it was, but it could have been reggae or The Clash most likely. I said, "Geoff what the hell are you doing? I can't concentrate." Geoff responded with a warm smile, "I notice you are a little jacked up so I figured some music will calm you down." All of us on the boat kind of chuckled, but I continued to explain that I would not be able to focus, and then he stood up tall and pointed at me and said, "Look, I am going to play this music, and when you lose a race, I will shut it off." I just said fine and on we went with our starting process. Well that music never shut off until the awards, and we laughed around the racecourse and changed bands to listen to, and I think he even played some Chris Rock stand-up comedy. It was an amazing regatta, and our first East Coast victory. Since this is a write- up about this regatta, I thought I would share that story with you because not only was that what Geoff was about—having fun and keeping people entertained—but that is what the East Coast Championship has been about since I started sailing at the event. My heart goes out to Mary and Geoff's family, and to everyone at the East Coast last weekend...thank you for another amazing event. Complete event details and results may be found at http://j24eastcoastchampionship.com/.

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