Sunday, June 17, 2012

Last Leg Top 10 List

Ten years of sailing the Great Texas and I officially declare yesterday’s leg the craziest ever!  So, we have lots to cover in this top 10 list.  Enjoy!
1.        Pressure Outside:  So how did John Casey pull off the big win yesterday?  After we got out on the course, we had pretty good wind for a spin reaching at first but it only lasted about 10 minutes.  When it died down, JC saw Lee Wicklund running good speed a little further out.  He also saw a cell up in front and offshore.  He decided to head out and get in the pressure with Lee and head for the cell.  John was closer to the shore and ahead but got trapped on-shore with the light wind and could not match JC’s move.  JC, Lee and Mike Rohrer got hooked up in the pressure outside and rode it to a big lead as everyone else dogged it in light wind. 
2.       Team Sailboat Shop gets the Monkey and the Frog:  John Casey was not the only bigger winner yesterday, Mike Rohrer also scored big moving from 5th place to 3rd.  He got hooked up outside in the pressure and made up an 8 minute deficit on Monkey Business and 12 minute deficit on Quiksilver to take the third.  Mike Rohrer is a great sailor (former winner of the GT) and had not taken home a trophy in a couple of years.  Two years ago, he was diagnosed with colon cancer and had to miss the race recovering from surgery.  Last year, he was forced out of leg 2 with a back problem.  So, it was good to see a healthy Mike Rohrer back in his winning ways!  Not bad for a cancer survivor!
3.       Sleeping with their Trophy:  Last night, the Great Texas fleet awarded John Webster and Steve Foxall a special trophy for their participation in the race over the years.   They are the oldest people sailing the race at 65 and 64 respectively.  They survived the first leg this year and part of the last leg this year.  They always have a great attitude although they are not in the trophy hunt.  For that reason, the fleet recognized their efforts with one of beautiful trophies put together by Dennis Banks.  John Webster liked the trophy so much that he slept with it last night!
4.       Heading for that Storm!  The wind was maddening light yesterday morning and we were desperate to find any wind to push us back up to the leaders in the race.  As we headed past San Luis Pass, we could see a big old storm coming towards us.  Instead of running from it, we dropped the spin and jib reach towards the heart of it to get the wind.  And boy, did we get the wind.  We got about 5 minutes of good 30 knot winds and put the hammer down.  It was raining hard – big cold drops.  As we popped out the other side of the storm, we set the chute and double trapped.  The next thing we knew, we had caught back up with most of the fleet (except JC, Lee and Mike.)   However, on the backside of storms, you often find something else, but more on that later.
5.       Classic Texas Dinner:  Wow, what a great dinner last night, brisket and shrimp!  We tried out a new venue, Boudroux’s on the Bay, and new caterer and it all worked out great!  I love shrimp and everyone got as much as they wanted.  Thanks to Kate Catlow, our Beach Captain, for making all of the arrangements.
6.       Live Coverage Gone Wild!  Did you check out our Facebook page yesterday?  Jeremy got in the Rib and followed the race from the water reporting blow by blow on the battle for first place.  He also posted pictures of the race from the water.  We ran five and a half hours of live streaming on the race.  We have been getting great feedback from everyone on the coverage.  John Casey got to the beach and started to make calls to friends and family to let them know that he had won and everyone told him that they already knew because they had been watching the coverage live all day!  The power of the internet.  We really, really hope to have Jeremy, John Williams and Jorge Trevino all back next year!  Fantastic job and so much fun for everyone.
7.       Dashers!  Yesterday, we opened the final leg up to everyone.  We had 16 boats that decided to join us for the final leg.  We started them at 9 so that the big dogs could try to hunt them down.  However, when the Dashers got going yesterday, they had good wind and got a big jump prior to the GT start at 10.  They got pretty far out and the big dogs had a hard time chasing down the dashers.  Dennis Banks, on an ARC 22, beat everyone to the finish line beating the first GT boats by a lot.  It was all good fun to see so many boats out on the race course!
8.       Safety:  As the storm was coming to get the fleet, we saw a coast guard helicopter fly overhead checking out the boats.  When I saw this, I knew we had achieved a new level of safety in this event and had no one else to thank but our safety officer, Trey Garrison.  Trey has been working with the Coast Guard up and down the coast making sure that they are aware of the race.  He also has a representative from the coast guard come to the opening ceremonies.  On Wednesday, the Coast Guard had a jet in the skies and was quickly on scene after Team Dallas flipped near a rig and the operators of the rig reported the incident to the coast guard.  Team Dallas righted the boat easily and let the coast guard know that everything was fine.   Trey also makes sure that everyone has the proper equipment to make this challenging race as safe as possible.
9.       The Other Side of the Storm:  Do you know what you often find on the other side of a storm?  The bubble of no air.  After we caught back up with the fleet, we made a tactical decision to split away from Team Quicksilver.  They surprisingly let us split – they had mixed up the boats and thought Tomko was us and they went chasing after him.  They headed to the beach.  We tried to ride the backside of the storm of everything we could get.  We also wanted to try to get outside for the potential east wind that had been forecasted.   As the storm pulled away, we hit the bubble and got caught.  Not air at all.  We watched as Team Quicksilver sailed away in frustration.  We spent an hour going no where – absolutely no where.  We were 20 miles from the finish wondering if we would ever make.  When the wind finally did fill in, it was light and on the nose and we had to tack up the beach.  It took us hours to go just a couple of miles.  Finally, about 3 o’clock, the wind filled in and we were able to make it to the finish, get the boat put away, take a shower and just barely make it in time for dinner.
10.   Thanks to our Commodore!  The Great Texas fleet is an association that runs the race.  Anyone can join.  Once a member, you gain voting rights and can participate in officer elections (or run for officer positions).  Terri Reuwsaat has been elected Commodore for the past two years and has done an excellent job organizing and running the event.  A lot of work goes into this event and we thank her and all the officers for their dedication.
11.   Point 11?  Yes, a bonus point given that it is the final leg.  I will have a final over top 10 list out in a few days.  But that is not what point 11 is about.  It is about you.  Yes, you.  We want to see you at the race next year!  This is the formal invitation to get in your car and get to the beach next year and join us.  We need sailors, team managers, officers, media, race committee, cooks, etc.  Look at your special talent and consider donating it to the race next year!   See, you, yes you, in South Padre!

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