Saturday February 24th was the culmination of the 2018 Frostbite series with the Bud Light Cup. It was anything but frostbite with temperatures in the upper 70's
and a forecast of 10 mph out of the SW. The weather along with the advertised low county boil afterwards brought 18 boats to the 12:00 skipper's meeting. At that point the wind was spotty at best and most everyone said here we go again, another ho-hum wind day. PRO George Snook however was more optimistic and told everyone to get on out to the race course and by the way, we would be using course "F" going to 26ATS
at the junction of the Tugaloo
and the Seneca Rivers, 9.2 miles round trip. If the wind did not fill in, we would deal with it out there and if the wind did not build, and the course turned out to be too long, he would shorten.
Well, our PRO George Snook and the weather forecasters were right. By the time he started the sequence the wind was 12 to 15 across the race course with some higher gusts.
As the rest of the Frostbite races have been, the the Bud Light Cup was a pursuit race with boats starting in the order of their PHRF
handicap. This made Mike Harrison aboard his Cape Dory 25 the first boat to start. 28 minutes 50 seconds later, the last boat started with Rick Fontenot aboard Cowardly Lion a 24' Corsair
and the pursuit was on. All other skippers started somewhere in between based on their handicap.
The Commodore was skippering
Spirit, Ed Sherman's Echells
, with Ed and Dennis Fisher onboard as crew. Their start time was 22 min
51 seconds after Mike Harrison started. By the time they got to the turning mark at 26ATS,
they had passed all the boats that had started before them and stayed ahead of those starting behind them. They put up the chute for the ride back to the finish line waving to the other competitors as they came back up the course with what they thought was a comfortable lead. After at couple of marks they looked back and to their surprise was a big red asymmetrical spinnaker coming up the lake. Yep
this is a pursuit race and George Masson
in his faster rated Ultimate 24 was in hot pursuit. At each mark he was closer and closer and closer. Spirit rounded the last mark at S19
and headed for the finish line and George was still coming. Spirit was fortunate that the course was not 100 yards longer, because the Ultimate would have caught and passed them. Spirit finished first with the Ultimate 24 maybe a boat length or 2 behind. What a great day.
Everyone put their boats away and headed to the club house where Jeremy Marsh had been preparing an outstanding low country boil. We all ate more than we should have and talked about what a wonderful day it was. Trophies were handed out to the first two places in each fleet. In the Cruising
Fleet Curt Rubinstein
was first and Ben Gibson was second. In the Keel Boat Fleet Ronnie Ashmore was first and George Masson
was second. 13 Skippers finished the race. For various reasons 5 skippers did not finish the race, but the were out there trying.
Speaking of trying, you may wonder what happened to Rick Fontenot aboard Cowardly Lion, the fastest rated boat on the course that is normally at or near the top of the finishers. Well, Rick lost his main halyard due to a line failure. He continued to sail the race under his fore sails without any main. When we passed by him near S10 as we were headed back, we thought he was headed to his house when we saw he had no main. Heck, he was still pursuing the boats in front of him and finished 11th despite missing half his sail area. Hats off to you Rick, I would have just gone home.
Many thanks to Tim Crane for organizing the Bud Light Cup and the entire Frostbite Series where he cooked soup or chili for everyone after each race. Thanks to Jeremy Marsh and his crew for preparing and serving the low country boil. Thanks to Rick Fontenot for preparing the race course charts, the pursuit start tables, and the race day start time for each boat that showed up to race on that day. Also a big thanks to each of the PRO's and their race committee for volunteering to support the Frostbite events. And lastly to all the skippers that braved the weather, many single handed, to come out and play with their fellow frostbiters