Mar 29, 2010, 4:32 PM
THE SAILING EQUIVALENT OF "FIELD OF DREAMS"
Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary
Peter Lane and his wife Kristen are best known for their two-boat all professional Melges 24 Brick House Team. While enjoying the high stakes sailing game in that class, Peter recently had a revelation into the simpler side of the sport… and he liked it. Here he shares his story:
I perhaps have an insight into the making sailing fun and expand sailing debate - Scows. Now, I must admit that I was more than a little dismissive of Scow sailing for many years (43 of my last 44 to be exact). But after racing in the Melges 17 Midwinters at Lake Eustis Sailing Club (Eustis, FL), not only am I a Scow convert and a new Melges 17 owner but, I think I have glimpsed a way to keep sailing fun, friendly, and really competitive.
It may just be that Scows have Midwestern roots, but they were all, to a person, the nicest, most accommodating people I have ever met sailing. Everyone helps each other rig and launch boats. The local organizers invited everyone out to dinner the night before the regatta started and we had a great time meeting the other teams. The C Scows sail with two or three - your choice and the race committee will hold your extra crew for you between races. One C Scow had a four year old as the third and he was loving it. Another C Scow sailed with five or six different people over the three days and had a podium finish. I was pleasantly surprised to see the number of teenagers sailing with their parents and apparently enjoying themselves. We had two husband/wife teams, a couple of people sailing M17s for the first time, and some seasoned pros that I have also raced against in the M24 fleet.
No weight requirements, flexible crew numbers, and catered lunches ashore between the morning and afternoon races. The boats are inexpensive (new or used), plentiful (I heard rumors that they lend out MC Scows to anyone who is interested), easy to sail and begin racing, but technical enough to require real skill to do well and despite their outward appearances they are pretty exciting. Others in the fleet clocked speeds over 15 knots downwind and (6 to 7 knots upwind) on the winder days. The Melges 17 is every bit as exciting and high tech as my Melges 24. We had a blast ripping up and downwind when it was blowing 20 and learned a lot about lake tactics when the wind was 8 to 10 knots.
If you are looking to fix your fleet, your junior program or your relationship with your family, I urge you to spend a weekend this summer sailing Scows in the Midwest. You don't need to buy a Scow, but we can all learn a lot from how they build their fleets. Consider it the sailing equivalent of "Field of Dreams."