Team McLube Forum Index: .: Dock Talk:
Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary



The Publisher
*****


Mar 29, 2010, 4:32 PM


Views: 21773
Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

THE SAILING EQUIVALENT OF "FIELD OF DREAMS"
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."


Larry Z
**

Mar 29, 2010, 5:50 PM


Views: 21754
Re: [The Publisher] Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

Scows have been around for a very long time. In the mid ‘50s, I earned college tuition as a sailing instructor at the Culver Naval Academy on the shores of Lake Maxinkuckee in central Indiana. The Academy maintained a fleet of wooden E and C class scows. Don't be misled by the name. The scow is a blazingly fast boat, literally a racing hydroplane powered by sail. In my youth, scows held all the sailing speed records and usually were able to outrun the spectator powerboats. Puffin was definitely not a scow!

After hours the instructors would stage informal races. We got good enough to challenge the local yacht club fleet with mixed results. Our scows were kept in the water most of the summer and got well waterlogged. The club scows were hauled after each race and were light as a feather. The results were predictable. In light airs they tromped us. In heavy winds the weight of our hulls plus the added advantage of acrobatic crew members in wet sweatshirts perching out on the exposed leeboard kept us from capsizing when most of the club fleet found it hard to keep the sails out of the water.

By the next year we felt that we had mastered the art. As the result of a particularly windy summer, I was the lake’s C scow champ and a fellow instructor was the leading E scow skipper. The local club was generous enough to send us and their A scow winner to the Midwest regionals at Lake Geneva. As luck would have it, the wind was too light to blow out a candle and we finished far out of the money, although the A scow did quite well in a sparse fleet.

By the third summer I was good enough to win a series of regional races and placed high in the nationals. For a brief shining moment I was rated the best C scow skipper in the country – until I was beaten by some upstarts named Melges.

I’ve sailed in other boats since but nothing beats the excitement of a well tuned scow in high wind, planing over the water, boards humming, always on the edge of catastrophe. I’ve tried to describe the feeling one gets in an A scow, skimming over the water in a 38 foot boat at 20 knots with only the wind for power but most of my younger sailing colleagues don’t get it. The closest one came to understanding was a college friend of my son who exclaimed “It must be just like hang gliding!”

Larry Z


Sail22
**

Mar 29, 2010, 6:32 PM


Views: 21730
Re: [Larry Z] Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

I was pleasantly surprised to see Peter's write up on Scows. Something us in the Midwest have enjoyed for years. In the sailing world people are always surprised when I tell them I live in Indiana. Now Larry Z is writing about the same lake I grew up sailing on and still live near. My entire family has grown up sailing on Lake Maxinkuckee on Scows and still do every weekend in the summer. So when I travel all over the US and some other spots in the world I always get interesting looks from people when I tell them I am from Indiana. And when you go to my farm 1 mile off Lake Maxinkuckee there are many people looking just as strangely at an Etchells or Melges 24 that tend to pass through. I guess having a Sailing Concierge company in the middle of Indiana is a little unique. But now apparently the word is getting out about Scows and sailing in the Midwest. As with Larry Z I have spent many years teaching sailing at Culver Academies. They now have a High School Sailing team as well and the word is getting out.

Larry Z my dad doesn't recall anyone by your name. Maybe you can elaborate as I have many ties to Culver. His name is Bill Furry and I have an Uncle names Allen Becker. Maybe they ring a bell.

Thank you both for sharing about a great group of boats and the fun we have sailing in the Midwest.

Ed Furry


payattention
*

Mar 29, 2010, 8:23 PM


Views: 21708
Re: [The Publisher] Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

I think Peter makes a great pointBlush


jbutzer
*

Mar 30, 2010, 5:24 AM


Views: 21665
Re: [payattention] Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

Scows have 100 years of rich history.
They are about speed on the water.
I never realized how slow the rest of the
world sailed until I was a teenager.
Lastly, sailing scows in the summertime
was the boring thing to do while waiting
for next season's iceboating to begin.[:)]
Butzer


Larry Z
**

Mar 30, 2010, 6:05 AM


Views: 21652
Re: [Sail22] Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

ED,
I attended the Naval Academy Sailing school as a kid in 1943, 44,and 45 and the winter military academy in 1946, 47. I taught sailing at the summer school from 1948 through 1950. So unless you are as old a fart as I am, it is no wonder you don't remember me. The sailing school also had a small navy of conventional sailboats and a 1/4 sized square rigger called, as I recall, the Admiral Yarnell. I had many pleasant days sailing on Lake Maxinkuckee and look back fondly on the memory. By the way, no one believes me when I tell them I sailed a full rigged ship on a land locked lake in Indiana.

Larry Z


Chris Norman
*

Mar 30, 2010, 6:10 AM


Views: 21646
Re: [jbutzer] Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

You found out the best kept secret. I grew up on Barnegat Bay, NJ sailing M Scows, and E scows. Scows do have their roots in the Mid West but there are fleets scattered all over the East as well. There are E scows on Barnegat Bay, Little Egg Harbor, Lake Hopatcong, Keuka Lake, and Lake Chautauqua, and a real hotbed of activity on Lake Eustis in Central Florida! The family atmoshpere is abundant and everyone in the classes are readily willing to help get new people into boats and sort out any problems that they come across. I am fortunate enough to sail with my wife and step children and most boats are indeed sailed by family members. Some I believe have children for the very reason that they will always have crew available. The classes are strong and the boats are a blast, fast and tactical, but mostly the people are what keeps these classes active. You can sail alone in an MC or you can have a multy boat E Scow program. Cat-rigged boats or E's and A's big Asymmetric Chutes are all a challenge to sail. These boats cover the whole gambit.


Sail22
**

Mar 30, 2010, 6:15 AM


Views: 21641
Re: [Larry Z] Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

Larry,

My Dad was asking and my uncle seems to know everyone that has been involved with Culver for many year. But you still were before there time as my father was born in 1942. The sailing school still have conventional rigged boats including Interlakes, Lightnings, Lasers, 420's, Catalina 22's as well as C Scows and MC's. They no longer have E's or A's and the Hobie Fleet is gone too. The Yarnell was a mini battleship looking boat but is it long gone. The Fowler was the original 60 foot three masted square rigger on the lake. It was wood and has been replace by a steel version called the Ledbetter. But the rigs are still the original.

So not only do we have the opportunity to race Scows every weekend from Memorial Day to Labor Day but we also have a 60 foot 3 masted Square Rigger that sails on our waters. Culver is truly an amazing place. Looks like we will host another C Scow National Championship in 2011 as well.

Cheers


Larry Z
**

Mar 30, 2010, 1:01 PM


Views: 21577
Re: [Sail22] Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

You are quite right about the name of the square rigger. It was the Fowler. And it was constructed right on the premises by the gentleman who maintained the academy's boats. His name was Craft (not Chris). I never knew his first name. We always called him Mister Craft. Admiral Yarnell was the pre WW2 naval commander whose fleet attacked the anchored vessels in Hawaii on a Sunday during the Pacific war games. He was disqualified for taking an "unsportmanlike" advantage. He had some association with Culver that I never fully understood although I went out with his daughter for a summer. The current sailing fleet is quite different from the boats they had when I was there. The Lightning is the only one that is the same. There were Vikings (a small keel boat), Beetle cats, and Snipes. Too bad that they got rid of the E and A scows.
Larry Z


Larry Z
**

Mar 30, 2010, 2:17 PM


Views: 21562
Re: [Larry Z] Peter Lane: Scow sailing commentary

Correction to my previous post. My memory gets faulty after so many years. Here is the Wikipedia citation of Admiral Harry Yarnell:
n February 1932, Yarnell pioneered carrier tactics in an exercise that later came to be discussed as Fleet Problem 13. Rear Admiral Yarnell commanded the carriers Lexington and Saratoga in an effort to demonstrate that Hawaii was vulnerable to naval air power. The expectation was that Yarnell would attack with battleships, but instead he left his battleships behind and proceeded only with his carriers to the north of Hawaii where it was less likely he would be detected. With a storm as cover, at dawn on Sunday, February 7 Yarnell’s 152 planes attacked the harbor from the northeast, just as the Japanese would ten years later. The army airfields were first put out of commission after which battleship row was attacked - with multiple hits on Navy ships. No defending aircraft were able to launch. The Navy’s war-game umpires declared the attack a total success, prompting Yarnell to strenuously warn of the Japanese threat. [1]

The New York Times reported on the exercise noting that the defenders were unable to find the attacking fleet even after 24 hours had passed. US intelligence knew that Japanese writers had reported on the exercise. Ironically, in the US, the battleship admirals voted down a reassessment of naval tactics. The umpire's report did not even mention the stunning success of Yarnell's exercise. Instead they wrote "It is doubtful if air attacks can be launched against Oahu in the face of strong defensive aviation without subjecting the attacking carriers to the danger of material damage and consequent great losses in the attack air force."

So the objection to Adm. Yarnell's tactics were not that of "unsportsmanlike" conduct but rather that the naval brass did not think that an aerial attack of Pearl Harbor would be a success. And, by the way, I went out with his grand daughter. His daughter would have been old enough to be my mother. Still, I never did find out his connection toe Culver. Now back to getting my sailboat ready for spring launching.
Larry Z