The Great Schooner Model Society

Event Reports

Surgent Spring Regatta - April 7, 2002

The 2002 sailing season started on a beautiful early spring day on Surgent's Cove. Unlike most years, the winds were light and variable (usually the gale forces blow from all directions in Surgent's Cove), although there was plenty of hot air on the pier. Only about half of the Society was in attendance due to various problems. Both Mel Conant and Bob Jones could not attend because of health matters and everyone wished them well. Also, in a move that many insiders considered to be cold and calculated, the race was scheduled during the time when Marty Hayes was in Florida entertaining his grand-children. (Actually, it was just a coincidence!!!) Nonetheless, a number of veteran sailors and ships were in attendance, including Herb Jones, George Surgent, Frank Pittelli and Ed Gera.

The Surgent Spring Regatta also saw the maiden voyage of George Steele's long-awaited Malabar schooner. The boat moved through the water without much effort and successfully sailed around the course without a problem. Unfortunately, the digital camera didn't record any photos properly (darn those operating manuals), so there were no pictures of the first race of the Malabar.

Notably absent from the spring race line-up was Marla Surgent's schooner. Marla promised to build a schooner over the winter that 'would make everyone take notice', but apparently she was side-tracked by other more important matters. (Something was said about re-decorating a bedroom, but this reporter can't believe that such a task could ever take priority over building a schooner.) Perhaps later in the year Marla will make good on her threat. Here were the official race results:

  1st 2nd 3rd
Race #1 G. Surgent Frank Herb
Race #2 Herb G. Surgent G. Steele
Race #3 Herb G. Surgent G. Steele
Race #4 Herb Steve Ed
Race #5 Herb Ed Steve

Annapolis Maritime Heritage Festival - April 27, 2002

The Society was asked to participate in the Annapolis Maritime Heritage Festival to help celebrate the visit by the Volvo Ocean Race sailboats that were competing in a race around the world. Unfortunately, the Society was never given any information about where and when the schooners were expected to be displayed, so many captains simply enjoyed the Festival like thousands of other sailing fans.

Nonetheless, Marty Always Ready To Sail Hayes, fought through the crowds and launched his award-winning Lady Jane schooner to give the crowd a glimpse of a real racing schooner. This reporter can only assume that Marty won all of the races conducted.



Mid-Atlantic Maritime Festival - May 19, 2002

The Society has always held a regatta as part of the Mid-Atlantic Maritime Festival in St. Michael's Maryland and despite some new construction at the museum, the regatta was held once again. Winds were brisk, but variable and the race committee (ie. the first two guys there) set up a course inside of a protected cove between two piers. The course had a good breeze most of the time, with some difficult eddy's here and there to make the races exciting.

Two new boats were raced at this regatta, including John's John W Sharpie Schooner and Marty's Chesapeake 50 (currently unnamed). John's Sharpie Schooner (shown at right) had very clean lines and was nicely detailed. During the races it had some trouble early on in puffy conditions, but John came on strong at the end to win a race. As the second Sharpie in the Society's fleet, this boat represents another challenge to the keel boats, with excellent acceleration and an ability to capitalize on light air conditions.

(Click photo for enlargement)

(Click photo for enlargement)
  Marty's Chesapeake 50 (shown at left) is the third hull out of the mold made by Herb and Frank. Marty didn't have everything exactly where he wanted (the mast steps were made out of velcro!!), but he had it laid out well enough to capture some early first places. Marty has opted for a gaff-rigged main sail and a single jib sail, giving the boat a more traditional look. Although it wasn't easy to tell given the wind conditions, it looked like all of the Chesapeake 50s were well-matched, despite some variations in their sail plans. Marty will be doing some additional work on the boat (like securing the winch motor properly!!!) and everyone is sure that it will be a boat in the running all season long.

John brought a beautiful trawler with him named the Mamie T, which he drove around prior to the races. The Mamie T exhibited excellent power and steering in rough conditions and nimbly danced between the schooners that were practicing and otherwise playing around.

A total of four official races were run in the morning before the race course was taken over by the Skipjack club (they couldn't race on Saturday because of heavy air???), with the following official results:

  1st 2nd 3rd
Race #1 Marty Frank Bob A.
Race #2 Marty Herb John
Race #3 Frank John Herb
Race #2 John Herb Marty
(Click photo for enlargement)

Calvert Marine Museum Regatta - June 16, 2002

Under a fantastic blue sky, with plenty of breeze, the Society gathered for a Father's day regatta. Conditions couldn't have been better and the racing couldn't have been more exciting. Strong winds all day kept skippers on their toes. With the sailing season reaching the half-way point, many Society members were looking to add some points to their totals and, more importantly, prove once and for all that they had the right stuff.

The first race opened with a bang, with 8 boats screaming off the line together. George's Sharpie Schooner accelerated out of the gates like a rocket, but had some stability problems as the wind swept around the Tennison (a rather large wind obstruction that occasionally takes tourists out for a ride). Nonethless, George held on around the first mark, as another half dozen boats blocked everyone's view of the first turning mark.

As the entire fleet moved towards the second mark, a high-tech rocket-sled, known as the Shadow Schooner, built by Buck McClellan, entered the course late, spotting everyone at least one mark on a six mark race. Yet, as the race progressed, it was clear that the Shadow's modern hull design (a modified EC-12) and 2 foot deep keel (definitely not a shoal-water racer) was in its element. As other boats got knocked down in the stiff puffs, the Shadow simply pushed ahead faster. Over the fast 6 lengths of the course, it caught and passed every boat on the water to finish in first place.

In fact, he was so fast that the official scorer didn't believe that he had completed both laps and he incorrectly awarded Marty a first place finish. (Marty was quietly and unceremoniously stripped of the first place victory later in the afternoon when all the facts were in and the video tapes were reviewed ;-) That was too bad for Marty, since that was the only race where he placed in the top three. Despite some excellent sailing in the early races, Marty's boat kept giving him more and more problems to tackle, ranging from a strange beeping sound from the winch (or was it the radio), to a contrary rudder, and the occasional the darn sails won't come in. Marty eventually had to dry-dock the Chesapeake 50 during lunch and pull out Big Blue to try to salvage some victories for the day. Unfortunately, Big Blue didn't like playing second fiddle and even she acted up during the afternoon races.

Buck's boat was perfectly matched with the strong winds and would eventually sweep the entire regatta of six races, only being challenged in about half of them. Perhaps now he will retire the high-tech, non-traditional sloop-turned-schooner and build a real schooner (the 4th Chesapeake 50 hull built by Herb and Frank ;-)

With heavy winds all day, John kept his Sharpie in the car and brought out his keelboat schooner. That turned out to be a good move, as the heavier boat stood up nicely in the breeze and John raced it successfully all day. John and Frank were always close together going around the course, using some interesting tactics at times to gain any advantage possible. On one such maneuver, John apparently used a little known rule from The Virginia School of Sailboat Racing to grant himself the right-of-way over Frank's Chesapeake 50 simply by moving it sideways with a hip-check. Such bump-and-run tactics are certainly not new to Society racing (in fact, it's a down-right tradition :-), but veteran Society members were astounded to see how fast the Virginian was learning our ways. (But, alas, the teachers have not taught their final lessons ...)

The hard sailing between John and Frank was nothing, however, compared to the carnage left in the wake of Herb Jones' Chesapeake 50. Apparently, Herb's recent laser eye surgery needs a little fine-tuning in the depth perception area as Herb had plenty of trouble steering on the far side of the course, in traffic. On more legs than not, Herb was either running into, over or through other boats, with George's Sharpie Schooner receiving most of the attention. With both boats, the heavy air made for some delicate down-wind sailing (way too high power-to-weight ratios) and George and Herb always seemed to find themselves as dance partners. In fact, on one such occasion, George tangled with another boat around the first mark (which was a down-wind mark), with most boats avoiding them as they made the turn. But as Herb rounded the mark, he zigged when he should have zagged and all three were dancing in the wind. Some veterans believe that Herb was merely trying to stand-in for brother Bob in his absence, but Herb denies any such association.

Despite the numerous tangles and scrapes, Herb raced well and recorded some solid places, swapping seconds and thirds with John and Frank. Oh yeah, Buck got a bunch of firsts with his sloop, oops, I mean, schooner. And here were the official results:  
  1st 2nd 3rd
Race #1 Buck Marty John
Race #2 Buck John Herb
Race #3 Buck Herb John
Race #4 Buck John Frank
Race #5 Buck Frank Herb
Race #6 Buck Herb Frank

Jones' Regatta - July 13, 2002

During a brief respite from the dog-days-of-summer, the Jones' Regatta was held on a slightly overcast day with the temperature in the low 80's and a moderate breeze most of the time. The lake in Columbia once again provide some interesting wind channels, making for some win-or-lose decisions by various captains.

Strapped with the responsibilities of being the Regatta Host, Bob Jones felt compelled to make an appearance and try to continue the winning tradition of the Whitehaven. Old brother Herb helped Bob setup the course, while the other captains analyzed Herb's newly installed staysail boomvang. Herb swears that the boomvang will propel his boat to victory, along with his custom-made sails and his new determination to not tangle with anyone on the course. Only time would tell ....

(Click photo for enlargement)

(Click photo for enlargement)
The first race began with a clean start and all boats looked for the best line to the first mark. Frank and Marty, the Annapolitans of the Society, headed to the inside of the course where the winds appeared to be the best, with Bob and Ed heading straight for the mark and Herb, the lone wolf, heading to the outside of the course, straight into what was almost certainly the shadow of a nearby building. After a few minutes Frank and Marty tacked over towards the mark, only to see Herb speeding around the mark .... must have been a fluke. Herb held his early lead around the course and finished the first race in first place, followed by brother Bob, Frank and Marty, in that order. The second race was virtually the same as the first race ... must have been another fluke ... with the same finish; Herb, Bob and Frank.

In the third race, some close order starting tactics by Frank, on starboard tack, caught Marty on a port tack too close to the starting mark, forcing him to tack over to starboard. A gentle bump by Marty's boat cost him a 360 penalty, which he performed in short order before pushing towards the first mark. Two marks later (it was a 4 mark course), Bob's Whitehaven was nipping at the stern of Frank's Chesapeake 50 as they hardened up and began to go around the mark. Frank had the inside track and set his sails toward the start-finish gate, when Bob clipped his stern with his bowsprit as he turned to far and missed the mark, forcing him to retrace his steps and take a penalty as well. That gave Frank a second place, behind Herb, a 3 time winner, with Bob taking 3rd. Marty was in close sight throughout the race, but never seemed to have enough upwind speed to close the distances. Marty's only mistake during the morning races was loaning Frank a winch battery after his died ;-)

After lunch, the Society welcomed an under-privileged sailor (only had one mast, poor fellow) to the regatta, assuring him that we'd tell him about all of the special rules pertaining to sloops sometime during the race. So, with six boats in the chase, the afternoon races began with everyone trying to keep Herb behind the pack. More importantly, all of the captains had finally figured out the "Herb Course", which made optimal use of the unusual wind channels on Columbia lake ... Herb's home pond. In fact, Herb found himself surrounded by boats wherever he went, although he still succeeded in squirting past most of them when he needed to do so. Throughout the race Herb and Frank took turns pursuing each other, with Herb having an upwind advantage (could that staysail boomvang really be working ... nah) and Frank having a downwind advantage (biggest mainsail and youngest eyes). On the second downwind leg, Frank made up a 1/2 leg deficient and squeezed inside of Herb at the downwind mark, staying in front of him by a few lengths to the reaching mark. With a good mark rounding and solid positioning, Frank felt he had this race in the bag. Then, as if pushed by an invisible hand, Herb's boat started to walk right around Frank's boat. He was only 5 feet closer to the inside of the course, but he was pointing 20 degrees higher than Frank, who couldn't do anything except watch him take the gun. Clearly, there was another part of the "Herb Course" that Frank had to understand.

The fifth and final official race would determine if Herb would totally sweep house. With winds dying down and occasional pockets with no wind all of the boats gently picked courses that they thought would pay off. Clearly, Herb had the advantage again, holding off Frank and Marty around most of the course. Then, in the last leg, with an almost insurmountable lead, it happened ... Herb veered off of the "Herb Course". In the last leg, Herb started heading to the outside of the course, in the area where Frank and Marty had experienced so many disappointments. Frank saw Herb going in that direction and almost followed him (after all, this is Herb's lake), but decided to try the "Herb Course" for himself. And, yes, Frank's boat started to head higher toward the mark, picked up speed and literally inched out Herb at the line (less than half a bowsprit). Frank's excitement was only marginally subdued by the fact that, unknown to anyone during the race, Herb's jib boom had snapped in two pieces on the last leg, forcing him to steer off course. Bob even suggested that Herb be awarded first place because of mechanical failure ... nice try baby brother ... Frank and Marty quickly squashed that suggestion.

When the regatta drew to an end, Herb had 4 bullets and a second place finish under his belt, possibly indicating some advantage in sail design and boomvang construction. Or could it just be that Herb didn't hit anyone all day? In either case, the official results were as follows:

  1st 2nd 3rd
Race #1 Herb Bob Frank
Race #2 Herb Bob Frank
Race #3 Herb Frank Bob
Race #4 Herb Frank Bob
Race #5 Frank Herb Marty

USVMYG 2002 Regatta - Sept 27-29, 2002

The Society co-hosted the 2002 Vintage Traditional Watercraft Regatta with the Solomons Island Model Boat Club at the Calvert Marine Museum. See 2002 Vintage Traditional Watercraft Regatta for details and photos from the event.

Surgent Fall Regatta - Oct 20, 2002

The Society ended the racing season with the Surgent Fall Regatta, which traditionally provides plenty of breeze to send all of the captains to their winter workshops with lots of things to repair. This year, some serious puffs were seen early in the morning, but eventually the breeze died down to light-to-moderate conditions, which provided quite a challenge for the skippers during the races. In fact, during one 'down-wind' leg, the racers sail down-wind, class-hauled, down-wind and finally close-hauled ... all without changing the direction of the boats.  

  Marla Surgent finally made her racing debut for the season, not with her own killer schooner as she has been talking about for some time now, but with Herb Jones' Bugeye. Marla did well in a number of races, politely excusing herself as she dodged other boats. However, experts believe that there is some strife in the Surgent household that found its way onto the course. During one race, Marla's Bugeye got horribly tangled with husband George's Sharpie Schooner. Eyewitnesses stated that Marla made no attempt to steer clear and may have, according to some witnesses, actually chuckled quietly just prior to the collision. Marla and George were not available for comment.

Left: Marla shows a glimpse of her superior sailing skills by taking the favored position with the Bugeye just moments before the start of a race. Society members are already discussing some potential new rules.

From a racing perspective, the Fall Regatta mirrored the previous racing regatta, with Herb Jones clearly demonstrating his superior skills to avoid entanglements, scoring 4 first place wins out of 7 races, as shown in the following official results:

Marty Hayes also did well throughout the regatta with his Lady Jane Schooner (aka. Big Blue), scoring a second or third place in all but one of the races. Frank Pittelli's Chesapeake 50 added a couple late season points to his total by winning the 3 races that Herb didn't win, giving the Chesapeake 50's a sweep of the regatta.

  1st 2nd 3rd
Race #1 Herb George Marty
Race #2 Herb Marty George
Race #3 Herb Marty Frank
Race #4 Frank George Marty
Race #5 Frank Herb George
Race #6 Herb Bob J. Marty
Race #7 Frank Marty Herb

Society Annual Meeting - November 18, 2002

The Society met once again to award the annual prizes, set the schedule for next year and conduct Society business at the Calvert Marine Museum. The meeting was well-attended by those in the Society who are independently wealthy or otherwise don't have busy schedules (i.e., retirees).

The Great Schooner Society isn't about racing, it's all about sailing model schooners whenever and wherever possible and having fun the whole time. Nonetheless, bragging rights are nice to cherish during the long cold winter months, so here are the final yearly standings:

1 Herb Jones 55.5
2 Frank Pittelli 32.5
3 Buck McClellan 21.0
4 Marty Hayes 19.0
5 George Surgent 13.5
6 John Atwood 12.5
7 Bob Jones 6.0
8 Ed Gera 3.0
9 Steve ???? 3.0
10 George Steele 2.0

Congratulations to Herb Jones for an excellent season of schooner racing and to all Society members for another fun year of schooner sailing.
Herb Jones' Chesapeake 50
Schooner Lady Peg

Herb Jones wins the Commodore's Cup for high-points throughout the racing season
Buck McClellan wins Mark Steele's Windling Award for upholding the tradition of fun, relaxation, and friendship while sailing