26th Annual Bayfield Race Week Regatta
by Tom Shilson

Ah, July 4th! Picnics, the outdoors, brats, hotdogs, beer, fireworks and RACE WEEK! The week of July 4th in Bayfield, WI is Race Week and 30 or more sailboats showed up for a week of racing, relaxing and fireworks.

Photo courtesy of www.DallasJohnson.net

It all started on Sunday night with registration, a social hour, a beer and brats dinner and a live band. Racing starts Monday - Friday at 11:00am or when the wind fills in, whichever is later. On Thursday there would be a medium distance race planned. The other days two buoy races were scheduled except Friday, which would have one buoy race. (A buoy race is from one inflatable balloon-like thing about 3 for 4 feet high to another one a mile or two away. The buoys are placed by the race committee to be lined up with the wind.)

In addition to being a long-standing tradition, Race Week is a fund raiser for the sponsoring club - Wayzata Yacht Club. There were several ways to help out - raffle tickets, clothing purchases, dinners, etc. The raffle was different this year - the tickets were more expensive ($5.00 each) but the prizes were better. There was no prize under $50 value. I spent about the same amount as usual on raffle tickets and won my usual amount - none! Many thanks to Mount Gay, West Marine and the other sponsors.

I would be racing on my usual boat. It is a C&C 44 owned and skippered by Mike Spence named Voyager. We had usual crew members but we also had Pete Kulenkamp, the local UK sailmaker. Voyager has a couple of new UK sails and Pete was going to help us learn how to get the most out of them.

The 30 or so boats were divided into 4 classes, each class having its own start. The two faster classes had a longer course than the other two classes but we all shared the same start and finish line. There was a mix of local boats, boats trailered up from the Twin Cities and boats sailed or trailered from Duluth and Thunder Bay.

John McQuillan and his father Bill had come to Bayfield. They had decided to not race their boat, Dunluce, this year. John has his own business to attend to and Bill's maturing body doesn't enjoy racing. They decided to put the boat up for sale and perhaps do some quiet cruising. Their plans for Race Week were to work on the boat, socialize, and, perhaps, cruise.

Keith Stauber of the Duluth Yacht Club had entered his boat in Race Week. During the Around the Islands race the Saturday before Race Week, he lost the top of his mast at the top spreaders. No one was hurt but his boat was definitely out of commission. He was looking for a boat to charter for Race week. He stopped by Dunluce but saw all the paint and tools aboard and decided to pass on it. He ended up chartering Second Wind, an NA 40 that had also done the Duluth-to-Bayfield race. If you look at the results and see Second Wind, you will know that it is Keith Stauber and his usual crew from his boat Papa Gaucho.

Dunluce was chartered to another group with John McQuillan as skipper. John didn't get as much work done as he had planned but I am sure that he had more fun!

Monday had light wind. We got one race in but the second race was canceled.

Bayfield is a small town with some pride. It won the title of "The Best Small Town in America" a few years ago. It was originally a fishing and lumber town. The lumber is gone but there is still some fishing. There are a lot of cute shops and it is a sailing center. Race Week is always over the week of July 4th, so fireworks are a part of the event. They used to be fired from the end of the breakwater. This caused a rain of hot cinders on the boats in the marina, so this year the fireworks were fired from a barge about 100 yards offshore. There were some very nice displays, followed by a creshendo of light and noise and then nothing. It had been only a few minutes. People started drifting away. I heard later that the fireworks were ignited electrically and because of a malfunction they had all gone off at once! Oh, well! Next year!

Photo courtesy of www.DallasJohnson.net

On Thursday there was a military type of aircraft flying pretty low over Bayfield. I looked on the web later and it was an Air Force A-10 Warthog. We found out after the race about the bombings in London. The overflight was probably a reaction to that. One of the good things about vacations is that one is not pestered with the news. Sometimes one may wish for just a bit more.

That day we raced from Bayfield up around Hermit Island (big boats) or Basswood Island (small boats) and back to Bayfield. It was a pleasant race except at the end when we ran out of wind.

As you can see from the results at <http://www.bayfieldraceweek.org/results2005.asp> , we had mixed results. We had 5th place solidly sewn up. We did get a second and a third so that I know we can do well when we get it all together. One of the races we had a halyard jam at the masthead and we couldn't get the spinnaker down. We hauled Pete, our sailmaker, up the mast. He popped the shackle to release the spinnaker and it gently, but quickly, floated to the deck. This amused several of the other boats that were watching and was the topic of many questions at the social hours later. We did the rest of the race without incident, but minus one halyard.

Friday was a typical leaden Race Week windless day. The lake was flat, except for the occasional powerboat wake. The sun was high and hot.

 Some sailors were actually swimming! (Br-r-r-r) They said it was refreshing, but you know how they are. Some hardy (perhaps foolhardy) souls were spreader jumping. They would climb up the mast to the spreaders and step out into nothing. Ker-splash!

After the race committee had enough of baking in the sun, the race was called. There were cheers all around and we headed back to shore. Another Race Week was history.

Tom Shilson, a St. Paul resident, has been crewing at the last 9 Race Weeks. He also races the rest of the season at Bayfield and Wayzata Yacht Club.