Sumter Landing EC-12 MYC
First Annual Gator Regatta At The Villages

Compiled from club member reports:

The newest EC-12 club in the AMYA jumped in with both feet, volunteering to host a regatta on their brand new lake in The Villages, the 50,000 member 55+ community in central Florida.

Fortunately the area draws many experienced sailors, one of whom is Ken Morrison, an International Sailing Judge, with decades of experience running major regattas in Hawaii, England, Key West, and other venues. He is relatively new to RC racing, but he agreed to serve as Race Director and his vast experience was evident. John Rowley, Ken’s former racing competitor in Hawaii, served as Regatta Director and scored the heats on his laptop computer.

Saturday morning was a little dreary, but light rain sprinkles didn’t dampen the spirits of the 23 eager racers, 10 wives/girlfriends, and 10 committee who gathered, nor did it discourage the crowd of spectators. The racers traveled from all points, Charleston to Key Largo.

Ashland Pond is an excellent sailing venue oriented east to west, the prevailing wind direction, and is roughly 1000 feet long and 300 feet wide bordered by grassy slopes. The SLMYC set up an east/west course with five pairs of buoys providing a broad selection of leg lengths for racing from 100 feet to 450 feet.

Saturday started with a nice east-southeast breeze of 4-7 knots for the four seeding heats that were sailed with the maximum length possible legs. The course was set up with the start/finish lines in the middle of the course and was sailed twice around. When the wind dropped to 3-5 knots, the course was shortened for the remainder of the races during the morning. By mid-day the wind had begun to swing to the southeast and this trend continued until the wind was southerly by mid-afternoon. Unfortunately this resulted in mostly reaching legs on the east/west course for the late afternoon races. At the end of the first day, Reichard Kahle was leading Don Wright by one point, with John Bottensek, Bob Dudinsky and Joe Walter making up the balance of the top five.

We met for dinner at Augustine's Tosca Grill and Brewery on Spanish Springs Town Square. Happy Hour 2-for-1 drinks were appreciated, plus top notch service and well prepared food. After the meal many folks stayed around for the musical entertainment on Town Square before returning to their hotels just 3 blocks away.

Sunday morning saw the return of the easterly winds, 1-4 knots. The course was changed with the start at the west end and the finish near the east end, enabling us to prepare for the start of the A Fleet heat while the B fleet heat was still finishing. This seemed to suit everyone, except the mama duck and her 10 ducklings at the east end of the pond.

Between 0930 and 1200 we ran five full races, each with two heats. We had started the sixth race of the day when the local weatherman warned of storm clouds heading in, confirmed by an ominous roll of thunder nearby. In the interest of safety the decision was made to abandon the final race and remove all equipment from the water. "It was a big disappointment," said Ken."I was on a roll and could have run races the rest of the day!" In all we had completed a total of 28 heats including the seeding heats.

We retreated to air conditioned comfort at Churchill Downs Recreation Center near the lake where we woofed down watermelon slices and icy beverages. Because our club is located in a retirement community, we inaugurated a special competition among the senior sailors, the Ancient Mariner Award which included a plaque and the “Grinning Gator Cap.” Winner Don Wright was doing so well in the regatta the crowd insisted on proof of age and he complied by showing us his Medicare card.

Then the trophy ceremony commenced. The regatta winner was Reichard Kahle, with a final score of 29 including 6 aces, followed by Don "Ancient Mariner" Wright with 40 points, Joe Walter with 54 points, Bob Dudinsky with 59 points, just edging Bob Greer with 60 points. Of note, the first eight finishers were members of the group of ten who earned clothespins during the seeding races, and in fact the top five winners were the top 5 in the seeding, but in slightly different order.

Joe Walter and John Bottensek were having their usual duel throughout the regatta with John clearly ahead the first day. But Joe Walter came back strong on Sunday and scored well in most of the races that enabled him to overcome his nemesis by the end of the series. Reichard won many of the races by a great margin, nearly half a leg in some cases. When asked where he got his “private wind” he replied "my motto is 'have wind, will travel.'"

Kent Farndell had the longest run on “the bubble” having to race the longest series of back-to-back races during the regatta. While Kent raced, his wife Nancy toured The Villages, liked what she saw, and reported the good news that Kent will soon be joining us as a member of Sumter Landing Model Yacht Club when their Villages home is built.

The Villages generously supported the regatta by providing coffee supplies, gigantic coolers of ice, canopies for shelter, a rescue boat, first aid kit, electricity for the computer, tee shirts from their recent Senior Games event, gallons of ice water, trash cans, clip boards, name tag materials, barricade tape to rope off our area from the crowd of spectators, tables, cork board, modern restrooms, paved parking, tons of advance publicity, TV, radio, magazine and newspaper coverage, and a recreation department staff that tended to our every need.

In closing we want to commend our energetic committee: Big John Burtoft the cart driver, Jay Tether recorder, Diane Anderson food assistant, Bill Worrall independent recorder, Dale Sams and Al Hersey mark officials, Recreation Director Sandy Smiertka, Maintenance Director John Yarger, Sue and John Rowley and especially Ken Morrison, for a very successful first regatta.

And it might not have happened without Alligator Trapper Jimmy Douglas who removed a 6 foot gator from the pond two weeks before the regatta.

Thanks to all who participated!


1 Reichard Kahle 29  
2 Don Wright 40 X
3 Joe Walter 54  
4 Bob Dudinsky 59  
5 Bob Greer 60  
6 John Bottensek 66  
7 Dave Thinel 86  
8 Earl Mills 91  
9 Bill Gale 103 X
10 Brett Biwer 122  
11 Baron Bremer 128  
12 Ed Gelina 135  
13 Doug Bowe 143  
14 John Jennings 152*  
15 James Pardee 152 X
16 Jack Wubbe 158 X
17 John Garver 163  
18 John Egizi 179  
19 Kent Farndell 194  
20 Jim Carter 200  
21 Pat Reardon 207  
22 Nick Quinn 239  
23 Dick Reinke 251 X
      * tie breaker