Thursday, July 8, 2010


It has been a long time since I last updated the Ender Racing blog....too long. It was important for the team to take some time off to focus on other parts of our life; work, family, relationships, etc. Personally I think after the team fell short at the Detroit Cup I was emotionally drained. Then a few weeks after that we suffered another heartbreaking defeat after going up on Bill Hardesty 2-0 in the finals of the last CMRC event of 2009; after that I needed to take a break and re-evaluate my priorities on the water.

To bring everyone back up to speed with the team, after the 2009 Chicago Mac Team Ender continued to sail at a high level through all of the CMRC events. We received an invitation to the Grade 2 match race, the Detroit Cup, which became our primary focus going into the end of the summer. Being from Detroit, having raced in the river all my life, having grown up match racing on the Ultimate20's, and having finished 4th with Dave Perry the previous year I was confident that our team could make it out of the round robin, and our goal was to make the final four. Our team montra has always been, "don't come out flat," and we did not dissappoint ourselves. After the round robin we were in a three way tie for first and in a great position to continue sailing well and reaching our goal. Unfortunately some off-the-water issues came up that slightly shifted our focus going into the final round. At that level no team can afford to have any distractions, and the team that is more focused will normally prevail....unfortunately that was not us and we ended up losing every race on the final day, falling from 1st to 6th. Emotionally draining, and dissappointing on MANY levels.

After the D-Cup Ender Racing had one more match race at the CMRC. I was fortunate enough to be able to sail with Jack Jennings (Ender Racing Team Member), a good friend Rob Morton, and my older brother, Adam. Adam and I had not sailed together in a match race since about 10 years ago after I childishly blamed him exclusively for our poor performance at an event. Regardless, it was great to get to sail with him again, and it was quickly apparent that the both of us had matured over those ten years, both personally, and our sailing abilities. We had a great time, and sailed our asses off. Jack sailed at his highest level of the summer, calling the best tactics of any regatta yet; Rob was fantastic on the bow with no practice time and in lumpy, and puffy conditions (extremely hard), and Adam was flawless, quiet, and always knew the right thing to say at the right time to keep us all calm and focused. It truly was one of my favorite sailing experiences in a VERY long time.

Anyway, that takes care of 2009 as the team did little sailing over the winter with Jack competing and traveling in the Star class over in Europe, Mike Rehe on Equation for the winter in the islands, and me needing to focus on work. 2010 started slow but we have done plenty of sailing up to this point. I will try to write updates on the more recent events over the next few weeks. This is just a quick update for everyone, the match racing season is in full swing and our schedules are pretty much full. Sorry for going away for so long (not that anyone still watches, or even did); but we're back now, looking to build on past experiences, and hopefully show the riff-raff how out of their league they are. :) - Don't come out flat!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

2009 Chicago-Mac Race

I just recently completed the 333mile race from Chicago to Mackinac Island aboard Flash Gordon. It was one of the coolest races I have done in years. There was no wind and we finished late Monday night (very slow for a Mac race); however, that didnt take away from the experience. We had a boat loaded with talent and everyone made their mark on a race that will stay with me forever.

The whole thing started friday night with a discussion at the crew dinner about the forecast. Our navigator, Ed Adams layed out a scenario where the wind would die in the middle of the lake and on the michigan shore on Saturday night, and unless you were able to make it all the way across and get the shore breeze (<5>So on Sunday night we made the decision to stick it out along the shore for a few reasons. First, we didnt have the sails to cross the lake with the wind from the Southeast,...and we thought we should keep sailing to our boats strengths. Second, our forecast had a "drainage zone" developing in the Manitou's early monday morning where the only wind would be a light sea-breeze around the Travers Bays and a light shore breeze North of Beaver Island. We didn't think we were fast enough to make it across to the sea breeze in time, so we opted to continue North and leave Beaver Island to our starboard side.

This type of move is not typical, not at fact. I have never heard of ANYONE going NORTH of Beaver Island...the strangest deviation I have heard of was someone going north of the manitou islands....this move put us on the same level as, say, Lewis and Clarke.

The only thing that got us was that the drainage zone of no air expanded to leave the whole area North of Beaver and in the Manitou passage becalmed. We weren't moving, but neither was anyone else. Unfortunately our decisions were based on us being further East when the final fill came in; because we were slightly west of the fleet at this point they all got the breeze before us and we were left with a 45 mile beat to the finish....this allowed most of the fleet to catch up.

At the end of the day we finished just ahead of all the Division 1 boats and right behind many of the 70's. We were first to finish in our class by over an hour and we crushed the other Farr40's. Unfortunately we didnt have enough to overcome some other boats in our fleet, and after sailing an extra 70 miles we corrected out to 5th in our class and 6th overall. But the finish was nothing compared to the ride. Ed Adams is a weapon...he sailed an amazing event, making one perfect call after another....together with Bill Hardesty, Kyle Kandt, Evan Jahn, Brian Taruta, myself, and Helmut Jahn we were never short of talent. was a great experience and that race track will go down in History. Some people may call it a ballsy move, or say that we just rolled the dice....but that is not how it went down. We used technology, experience, and talent to make the right tactical decisions...and none of us would have done it differently in the same situation.

My letter to Carl Levin

I have had enough, its time to speak up...and not just on this blog, or on Facebook....I recently wrote my Senator from Michigan. Hopefully anyone who reads this will be inspired to write their senator too:

Dear Senator, I just recently moved to Illinois; however, I have lived in Michigan my entire life...that's why I am writing you. I voted in Michigan, for you, and I feel like you're the guy I should be reaching out to. Listen. When is someone going to step up and say, "hey guys, we can't afford universal health care." I mean, seriously, this is getting ridiculous. It seems like Obama is ramming this thing through without considering the long-term implications. Almost like he's thinking, "whatever, we'll figure out how to pay for it later; but this is our only chance while we have a super majority." I just think that is incredibly irresponsible. I don't go out and buy a new TV on credit when my debt-to-income ratio is 100%....and I certainly don't do it when I might have to take a pay cut. Well you guys are in the same boat, only worse. Remember, you guys will make less money as I/we make less money. How can the Gov't pay for it? How can you justify this? The stimulus package was full of pork, be honest, that thing was terrible. That's over now, that money is ear-marked for saving some of Pelosi's f'n mice or something, who knows.....but you guys can start fresh, RIGHT NOW, and do the right thing for America....not the right thing for the Democrats, or the right thing for Republicans, or the right thing for some whining special interest group....or the right thing to get you re-elected...but rather, the right thing for the country AS A WHOLE.... Its time to tighten our belts and curb our spending, otherwise we WILL LOSE THE DOLLAR; trust me, I trade it every day. You need to know that the majority of my friends care a great deal about this, but no one knows how to do or say anything about it. Its not like you and I are on speaking terms; frankly, I'd be suprised if you even read this email. There are a great number of people who are just sitting on the sidelines and watching, not speaking up, but are really starting to take notice. I had a problem with the spending before, I didn't say anything. I had a problem with the way the bailouts went down, I didn't say a word. We're running a massive deficit, its only getting worse, and now we're talking about granting more social welfare, taking on more liabilities. I simply cannot NOT say anything any longer. This cant happen. Regardless of whether we NEED it, we cant afford it. It will bury us. Don't let this happen. NEED does not trump REASON. If we need it, then work the country into a spot where we can afford it....don't just spend irresponsibly, its not fair to the millions of people you HAVEN'T heard from, yet. Okay, I have to get back to work. Good talk.

Monday, June 29, 2009


I have to give a shout out to my boys on Flash Gordon. We've all been working hard for the last several years getting the Farr40 team up to speed. Its great to see that all the hard work is paying off. They just finished fifth in a stacked fleet at the 2009 World Championships in Porto Cervo, Italy. The best part about the whole thing was their strong finish. Going into the last two days they were sitting in 7th overall, and finished strong with a 4, 2, 3, 3 in the last four races to move into fifth.

Like I said, we have been at this for years and it is great to see the team competing at the top level. 5th is a great showing in such a strong fleet, no doubt the top four boats were the favorites going into the event; in my mind they are the top four Farr40's in the world....Barking Mad won, followed by Nerone, JoeFly, and Mascalzone Latino (3x World Champions) be in that company is fantastic. Major props go to the team on the water; Bill Hardesty (tactician), Joe Londrigan (Main), Dave Gerber (Jib), Scott Murin (Pit), Ed Norton (Float), Carrie Howe (offside), Brian "T-ten" Taruta (Mast), Matt Cassidy (Bow), Evan Jahn (alt helm), and Helmut Jahn (helm).....also, these guys couldnt have pulled this off without a great support team....Coach Ed Adams has been with us through everything, providing some much needed direction and, uhhh, commentary....and Kyle Kandt, the finest boat captain I have ever seen...its always nice to never be able to use the boat as an excuse. Evan, Helmut, Gerb and Kyle have worked especially hard over the last few years to pull this program together and raise it to this level, truly was a world-class effort...and has proven world-class results. Cheers boys! Stuurs and I were definately there in just proud to have been a part of it. Nice job. - Gary

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Like a bad dream.....

Ender Racing Team recently competed in the very first regatta hosted by the Chicago Match Race Center on June 6th and 7th in Tom28's. The Grade3 event came on the heels of the BYC Grade3 Invitational in which our team competed well, won every race but the last two, and finished second in the event. With that regatta behind us and having had several days of intense practice leading up to this event, we were comfortable going into this event.

We had an extreamly talented crew, although it was everyone's first match race regatta. Jack Jennings, John Poast, and Dave Jochum rounded out our four man crew. Dave flew in from D.C. to sail the event; but John, Jack, and I sail together regularly at the CMRC on tuesday and friday nights.
It was breeze on for the first day of the event and we quickly picked up where the Ender Team left off in the last event, winning all of our races and finishing the long day at 7-0 with the next best record at 5-2. It has been a while since I have felt this comfortable on the starting line, I feel like im easing back into driving a match race; we still have a long way to go, but at least we are moving in the right direction. Being so comfortable on the line helped me to execute Jack's plan and put the boat in the spot that we wanted for the first beat; that, and virtually perfect crew work really pushed us over the top in the races on the first day. We sailed smart, calculated races...never put ourselves in vulnerable spots, and executed our maneuvers when the time came. We were really firing on all cylinders....and looking back on it, we were only really tested once or twice on Saturday.

The format for the regatta was interesting. A full Round Robin followed by a best-of-five knockout series seeded by the results of, 1v8, 2v7, 3v6...etc. The breeze was very light in the morning; and, not knowing what the OA was going to do we were very happy to be sitting in 1st at the beginning of the day. With such a talented group of sailors in the fleet (CVT, Taylor Canfield, Don Wilson, Dave Wagner, Debbie Cappozi, Jen Wilson, and Steve Lowery), the ability to choose who we sail against is a huge advantage. Luckily though the breeze quickly shifted and filled in and we went forward with the second round. We drew Jen Wilson and were luckly enough to quickly win the first three races, moving on before the wind got squirly again. 10-0. The other three matches all went the distance. Wagner def. Lowery, Cappozi def. CVT, and Wilson came from behind to beat Canfield.

So the final four was set and it was up to us to pick who we sailed against. The decision was tough because, while none of the teams beat us, all three of those teams sailed us very close. Cappozi was by far the toughest race we had, she consistently put her boat in the perfect spot and made very few errors...I thought we only capitalized on one quick shift off the line, and from there we held control the whole time against her, it could have easily gone the other way though. So she was immediately out. Our first round race against Don Wilson was interesting too. We won the start but Don and Bill Hardesty kept their boat in a great spot up the beat, closed the gap and kept it close. Fortunately fr us, during a tacking duel Don misjudged the distance and clipped our stern as he brought his boat through a tack. That race was close as well...and Bill is a tough guy to pin down...I mean, come on, the dude is a world champion; he definately has some tricks up his sleeve....and with our goal being to keep moving on we tossed Wilson out of our choices, leaving Wagner. It proved to be a good decision as we beat Wagner 2-0 in the semi-finals and got ready for the Cappozi-Wilson winner. 12-0.

Debbie took Don the distance but didnt have enough in the end, and ultimately Don won, moving on to the finals. We were ready....I thought.

I still remember how the whole thing played out. The first start, with 1min left, Don lead back to the pin, I went for the hook late in the sequence and got it. Luffing him and slowing him off the line....that was all we needed and we won the first race of the best-of-three finals. 13-0...needing one more to win the whole thing. One out of two...I used to like those odds...ha.....hmmmmm.

To be honest, all I could think of was the previous the same position, 10-0 going into the last two races....and I didnt want that to happen again. Well, negative thoughts have a wierd way of manifiesting themselves sometimes. Have I used enough foreshadowing yet? Can you figure out what happened?

In the second race we lead the whole time, rounded the last weather mark four lengths ahead and basically had the thing wrapped up. Don went high, we followed to hold him this point we were approaching the layline to the pin....all we had to do was jybe away when they started to get on our breeze....unfortunately I wasnt thinking about this, and I went for the luff. Stupid. We rolled out, they passed us, jybed, and won the race. All I HAD TO DO WAS JYBE! Dumb.

The third race was a personal disaster, Don, Bill, Matt Cassidy, and Hans Pusch just flat out beat us. I went for the hook again, late in the sequence; only this time they were ready for it and they controlled us off the line and around the course. Race over, regatta over. 13-2 and second place, again.

The only good thing to come out of this is experience....and points. A 2, 2 in two Grade3's isnt bad...and now I realize one of my biggest weaknesses. Our team sailed well, I just didnt have it, mentally, in the end. Oh well, we'll be back again. It really is about the journey, not the destination. There is always another match race. Congrats to Don, Bill, Matt, and Hans, those guys sailed well and flat out beat us in the finals........

..but seriously though, its like a bad dream. Hopefully one of these days I wake up and string a whole regatta together.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

"You cannot legislate the poor into prosperity by legislating the wealthy out of prosperity. What one person receives without working for, another person must work for without receiving. The government cannot give to anybody anything that the government does not first take from somebody else. When half of the people get the idea that they do not have to work because the other half is going to take care of them, and when the other half gets the idea that it does no good to work because somebody else is going to get what they work for, that my dear friend, is the beginning of the end of any nation. You cannot multiply wealth by dividing it."

Adrian Rogers, 1931

Monday, May 25, 2009

Ender Qualifies for the D-Cup!!!

The team goal for every regatta is the same, move on to the next round. Maintain that "control" mentality and just move on to the next round, the races you need to win, do whatever you need to do, it doesn't have to be pretty, we just want to move on. The scale of that type of thinking can be expanded from just trying to move out of the first round, to making it to the finals of a regatta, to winning entire regattas as they qualify you for a larger event. This was the case for Ender Racing in the BYC Grade3 Invitational. The winner of the event got an invitation to the Detroit Cup, a Grade2 event featuring some of the best match racers in the world. However, even though there was a lot on the line for this event and we were up against many talented sailors, the thought process was still the same....move on to the next round.

The Ender racing team consisted of myself, Mike Rehe, and Paul Haulsey. We knew we were up against a pretty stacked fleet (Sally Barkow, Chris VanTol, Adam Hollerbach, Peter Wickwire, etc.) but I felt like we would have some recent match race experience to draw on, at least early in the regatta. Even though I didnt drive the regatta the previous weekend, crewing for Kevin did get my head into the game and thinking about the strategy. On top of that, this was the first event on the Ender schedule, it had been on our minds for several we were as focused as ever to get this campaign underway.

So it was no suprise that we came out of the gates like we did. S#!t hot! Actually, it was more of me fouling people on the starting line, and Paul and Mike standing on their heads to keep us in the I guess you could say that I was the "s#!t," and they were the "hot." Three times on the first day we had to clear a penalty downwind at the finish line. We pulled it off three times, but Paul kept asking me to not let that happen again....he felt like I was taking "years off [his] life."....I told him to take it easy, Leprechauns live forever.

After several grueling races we found ourselves undefeted at the end of the day and the end of the Round Robin. The regatta though, was far from over. We were in the final four, as was Sally Barkow; but the scores were so close that the last flight of the day was needed to determine the final two spots. With Adam and Chris on land, they watched as four teams determined their fate in the regatta. The first race was a favorable outcome for Adam, he was it was CVT's turn. We all watched as the final race switched leaders, back and forth, and finally the underdog won the race, letting Chris, John, and Thad breath a little easier...they were in. Its funny... it wasn't pretty, and they needed a little help in the end; but Team Vantol did what they had to do to move on. Even though they were not having their best regatta on the first day, the good teams find a way to hang on.

The finals were set: Ender Racing, Team7 (Barkow), Adam Hollerbach, and VanTol Match Race. One vs Four, Two vs Three. Sunday would shape up to be a good day.

Sunday morning was a perfect Detroit spring sailing day. The sun was intense but the air was chilled; thankfully we had some consistent breeze coming right up the river from the south. We started where we left off....with superb boat-handling and my confidence growing after every start. The racing was tight, as expected, especially because the breeze was still settling down and the shifts and puffs were coming out of nowhere...err...everywhere. It was tough. We led around the first mark and sailed toward shore, Adam followed by ten boatlengths, jybed and sailed around us...needless to say the language on our boat was not polite. The funny thing is though, that the Detroit river is a tricky place to sail...and with the roles reversed at the next windward mark, Adam made the same decision I did...he continued straight. We followed by about ten lengths, jybed, and passed him. Hmmmm....I still think, even knowing what I know now, that I would have stayed straight also. Oh well. The second race wasnt as close as we controlled off the line, got our bow into the breeze/shift first, made sure to jybe EARLY, and extended our lead during the whole race. Two up, two down; at this point we hadn't lost a race...but we knew our time would come against some very good competition.

Chris, John, and Thad managed to take care of Sally in three close races and the final pairing was set. We entered from Starboard and managed to pin CVT against the protection marks. From there we held him until the gun went off and we were downspeed, we peeled off first and had a 20 boatlength lead almost immdiately. 1-0, Ender Racing.
The second race was slightly more frustrating. The race committe had to postpone as the breeze went hard left and got lighter, and more squirly. It finally came back and we started the next sequence....but the writing was on the wall....the breeze was getting more fickle and less predicatable. During the final four minutes the breeze went, again, hard left, so we tried to set up for a pin end start....our strategy paid off at first as we won the pin with Chris back about four lengths and just off our line to windward. All of a sudden he sailed into something that we didnt get...or even see! He was in his own personal puff sailing 20deg higher in 5kts more breeze....he sailed around us in the blink of an eye. As soon as we recognized the situation we did everything we could to minimize the damamge but it was too late, Chris was ahead by ten lengths rounding the first mark. Race over. 1-1.

People keep telling me that the third and final race was one of the best match races they have seen in a while. I wish I was sitting on shore with them, because I didnt get that feeling. I was stuck in a spinning vortex to hell; throwing everything I could at VanTol and getting thwarted at every turn by either Belle Isle, mother nature, or John's text-book positioning. I left a little piece of me out on that race course that just not sure if it was my dignity, or my hair-line. Either way, the third race was one of the most frustrating and emotionally draining races I have sailed (I think Chris would agree)....and for some reason I always have these type of races against the VanTols.

Like an idiot I fouled Chris during the prestart trying to "heard" him in a certain direction...he was being stubborn and I was being impatient. We started about even but Chris was on the correct side of the next shift and he rounded the first mark right ahead. A quick jybe put us in a windward postion and we were able to get over the top of him but we were slightly above layline. Just high of the two boat circle both boats jybed and got rid of our kites...we rounded on the inside and had the slight advantage up the last beat....that is, with a penalty to do. We did our turn up the beat and followed Chris into the windward mark. The breeze shifted hard left again and totally died, pulling chris down river and giving us a chance to get back into the race. From there it was just a crap-shoot....who got the puff first, who got the puff longer. VanTol sailed away and deeper with pressure, then died out. We got a puff and sailed right at the the end we finished overlapped....Ender losing by three feet. After all that...three feet.

VanTol wins 2-1. It was a bitter-sweet day for Ender racing. Remember, our goal is always to move on; and while we lost the regatta, we lost to the only person we were allowed to and still get an invite to the Detroit Cup. See, VanTol is already in the Detroit Cup on his ISAF ranking, so then the invite moves down to the second place boat. So even though we lost only two races and we couldn't do what we needed to win; we still did what we needed to move on. Congrats to Chris, John, and Thad....every beginning match racer out there remember, these guys won the bare minimum races to make it to the final four; then got taken to three races in each round of the finals to win. It wasnt pretty, they just did what they needed to do. Any team can win when they're on a hot streak; its the good teams that can hang on while everything goes pear-shaped....and still give themselves a shot at the end.

I just have to say that I think Ender Racing Team got stronger with the addition of Paul Haulsey. Both he and Mike sailed flawlessly and consistently....and really put us in a position to win every race. This was great learning experience and this team will be every bit up to the challenge of the Detroit Cup.