2021 Toilet Bowl or Small Lake with Big Shifts

The Americas Cup, Sail GP, World Sailing, and others are looking for a new formula to attract spectators and add dynamic to the sport of sailing. Millions of dollars are invested in creating a dramatic sailboat race with frequent lead changes and unpredictable finishes. Look no more, ladies and gentlemen! A small but dedicated group of Finn sailors found a solution to all of the above problems. The solution is called the Toilet Bowl regatta on the tiny, but famous Lake Cazenovia in the eponymous town of the finger lake region in upstate New York. The venue offers 180-degree shifts, downdrafts, updrafts, 10-knot puffs, and other unexplained wind phenomena equal to UFO sightings and alien abductions.

On the first day of the regatta, there was no lack of dramatic lead changes, mid-fleet reshuffling, and mark pileups. Fifteen fearless weekend warriors from around New England and Midwest gathered to decide once and for all, at least till the upcoming year, who would become the Toilet Bowl Prince, the lord of the spindrifts, and commander of the eddies.

Using dark sorcery and forbidden magic, Chuck “Dumbledore” Rudinsky commended the winds and tamed the shifts in his favor, taking an early lead in the race one, followed by Fredericko Meira and Rody “the Secretary” Mazin. Taking such development of the situation personally, Rody, inspired by the great comebacks of the past and unwilling to give up, managed to crawl out of the bad start and get a bullet in the second race. Stephen Smeulders defining all the odds and favoring Rody, took the second place right out of the hands of the “dark sorcerer” Chuck, who finished in the third. The races three and four wins went to Derek Mess, who came back into the Finn sailing after the COVID seclusion. It took him a few races to remember the difference between port and starboard and find a few favorable shifts. Races five through eight were battled tight till the finish line between USA 16, CAN 115, USA 40, USA 1000, and USA 101, who on average led the rest of the fleet by a good margin. Of course, it is commendable and worth mentioning that Guss “Unbreakable” Miller in good health and lifted spirits sailed the racecourse as well. Gus showed incredible stamina, agility, and understanding of the racecourse, sometimes getting to the first mark with the leading group.

Given the weather conditions on Lake Cazenovia, it was absolutely astonishing to see a proper course set. The Race Committee had enough patience, experience, and assertiveness to give the starts just in time, making for a fun regatta. BRAVO ZULU to the Willow Bank Yacht Club! Some of the “Ocean People” are frequently complaining about the small lake sailing and the unfairness of the unpredictable weather conditions. It seems that this stereotype has been shattered. All you need is a competent race committee. There is a lot to learn about sailboat tactics and strategy on a small lake, risk management, fleet control, and overall situational awareness.

The success of the top five boats was not a big surprise. These sailors have been practicing and sailing around the country the most. Starting in late April, all five began practicing on the Buzzards Bay, completed a clinic in the Wild Harbor, sailed Wickford Regatta in early June, U.S. Nationals in Corpus Christi, Great Lakes in Michigan, and the Tune-Up Regatta in Canandaigua. Always helping and collaborating with each other on and off the water, they built a solid Finn community in the Northeast and the Great Lakes regions. “Sailing with Rody this summer was very beneficial for my performance,” stated Chuck Rudinsky, “I gained a lot by sailing in a variety of conditions and being debriefed after each training session and each regatta day.” This is what Finn sailing is all about, it is not only the regattas that matter but everything associated with them, training, traveling, meeting friends and like-minded people. Take a break from politics and trivial issues of our lives, come out and sail with the Finnsters! It is seldom you hear conversations about anything else at the boat park but sailing.

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Rodion Mazin