Thanks to Todd McBee, USA 1578, Bad Pony for this report:

October 1-3 marked the 16th Annual Commonwealth Cup Regatta on Kentucky and Barkley Lakes in Western Kentucky. The Commonwealth Cup is the only regatta hosted by the social club, and as such they tend to throw lots of money and alcohol at it. Sort of an “if you pour it, they will come” approach. To that end, the club offered hand made swag bags boasting Kentucky Bourbon to all entries, and the trophies were engraved bottles of some of Kentucky’s finest bourbon in addition to live music, food and adult beverages from sun up till last call in the wee hours of the night. 10 boats from across fly-over country (Kansas, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee and Indiana) made the trip to the resort town of Grand Rivers, KY for the annual event. Competitors began arriving around noon on Friday, and by 10:00 that night, all but one boat was resting comfortably dockside. Saturday morning brought rain. LOTS of rain and a very ugly looking radar image. Facing a lengthy tow to the racing area and potential severe weather, the fleet postponed ashore and enjoyed breakfast-Bloody Mary’s, screwdrivers and mimosas at Docker’s Bayside Restaurant as we waited for word from the race committee of favorable conditions and for the worst of the front to pass. By 10:30, the fleet was either bored or properly tuned up from the breakfast libations and made the decision to cast off and proceed to the racecourse. I wish I could say the skies cleared and it was a gorgeous fall day. Nope. It was most definitely a soggy, gray day, but no thunder, and best of all a steady 5-8 kt southwesterly breeze awaited us on Kentucky Lake. Visibility at times dropped to 1/4 mile with moderate rain but no thunder. The race committee managed to fire off three W/L races in a steady breeze that saw the faintest hints of white caps trying to form. Perfect. Nashville’s Robert Bourquin, and perennial favorites aboard Mach, experienced an exploded cap shroud pin that nearly cost them their rig. They were forced to retire after one race. Local Todd McBee and Scott Binzer aboard Bad Pony won the first race and finished the day with a 1,3,3 to lead the regatta after day one. Nashville native Denis Colby aboard Dandelion was in second with a 4,1,4 and Kansas’ own Joel Ericson aboard Pure Energy posted a 2,11,1. The 11 being the unfortunate result of mistaking the pin end of the start line as a leeward gate and therefore failing to sail the racecourse. An unfortunate miscue that would prove tough to overcome. The fleet retired to nearby Lighthouse Landing Resort and Marina for the night. Sunday brought puffy white clouds, puffy gray clouds, and occasional sunshine to the area and again a steady 5-8 kts of westerly breeze. The sunshine and lack of rain gave the crews an opportunity to dry all the wet sails and gear from the previous day. Again the race committee got three W/L races off and they were doozies! It has been a long time since I’ve sailed an inland venue that featured 20 degree oscillating shifts. The shifts made sailors look like heroes, zeros, and back again. If you were hung outside a shift you had two options: 1) do nothing and pray it came back, or 2) take some transoms and get inside the shift. As Kenny Rogers said so well, “You’ve got to know when to hold’em, know when to fold’em.” Joel Ericson aboard Pure Energy played his hand better than anyone, posting a 4,2,2 on the final day and did his very best to overcome the 11 he posted the day before. Bad Pony and crew managed to come from the back of the bus in each of the three races to post a 3,6,3 and narrowly avoid catastrophe. Denis Colby aboard Dandelion posted a 1,4,8 to secure his spot on the podium. Over the two days, there were six races and five race winners. This is a testament to the parity across the fleet. There were no rockstars, and no scrubs either. Solid close competition all the way around the course. All the boats were on the line, on time, jockeying for position, and with little or no verbal exchanges.. Fantastic racing. Awards were presented to the top three positions with personalized bottles of bourbon as the take home trophy, and the perpetual trophy was presented as well to the regatta winners Todd McBee, Scott Binzer and Abbie Binzer aboard Bad Pony. Ted Lischer took home the “Ahhhh” award for just missing the podium-the half gallon of Woodford Reserve hopefully soothed the agony of defeat.
Final Standings: *indicates individual race winners

  1. *Todd McBee/Scott Binzer – Bad Pony – 19 pts
  2. *Joel Ericson – Pure Energy – 22 pts (with an 11!)
  3. *Denis Colby – Dandelion – 22 pts
  4. *Ted Lischer – Trailer Swift – 28 pts
  5. Brad Stowe – Priapism – 28 pts
  6. Bruce Berner – Ambush – 34 pts
  7. *Robert Bourquin – Mach – 35 pts (2 dnf’s due to broken shroud pin)
  8. Sam Anderson – Baby J – 41 pts
  9. Fred Bartrom – Rat Rod – 49 pts
  10. Anthony Hubbard – Syndicate – 56 pts (sailed the weekend with only 2 aboard and still beat people)

I want to thank everyone who made the trip to our big lakes and little resort community. Despite the weather, it was absolutely the best racing I’ve experienced in a long time. Not too light. Not too strong. Fantastic competition top to bottom. Weekend spent with my dearest friends. I think that’s what small boat sailing is all about.

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