By Dave Ingram
The Florida 300 was my first longish adventure race and even though it was on the most tame part of the Worrell 1000 legs I took it quite seriously when it came to safety and boat prep. My first priority was to make it an uneventful trip for my ground crew and pusher “sweetness” (my wife) who I cannot thank enough! She was freaking awesome she was on the beach with catracs in hand and a cooler with beer and subs which by the way were the best beers and subs EVER! I also was lucky enough to talk my brother into crewing for me which will be a memory that I will always cherish. He also did a pretty good job of providing some live feed action which at the time I found to be a huge distraction and an annoyance, seek but now as I sit with a cool rummy viewing some awesome video my position has changed, you nailed it bro! The videos are still up on our website solarwind.solarI also want to thank Mr. Kohl who’s advice and experience was freaking money! Ted my friend you are partnered with a bona fide super freak! I also want to thank Rick Loewen who just showed up and was there to help us and video our adventure and also provided some great advice. Jamie Livingston whom I’ve always been a fan gave me a quick debrief every day of what to expect on the first few legs which was spot on! When you are a virgin every piece of advice is gold.
Dave Ingram and his incredible ground crew Kathy.
Photo from the excellent Team Solar Wind Facebook and Webpage (links below)
On to the race. Day 1: although the day was basically day 1 of the Steeplechase which I have done many times we also needed to sail past Angel fish creek to Biscane Key. The forecast called for a 65 mile beat up the keys which falls nicely into my wheelhouse. The breeze was in the mid to upper teens all day which wasn’t technically challenging but a grind. The leg didn’t get interesting until the very end. There was an outgoing tide and an east breeze which stacked up the smallish chop outside Biscayne Bay. We came off the throttle because it was something I hadn’t dealt with before. It was my first time dealing with waves that would stand up and break within a few seconds and we had to sort it out on the fly. When we met out first sketchy wave I turned and ran which was a mistake and fortunately we got past my mistake with only a lost hat and near wash off. Turning the bows into the breaking waves presented a better angle of attack for boat stability and lessened the likelihood of a capsize. You definitely DO NOT want to be righting a boat in those conditions. Fortunately wemade it through the washing machine and finished only losing Jay Sonnenklar and Steve Lohmeyer.
Safety is the priority when racing offshore. (Photos from Team Solar Wind)
Day 2 was a simple jib reach and was an exercise in energy management. Go as fast as you can without burning yourself out too early. Again, not a technically challenging leg but you needed to be fit and smart, we did neither this leg and many lessons were learned. Todd Hart and Dalton Tebo crushed this leg!
Day 3 was a bit softer but I was spent and was over it before we pushed off the beach. It was also a day of who could hold the kite the longest and make it pay. Dick MacDonald and Mark Herendeen had it working best and got paid!
Day 4 was a freaking pleasure cruise and an absolute delight! This leg was in my home water and you cannot underestimate that feeling of sailing in water that you own. We never had a great start and day four was no exception. We fought our way through the fleet settling in behind another virgin Charles Tomeo who wasn’t sailing like a virgin, I was very pleased to be holding off Mr. Hart all day but in the last two miles he, Dick and Larry were on freaking fire and it pissed me off to no end to hold them off for 50 miles only have them steel it from me in the last two miles. Fortunately we were able to fend them off and lock in our finish position. We ended up finishing second in class and fifth overall. But the most memorable moment for me was when Tad paid his rum debt to Todd and Todd immediately turned over his rum trophy to me, it is easily the best trophy ever and it still sits uncracked on my mantel and I will remain uncracked until next year when Mr. Hart is on the beach with us at the Islander next year.
Huge thanks to Dave and Team Solar Wind for providing this writeup and great photos
I am a hard core buoy class racing guy but I’ve already signed on to crew for another team next year. 300 miles works for me… okay I’d be willing to sail around the Cape and finish in Daytona next year.
A very special thanks goes out the Larry Ferber, Warren Green, Chuck Burgeron and Craig Van Eaton. If it weren’t for Larry’s passion and persistence I would have passed on this event. Thank you Larry for talking me into something I would have happily taken a pass.
I know this story is very F18 focused but those are my people I mean no disrespect the open or N20 fleet. Kirk Newkirk did this regatta at 65 years old with Tom Whitehurst and absolutely slayed it, Kirk without a doubt is my hero. Jay Sonelkar and Steve Lohmeyer can make a N20 smoke and their miles and ability shined through loud and clear. Kudo’s gentlemen and very well done!
Team Solar Wind Links:
Live Feed Archive: new.livestream.com/accounts/8447390/events/2994520
Team Solar Wind Website: www.solarwind.solar