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31 October 2017

2017 US IOM Nationals, Garland TX

2017 US IOM Nationals, Garland TX

Forty-one boats contested the US IOM Nationals on Lake Ray Hubbard, Garland, Texas held 20-22 October, this included four classy gents from Australia of which two even bought their wives (who kindly assisted with race management support).

The team of Rosco & Andree Bennett, Tim & Elaine Brown, Sean Wallis and Glenn Dawson arrived a couple of days prior in order to be well prepared for the event and to kick things off the first port of call was local “gas” station (directly across the road from our salubrious accommodation) to stock up with much needed refreshment supplies. To ensure that these were kept cold an esky was procured for the Australian Radio Sailing Team and after 15m of duct tape was used to reinforce the body the unit was trialed – “good to go” was the call!

After a couple of frothies it was time to head for dinner at the aptly named Rosco’s Texas Land & Cattle Steak House which was fitting given Rosco’s love of his greens, and the lack of them at this joint. Some poor menu selections lead to even more greasier foods than expected but the accompanying beer made up for it all. The Texas Land & Cattle was to be the home of the regatta for the coming few days. Long flights and a few beers and it was time to hit the hay, there were grand plans for the next day.

Up and about on our second day and first stop was Bass Pro Outdoor World. This place is amazing, Glenn described it as “BCF on steroids”, two massive floors of clothing, fishing gear, power boats, camping gear, a restaurant and guns and guns and more guns and even more guns. When you got dudes walking around with a gun in a holster on his side and another in the back of his pants only to buy another at the counter we felt a bit light on with the artillery, so we decided we should start packing some heat as well. Armed with our selection of rifles we knew that the Yanks wouldn’t want to mess with us!

There isn’t much else to do in Dallas, they told us that some bloke called JFK got killed there 50 odd years ago and that we had to have a look. Thirty USD later and a half hour Uber trip we found ourselves in downtown Dallas where we saw a couple of green crosses on the road. Some bloke said “look up at the building” to which six floors up was a window. “That’s where he did it” he said.  Evidently Lee Harvey Oswald was eating a bucket of chicken up in this building and shot the Prez. I was glad that he was the only Prez shot in Dallas!

So after getting the story from this bloke who then politely asked for a tip (bang goes another few bucks with this tipping stuff) we asked what else was there to see or do in this town – not much so it was back in the Uber to the hotel.

Thursday was Measurement & Registration Day, this was well coordinated. Aussie’s first followed by the rest of the World, I think that’s because we just hung around the measurement room long enough that they just wanted to get rid of us. The process however was quite efficient, scheduled measurement times were posted and you were allocated a number with your measurement time, this avoided any unnecessary hanging around and worked extremely well. Eight minutes done and dusted weighing keels, boats, all rigs and a tank test.

With measurement completed it was time to go for a sail, the hotel was walking distance to the rigging area so a couple of minutes away. After a good breeze in the morning we arrived mid-afternoon to a drifter but after a bit of sitting around we had a go with A rigs. Early on we thought our boat speed was pretty good but then a few of the Yanks turned up and gave us a bit of a flogging, Rosco decided that the sailing sucked and headed to the Steak House for a few cold ales while Glenn and I stuffed around for a while. Tim went AWOL getting caught up in the measurement proceedings (helping out) so didn’t get a sail in at all. It was game day tomorrow!

Race day and the man of excellence Mr Fred Rocha (who was our PRO) got the proceedings underway (albeit slightly delayed due to a shifty breeze) and the seeding races were sailed with an A rig however they were short lived. As the breeze increased and the waves built up the B rigs became the order of the day. Zvonko Jelacic from Croatia showed us all why he is the current World & defending US Champion stamping his dominance on the regatta right from the get go, not only does he have a good boat but he’s a magnificent sailor (and is partial to a quiet ale as well, so we got on just fine). It was a good day out for the Aussie’s with three of us, Rosco, Glenn & myself in the top 10 and Tim only a whisker outside.

Day two of the regatta saw B rigs out right from the start, the breeze was building early from the SE and with the long 8-10km fetch of the lake the waves were also building which meant some great surfing downwind but also created some challenges for us flat water sailors upwind. Rosco was heard making some big claims in one of the races while ahead of the world champ “Zvonko I’ve got you on toast” and with that the lead was short lived and Zvonko claimed yet another race win. To Rosco’s credit he finally cracked a win in the latter part of the day while Glenn had an up and down day and Tim slipped back in the fleet after struggling in a few races.

The final day again saw B rigs out at the start and while I was sitting in third overall with Rosco not far behind a solid performance was going to be required to pull in 2nd place overall which was being held by Mark Golison from the USA. The wind had done a complete 180 turn overnight and was blowing from the NW which made for a challenging course but Fred did an awesome job and got racing underway promptly.

Not to be outdone by Rosco I pulled off my first win for the regatta which more or less secured 3rd and the battle was on for 2nd. Glenn had some good races as well and going into the final race Golison was only four points ahead of me. Unfortunately a poor last race saw 2nd place go begging and I finished 3rd just 2 points behind the American while Rosco hung onto 4th, Glenn 7th with Tim 23rd overall.

The venue was excellent particularly in the S/SE breeze with the course right in front of us and parallel to the jetty we could walk along nearly the full length of the course. The racing was well managed by Fred and often the next heat was started as we retrieved our boats so very few delays between heats. My rating is 7 ½ out of 10.

The racing was awesome and given the challenging conditions there were very few issues on the water with none unresolved. The Americans were most welcoming and along with the other overseas competitors were great fun to have a beer or two with and some great friendships were formed. While there were many that made our trip fantastic there is a need to mention Gary Boell who was just an awesome guy and would do anything to ensure that we had a really great time.

There are plenty of international events on the sailing calendar and this along with the NZ Nationals are certainly events that you should consider if you want some overseas experience.

Overall Results:

  1. Zvonko Jelacic (CRO) 17pts, 2. Mark Golison (USA) 49pts, 3. Sean Wallis (AUS) 51pts, 4. Rosco Bennett (AUS) 61pts, 5. Steve Landeau (USA) 69pts, 6. Denis Astbury (BRA) 89.3pts, 7. Glenn Dawson (AUS) 96pts, 23. Tim Brown (AUS) 241.1pts

Sean Wallis







Aussies and Honorary Aussies at the US IOM Nationals closing ceremonies in their green shirts (from L): Rosco and Andree Bennett, Tim Brown, Sean Wallis, Fred Rocha, Gary Boell, Elaine Brown, Steve Landeau, and Glenn Dawson


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