SAIL RACE COMMITTEE
Jay Kaiser, chair
George (Buzz) Young
RACE COURSE AND INSTRUCTIONS
2023 RACE SCHEDULE
June 7: Race 1
July 12: Final Race and Party
July 29: Makeup Race and Party (if needed)
July 26: Race 1
August 30: Final Race and Party
September 6: Makeup Race and Party (if needed)
September 10: Regatta and Club Party
In July 1976, members of the club celebrated the Bicentennial with a sail race on July 4th (a Wednesday that year) off the Pier at Neff Park. That race generated so much excitement among the club’s sailors that they decided to make it a regular thing. The tradition, Wednesday night jib-and-main PHRF races, continues today, drawing new sailors and veteran racers alike. The competition, affectionately referred to as a beer-can race, serves as a regular date for club members to run around the buoys or join the dock committee at the end of the Pier. More recently, the club instituted an end-of-season race, The Kaiser Cup, a regatta for club members which takes place in September.
Much Ado about Racing
The weekly GPBC Wednesday sailboat races are run from the end of the pier by a small but dedicated, and utterly beloved Dock Committee, led by Jay Kaiser, namesake of the fabled and coveted Kaiser Cup. Jay’s usual supporting cast are Al “The Old Cannon Whacker” LeChard, Shirley Momjian, PC Sheila Tomkowiak and Sid LeChard. From week to week, any number of other club members will come out to hang with the DC, assist if needed, enjoy the race and socialize.
The starting line of the racecourse, which is also the finish line, is from the flagpole at the end of the pier to a yellow buoy set about 125 yards straight out. At 7:00 p.m. is the first gun… cannon, actually… signifying the beginning of the starting sequence. A second gun is set off at 7:05. For the next five minutes anywhere from six to twelve boats will prepare and jockey for optimum starting position when the race begins with a final cannon blast at 7:10.
The start of any race can be very exciting because all the boats are trying to get to the same place at the same time. And it takes place within shouting distance of the pier, up close and almost personal. Even though by the end of the race the boats can be fairly spread out, one-on-one duels for position at the finish can be very exciting too.
Obviously, the velocity and direction of the wind has everything to do with how long the race lasts. Typically, a race takes anywhere between 60 to 90 minutes. The race course itself is a triangular pattern that incorporates channel markers #3 and #5. A chart of the race course and race instructions can be downloaded here.
All club members are encouraged to come out to watch the start of a race and see what all the fuss is about. Hanging with the DC is a blast in itself (pun intended) and can be highly instructional. The truth of sailboat racing is it runs the gamut from white-knuckle, adrenaline-fueled excitement to soul-crushing boredom. Professor Kaiser describes our dear little beer can race as a weekly appointment to go sailing. We go out when it’s nice and we go out when it’s awful, including rain and strong winds. The only time we do not go racing is if the conditions are deemed unsafe by the Dock Committee.
Although the competition on the racecourse can be pretty intense, after the race it’s all camaraderie, good will, laughs and back slapping. Typically, the racers will retire to a local watering hole afterward to compare notes, support each other, discuss the race, have a beer and pizza, yuk it up, tell outrageous lies, and begin looking forward to the next race.
The final high point of any race usually comes the day after when Professor Kaiser publishes his recap. Jay’s recaps are informative, highly instructional, entertaining and loaded with wry humor. We all look forward to them, hoping if he calls one of us out it’s for something we did well and not something we screwed up.
Another great Kaiser Cup Regatta
The wind, the waves, and the warm sunshine were the winning formula for a glorious Lake St. Clair afternoon and the 8th annual GPBC Kaiser Cup Regatta. Eight boats came out to enjoy what turned out to be a fast winner-take-all race on September 11. The intrepid Dock Committee, anchored by the Old Cannon Whacker himself, Al LeChard, along with Shirley Momjian, assisted by Brad Birch and a host of onlookers, ran a flawless race. With Professor Jay Kaiser out on the race course instead his usual post on the dock, Dr. Mike Marsh, newly retired from racing, provided lively color commentary to the gathered spectators.
PC Buzz Young and his Conundrum crew of Paul Maiale and Dan Currier won the race, mainly due to a lucky break at the start. (Buzz says he owes a beer to new racer Erik Wahab.)
The traditional Kaiser Cup after-party was a smashing success. An unofficial head count of 65 attendees was testimony to the beautiful weather and enthusiasm for GPBC racing. Host PC Sheila Tomkowiak credits the success of the party to logistical support from Chris Kaiser, new member Kelly Basnett, Veronica Greiner, Sheri Allor, PC Jane Davies, and Sheila’s son, Philip Young. Thanks also go to the many attendees who brought dishes to pass. It was a yummy good time.
The awards ceremony acknowledged not just long-time racer Mike Marsh, who recently sold his boat, but also Don Healy, another freshly retired GPBC racer, going out on top of his game. Don accepted four blue, first-place flags, two for this season and two for the last. Also accepting flags for this season were Shahe Momjian, who kissed the presenter (his wife) when she bestowed a second-place flag. The crew of Saucy — Dale Scrace and family — took a third-place flag, and the Conundrum crew netted a second and a third.
Click here for photos from the regatta and after-party.
2022 first series results
The first series of 2022 ended with winds ENE at 7 to 9 knots, just enough to keep the sea down. Although boats were moving, the dock committee, headed up by Jay (The Professor) Kaiser, decided to shorten the course. Why? Pizza was getting cold and the beer was getting warm. It was a lovely evening for the first post-series festivities.
Results for the first series presented no upsets:
First Place – Don Healy, Second Wind
Second Place – Shahe Momjiam, Surge
Third Place – Buzz Young, Conundrum
2021 Race Results
Series 1 Results
First Place: Shahe Momjian and Don Healy (tie)
Second Place: Tim Bledsoe
Third Place: Dale Scrace
Series 2 Results
First Place: Don Healy
Second Place: Dale Scrace
Third Place: Shahe Momjian
Kaiser Cup Regatta
A fleet of 11 boats turned out for the seventh annual Kaiser Cup on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. Shahe Momjian won the coveted trophy this year, his second Cup win.