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First Annual Texas Proa Championships 2008 Race Report

Page history last edited by TdeM 12 years, 1 month ago Saved with comment

Oct 5, 2008


We have, finally, had a proa race and weekend sailabout among the Texas proa denizens, at Birch Creek State Park at Lake Somerville.
Attending were:

Me, with Skate, my 21' x 8.5' schooner rigged proa
John Wright, with the smaller of his proas, 14'x (approx) 7'
Skip Johnson, with P52, (approx) 23' x (approx) 11'
Laurent Coquilleau, with his 21' x 11' proa
Pete Brigaitis, my sailing buddy who volunteered to come and take pictures, ride on the committee boat or crew, as needed.
Susie, Skip's wife, who very kindly brought her ski boat to act as committee boat, rescue boat if needed, and tow boat for Laurent's tow test.

In brief, we had a good time. Pete and Laurent and I camped Friday night at Birch Creek, and got a good picture of a very rare pygmy owl:



who sat and peered at us in the dark for five minutes or so. The ranger didn't believe we had seen a pygmy until he saw the pictures, then he wanted a copy. Very cool.  (Later note: it turns out this is not a rare owl after all.  Oh well)

Saturday morning Skip and John and Susie showed up, we all went to the ramp where they were ready very quickly and on the water in about ten minutes, even with P52 having to extend to 11' on the trailer. That's very fast and easy, it was impressive how well worked out it was.

John's rig on his 14'er was astonishing. I'm not sure I can describe it. It's a circular sail, with a light rod around the edge so the sail holds shape. It's supported at the top by the mast, and at the bottom by a spar that extends out from the lee gunwale more or less horizontally to lee. There are sheets to the fore and aft edges. In effect it's like a Bolger/AYRS rig, but without the flogging or big spar when shunting. An added feature is that the 'foot' of the sail
out to lee, so the force vector can tilted, to reduce overturning moment. I'm not sure that's clear, it will help to see the pictures and video. I saw it on the beach and was not sure how or if it would work; then he took off and calmly sailed away. Amazing, very nice boat.

In an hour even I was ready. Skip had hoisted his new 150 ft^2 crab claw, but had decided it was too much for the 15 mph or so we had blowing, so he switched to his 48 ft^2 club footed boom. We made a running start and headed for the dam, about five miles from our launch. The route was a close reach out and a broad reach back. Pete and I on my boat took the lead, got close to the dam, looked for a mark to round, couldn't find the buoy we thought would be there, so we just shunted and headed back. We had opened up a good lead on Skip and Laurent in P52, who had in turn opened up a lead on John. The issue of boatspeed seemed settled, so we adopted the 'turn when the lead boat gets to you' handicap system, which reduced the margin some.  The final finish order was:

Skate, sailed by Kevin and Pete
P52, sailed by Skip and Laurent
Pi (ok, I made that up, but it's appropriate), sailed by John

The boats were so dissimilar in type and length and rig, a beach boat vs a cruiser vs a small experimental boat with a really unique rig, that we decided to forgo further formal racing for just messing about and taking rides.

We had lunch, Laurent got his boat in the water and did a tow test to establish where his board and rudder should be when he's sailing with a mast rather than a kite. We took turns sailing in each other's boats, lots zipping around in a nice 15 mph breeze.

So the first annual Texas Proa Championships is done. One immediate conclusion is that this is a fine time of year for it, nice and breezy and not too hot. It's not locked down that we'll always hold it at Somerville, if you're a Texas area sailor who's interested in bringing a proa to the next one email me, if you want to come you get a vote on format and location, as do each of the founding members, of course. I hope we can attract more boats next year, though it was nice to see four proas lined up on a little sandy beach and even nicer to see three on the water together.


Here are some videos:







Come out and race if you're in the area!



     Kevin O'Neill



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