Ron Payne Ocean Regatta

Ft. Lauderdale, FL, USA, March 21, 2021.

by Alex Pline

The Ron Payne “Ocean Race” typically a big breeze and waves event in the ocean off Ft Lauderdale Florida but this year like a lot of other things was anything but typical. It was stop #4 of the revised south Florida winter series consisting of the Rescheduled 2020 DonQ, Miami Snipe Invite, Commodore Rasco, Ron Payne Ocean Race and the 2021 DonQ. Lauderdale Yacht Club was willing and able to host the regatta safely despite the ongoing pandemic.

There was some big breeze for several teams that went out to practice on Friday afternoon, but with the passage of a “cold front” (from 85 to 75 degrees!) the breeze was from a Northwesterly offshore direction. The fleet was towed out on Saturday morning due to adverse current and waited for wind. At times, it looked like the breeze was going to fill from the prevailing easterly direction, however they were just head fakes and never lasted more than about 15 minutes, just enough time to get off a few practice starts to keep the fleet engaged. At 3:30 pm the RC called it for the day, ordered the mark bots home and towed the fleet in. As a side note, this is the first time I’ve seen these automated marks in action. They make tremendous sense in places like Ft. Lauderdale where conditions can put competitors in over 100′ of water making setting marks very challenging for the race committee, not to mention damaging the reefs below the surface.

Connie Commette arranged a Saturday night group get together outside at a local restaurant so many of the sailors were able to have a safe social event if they chose to attend. This has more or less been the way all regatta social events in the last year have gone. A nice compromise that has worked out really well.

Sunday morning brought even cooler temps, cloudy skies and more NW breeze, but it was stable enough to get racing going a few hours earlier than Saturday.  The windward mark was tucked up almost onto the beach and that made the shifty conditions even moreso. The racing was more like sailing on a big lake than the ocean with 45-60 degree oscillating shifts. You had to be on your game because if you missed a shift it was easy to go from the front to the back, and vice versa!

The top 3 teams of Augie Diaz/Taylor Scheuermann, Ernesto Rodriguez/Kathleen Tocke and Luciano Pesci/Adriana Quiroga were all close after the scheduled three races. As there was still time left, the Race Committee was able to run another two races despite the conditions getting very soft at times. After 5 races a discard was allowed, but even with the drop allowing  Ernesto Rodriguez/Kathleen Tocke to drop a 13 in the last race after getting caught on the wrong side of the course, Augie Diaz/Taylor Scheuermann had the most consistent set of finishes to win the regatta. Augie said it was a “super difficult fleet and conditions, was literally anybody’s game to win and I feel very fortunate that we were able to prevail.”

A big thanks to Peter and Connie Commette and the volunteers at the Lauderdale Yacht Club for putting on a great event!

Results after 5 races (1 discard):

  1. Augie Diaz & Taylor Scheuermann, 9
  2. Ernesto Rodriguez & Kathleen Tocke, 13
  3. Luciano Pesci & Adriana Quiroga, 14
  4. Peter Commette & Connie Commette, 20
  5. Ivan Shestopalov & Lexi Pline, 24

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