LAKE WACCAMAW, N.C. – Sixteen skippers arrived for the 30th Isotope Nationals, Aug. 26-27. Of those 16, three had participated in the first Nationals in 1977. Three others were arriving for their very first time. The forecast was promising, 6-8 knots, ideal Isotope sailing weather. Boats started to arrive and set up Friday afternoon. A 1:30 competitors’ meeting on Saturday allowed the late arrivals an 8:00 a.m. departure out of Raleigh and still arrive in time to setup. Steak dinner was planned for Saturday, and Sunday first signal was 8:30 a.m.Howard Alexander, one of the original three, was PRO for the event, as he still did not have a main sail for his boat. Jack Hobbs and Valerie Nieman traveled down from Greensboro to support the Isotope fleet with RC services. Joleen Rasmussen took care of the registration, scoring, and protest committee. Gil Vick, David Sessoms, and Mike Cooper from Lake Waccamaw filled in RC with mark boat, signal boat, local expertise.
New to the Nationals this year is;
- Glenn Howell, Raleigh, NC. Glenn has owned his Isotope for three years and uses it to practice fine tuning his racing techniques. Glenn also races an F-31, but finds that Isotope really gives his a chance to feel the effect of every adjustment and wind shift, and with an active fleet in the Raleigh area, Glenn can count on having 8-10 boats on the line.
- Matthew Harrell, Middlesex, NC. Matthew owns the boat with his father, Tommy. They race the boat along with other family members and neighbors on five other catamarans on Buckhorn Reservoir. Matthew is on the UNC Chapel Hill Sailing Team. The Harrells have owned the boat for so long, they can’t recall how long.
- Patrick Duke, Holly Springs, NC. Patrick purchased his boat last year in partnership with his boss as a chance to sail a catamaran with his boys, Corbin (age 8) and JJ (age 5). Patrick has been making small adjustments to his boat, replacing the aluminum dolphin striker with one made of carbon fiber, changing the rudder lines to be inside the tube, just to clean up the appearances.
- Corbin raced with his Dad, Patrick
- JJ raced with Joleen, and held the tiller going down wind in the three races on Saturday.
- When not on the water, the Isotope makes a great set of monkey bars for the boys
Other Interesting Facts Alan Wolf’s #007 sustained a major hole at the start of the third race on Saturday. Both Alan and Frank III (#927) were starting port, Frank III to windward of Alan. As Alan sheeted in to head up and clear the starboad starters, Frank III bore off to duck below Alan. Amazing how much speed an Isotope picks up as it bears off to duck. Frank nicely t-boned the center of Alan's hull. Alan and Frank III both headed to shore, Frank to offer Alan the use of Frank's boat for the rest of the regatta. What a wonderful offer, but not necessary. RC filed for redress. Alan received the average of R1/R2 for the third race. With a bit of duct tape, Alan won the first race on Sunday and finished 5th overall in the Nationals.
For a firsthand perspective, read this account by Regatta Winner Glenn Howell:
Ups, Downs, and Digging Out 2006 Isotope Nationals, Lake Waccamaw, NC. Canal Cove Road along the western shore of Lake Waccamaw is a washboard of ups and downs. It seems that soil was dug out of the canal and used to create the roadbed and house lots along the western lakefront: A fitting corollary to the 2006 Isotope Nationals. It is just real hard to finish consistently in this fleet made up of veterans and past national champs. Make one mistake and they will bury you. Six of the 14 competitors have won the nationals before, and two others have won the coveted Governor’s Cup in the last two years. You are on a roller coaster of ups and downs and you are constantly digging out. Frank Meldau (#100) invented the boat in the early 60’s and if you think an old fart can’t sail the heck out of an Isotope, you are sorely mistaken. He wears a Lawrence of Arabia type white hat so you can’t miss him breathing down your neck. We crossed tacks in the 5th race four times, twice by inches. As long as we are naming folks, Eric Rasmussen (#42) winner of the 2004 and 2005 nationals, had two firsts and a second for a intimidating total of 4 points going into the final two races on day two. The next closest competitor (#92) had 11 points, with Alastair McEwan a close 12 points. No contest, right? Regatta over, right? Hold on a minute, this is the Isotope Fleet! After waiting for the wind to build, the race committee starts race four. I, #92, starting on port tack in clear air, reach the windward and leeward marks clear ahead of the fleet, then heads to the right on port tack. Alan Wolf (#007), ’01 champ, is within striking distance. Some of the fleet goes left. I’ve got to think about covering the lefties even if they are back in the fleet so I may tack on a big header, but should I? OK, here it is…about 60% of the distance to the layline…should I go or not? Remember you are going to lose a lot of ground when you tack on a catamaran because the other guys are still moving fast while you bring your two hulls almost to a standstill so if you make four tacks to their two you better have a good reason. OK this header is just too tempting and I’m justifying it by covering the folks who went left….tack! Perfect, I’m on the favored tack for a good distance then I get another big header which I sail into for a while to let it mature and when I tack I am nearly heading for the mark, apparently well ahead! What a genius! Not so fast smarty pants, remember ups and downs reign on this lake. I get headed again, get frustrated knowing that Alan and another boat are going to beat me to the windward mark, so I tack a little early for the mark…then get headed again and touch the mark, loosing three more boats in my penalty turn. #92 finishes 6th. How dumb can that be? How can you be so dumb as to slip from 1st to 6th? Alan Wolf finished first. But lookie’ there, Eric finished in the bottom quarter somewhere so there is hope! Ups and downs. Digging out.Final race #5. I squeeze out a few boats barging at the pin on port. Sly fox that he is, Frank Meldau, moving suddenly into my field of vision from the left, is trying to squeeze in too and he doesn’t see me. LEEWARD BOAT….LEEWARD BOAT!! I give way slightly but there is no contact as Frank luffs up to windward. Rounding the windward mark “head in the boat,” quickly easing main and jib, adjusting barber-hauler, raising centerboard, easing outhaul….but darn if Frank hasn’t slipped inside sailing deeper and going just about as fast. Focus…focus…focus, need room to jibe onto port without fouling him. OK, go. I pop the boom around as Frank hollers STARBOARD BOAT! HOLD YOUR COURSE FRANK! I’m afraid to look at my sails because I’m staring at the Isotope coming down on me fast. He missed my stern by a few inches, gentleman that he is, he did hold his course and did not try to manufacture a foul by turning into me. That’s when I noticed my jib was poorly trimmed…focus. We crossed again on the windward leg with 92 just ahead on starboard headed for the finish line. Frank finished second in race 6 and Eric finished fourth. 92 finally won a race! And in the end, with Eric finishing 4th, it was enough to clinch the 2006 Nationals trophy.These boats are great fun. Like little sports cars, they are fast and responsive. The competition and camaraderie are great. And what can one say about Lake Waccamaw….reliable sea breeze in spite of the fresh water…smooth, scratchless, kind-to-the-hulls sandy beach, nice facility 15 paces from the shore with showers, kitchen, barbeque, and second floor dining area, plenty of parking, quick and easy haul-out, nice folks, great race committee (thanks Howard!). So what’s not to like? Like the idea of sailing an Isotope? Call Rhoda 919-225-1605 Joleen at 919-732-5410. The Fleet sails regularly at Kerr Lake, Jordan Lake, and Lake Townsend, in addition to traveling the open catamaran invitational in the area.