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News - Deep South Regatta

2015 Lightning Deep South Regatta

Posted by on 7th Mar 2015

Photo by Beryl Foster

Dieball Sailing Team Member, Bill Wiggins recaps the 59th Annual Deep South Regatta in Savannah.

For almost 60-years, Savannah Yacht Club has hosted the Deep South Regatta in early spring. This year’s event was held over the February 28th – March 1st weekend. Despite unfavorable weather forecast, 11 teams made the trek to the Georgia’s oldest city to compete.

On Friday evening, local sailor Eric Oetgen opened his home to the group. Everyone enjoyed reconnecting after a long winter over cocktails and a fajita fiesta.

As teams began to arrive at the yacht club on Saturday morning, it became pretty evident that the weather was not going to cooperate. According to the Race Committee, chilly temperatures, rain, high winds and 42 degree water were not the best recipe. So a short postponement led to an abandonment of the day. Sunday morning brought similar temperatures and a bit less wind. So the teams headed out on the river.

River Currents

As always the case in this venue, the current played a large role in everyone’s strategy. In all races, the key was to get off the line and get to the west side of the Skidaway River before tacking along the shore out of the current. If done correctly, this would put you up current of the pack as you passed the white shoal marker and entered the Wilmington River. Some would even tack early in the Wilmington River to get even further up current before heading to the weather mark.

After rounding the weather mark, the key was to steer low enough to honor the shoal marker which you get to very quickly. If you were patient and held your course low even after the shoal, you would get a big push to the middle of the Skidaway River and swept to the leeward mark much quicker than the boats that sailed hotter angles.

Once around the leeward mark, you would continue on port along the east shore until you ran out of water, then tack and race back to the west shore for another lap.

On our boat, we really stopped watching the compass and focused more on keeping the boat going at full speed. Even if we saw what looked like a puff, we wouldn't make adjustments to get to it. It seemed more important to use the current as an advantage.

Our Dieball sails did a spectacular job for us. We setup our rig on the lighter side to keep the power on at all times. The Max-O Spinnaker was key to our downwind speed and strategy. The Bi-Radial design helped us stay fast while sailing extra low to take full advantage of the current.

Congrats to Eric Oetgen and his team for sailing a flawless event! I hope to see 60 boats for next year’s 60th Annual Deep South!!



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