2022 Midwinter Championship Regatta Report
The 18th Annual Marco Island Midwinter Championship was a fantastic conclusion to the 2022 RC Laser Southern Circuit regattas. RC Laser fleets in Coconut Creek, The Villages, Sarasota and Punta Gorda all hosted one day regattas spread over 11 days leading to the 22-boat midwinter championship on March 5th and 6th at Mackle Park in Marco Island, FL.
For all the years of Midwinter Championship hosting, Rocky and Mary Lee Cale were honored by the host fleet and regatta skippers for their years of commitment to making this event the premier regatta & venue to attend in all of RC sailing.
Saturday’s race day brought fresh and building easterly winds in the 7-14 mph range. Regatta Chairman, Rocky Cale and RD, Dave Branning, were salivating over the great breeze that allowed for large two-lap courses both days. We were able to complete 36 heats over the two days of races in a combined gold and silver fleet format. From the jump, Barr Batzer, from Lighthouse Point, Fl, posted six first place finishes on day one with defending and nine-time champion, Jim Kaighin, from the Abacos, grabbing two firsts and six seconds. Unfortunately, Kaighin had a boat issue DNF Saturday as a certain throw-out. For Batzer and Kaighin, at the top of the Gold Fleet, this was battle number one for the whole regatta. The race for third was another up-for-grab contest with Bill Bentz, Larry Lefczik, Bob Tallman, Chuck Weaver and Eric Leitner all looking to stay in the mix. In the Silver Fleet, Fred DeSantis, from Ocean City, NJ, looked like the guy to beat as he established a firm hold on first place on Saturday. Hal Steward, Joel Krisoff, Harry Henkel, Roger Walker and Richard Phelps were in a dog fight for a podium finish.
Sunday’s winds stayed in the teens and gradually swung toward the south. Skippers again stayed at the high end of the “B” sail choice putting a premium on effective boat handling. Jim Kaighin, determined to eat away at his deficit, actually won the day on gross score by one point over Barr Batzer but Barr’s lead was too much to overcome. These two talented skippers put on a tacking duel all day and, in the end, both received a huge spectator applause as they crossed the line. The battle for third was won by Bill Bentz, from Ft. Lauderdale, who finished 12 points up on Larry Lefczik in fourth and Eric Leitner in fifth. Bill was the only other Gold Fleet skipper to win a race on Sunday. Barr and Jim, even while dueling, were able to hold off the rest of the fleet. In the Silver Fleet, Fred DeSantis stayed in control and won by seven points over Hal Steward in second and Joel Krisoff in third.
Special awards were given to Barr Batzer, winning the Hank Buchanan award as the winner of the first gold fleet race. The race committee selected local skipper, Happy Fox, who was named the “Sail Like 53” award winner, named for AMYA Hall of Fame inductee, David Brawner, who exhibited a career of Corinthian sailing and sportsmanship. I would be remiss if I did not mention that the entire fleet was as calm and sportsmanlike as anyone could remember. Lots of play-by-play bantering between skippers was the norm and many new friends were made walking up and down the course.
Summary of the 18th Annual Marco Island RC Laser Midwinter Championship
Date: March 5-6, 2022
Location: Mackle Park, Marco Island, FL
Host Club: Marco Island RC Laser Fleet
Winds 7-14 mph
Races Completed: 18 in gold; 17 in Silver
Scoring: low point with two throw-outs; All races under the I Flag
Race Committee: Regatta Co-Chairman: Rocky and Mary Lee Cale; Dave Branning, PRO; Finish Line Judge, Nick Mortgu; Scorekeepers: Mary Beth DeSantis, Beth Lippincott, Elaine Hepkin and Don Armstrong