2023 Marco Island RC Laser Midwinter Championship Report

by Dave Branning, Race Director

The 19th Annual Marco Island RC Laser Midwinter Championship lived up to its reputation as the premier RC Laser regatta in the USA. Why is that? First, it is the venue! The lake at Mackle Park is spectacular for RC racing and has the best launching and retrieval dock in the country. It has a sizable pavilion and even a viewing grandstand. If Hobe Sound is the new shiny venue in Florida, Marco Island’s Mackle Park is the best kept secret as a spectacular regatta venue. Ask the skippers who have raced at both venues.

Due to the initiative of local Marco Island MYC skippers, Terry Naylon and Don Armstrong, the City of Marco Island named the entire RC facility the Cale Model Yacht Sailing Center. A handsome naming plaque was presented to Rocky and Mary Lee Cale, for their years of dedication and undying efforts in making RC sailing and the RC Laser Midwinter Championship successful for all these 19 years. The Cale’s are the second reason why this regatta is so successful.

This easily could be called the Mid-Summer Regatta as the temperatures were in the high eighties both days. Day one, with ten to fifteen knots of wind from the SE, we were able to hold four two-fleet seeding heats and then divide the results into a gold and silver fleet grouping. At the end of the seeding heats, Jim Kaighin from Marsh Harbour, Abacos, led Barr Batzer, from Lighthouse Point, FL, by one point. Kaighin is a ten-time winner of this regatta and Batzer is the defending champion. Larry Lefczik, Bill Bentz and Scott Rice, all Floridians, were in contending position to challenge the leaders.

In the afternoon, with the fleets now separated into Gold and Silver, racing now became a bit tighter. The Kaighin/Batzer show stood out as the skippers-in-control. After day one, the gold fleet completed ten full races and Barr Batzer, with 16 points, had the lead and a line score of seven firsts and three thirds. Jim Kaighin, now in second place, five points back, had races of three firsts, three seconds, two thirds and a fourth in a 13-boat fleet. Larry Lefczik, from New Port Richey, FL, was in third with 38 points and Ft. Lauderdale’s Bill Bentz, in fourth with 45 points. Scott Rice, from Boca Raton, FL, with 52 points in fifth and Charlie Sumner, from Delray Beach, nine back from Scott.

The silver fleet started Sunday morning sailing two heats to catch up to the gold fleet’s ten previous day’s races. The wind forecast for the day was two to four knots and it took a little time to get there. With a tough westerly direction, the RC created a reaching leg then a downwind leg with a long windward leg followed by another run and a beat to the finish. It worked! The wind did freshen to five to seven knots but the day was all A-sail. After silver’s ten races, Palm City, Florida’s, Henry DeWolf took over first place leading Bob Tallman by six points and Harry Henkel by eleven. Richard Phelps and Glen Chalder were not far off the pace in fourth and fifth. The Sunday gold fleet contest was a treat to watch. Seven races were completed and Barr Batzer held off Jim Kaighin by winning four of the seven with two seconds. Jim Kaighin hung tough and kept it close but Barr had two throw-outs totaling 15 points and Jim had throw-outs totaling 12 points. Barr took the championship for the second year in a row by an 11-point score.

The silver fleet contest was won by Henry DeWolf who led this fleet from start to finish. Myles Loesel finished second by eight points with Bob Tallman in third, three points behind Loesel. One of the prized awards at this annual regatta is the “Sail like 53” award given in memory of past AMYA president, and long-time Midwinter Race Director David Brawner, for outstanding sportsmanship.  This year’s winner is Jim Kaighin, who has competed in the Midwinters 18 of the 19 years, winning 10 of those years.  Jim is the epitome of the Corinthian spirit of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct both on, and off, the race course and the announcement of his name as this year’s winner was greeted with a standing ovation. One of the most unique initiatives this regatta did was create a leader board much like golf has done to let the spectators know what is going on with the passing groups. Since Marco Island’s venue has a large spectator following, Don Armstrong created a leader board showing the top six skippers currently in the standings of both fleets and paraded the board past the crowd. It was quite the rave and was appreciated by all.

Kudos, of course, goes to Rocky and Mary Lee Cale, the MIMYC team and the City of Marco Island. Thanks to Rocky for all the buoy manipulation to keep the course right and to Mary Lee Cale and Don Armstrong for the scoring. Thanks as well to the finish line team of ClassSecretary, Nick Mortgu, Jane Ritter, Mary Beth DeSantis, and Elaine Hepkin.

Summary of the 2023 19th Annual Marco Island RC Laser Midwinter Championship
Date: March 4-5, 2023
Location: Mackle Park, Marco Island, FL
Host Club: Marco Island Model YC
Entries: 26
Winds 4-11 mph
Races Completed: 8 seeding heats; 33 races
Scoring: 4 seeding races. Then Gold and Silver fleets; low point w/ two throw outs.
Race Committee: PRO: Dave Branning; Chase boat/buoys: Rocky Cale: Finish Line judge:
Nick Mortgu; Scoring/Results: Mary Lee Cale & Don Armstrong; Scorers: Jane Ritter, Mary
Beth DeSantis and Elaine Hepkin. Leader Board: Don Armstrong

Place Skipper Points
1 Barr Batzer 21
2 Jim Kaighin 32
3 Bill Bentz 51
4 Larry Lefczik 54
5 Scott Rice 69
6 Chuck Weaver 94
7 Bob Shapiro 100
8 Tony Corkell 110
9 Joel Krissoff 111
10 Happy Fox 115
11 Roger Walker 120
12 Terry Naylon 128
13 Fred DeSantis 130
Place Skipper Points
1 Henry DeWolf 57
2 Myles Loesel 65
3 Bob Tallman 68
4 Charlie Sumner 73
5 Glenn Chalder 78
6 Harry Henkel 79
7 Richard Phelps 86
8 Hal Steward 92
9 John Parker 104
10 Joan Lefczik 119
11 Wheat Harrison 134
12 Jacques Rioux 140
13 Bruce Brenner 196