2024 RC Laser National Championship Results

by Dave Branning, Race Director

In recognition of 20 years of championship regattas at Marco Island’s Mackle Park, the RC Laser Class awarded the 2024 RC Laser National Championship to the Marco Island Model Yacht Club. It was also fitting to honor Rocky and Mary Lee Cale’s years of passionate leadership at the newly named Cale Model Yacht Sailing Center. The championship was held March 1-3 with a practice afternoon on Friday and competitive racing on the weekend.

On Saturday morning, the sailing venue was brightened by AMYA and RC Laser feather flags responding to the perfect SE breeze all day. Happy Fox, proprietor of Happy’s Place, graciously provided a breakfast assortment that topped all regatta offerings in our model yachting careers. A great way to start each day. It’s the Marco way!

The thirty-boat fleet was divided into two 15-boat fleets, and everyone sailed four races to separate into the gold and silver regatta format. At the end of the seeding races, Sean Fidler, from Brighton, MI, held a one-point lead over defending champion, Jim Kaighin from the Abacos, Bahamas. Barr Batzer, Lighthouse Pt., FL, was two back of Kaighin with David Ramos, Stevensville, MD, in fourth and Charleston’s, Will Van Cleef in fifth. These five, in the end, would remain the top five but the mix would change.

Now that the fleets were divided (gold/silver), gold fleet’s Barr Batzer made a move, surging to a nine-point lead over Kaighin, with Fidler and Ramos following. Barr had a day with only one race out of the top three and that was a fourth. Not yet calculated, Fidler, Ramos and Van Cleef had obvious throw-outs in the teens that could make things interesting while Barr had not yet sailed an obvious throw-out race. A comfortable situation.

In the silver fleet, Charlie Sumner, from Delray Beach, FL, held a one-point lead over Glenn Chalder, from Simsbury, CT and four points over John Santoro from The Villages. Santoro was the only Silver Fleet skipper to win two races on Saturday. Myles Loesel, Charlie Sumner, Bob Tallman, Bob Shapiro, and Bob Piper would follow in that order.

Sunday was a bit overcast, and the Southeast breeze had dwindled a bit as the A-Sail vs. B-sail strategy dance on shore with last second decisions going on with one eye on each other’s choices. Additionally, in the afternoon, the breeze decided to move further west, and, after a race start, I called “abandoned race” (Rule 32d), Rocky shifted the starting line and added a new windward mark further west to square the course. That worked to get the last two heats completed fairly.

Barr had six races in the top three on Sunday with a WDR 16th as a throw-out. His only other discard was a day-one fourth and he won the championship by 20 points on net score. A terrific accomplishment in this talented fleet.

Observations, Sound Bites and Thanks:

• The top four skippers have numerous RC and big boat national championships to their credit. Sean Fidler finished second again in this championship. No shame to this performance! Sean was second in the 2023 RC Laser NCR, five months ago, his first regatta in the RC Laser Class. He figured out this boat very quickly and if he had a lane his boat speed was eye opening. Barr Batzer and Jim Kaighin are seasoned RC Laser winners and quickly find a way out of a jam and tactically stay away from the crowd. David Ramos, who builds and sails many classes with success, is a once-a-year RC Laser skipper. No matter. He’s a former RC Laser National Champion and in my opinion can make a cardboard box sail upwind. Will Van Cleef has been sailing an RC Laser for maybe a month and sailed very well in this tough crowd. These guys won all the races except one. Ray Seta, from San Antonio, TX, and fleet mate Todd Carrico finished one-two in Sunday’s second race.

• Judy Bonanno was named the AMYA Region 2 Associate Director by RD Dave Branning at the skippers meeting on Saturday. Judy’s regatta and scoring support is extensive and will be so valuable supporting numerous regattas around the country attended by her husband, Domenick. Here is the video of Judy's new badge

• Judy, the multi-tasker, also produced an incredible three days of pictures:

• Thanks to all who came to this championship. A special tip of the hat to the skippers and spouses from Texas. What a fun group. They certainly livened up the action and we want you back in Florida next year.

• As RD this fleet was respectful, spirited and a treat to banter with all day. The “Sail Like 53” Corinthian spirit award, named for past AMYA President and long-time Marco Island RD David Brawner was won by Glenn Chaulder, from New England. Glenn was over the top in providing help from Friday to take-down afternoon on Sunday and was quite emotional in receiving this award as he knew David Brawner in the 90’s when Glenn was an early EC12 Class Secretary.

• Twenty-one skippers were repeat Marco Island championship participants with nine newcomers. This regatta has a thirty-boat limit and there were wait-list skippers who did not get to race. Plan Ahead next year, my friends.

• Special thanks, of course, goes to Rocky and Mary Lee Cale who make this regatta a personal commitment to excellence attending to numerous details from name badges to lunches & restaurant dinners, with support from MIMYC members attending to breakfasts and lunches, parking control, skipper gifts, raffle ticket sales to name a few. A tip of the hat to Don Armstrong’s Leader Board. Very clever.

• Thanks to the race committee of Class Secretary, Nick Mortgu, and scorers Judy Bonanno, Mary Beth DeSantis, and Mary Lee Cale on the big board.

Summary results below.

2024 RC Laser National Championship Results

Place Skipper Points
1 Barr Batzer 30
2 Sean Fidler 50
3 Jim Kaighin 53
4 Dave Ramos 59
5 Will Van Cleef 81
6 Todd Carrico 89
7 Bill Bentz 94
8 Jon Luscomb 98
9 Larry Lefczik 102
10 Ray Seta 115.75
11 Steve Holdeman 116
12 Jim Flach 116
13 Scott Rice 142
14 Henry DeWolf 148
15 Fred DeSantis 172
Place Skipper Points
1 John Santoro 62
2 Myles Loesel 70
3 Charlie Sumner 81
4 Bob Tallman 83
5 Bob Shapiro 85
6 Bob Piper 88
7 Glenn Chalder 92
8 Jacques Rioux 103
9 Richard Phelps 105
10 Terry Naylon 109
11 Dom Bonanno 131
12 Harry Henkel 143
13 Gary Krieger 173
14 Roger Baldwin 176
15 Wheat Harrison 182