Over the past six years, Steve and Mary Jane Schalk of Lake Geneva, WI, have become regulars here at the southeast’s lone spring festival for blunt-bowed boats. "We originally heard about the event from some E-Scow sailors back home," said Mary Jane after a tough first day with three long, windward-leeward races in southwesterly winds that ultimately surged above the 20-knot mark. "We first came down about five years ago and realized how great it is to sail here. The club is right in the middle of the town, and just about everywhere you need to go you can walk. And the hospitality is unbelievable. We always come a couple of days early so that the regatta doubles as a vacation."
Steve does the driving aboard the couple’s 1998 boat Skating Away while Mary Jane alternates bow duties with another crew and Steve’s brother Dennis handles the middle of the boat. The Schalks say that another reason they don’t mind making the 17-and-a-half-hour drive to Charleston is the opportunity to use this event as a pre-season tune-up for the more than 100 races they’ll compete in back home in the Great Lakes region this summer. "This is our first outing of the year," said Mary Jane. "Today was a little shaky because we’re just trying to remember what line does what on board the boat," she added with a laugh.
Another visiting E-Scow sailor, Bill Misenheimer from Indian Lake, OH, had one of those days you’d just as soon forget. After making the 16-hour trek down with his 28-foot boat in tow, his fourth crew (a local) dropped out 10 minutes before the boat went into the water. "We were really light," said Misenheimer of his three-person crew, nursing his bruised pride after the racing concluded on the first day, "less than 500 pounds." (E-Scow crews generally scale in around 700 pounds, which is considered a minimum in big winds.)
Despite posting scores a 14th and two DNFs (did not finish), Misenheimer managed to maintain a good humor about the racing. "We tried to have a go at it anyway, but we dumped the boat twice in the first race and then popped it up and kept going. We couldn’t finish the day though because Johnny (Johnny Vegas, his middle crew) twisted his foot pretty badly, but we did OK."
Like the Schalks, Misenheimer is a veteran of previous Easter Scow Regattas in Charleston. He says that he comes here to compete because there’s always good racing at this event. "It’s very competitive. You normally get some of the best guys from fleets in the East and around the Great Lakes. These boats are very challenging and they’re very technical, which is another good thing about coming to this event because people here are always willing to give you tips."
If you were willing to watch closely, one E-Scow team was conducting a veritable clinic out on the water. Ross Griffith and his crew of Charleston locals showed that they had speed to burn throughout the first three races. If they didn’t grab the lead right off the starting line, they very quickly put themselves in contention for it in each the day’s three races, going home that night with scores of 1, 5, 1, and a five-point lead over their closest competitor. The action in the MC-Scow class was much closer as Eric Hood from Peewaukee, WI, posted 2, 2, 3 finishes to stand one point ahead of Jeff Annis (1, 5, 2) of Savannah and two points ahead of local favorite Lenny Krawcheck (7, 1, 1).
In the E-Scow fleet, Griffith continued schooling his competitors with superior boat speed and nearly flawless tactics. Even when the wind swung to the east-southeast for the final race, he worked his magic on the class, grabbing three bullets to secure the overall win. In the MC-Scow fleet, the action got a little tighter. Krawcheck and his crew Lisa Annis posted a 4, 3, 2 to wind up tied with Hood, but two bullets to Hood’s one iced the tiebreaker for Krawcheck.
Another out-of-town MC-Scow racer, Jim Gluek—a longtime scow sailor as well as a veteran of the Easter Scow Regatta—was keen to sing the praises of sailing in Charleston. Standing in the garden of Sonny Mevers’ quintessential Charleston home on the waterfront just down the street from the yacht club—drink in hand with the awards ceremonies about to begin—Gluek was feeling pretty content. He had traveled from Peewaukee, WI, with his friend and fellow competitor Deb Ziegler to race, and despite a premature start in the first race of the event, he had captured eighth place overall in a very competitive group.
Just then, MC-Scow racer and local class spark plug (as well as the regatta chairman) Tommy Harken launched into the awards presentation. He caught the group’s attention with his unmistakable drawl, and then said: "I don’t think we’ve had a better two days of sailing here in Charleston in a long time." And he was right. Just ask anyone who was here from out of town.
Easter Scow Regatta Top 10
Dr. Bill Crum finished first in the Mega Master Division, Lenny Krawcheck won the Grand Master Division, and Tommy Harken was the top Master.
Suggested Reading: A New Inland Lakes Scow
Buying Guide: Traveler Systems
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