Racers and spectators alike could not have asked for a more beautiful day at the fifth annual Rock Hall Nationals. The Cocktail Class Wooden Boat Racing Association (CCWBRA) Championships were held at Rock Hall YC on August 15 with 41 drivers and 28 boats participating. This year’s course was slightly shorter, so race officials opted to add a second lap for the 8-hp and Post-1979 6-hp classes, which led to one very close call (for the author). The afternoon racers faced slightly rougher conditions with four boats capsizing (one of them twice) and two drivers making wet exits, but thankfully no one was hurt.
During the awards dinner, the CCWBRA handed out three special awards apart from the podium trophies: Morgan Carew was awarded the Most Promising Rookie Award (finishing second place in the Youth class); Charlie Iliff and the Glue Factory Team from Arnold, MD were awarded the first ever Technology Award for their LED countdown display, which was synced with the horn system; and finally, Steve Brendlinger for the Anchor in Tow Award (first given to his daughter Kara at Kent Island).
For this regatta we have chosen to profile a few of the winning racers; some are rookies, some are seasoned pros. So get to know them. One of the things we love most about cocktail class racing is the people. You could not ask for a friendlier or more hospitable crowd. For more information on cocktail class racing, visit ccwbra.com. For more photos from the event, click to proptalk.com/cocktail-class-nationals-photos
|6 hp Post-1979 Women||Kaylie Jasinski||Molotov (67)|
|6 hp Post-1979 Mixed||Dan Paluchowski||Molotov|
|6 hp Post-1979 Heavy||Zach Ditmars||Molotov|
|8 hp Mixed||Darryl Kepler||Silver Bullet (777)|
|Youth||Jack Pusser||Havin’ Fun (82)|
|6 hp Early Women||Kate Schmicker||River Madness (214)|
|6 hp Early Mixed||Fred Allerton||Smokin’ Loon (53)|
|6 hp Early Heavy||Robert Edmonds||Shaken Knot Stirred (70)|
|6 hp Late Women||Kaylie Jasinski||Molotov|
|6 hp Late Mixed||Russ Bowler||The Flying Kiwi (40)|
|6 hp Late Heavy||Zach Ditmars||Molotov|
1. Fred Allerton
How did you get into racing? The hook was set for me when I read an article in the December ‘10/January ‘11 issue of WoodenBoat Magazine featuring the Bluefeld family and friends, who had revived the 1939 “Skua” boat design and launched Cocktail Class racing from the family’s wharf in Virginia’s Northern Neck. Fast forward – Swamp Rocket #28 was launched that spring (and a second boat the following year).In the next few months, I caught up with the Bluefelds, and their enablers for some cocktail class fun.
How many races have you participated in? I’ve attended about 18 races; each one was terrific fun!
Do you have close friends or family who also race? For me, a main attraction of CCWBRA is that it’s a magnet for friendly competition and family-centered fun. I have two adult sons, a daughter, and a better half, all who race occasionally. And, I have many great racing friends as a result of being involved with CCWBRA.
What was the inspiration behind your boat name/colors? Smokin’ Loon, my daughter’s boat, reminds us of those Northwoods birds with alluring calls. They’re awkward on land, but in the water they move gracefully with great power.
Do you have a favorite memory or favorite race? It’s tough to pick just one favorite memory! Perhaps our first race, Oktoberfest ‘11, where my daughter out-raced 15 drivers (including her father) and where many new friendships began! Or, perhaps Oktoberfest ‘13 in Philly when a dad got to race with two sons!
2. Darryl Kepler
How did you get into racing? I was helping my friends, the Urbani family of Rock Hall with their boat at a couple of races and thought it might be a fun project.
How many races have you participated in? The 2015 Nationals was my 11th race.
Do you have close friends or family who also race? My friend Peter Urbani also is very successful in the 8-hp open class. We both race Lee Urbani-designed boats built from plans provided by CCWBRA.
What was the inspiration behind your boat name/colors? Silver Bullet sounded fast, although occasionally it handles like a train. Silver and blue seemed like a natural choice.
Do you have a favorite memory or favorite race? It was probably this past race (2015 Nationals). Since I struggled last year with bad starts, this year seemed like redemption.
3. Kate Schmicker
How did you get into racing? My dad got me into cocktail racing. He started building a boat in our garage about five years ago and has been racing for the past three seasons and encouraged me to get my boating license so I could race, too.
How many races have you participated in? Nationals was my first racing experience; and I will definitely be back for more. At first I was nervous to race, especially to damage the boat, but the more I did it, the more confident I felt. I’m planning to go to another regatta this fall and to continue next spring.
Do you have close friends or family who also race? As I said before, my dad races, and some of his coworkers and friends do as well.
What was the inspiration behind your boat name/colors? The boat I raced was built by and belongs to my dad, and it’s called River Madness after a gin limeade drink my mum makes.
4. Zach Ditmars
How did you get into racing? In the winter of 2011, the team at PropTalk began building the Chesapeake Light Craft Cocktail Racer. We had a ton of fun in the process, although it was a lot of hard work. We finished the boat in summer of 2012, and it debuted at the exhibition races at the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival in St. Michaels. Our ’69 Johnson barely got us up on a plane, but nevertheless I was hooked on racing this little boat. The next year, Charlie Iliff, father of our publisher, took a serious interest in cocktail racing. He outfitted us with some newer, faster motors, as well as building some boats of his own.
How many races have you participated in? Eight races since 2012. First place five times, second place two times, third place three times.
Do you have close friends or family who also race? Not initially, but I have made many friends in the association as well some new friends on our racing team this year. The CCWBRA offers a very family-friendly atmosphere, and everyone is always very welcoming and willing to lend a helping hand. I’ve also gotten to know the guys at the Glue Factory pretty well over the past few years while tinkering with these little boats. It’s always fun and exciting to see what Charlie, Mike, and Jay have been working on over there. Anyone who saw the new start timer will know what I mean.
What was the inspiration behind your boat name/colors? We had a boat naming contest in the magazine. We knew we wanted something red to reflect the colors of PropTalk. Although none of us had ever ingested the flaming concoction known as Molotov, we decided that it was the coolest name proposed.
Do you have a favorite memory or favorite race? Not to brag or boast, but the 2015 recent National Championship has been my favorite race so far. I must admit it was pretty exciting taking home the first place trophies in two engine classes after investing a whole lot of time and energy into cocktail racing these past few years.
5. Russ Bowler
How did you get into racing? At a cocktail party in California Stephen Bent mentioned the class. I was immediately interested and took this with me to the team at Farr Yacht Design.
How many races have you participated in? I try to get to three or four regattas a year; two to four classes at each regatta. This is our fifth season of participation.
Do you have close friends or family who also race? The regular racers have become great friends, and of course the Carew’s and Schmickers who I work with have been keen enthusiasts to share the experience.
What was the inspiration behind your boat name/colors? Firstly I am from New Zealand – national bird is the Kiwi that cannot fly. Secondly it is the name of a fairly complex cocktail, the recipe for which is on my aft deck both port and starboard, and thirdly it is in honor of Richard William Pearce, an inventor that flew a heavier than air machine in the South Island of New Zealand in March, 1903.
Do you have a favorite memory or favorite race? The first race when the boat was launched – everything worked! I had a great tussle with Chase Bishop in the last heat of the 8-hp at the Urbanna Cup in 2014. He won the finals but the last heat was a lot of fun.