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An interview with Chuck Begley on the last event of the LCYC's 2022 Long Distance Series

by David Schmidt 1 Dec 2022 08:00 PST December 4, 2022

There's a lot that can be said about sailing in the Lone Star State, especially as late fall's grip tightens on northern climes, forcing boats out of the water and crews onto ski slopes. While the latter isn't the worst-case outcome, of course, sailors who are competing in Lake Canyon Yacht Club's (LCYC) final event of their 2022 Long Distance Series have a distinct advantage over their snow-bound friends: They can look forward to hoisting sail and racing on December 4 on the waters of Canyon Lake, which is situated roughly halfway between San Antonio and Austin.

The LCYC's other 2022 Long Distance Race series events took place on April 30, August 6, and October 6. All four events employ pursuit-style starts, where the slower boats start first. This not only lowers anxiety levels on the starting line, but it also helps ensure that all racers arrive back at the ranch at roughly the same time, which, of course, makes for a better social experience for all participants.

I checked in with Chuck Begley, who serves as LCYC's race director, via email, to learn more about the final event of the LCYC's 2022 Long Distance Series.

Can you please tell us about LCYC's history of running Long Distance Racing?

The first long distance race at LCYC was started in 1976 by the Charles Branch family who had just moved from Montreal where as members of the Royal St. Lawrence Yacht Club they raced in the 26 mile long distance course on the river every year. Long-distance races have been held at the club on all major holiday weekends since and this year we added four more races as part of the LDR Series.

How many participants do you expect?

Thirteen boats ranging from a few high-performance sailors who compete for the fastest [times] on the water, to heavier cruisers that rely on their PHRF ratings.

How would you describe competition levels at the Long Distance Race Series? Are we talking about family crews, serious Corinthians, or full-on pros?

We have the range from experienced racing teams to family crews. New racers are encouraged to participate by eliminating the pressure of fleet [starts] with pursuit-style timed starts.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter on Canyon Lake in early December? Also, what are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

Our winter weather is highly variable, but we generally have wind of 10-15 knots and temperatures in the 50s and 60s.

Can you tell us a bit more about the course that the fleet will sail? Also, is it the same course that's used for the other three regattas in the series, or do they all employ unique courses?

We use the lake's 12 fixed channel markers for our courses, which are about one-half mile apart. Depending on the wind, the PRO decides how far up the lake and back we can go in about four hours.

A typical course is to sail from a start line at our marina down the lake to channel marker 1 by the dam, then up the lake to channel marker 10 or 11 and return.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting and local sailors, what would be it?

Be prepared for changing conditions during the race and have a plan for adjusting rigging and trimming accordingly.

Are there any new additions or changes to the 2022 regatta, compared to previous editions?

This is the first year we have had the four-race long distance series with on-your-honor start and finishing times.

Previously, we scheduled individual long-distance races on holiday weekends, i.e., Memorial Day, July 4, etc. We still do that, but we've upped our game with the addition of the series with races in April, August, October, and December. We require sailors to participate in three or more races to win the series.

Can you tell us about any recent steps that the regatta has taken to reduce its environmental footprint or otherwise "green-up" ?

We have a beautiful lake that is managed by the U.S. Army Core of Engineers with highly restricted development along the shoreline. The main rule that restricts our footprint is the Corp's limit on the number of slips in our marina.

Is there anything else that you'd like to add, for the record?

We are working hard to support sailboat racing in Texas with our annual Wurstfest and Youth regattas and our long-distance and round-the-buoys club racing series. Besides the long-distance pursuit-start events, we offer race committee training sessions and racing clinics throughout the year to help sailors join in the fun of the racing game.

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