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RS Sailing 2021 - LEADERBOARD

A Q&A with Brian Malone on the Davis Island Yacht Club's 2023 Commodore's Cup

by David Schmidt 12 Jan 08:00 PST January 12, 2023

If you love keelboat racing and you live in the northern hemisphere, January likely isn't your favorite month (mea culpa: I'm right there with you). The good news, however, is that there are pockets of gloriously warm saline where sailboat racing is still unfurling. One of these lucky areas is Tampa, Florida, where the Davis Island Yacht Club is hosting their 2023 Commodore's Cup from January 14-15, 2023.

The event is dedicated to honor of all past Davis Island Yacht Club (DIYC) commodores, and is designed to kick off the new year in style.

The 2023 Commodore's Cup is open to all boats with a valid West Florida PHRF certificate (or a temporary rating provided by the DIYC's official measurer). Event organizers expect to score three spinnaker classes, a racer-cruiser class, and a cruising class. Conditions depending, the regatta plans to run one long (up to 25 nautical miles) race per day, giving crews an opportunity to air-out their sail inventory.

I checked in with Brian Malone, who serves as the DIYC's fleet captain, via email, to learn more about this mid-January keelboat regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the regatta, its history and culture, and the kinds of sailors one might expect to encounter at this regatta?

The Commodore's Cup has been a mainstay of the DIYC and Suncoast calendars for as long as I can remember. It is the premier closed course race for the racing classes and has more recently offered navigational distance courses for cruising classes.

You will see a broad-spectrum of sailors [here]. The racing classes race PHRF around the buoys and range from 19' - 40' [LOA], with a few One Designs mixed in with the handicap fleet. The Cruisers and Racer/Cruisers range from plastic fantastics from the 1960s all the way up to modern performance cruisers.

How many boats are you expecting on the starting line?

We have been seeing great turnouts lately for these events, I would expect somewhere around forty boats.

How would you describe competition levels at the Commodore's Cup?

This event is a part of both the DIYC BOTY Series and the Suncoast BOTY Series, so it is as competitive as any event on this coast. The top boats in each class, and certainly the OD boats, race competitively nationally and internationally.

What kind of courses does the regatta employ? For example, do you select islands or marks that provide reaching legs, or does the regatta tend to create long windward-leeward courses? Also, how does the local geography play into course selection?

The closed course racing consists of fairly basic W/L courses within Hillsborough Bay. The legs are short so there is quite a premium on starting and boat handling. We usually run three or more races a day so the focus is definitely on action.

The distance courses will usually sail down Hillsborough Bay and in to Tampa Bay then return, some are over twenty miles. The geography, and especially local wind and tide conditions are a measurable factor, knowledge pays off.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter off of Tampa in mid-January? Also, what are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

The winter cycle in Tampa is frontal. The fronts work down through the area and the cycle repeats. Pre-front there are building southerlies, which create stiff chop in the shallow bay, then the front will come through with whatever storms or rain are in it.

We then get northerlies that mean strong wind and flat water. The wind will clock and fade over a period of time until it dies in the southeast and the whole cycle then starts again. Racing in the bay in a dying northeasterly can be a real challenge as the pressure is left and the shift is right.

Best case is a strong north/northwesterly wind with flat water. We sail right up to the club and set kites to run down.

The worst case is no wind whatsoever, the period between the front moving past and the next one bringing the southerlies in.

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

Be patient, watch the tides and weather patterns. Know which way the water is moving, and where you are in the frontal cycle.

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

DIYC has been with the Clean Marina Program for many years. We encourage reusable water bottles and provide recycling for the rest.

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

I race all over the country and around the world, I would put the hospitality and race management at DIYC up against anywhere I have been. The whole area is great, and when the wind doesn't blow, we have more fun than anyone.

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