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An interview with Jeff Braddon on the 2023 MC Scow Sarasota Bay Cup

by David Schmidt 2 Mar 08:00 PST March 6-7, 2023
First look: 2020 MC Scow © Melges Performance Sailboats

MC Scows might only carry a giant mainsail, but this doesn't stop the catboat rig from generating big grins and plenty of boatspeed when given the right conditions. The design heralds back to 1956, and inherits from the earlier-generation J Scow design. The boat has been built by Melges Performance Sailboats and Johnson Boat Works since '56, and while Johnson went defunct in the late 1990s, Melges continues to keep the boat-building torch lit.

To date, some 2,700 boats have been built, and the boats, which are typically raced by crews of one to three sailors, enjoy geographic concentrations in the Mid-West and the Southeast.

Given that some 2,700 MC Scows have been built, it doesn't take an overactive imagination to suspect that the class delivers great racing.

Take, for example, the MC Scow Sarasota Bay Cup, which is taking place from March 6-7, 2023, and which is being organized and hosted by the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, in Sarasota, Florida.

I checked in with Jeff Braddon, regatta chair of the 2023 MC Scow Sarasota Bay Cup, via email, to learn more about this exciting One Design regatta.

Generally speaking, how would you describe the competition levels that one can expect to encounter at the MC Scow Sarasota Bay Cup? Are we talking about pro teams, amateurs, or a mix of all talent levels?

The competition is a mix of talent and experience. For instance, last year, we had newbies all the way up to the eventual National Champion. We had teams representing sailmakers and everything in between.

Are most of the registered teams local, or do you have sailors arriving from other states or even points abroad?

We expect an equal mix of local and out-of-state sailors.

Currently, the local is a slight minority.

What kind of course shapes are you and the other organizers envisioning? Windward-Leewards? Triangles? Bay tour style courses that use islands or geography as marks? Also, how many races do you guys hope to score each day, and over the course of the regatta?

We will be running "windy-lew" races. We hope to run four races per day.

We have a great PRO so [the number of races we run] will be up to her discretion.

Generally speaking, what kinds of conditions can sailors expect on Sarasota Bay in early March?

We historically have nice thermal breezes with little tide current. The wind can come from any direction. The water is normally flat, which works well for MC [Scow].

Do you see local knowledge playing a big or small role in the regatta's outcome? Can you please explain?

I don't think that local knowledge is a factor. The course will be away from the Sarasota Bay shore.

Most likely, there will be a long fetch with small shifts.

The sailor should be aware of any prevailing shifts prior to going out.

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

The sailors must avoid the large sandbar on the north side of the club. They must sail the channel out to the red and green marker "goal posts" and then turn to the north.

What kind of onshore entertainment can sailors look forward to once the finishing guns have gone silent each day?

There are many options for entertainment following the racing. There are many "tin roof" restaurants in the area, which often feature live music.

Bradenton Beach has the Key West feel with shopping, food, and lots of entertainment. Upscale shopping and restaurants can be found at St. Armand's Circle, just south of Longboat Key.

Can you please tell us about any efforts that the club has made to green-up the regatta and generally lower its environmental wake?

We use online registration, encourage reusable bottles. None of the competitors will have a motor onboard so out impact is very low.

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

The Sarasota Cup is the first of two regattas in "Florida MC Race Week". Our regatta is in March 6-7. This event is a great tune-up for the MC Midwinters, which runs March 9-11 at Lake Eustis Sailing Club, [which is] about two-and-a-half hours away.

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