Dave Ramos Wins 2014 USA Nationals

October 28, 2014 in Race Reports by David.Branning



Dave Ramos Wins National Championship

The 2014 RC Laser National Championship was held, once again, at the Tred Avon YC in Oxford, MD. This is the fourth major RC Laser Championship to be held in Oxford since 2007. Twenty six skippers from the Bahamas to Alabama to Texas to New York to North Carolina and point’s in-between came together in gorgeous fall weather for the most star studded championship in RC Laser history.  National champions from at least 5 other RC Classes chose to buy and borrow RC Lasers to make sure that they attended this first-class annual event. For many, the RC Laser has become the boat to easily rig and race with the best in the country. The winner, Stevensville, Maryland’s, Dave Ramos, has basically put his signature on five RC class championships this year, winning three and placing second in two others. He has sailed an RC Laser about 3 hours prior to this weekend, a testament to his prowess in this sport.

The weekend started with practice on Friday afternoon in fresh breezes and most, who attempted to practice, used the C and some B sails to test the conditions which included westerly winds and a slight flood tide off the floating docks of the Tred Avon YC. After the practice session the YC hosted us to a private party in the upstairs bar room and we all got to enjoy some new and old friends.

The regatta format for 26 boats, as administered by Race Director, Dave Brawner, was to use Saturday as a seeding day by sailing a round robin of heats that allowed all competitors to eventually race against every one multiple times with one throw out for the day. The fleet was then separated into the Gold (Championship) Fleet and the Silver Fleet for Sunday. On Sunday, the Gold Fleet raced two heats and then the Silver Fleet raced two heats which continued back and forth throughout the day. It’s just a faster system and can allow more heats to be executed. In all we sailed 16 individual heats on Sunday and the winds stayed from the northwest but played with us between D, C and B sails all day. On Saturday we did use the A sail for part of the day but by Sunday we enjoyed freshening westerly breezes that kept us in the D and C sail for most of the afternoon.

After Saturday, Dave Ramos held a 9 point lead over Middletown, Delaware’s, Mark Reinhart and a 11 point lead over defending champion, Jon Elmaleh from Brooklyn, NY. Close to Elmaleh was Jim Kaighin, from the Bahamas, and Ron Stephanz from Alabama. On Sunday, RC Laser newcomer, Mark Rinehart, showed some great sailing on Saturday but developed some back problems on Sunday and was not able to sail after lunch. Dave Ramos kept his 9 point lead throughout the day with a couple of bullets and other top three finishes to win the championship. The always consistent Jim Kaighin moved into second with 2nds, 3rds and a 4th to edge Jon Elmaleh by four points. Jon had two firsts and two seconds on Sunday but had to count two 7ths and a 5th and that was enough to keep him from improving on Kaighin and Ramos. Rounding out the top five was Ron Stephanz, in fourth, who won three races on Sunday, and Rob Seidelmann, in fifth, who was second in this championship in 2012.

In the Silver Fleet, Barnegat, New Jersey’s, Harry Mote, sailing in his first RC Laser regatta, held his first place from Saturday to win it all by four points over fast improving Mike Roberson from Raleigh, NC. Dave Betz moved up from 4th on Saturday to grab third, six points behind Roberson. In both fleets 4 different individuals won heats on Sunday. The biggest movements in this fleet on Sunday was from Hank Buchanan, who moved from ninth place to 4th place with three heat wins. Victor Oberg also liked the fresh breezes and moved from 8th to 5th on Sunday recording a bullet and five top five race finishes.

A huge thanks goes to Nick (and wife Beth) Mortgu, who packaged great a TAYC venue with perfect meals, beautiful weather, great skipper gifts & prizes as well as friendly competition throughout the weekend. Saturday nights yacht club banquet was first class with steak or crab cakes and lots of Chinese Auction donated gifts. A standing ovation goes to PRO, Dave Brawner, and his team on the dock of Ken Shaw and Skip Hall and his support boat operator, Dick Richards and his wife, Bonnie, who provided the scoring from the finish line to the scoreboard. This team is one of the best in our sport.

On an administrative note, we were able to meet Ray Seta and Ron Stephanz who will become the new AMYA President and Vice President in January 2015. Ray came all the way from Texas and Ron from Alabama to participate in this event.

Also, your Class Secretary for North America, Dave Branning, has retired from this position after 6+ years and Nick Mortgu, AMYA RC Laser Class Secretary, will take over as the sole RC Laser Class Officer beginning now. Dave will become the AMYA Region 2 Director beginning in January 2015.

Here are Jim Flach’s and Skip Hall’s pictures from the weekend:

Championship Fleet
Sail No Skipper Points from Day 1 Place after Day 1 Final Points Final Place
53 Dave Ramos 13 1 36 1
128 Mark Rinehart 22 2 104 10
69 Jon Elmaleh 24 3 49 3
75 Jim Kaighin 25 4 45 2
1326 Ron Stephanz 29 5 53 4
137 Rob Seidelmann 33 6 77 5
25 Jim Flach 34 7 96 9
88 Ray Seta 42 8 92 8
08 Don Barker 44 9 90 7
93 Dave Branning 48 10 81 6
57 Jim Myers 48 11 117 13
42 Roger Vaughan 57 12 108 11
78 Jamey Betz 58 13 116 12
Silver Fleet
Sail No Skipper Points from Day 1 Place after Day 1 Final Points Final Place
2 Harry Mote 62 1 92 1
94 Mike Roberson 63 2 94 2
188 Sam Harris 66 3 134 9
141 Dave Betz 73 4 100 3
17 Rick Ferguson 74 5 120 7
79 Bill Ewing 74 6 124 8
193 Terry Rapp 78 7 117 6
21 Victor Oberg 81 8 109 5
732 Hank Buchanan 87 9 102 4
07 Danny Thomas 92 10 142 10
99 Roger Baldwin 103 11 160 11
28 Ray Szulczewski 110 12 172 12
51 Rick Walbridge 110 13 185 13

From left to right: Rob Seidelmann, Ron Stephanz, Jon Elmaleh, Jim Kaighin, Dave Ramos, NIck Mortgu, Harry Mote, Mick Roberson, Dave Betz


2014 RC Laser National Champion Dave Ramos and Class Secretary Nick Mortgu


Annual Ft Stoakes Cannonball River Race a Rousing Success

October 7, 2014 in Race Reports by David.Branning


Ft Stoakes Race Results

Jamey and Luke Betz Win 2nd Annual Cannonball Race

This event is a Huge Party that, by the way, included an RC Laser race. How many RC races include a Bag Piper send off? Started in 2013, this event has become one of the best events to attend and participation is limited to 15 boats. The race commemorates the failed attempt of the British in 1812 to attack Ft Stoakes at the headwaters of the Tred Avon River in Easton, Md. Harry Henkel and Roger Baldwin, from the Oxford RC Laser Fleet, created this extravaganza after the folks in Canandaigua, NY showed them a great time a few years back in their Squaw Island Race.  Now, from the Baldwin compound in Easton, MD, we have a river race of approximately 4 miles in RC Lasers. Add support boat skippers piloting a variety of power boats while onboard RC Laser skippers steer their boats down and up the Tred Avon River. Imagine a tacking duel that lasts for a couple of miles. It is uniquely different and so enjoyable to make your normal short course RC race into a big boat race that lasts over 2 hours. Consider the fact that in our sport we now have a team involved in the race and lots more people involved in the event. Our RC Laser Class and sport are both quite healthy.

The A sail was the preferred choice for the start but as we proceeded into a wider expanse of the Tred Avon River we changed to B sails and then back to A for the downwind leg. Several skippers went through NASCAR-like sail changes as puffy bursting conditions followed by lulls were cause for changes.

Jamey Betz and his son, Luke, grabbed the lead into the first third of the race and held off the fast closing Dave Brawner, President of AMYA, with Bill and Warren Neff piloting. Third went to David Ramos with walk on, Sue Lowery, who enthusiastically volunteered to pilot Dave’s Boston Whaler. 

Yeah, the race was fun. The real part of the event is the full blown cocktail party, followed by prize awards followed by a sit down crab feast followed by entertainment by Bird Dog and the Road Kings , a famous Eastern Shore band. Interspersed in there was a full RC model boat display,  great story telling, singing of the Ft Stoakes Ballad, a few jokes and the wider distribution of the now famed Tred Avon Sunset cocktail. Recipe provided upon request.

Huge thanks and three cheers go to Harry and Jeannie Henkel and Roger and Rosemary Baldwin for making a simple RC Laser event into a wonderfully enjoyable people experience among sailing and boating friends. RC Laser fleets should think about hosting your own distance or around an island race. It involves more of your friends and is a great twist to enjoying RC racing.

Ft Stoakes Cannonball River Race Results:
 1. Jamey and Luke Betz
 2. David Brawner and Bill/Warren Neff
 3. David Ramos and Sue Lowery
 4. Bob Roe and Dave Brooks
 5. Harry Mote and Elizabeth Wainwright
 6. Harry and Jeannie Henkel
 7. Jim Flach and Bill Barnes
 8. Victor Oberg and Paul Connolly
 9. Pete Bailey and Dick Hubbard
10. John and Chris Tochko
11. Roger Baldwin and Skip Hall
12. David Branning and Elaine Hepkin
13. Nick Mortgu and Beth Lippincott
14. Jim Karr and John Trax DNF
14. Gib Snow and Claude Maechling DNF

pictures from Bob Roe and Ann and Charlie Webb. More pictures will be available shortly

Rosemary Skip and RogerAbove: Rosemary Baldwin, Skip Hall and Roger Baldwin perform a quick sail change as #93 slides by

Nick Mortgu with over a dozen RC model yachts
Harry Henkel and Roger Baldwin, on right, begin the prize awards for the Ft Stoakes Cannon Ball River Race

Beth and NickAbove: Beth and Nick Mortgu enjoying the day

Harry and Jeannie

Above: Harry and Jeannie Henkel guide their RC Laser on the Tred Avon River

Chris and JohnAbove: John and Chris Tochko putting body english on their RC Laser

Dave and the NeffsAbove: Dave Brawner and the Neffs round up and head home.


Sue and DaveAbove: Sue Lowrey and Dave Ramos enjoying the day

Gib and ClaudeAbove: Gib Snow and Claude Maechling catching up

ShannonAbove: Elaine Hepkin mentions that “they went thataway!”

Elizabeth and HarryAbove: Elizabeth Wainwright and Harry Mote working hard to stay near the top of the fleet


Jim Kaighin Wins His Fourth NA Title

September 30, 2014 in Race Reports by David.Branning


2014 Fleet Picture NA

Kaighin wins 2014 RC Laser North American Championship Regatta

22 RC Laser skippers converged on Lake Crabtree in Morrisville, NC from as far as NJ, FL and The Bahamas for the 2014 RC Laser North American Championship Regatta September 27-28, hosted by Triangle Model Yacht Club.

Weather system winds were 5-10mph from NE and temperatures were in the 70s under clear skies; it was a beautiful weekend for sailing.  NE winds at Lake Crabtree are affected by the local topography, where they curve around a point of land and tumble over trees near the shore, causing turbulence, unpredictable shifts and holes.  These conditions would prevail for the duration of the regatta, challenging every skipper to make the most of them.

Three pairs of seeding heats were sailed under the Odds & Evens format to establish the division of competitors into two fleets, the Championship Fleet and the Silver Fleet, which would sail in rotating order without intermingling.  Each skipper’s two best finishes in the seeding heats would transfer to the main score sheet (this is why ‘Race 1’ and ‘Race 2’ show more than one first, second, etc).  Following this, one throwout was allowed for each 7 races completed; in the end, each competitor would get only one.

A couple of skippers aired out their B rigs when A sails were briefly overpowered on Saturday, but A rigs were by far the dominant choice all weekend.  The races went to those who could sense the ephemeral winds and trim their sails to catch the cats paws and accelerate without stalling or luffing.  At the end of the day Saturday there was a tight group at the top of the Championship Fleet: three-time North American Champion Jim Kaighin and TMYC’s Bob Szczepanski, Gerry Cobley and Tom Rummage were all within three points.  Another group in the middle was very close too.

On Sunday the Silver Fleet got a good race in with SW winds, but the Race Committee knew this was a temporary
condition.  Winds went light to nonexistent and the RC decided to postpone the Championship Fleet start until the NE winds we knew were coming had established themselves.  Once the wind had settled into the NE, racing resumed with winds a little more consistent than Saturday’s – though there were still plenty of opportunities to gain or step in it, depending on your luck.  Once again, those who could put their boats where the wind would fill in, position their sails to catch it just so and play it best when they got it would win.  Many races had exciting moments or dramatic finishes when conditions shifted.

The new champion would be in question right up to the finish of the last race as first one, then the other would gain an advantage.  In the end, the top four competitors were separated by only five points but Jim Kaighin would rise to the top by one point – and you couldn’t ask for a better competitor.  Regatta chairman Rick Ferguson edged out Bill Coates of Charleston SC for the Silver Fleet win.  The regatta was characterized by good sportsmanship; there were no DNSs, few DNFs or delays; people did acknowledged fouls and did their turns, and no fouls went to protest committee.

No one went home hungry as TMYC laid on a slap-up local BBQ feed for Saturday lunch, and everyone enjoyed a good dinner and a drink at the Hibernian Irish Pub Saturday night.  Every TMYC member contributed to the success of this event, from drinks to food to signage, name tags, organization, you name it.  In addition TMYC and RCLNA would like to especially thank Tony Corkell (a full-size Laser sailor but not an RC Laser skipper – yet) who did a superb job as Race Director in challenging conditions, and Elaine Hepkin and Karen Szczepanski who handled the race scoring, without benefit of computers and without breaking a sweat.  Finally, we’d like to thank RC Laser North America Class Secretary Dave Branning for his help and advice.  We look forward to seeing all our new (and old) friends again at the next RC Laser regatta.

Regatta Report from Rick Ferguson

Top Six in the Championship:
Jim Kaighin           35     Marsh Harbour, Bahamas
Bob Szczepanski  36     Raleigh, NC
Gerry Cobley         39     Cary, NC
Tom Rummage      40    Garner, NC
Dave Branning       54    Tilghman, MD
Myles Loesel          57    Pompano Beach, FL

Top Six in the Silver Fleet:
Rick Ferguson        43     Raleigh, NC
Bill Coates              47     Charleston, SC
Geoffrey Cohen      55     Indian HIll, SC
Sam Harris             59     Raleigh, NC
Harry Henkel          61     Easton, MD
Jacques Rioux       69     Cary, NC

Pictures Here:

You can click on them individually, or view as a slide show (the best way) here:

Full Results for the Championship Fleet: http://home.pipeline.com/~twotyred/RCLNA%20Championship%20Fleet.pdf

ull Results for the Silver
Fleet: http://home.pipeline.com/~twotyred/RCLNA%20Silver%20Fleet.pdf

Big thanks to Tony Cockrell our PRO and Karen Szczepanski & Elaine Hepkin our scorekeepers. A huge tip of the hat to Rick and the team at Triangle Model Yacht Club for a wonderful regatta experience.

NA Regatta WinnersPictured above is RC Laser NA Class Secretary, Dave Branning on left presenting the Bruce Kirby Trophy to Jim Kaighin with Silver Fleet Winner and Regatta Chairman, Rick Ferguson on the right.




Announcing RC Laser National Championship Early Entrants

October 13, 2014 in Notice of Race by David.Branning


Countdown To RC Laser Nationals: Early Entries Announced

The 2014 RC Laser National Championship is in the final countdown and a top competitive fleet is shaping up to the be the best ever. 2013 champion and class builder, Jon Elmaleh, is slated to defend and the top guys he defeated last year (Rob Seidelmann, Jim Kaighin, Don Barker, Jamey Betz and Roger Vaughan) are back for another shot at the championship. Added to the field this year are several other AMYA champions from other classes who want to come to Tred Avon YC in Oxford, MD because they know it’s a great venue for open water sailing with a terrific RC boat. Participants are coming from AL, DE, MD, NC, NY, NJ, PA, RI, TN, TX and the Bahamas. This is the widest state representation we have seen for a major championship in the RC Laser Class. Regatta Chairman and AMYA Class Secretary, Nick Mortgu, has also nabbed Dave Brawner, AMYA President, as returning RD with Ken Shaw and Skip Hall as his able lieutenants. This group could be labeled the most professional race committee team in our hobby.Festivities begin for early arrivals with practice racing, boat inspection, registration Friday afternoon, October 24th, followed by a “dutch” Tred Avon YC party, “Sails and Tales” for all entrants and their guests at 5:30pm in the upstairs bar.

Saturday and Sunday are the competitive racing days as racing gets underway both days after the 9:30am skippers meeting. Saturday night’s dinner is always first class at Tred Avon and again, they will not disappoint.

For those of you late comers who can fit this event in your schedule, the NOR, Sailing Instructions, Registration and housing information link is here and there is room for you on the starting line:


Here’s the entry list as of October 13th:

Roger Baldwin                       Easton, MD
Don Barker                            Chestertown, MD
Jamey Betz                            Meadowbrook , PA
Luke Betz                               Meadowbrook, PA
Dave Branning                        Tilghman, MD
Hank Buchanan                       New York, NY
Jim Craft                                 Bethpage, TN
Jon Elmaleh                             Brooklyn, NY
Bill Ewing                                Red Bank, NJ
Rick Ferguson                          Raleigh, NC
Jim Flach                                 Pottstown , PA
Corthan Harris                         Wilmington, NC
Sam Harris                              Raleigh, NC
Jim Kaighin                              Marsh Harbor, BH
Nick Mortgu                             Riverton, NJ
Harry Mote                               Barnegat, NJ
Jim Myers                                Warwick, RI
Victor Oberg                            Westmont, NJ
Dave Ramos                            Stevensville, MD
Terry Rapp                               Cinnaminson, NJ
Mark Rinehart                           Middletown, DE
Mike Roberson                          Raleigh, NC
Ray Sculzcewski                        Cape May, NJ
Rob Seidelmann                        Collingswood, NJ
Ray Seta                                  San Antonio, TX
Ron Stephanz                            Madison, AL
Ryckman Walbridge                   Oxford, MD

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