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2014 Race Summary

posted Jun 16, 2014, 12:41 PM by Steve Piché
Overall Top 10 List for the 2014 Great Texas.  The Great Texas, gt300.com, is a 300 mile beach catamaran race run up the Texas coast in four legs which concluded on Saturday.  This article is a summary of the race written by Steve Piche, founder of the race and also the skipper of Team Great Texas 300.  If you enjoy this article, please like us at www.facebook.com/greattexas300 so that you can follow us in the future.  Here is the final summary list for this year:

1.  The 8 Time Champion Works his way of a big hole:   On leg 1 of the Great Texas, Team Quiksilver, Mike Beuerlein and Philippe Bettler, took a flyer after getting behind off the start.  It worked big time.  They beat the rest of the fleet in by 35 minutes.  The seven time champ (now 8 time champ), John Tomko with his crew Ian Billings, did not panic.  They clawed their way back by winning the next three legs by 15 minutes each day.  In the end, 2 Wire Sailing, John and Ian, took home the big trophies for overall win, fleet win and total elapsed time.  It was exciting and a nail biter but they manage to get themselves out of a big hole.
2.  Flying up the Texas Coast:  Leg 1 of the Great Texas was a 100 mile downwind flyer from South Padre Island to Mustang Island.  We sailed in a building sea breeze.  As always, this leg was fun, fun, fun.  There is nothing like just blasting downwind doing 20 knots for hours on end.  I stuck with the fleet and we battled all day.  In the end, four of us finished within a minute of each other.  
3.  The Big Bang:  The finish on leg 1 was too close for 2 Wire Sailing and TCDYC, Chris Green and Aaron McCulley.  Thirty feet from the finish in six inches of water (the Great Texas starts and finishes on the beach), 2 Wire Sailing and TCDYC collided.  2 Wire Sailing got the worst of it - a big hole in their starboard hull.  The eventual winners got beat by 35 minutes and now had a broken boat.  It looked pretty bad for them but they rallied.  They had a spare boat along - John Tomko is the local C2 dealer.  Within a few hours, their boat was fixed and they were ready to come back from disaster.  Team TCDYC was determined to be at fault and given a 30 minute penalty.  They never recovered from the penalty and end up at the bottom of the fleet.
4.  Man Over Board:  Leg 2 of the Great Texas ended up being a big time downwinder that turned into a reach over another 100 miles from Mustang Island to Matagorda.  The main fleet ran the rhumb line while a couple of boats tried the beach without success.  John Tomko fought his way back to win the leg by 15 miles.  Meanwhile, my crew got washed off the boat as we flew downwind in big waves 10 miles off-shore.  We wear safety lines but his safety line connector line broke and we suddenly found ourselves in a bad situation - man overboard, 10 miles off-shore, big air, big wind, one person on board flying the kite.  I was able to get the kite down and work my way back to my crew without flipping the boat.  Team TCDYC saw the incident and stopped to render assistance if needed.  They were granted redress for the time they stopped.  We all watch out for each other as there is no one else out there to help us.
5.   Every Point of Wind:  Good sailors can make boats go on every point of wind and John Tomko proved that on leg 3 of the Great Texas, a 60 mile run from Matagorda to Surfside.  Thunderstorms had moved through the area the night before and left us with a north wind.  In the summer in Texas, we hardly ever see a north wind.  The sea breeze comes out of the south east and it dominates all summer long. We started the leg in a light downwinder that turned to a light up winder.  Then it happened, the wind gods said this north wind cannot last and they turned off the wind.  The fleet bobbed around for 20 minutes until the wind turned on from the south east ever so slowly.  John Tomko, looked and saw ripples near the beach.  He inched his way to the beach, caught the express lane and was gone.  He sailed away to another 15 minute win in a building sea breeze.
6.  Is Four Minutes Enough?  After three days of sailing, only four minutes separated the top two boats.  Was it enough for Quiksilver to hold of 2 Wire Sailing?  No.  In light downwind breeze, 2 Wire once again showed they were masters of working the slight breeze on the beach.  Within the first hour, they had built a good lead on the last leg which is a 40 mile run from Surfside to Galveston.  As the sea breeze kicked in, the wind shifted more off-shore and the fleet sailed in to the finish on a beautiful double trap spin reach. Once again, 2 Wire was 15 minutes ahead while Quiksilver battle it out with a group of four boats for second.  Quiksilver put up a good fight but John and Ian are simply amazing at distance racing.
7.  Chums wins Open Class:  We all sail for the big overall prize of best correct time.  We also have trophies for within class performance.  We had two fleets, F18 and Open.  2 Wire won F18 and Quiksilver took second.  Hats off to Team Sailboat Shop, Mike Rohrer and Chris Holt who took home a third in F18 fleet.  Finally, not to be forgotten, Team Chums, Lee Wicklund and David Cerdes, took home the top prize in the open class sailing on an I20.  (They were the only boat in the open class this year as all the other sailors were on F18s.)
8.  The Streak Continues:  Ok, time to toot my own horn (which I am often unfairly accused of doing).  My streak of consecutive Great Texas finishes remains intact.  I have now managed to finish every leg of every Great Texas race - a feat no one else has managed.  (John Tomko  broke a mast in one race and had to retire.  It worked out quite well for him because his son Dillon was born on the last day of the Great Texas that year.)  We have had many close calls over the years.  This year I lost my crew overboard.  Other years I have had equipment problems including a few consecutive years where the rudders kept falling off.  One way of another, I have managed to make it to the beach each year and keep the consecutive finishes streak going.
9.  Great Texas Organization:  The Great Texas is an association with elected officers.  Our commodore, Terri Reuwsaat, does an amazing job of running the race.  We have an awesome PRO, Billy Richnow, and great safety officer in Trey Garrison.  Andrew Burnard does a great job with the web site, social media, and all other internet postings.  Thanks to all the organizers.
10.  See you in South Padre:  The 2015 Great Texas will start at 10 am on the Wednesday before Father's Day.  Please come sail, volunteer, or follow us up the beach.  Everyone is invited to join us.  There is no better way to see the beautiful Texas coast.  You can find out more about the race at gt300.com.  We will see you in South Padre next year!

Once again, if you enjoy this article, please like us at www.facebook.com/greattexas300 so that you can follow us in the future.  Do it now!