How It Works
We started with a simple premise - develop an invitational regatta where any person aged 55 or better could come and have a good time racing sailboats. That was the easy part!
What boats? If we were to invite everyone, restricted only by age, what boat would we race? In this part of the puzzle, we had a huge advantage. We race twice weekly in a uniform fleet of RC Lasers. These are the ultimate one-design boats which are identically rigged and constructed. No modifications are allowed - none!
Having a suitable fleet of identical boats gave us the enviable advantage of being able to offer our boats to any skipper to race and know that the boats would not be the deciding factor in who won.
How many? We struggled with the number of participants. At first we wanted to hold a regatta hosting 30 skippers but knew that we couldn't put 30 boats on the starting line at one time. After a lot of gnashing of teeth, we came on a system of heats using only 10 boats. After Geezer 'Gatta I, in 2011, we learned that we could easily expand to 36 skippers, using 12 boats - so we have expanded the size of the regatta a little.
Scoring? This was a challenge for our scoring team. Last time we used a poster board that was updated with individual scores throughout the regatta, backed by a computer that was doing the work. Because of the rapid cycling of heats, this was a particular challenge. This year we are considering having the computer hooked up to a big screen TV so that the computer computations will appear for all to see. we'll see...!
Durability? Just think about it. Not only do we need to provide 12 identical boats, we must keep them running all day for both days. Remember that after each heat, the skipper just hands the transmitter to the next member of his team and the next heat is underway. In effect, our boats run all day without ever coming off the water. Could we do it? YES. We keep three hulls on the shore ready to substitute for any problems. If we have a problem with a boat, we simply switch the boat leaving the same rig - so you recognize the boat on the water. GG1 went off without a hitch. RC Lasers are the most durable and dependable model in the world - and they prove their worth.
Rules? Our Sailing Instructions were Geezerized. We want everyone to observe the primary rules when boats meet. But we also want to keep the regatta friendly yet competitive considering everyone is sailing an unfamiliar boat in unfamiliar waters. So the bottom line is when a foul occurs, if the offending boat does not gain an advantage over the right-of-way boat, or other boats in the fleet, then we sail on. The idea is to sail fast to win, not argue over some obscure or hard to verify infraction. We can't please everyone, but in our survey, we had no complaints about our Corinthian system of rules enforcement.
Facility - We have a great facility. We sail from a point that sticks out into our lake allowing us to deal with any wind direction with a good windward-leeward course. Our chase boats sits by ready to make any adjustments to the course. The point is a grassy, area that is the lakeside lawn to our 24,000 sq foot clubhouse. We have facilities in the club as well as close by in our Sports complex.
Our Experience - We were all a little nervous about this completely new and untried kind of regatta. Many of our own skippers had never been to a regatta so they had no frame of reference. But it all went together extremely well, and we are only tweaking some fine points.
SurveyWe used a survey to survey all competitors about the different aspects of our regatta. Most responded, and we are using those comments as the basis for the tweaks you will see in the coming year. But, we were pleasantly surprised that everything worked so well. The returning number of skippers is quite impressive already.