Light air racing fun for a great group of sailors on the Willamette River in Portland, Oregon.

The Lido 14 District VI annual championship “Turtle Regatta” was held May 6-7 at the Willamette Sailing Club in Portland. Vying for the title on the Willamette River between the Ross Island and Sellwood Bridges in very light and shifty southerly winds were 18 boats from Washington and Oregon.

What is the Turtle Regatta and how did it get its name? Long ago, when Portland’s Lido Fleet 25 first started hosting a regatta on the Willamette River, a sudden southerly storm blew in midway through a race. It began as a thin black line up river that grew in intensity until the squall exploded, capsizing three Lidos simultaneously, all of which turned turtle, straining the capability of the safety boats. 

A Lido Fleet 25 gray beard noted that the blustery weather typical of the first weekend in May was likely to flip boats over most years, and the annual “Turtle Trophy” was born. It is given to the first Lido to capsize at the regatta each year. No Turtle Trophy was awarded this year (though full disclosure demands that I share last year’s winner was me, sailing my venerable Lido #1314, Squirt).

The Lido 14 sailors at the District Championship.

Starts, windward mark roundings, and finishes were all challenging as Lidos beating upstream found their boat speed barely equal to the speed of the current in the shifty wind, favoring the more experienced and conservative crews. The river was running high and the downstream current of about a knot put a premium on local knowledge and tactics. 

In one race Saturday afternoon, the wind literally boxed the compass with dramatic lifts and headers that spanned the entire 360 degrees, the subject of continual comment at the exceptional regatta dinner Saturday evening which featured “a steak called Chuck” and “a salad called Caesar” courtesy of Class Treasurer Christine Stamper and her crew.

Mike Rees’ Race Committee had its own strategic battle to fight and did very well to get six races in over the two days. They rose to the challenge of the conditions that demanded postponement after postponement, finally pulling the trigger when the breezes were consistent enough. 

Drew Ehlers and Grace Lane, sailing Lido #2946 DNR, took an resounding 1st place win with 11 points, ahead of Mark and Kathy Sandifer on #5126 Blew Moon with 15 points and Darrell Peck and Lori Daily sailing #6159, who scored 16 points for 3rd Place. All award winners hail from WSC in Portland.

Ben Shanley and Gus Stannard sailing WSC “club” Lido #3584 were awarded 1st Place B Fleet, after a respectable 11th place overall. Ben is 10 years old and his sailing buddy, Gus, is 13 years old! Ben has been sailing for less than two years and regularly races the club Lido with the adults, including his proud dad. Ben is honing his competitive sailing skills with Optis too, and some of us at the WSC who see his sailing potential as unlimited! 

Award winners after this year’s Turtle Regatta.

Thanks to all the competitors and volunteers who made this a great event, as always, and congratulations to newly-crowned District VI champions, Drew and Grace. There’s great momentum with the Lido 14s in the Pacific Northwest, since the Lido 14 National Championship Regatta will take place July 27-30, hosted by the Eugene Yacht Club on Fernridge Reservoir. More than 60 Lido 14s are expected to vie for class honors!

Photos courtesy of Willamette Sailing Club.