By John Herr - Mechanicsville, Maryland - USA

I had a great surprise when I looked at the website last September and found another boat listed under Maryland in the Local Fleets section. Cool, I thought, maybe we could get together and have a little float. In fact we now have enough boats to have a legitimate Maryland fleet (3). So I contacted Gene Tehansky, the owner of "All Standing," to see if maybe we could work out getting together sometime this fall. Both of us were very surprised when we figured out that out of the entire state of Maryland only 4 miles separate us from each other and Gene used to work at Patuxent River Navy base where I now work. So we decided to meet Saturday September 15, 2007 at the West Basin marina at 2:30, errr 4:30, uhhh 5:00; life kept getting in the way and delaying our meeting. Gene was a good sport about the changes and when we finally met we admired each others boats and special features, then we headed to the small wind protected beach on the other side of the basin and prepared to launch.

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This picture shows Gene rigging All Standing (PDRacer #168) on the left, my daughter and myself rigging Starcatcher (PDRacer #112) in the center, and my son checking out the wind and maybe dreaming of farther shores in Moldy Duck (PDRacer #111).

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The wind was 15+ knots with whitecaps on the Patuxent River and I was not sure that the kids could handle the strong conditions even in the marina basin so an adult in the boat was mandatory, much to the chagrin of my daughter. She and my wife were the first to launch in Starcatcher and immediately got becalmed! How could there be so much wind over there but not here? Gene launched second and immediately headed away from the sheltering trees to the stronger winds, but he was also struggling to get out of the wind shadow. This was his second time out in All Standing and he had a GPS with him. He later reported that he was able to do 1.0 knots by just pumping the rudder back and forth.

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Gene's rudder and leeboard are pieces of art. He said the they were each a project in themselves and the hard work has obviously paid off.

By the way, Gene's rudder and leeboard are pieces of art. He said the they were each a project in themselves and the hard work has obviously paid off. The truth is Gene's whole boat is a work of art from the high gloss hull, to the natural boom and tanbark sail, to the little duck stickers his wife found. In contrast Moldy Duck and Starcatcher have 3/4 inch plywood slab foils with the front rounded and the trailing edge sharpened, semi-gloss paint to hide the rougher spots, and dings and dents from usage. But usage means that we are learning how to sail and more importantly, what not to do.

Anyway, seeing the trouble the other two boats were having in the wind shadow, I launched my son and Moldy Duck with more push and a lot deeper, leaping in at the last second over the stern. We were able to get farther out but still had problems with the wind swirling around. Then I figured out what Gene was doing (he is an experienced sailor) and I started taking the shortest route away from the wind shadow also. When we finally hit open air the boats accelerated quickly. At one point Moldy Duck, an 18 inch tall PDRacer, was taking green water over the bow! OK, I was a bit too far forward and the water is brackish green to begin with, but this is my story and I had to sit in the gallon of water we took on, so "green water" it is. Later Gene said his coaming in the front of his 16 inch PDRacer got a workout and he was glad that he had it. He achieved a maximum speed of 4.1 knots on his GPS which means that All Standing has the Maryland PDRacer speed record. We were all very happy with the sail and had a great time learning the ins and outs of PDRacering. I also discovered that I need to rethink the bungies that hold the rudder and leeboard down. When we would get up to speed they would both slide backward causing control problems. I spent a lot of time holding the leeboard down and chasing the rudder.

The most daring act of the day was when my wife and I swapped boats. Normally this would be done on the shore, however I proposed that we swap in mid-basin. She was not to keen on the idea, but she is also a great sport and humored me. We put flat side against flat side and I held on while she hopped across and then she held the boats for me. Even though she was hesitant to attempt this before we tried, she commented how easy it was once accomplished. We were able to do it quickly and safely because the PDRacer is a very stable boat. It was almost like walking on land.

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Moldy Duck

The sailing was fantastic and the first Maryland PDRegatta was a huge success. Both my kids thoroughly enjoyed their first outing in blustery conditions and my wife and I are thinking about sailing the boats out of the marina and across the river to have lunch at a waterfront restaurant before sailing back. It should be fun, but first, a few boat modifications are needed. Yes, I am grinning.

John Herr


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