Triton Profiles: Dean & Janet Mitchell

(This post was originally written by Frank Patten on May 5th 2016)

On a recent rainy Tuesday I crewed on Dean Mitchell’s Santana 30-30 “Camelot” with

Ron Fish, a regular crew member, as we participated in the most informal of races on

Fernridge, The Tuesday Night Races. It was an opportunity to quiz skipper Dean Mitchell on the

upcoming Emerald Cup Race, the more formal of races. The Emerald Cup is Triton’s

premier racing event and has been a highlight of the Fernridge racing community for

many years. Dean has chaired this event a number of times; he’s not sure how many.

The Emerald Cup takes place on June 25th and 26th. It is anticipated that there will be a

number of fleets- Wavelength 24’s, Santana 20’s, Thistles, Lidos, possibly multi-hulls

and the PHRFs(Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) as they are known (pronounced

Perfs). PHRFs are a mix of boats that are handicapped according to the boat type.

Emerald Cup participants come from Oregon, Washington and California.

Each fleet winner receives a trophy. In addition, the Emerald Cup is awarded to the

skipper and crew based on a formula that evaluates overall performance.

Participants can register and purchase their meals using the link on our website to the US

Sailing Regatta Network.

Dean’s love of sailing began through the Boy Scouts at the Lake of the Woods, a

Southern Oregon lake east of Medford. He said that there was no one in his scouting

troop that knew anything about sailing so they were self taught. They raised the main and

let the wind take them where it would. Then as a teen he moved to Eugene and was on his

high school’s wrestling team. He described his coach’s advice to him- “As soon as you

shake hands, do a little spin and grab for the take down and pin, as your opponent is

expecting that you will do a few preliminary feints first”. Dean said that most of his pins

occurred in the first minute of the match. Ron Fish noted during our sail that maybe his

aggressiveness is why Dean has been so successful at the Thursday night races on

“Falcor”, his Wavelength 24. The Thursday Night Races are more intense than the

Tuesday Night Races. While Dean is very competitive he is also known for the help he

has given to those new to racing. He certainly made me feel welcome on his boat in spite

of my limited skills. He recently retired as a pilot for Monaco Coach and previously flew

for Eugene Skydivers.

Janet is in charge of catering and has done this for a number of years. Several years ago

Janet suggested that we prepare the meals in-house rather than go to an outside caterer.

We found this to be not only more economical but also realized that, in Janet, we had

someone with a real talent for preparing a unique and delicious spread. Janet starts many

months ahead in planning the meals and securing volunteers. Her preparation is very

thorough. When the volunteers arrive all the ingredients are laid out so that each

volunteer has a job and knows what to do.

As an aside, the Tuesday Night Race begins at 7:00 in the evening and the start is

announced by the blowing of a conch shell that Dean brought back from a bareboat

Caribbean cruise he and his wife, Janet, took a few years back. The race proceeds toward

an objective mark and at exactly half an hour into the race, the conch is blown again, and

all boats do a 180 degree back to the start line. The first over the finish line wins. My first

thought was that the slowest boat is the closest to the finish line at the half hour mark, so

it seems like the faster boats are penalized for sailing further on the first leg. But as Dean

and Ron explained that’s the point. If a slower boat can only get half way to the mark

during the first leg then it may not get to the finish line any quicker than the faster boats.

This then becomes a handicap that applies not only to the boat but also to the skipper, an

encouragement for new captains. After the race an informal BBQ of hot dogs and sides is

served with a donation to the “kitty”.

Anyone interested in the Tuesday Night Races should show up at the next Triton General

Meeting, member or not, and express an interest. Potential crew need not own a boat.