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.

The Scuttlebutt: Dam Closing

(This post was originally written by Frank Patten on April 2nd 2016)

The title “Scuttlebutt” comes from 18th Century English Royal Navy usage and

refers to opening a seacock (scuttle) in a barrel (butt) and was the location where

sailors could get ready water and share gossip, sort of the equivalent of our office

water cooler.

Several years ago when I began sailing at Fern Ridge Lake I was mystified when a

number of sailors seemed so excited about the dam closing. I even remember

that a celebration was planned for this wonderful day. I'd always thought of a

closing as meaning that something was coming to an end, the fun was over.

What was happening, of course, was that the spillways were closing; the lake

would begin to fill, and the yearly ritual of following the Army Corps of Engineer’s

“Rule Curve” had begun.

The Rule Curve is the graphical representation of the Corps mandate to balance

recreational needs with flood control and farming requirements along the Long

Tom River. The spillways are opened or closed to coincide with the Rule Curve.

As of this writing we are slightly below the curve which means if we have a

normal spring rain we will reach full pool a little behind April 9th, the full pool

date. We are also at the level that the lake reached at its highest last year.

The anticipation of a full pool was felt at Triton’s last general meeting. Our new

board outlined an ambitious program for the coming year. A summary is included

in this newsletter. A very enthusiastic Charlie Johnson led the group in a

brainstorming session to consider ways we see as the direction Triton might take.

The board will distill these ideas and present them to the members in a near

future meeting.

The members spent some time on the topic of racing and cruising and the

relative effort spent on each activity. Some members would like to see more

energy given to cruising. My observation as a cruiser is that racing requires a lot

of group focus whereas cruising is something that is done mostly individually or

in small groups and the planning can go unnoticed. Our board is working to put

more emphasis on cruising and plans are being made to have a jungle cruise this

year. Matt, our commodore, pointed out that the format of our general meetings

will feature a more focused business portion of the meeting and more time to be

devoted to sharing an enjoyable meal that affords more opportunity for

comradeship. This last meeting was an example of this approach and with

Charlie at the grill, we all enjoyed hamburgers, a myriad of salads, and enough

cookies to make monsters of us all.

As one of our initiatives we are renewing our website. We envision the site as the

“go to” location for information concerning Triton events and Fernridge Lake

activities. This column will be one of the first on the site and will be refreshed

often during the sailing season. I plan to update the column with club activities

and summaries of meetings, information about the lake. I'd like to include profiles

not only of some of our members but also profiles of people who make decisions

concerning the lake.