20-Mile Race


As a challenge to cruising boats, John McConnico originated the 20-Mile Timed Race in 1979 and donated the etched acrylic and wood trophy which remains in the clubhouse. The race, which can be run on any day of the skipper’s choosing, starts and ends at the “Ross Bryan Dock” and includes two turning marks; one being the large green cell at Old Hickory Dam and the other, the first green can upstream of Lindsley Light. The skipper is on his/her honor to keep his/her own time. Each year, the winners name and time is placed on the trophy and then the trophy is up for grabs the following year.

Winners and times are:

1979 - Black Watch John McConnico 3 hours, 6 minutes, 7 seconds
1980 - Morgan 27 Charley Warterfield 3 hours, 23 minutes, 16 seconds
1981 - Morgan 27 Charley Warterfield 3 hours, 20 minutes, 14 seconds
1982 - Flying Dutchman Chandler Owen 2 hours, 50 minutes , 0 seconds
1983 - Wavelength Charley Warterfield
1984 - Chuck Konesky 2 hours, 50 minutes, 40 seconds
1985 - Wavelength Charley Warterfield 2 hours, 42 minutes, 9 seconds
1986 - Baba 40 John Walker 2 hours, 42 minutes, 3 seconds
1987 - J-22 Ron Miller 2 hours, 53 minutes, 3 seconds
1988 - J-24 William Hofmeister 2 hours, 47 minutes, 9 seconds
1989 - J-24 William Hofmeister 2 hours, 52 minutes, 2 seconds
1990 - J-24 William Hofmeister 2 hours, 42 minutes, 53 seconds
1991 - J-24 William Hofmeister 2 hours, 55 minutes, 8 seconds
1999 - Turbulence Brock Short 2 hours, 29 minutes, 31 seconds
2001 - Sea-J Brock Short 2 hours, 29 minutes, 10 seconds
2005 - Two Hawks Brock Short 2 hours, 29 minutes, 45 seconds
2010 - Laser Bruce Richards 11/25/2010, 3 hours, 8 minutes, 38 seconds
2011 - J-105 Greg Theriot 11/26/2011 2 hours, 25 minutes, 8 seconds
2012 - J-32 Ann & Fred Beesley 3/4/2012 2 hours, 56 minutes, 12 seconds
2013 - Corsair F-27 John Collins/David Brandon 2 hours, 8 minutes, 40 seconds


Below is the harrowing account of Bruce Richard's Twenty Mile run in a Laser on Thanksgiving Day, 2010:

The outing began at 09:28:28 off the end of the concrete dock on a screaming plane out of the harbor in a southerly gust and I wondered for a moment if I could handle twenty miles of this.   But there was not much time to think as I passed the Wards’ dock and enjoined the real breeze on the lake.  And the seeds had already been planted…

Duane had loaned me The Boat Whisperer DVD’s two weeks  before and I had watched  them repeatedly during my daily elliptical training…so much that I can still hear echoes of  English Laser sailor Steve Cockrill’s exhortations to keep my “buum” out of the water upwind, to hike off my toes with my knees locked “like a ballerina”, to keep my “ruuudder” in the middle, to steer by “dropping sheet” and using my body, to sail by the lee along the back of big waves in 35 knot winds looking for low places to cross them, to let the boat go where it wants to go…  I was keen to try!

Ann Beesley and I had visited Tuesday, observing that it would be a great day to “do the Twenty Miler” and lamenting that another gorgeous day of strong southerly breeze had slipped away…

We had enjoyed our Thanksgiving gathering with friends and family Saturday.  Sherrie had to work Thursday, Kiri was with my parents and sister in DC, Kim and Isaac were spending the day with Steve’s family, and I was off…duly noting the forecast for winds out of the south at 15 with gusts to 25 building in the afternoon, chance of rain and thunderstorms, high of 65.  These would definitely be radial rig conditions but would afford perfect opportunities to apply Cockrill’s techniques, perhaps for twenty miles.

The wind was whistling through clanging halyards as I rigged SECONd CHILdHOOd.  For once, the forecast was an UNDERestimate!  (The NWS recorded winds 22-28 and gusts 30-39.)  Enthusiasm and determination aside, I had to consider that this was arguably crazy…sailing alone on a holiday in conditions that have sent me swimming to the point of exhaustion before (17 times on my first attempt in 1975!)  Robert Mattix and Dock Fielder kindly agreed to monitor my progress, or possible lack thereof, on VHF channel 68;    I packed a waterproof VHF radio and a Zip-Loc bagged cell phone in one dry bag, spare gloves and a hood and granola bars in another,  packed three bottles of Gatorade and secured them all to the hiking strap.  (Apart from a few gulps of Gatorade during lulls, I never had a chance to touch anything I packed during the three hours of sailing that followed!)  I layered my PFD over spray top over ¾ length hiking pants over wetsuit over polypropylene, pulled the legs of a thick old wetsuit over my calves to cushion them against the edge of the cockpit while hiking, tied my frosbiting hat on, pulled hiking boots over Sealskinz socks and Home Depot industrial rubber gloves over Sealskinz gloves, bladed the main out with Cunningham and outhaul as we    60 kg sailors must and cast off…radioing my start time to Robert and Dock. 

I thought it wiser to round the green can upstream from Lindsey’s light first:  it was downwind and if I was tiring or overpowered on the beat back I could tuck safely back into the harbor and call it a day.  But downwind in breeze comes with rediscovery of the ragged edge (of death rolling) and the boat and I were a bit wobbly in the first few gusts, especially in the lifts that folded the leach toward me when by the lee seemed the place to be.  We ultimately settled, planing  past and over waves at times, waved to the Cottons’ estate, rounded the can smoothly and set up for the beat back.   With enough vang to bend the boom to near deck level, eased main and concession of a few degrees of pointing we were able to sail fairly flat and manage most of the waves and gusts comfortably.  I had to remember to ease vang  going into tacks so I could get under the boom and to ease main a lot coming out of tacks to keep the boat moving and on its feet.  Pointing toes and locking knees was effective (though I resorted to old hiking habits at times) and I did not feel tired or out of control.  So at the harbor entrance at about 1000 I decided to press on to the dam. 

I was lifted clear of the island at the mouth of Drake’s Creek in a series of monster gusts and thought there might be some reprieve beyond with a chance to bear away a bit toward the channel at Old Hickory Boat Dock.  I was wrong!  The stretch from Drake’s Creek to the DuPont factory was wildly treacherous as gusts blasted down from crazy directions that ignored any semblance of or respect for “prevailing breeze”.   And the first part of the stretch was a close reach to reach, the toughest for light guys as we can only bleed power into speed and on the front edge of a gust we’re sometimes not going fast enough,  or we don’t ease the main enough, or we have too much vang on so that a little more heeling buries the end of our boom in the water and then we’re climbing over the windward rail onto  the centerboard, releasing the vang from that position, clambering back aboard and starting over again with renewed resolve and a little less vang…as I did twice in that stretch in gusts that came with 20-30 degree lifts, once downstream and once upstream.  Above the dam the lake opens up;  the waves were bigger and became delightful playmates as Cockrill suggested they would be.  Wind and gust direction were similar and with vang on hard I could sail by the lee along the back of waves, pick a spot, trim in and plane over them on a reach.  The boat hummed and vibrated with pleasure and stayed perfectly flat even in the monster gusts.  The joy ride ended at the far bollard and my initial hope that I could clear the Hendersonville point without a tack was dashed by a 40 degree “face plant” of a header and a tea bagging that dumped me entirely out of the boat.  The beat back from the dam to Old Hickory Boat Dock was some of the toughest sailing I’ve done.  The tea baggings were worse than the capsizes;  the windshifts that came with gusts on top of gusts elicited one uncharacteristic spontaneous “damn” on my part.  The boat and I shuddered through gusts, once to a halt, sailing off little more than the clew patch.  I had to adopt a fighting mode with an oh-no-you-don’t attitude toward the wind in some of the blasts that felt like an invisible hand pushing me down, “dropping a lot of sheet” quickly and then trimming it in just as quickly to avoid a tea bagging after the gust passed.   The dividend came as we bore off at the bouy above Old Hickory Boat Dock—a mile of uninterrupted planning!

The lake became friendly again at  Drake’s Creek with Harbor Island in sight and even a little sunshine breaking through fast-moving low clouds.   We planed in a few gusts rolling down the shore below Shute’s Branch and in the breeze that always seems to funnel out of Shute’s Branch…and then had to deal with the lee of Harbor Island…shifting gears to sail in calm, and then wind eddies, and then gusts in the harbor alternatingly coming over the island and the causeway.  I didn’t shift gears quickly enough for one and capsized once more (in the harbor!)  before passing the concrete dock at 12:37:00.

Dock kindly met me at the dock, made me fast and welcomed me back.  Rick Smith asked me if I was coming or going, and for a moment I thought  about going out again.  But I was thankful enough for one Thanksgiving day and it was time to come home.

The weather radio alarm was sounding when I opened the door at home:  “Significant weather advisory.  Wind warning.  Wind warnings are issued when winds 20 to 25 miles per hour with gusts 30 to 40 miles per hour are expected.  These could displace unsecured objects…and could make driving difficult.”

No kidding!    Smooth sailing to all,

Bruce Richards,  Laser #185555,  SECONd CHILdHOOd,  11/25/10