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An interview with Eric Bernstein on the 2022 CSA Cat Scramble Regatta

by David Schmidt 24 May 16:00 BST May 26-29, 2022
Racecourse action at the Charlotte Harbor Regatta in the Hobie 16 class © Brian Gleason/Charlotte Harbor Regatta

Few things are finer than getting out on the wire on a hopped-up multihull on fresh water. The founders of the Cat Scramble clearly know this. The regatta, which is being organized by the Carlyle Sailing Association, is open to a wide variety of Hobie (Waves through 18s and 20s) and Nacra (5.5s through 20s) designs, as well as A Class cats. It will unfurl on the waters of Lake Carlyle, in Carlyle, Illinois, from May 27-29, 2022.

The event welcomes multihull sailors hailing from all points, and visiting sailors can expect a great weekend of camping, grilling, and racing with their friends (cabins and hotels are, of course, available as well).

Provided that the wind gods cooperate, the organizers aim to rifle off three to four back-to-back races, giving sailors plenty of what they love most.

I checked in with Eric Bernstein, 2022 fleet captain of the Carlyle Sailing Association, via email, to learn more about this exciting One Design multihull regatta.

Can you please tell us a bit about the Cat Scramble, its culture and competition levels, and the kinds of sailors that one can expect to encounter at the event?

The Cat Scramble is a multi-class Catamaran Regatta; meaning all types of catamarans are welcome to participate. This early season regatta is our club’s first big event; Memorial Day Weekend.

The event attracts boats from all over the Midwest, and is a relatively new regatta at our club. However, each year it grows as the word spreads around the country of our first-class sailing facility.

The regatta will be intense and hard-fought with very skilled racers expected.

What kind of entry numbers are you seeing this year? Also, are there any notable geographical concentrations to this entry list?

We’re expecting upwards of 30 boats, with most coming from the middle and upper Midwest.

What kind of course shapes will the vent employ? Also, will each design (A-Cat Classic, A-Cat Open, Hobies, Nacras, et al) have their own start/class? Finally, will you guys use traditional racecourse marks, or are you leveraging the new GPS-enabled marks (MarkSetBot, etc.) ?

All the courses will be Windard-Leeward[s]. The start order will be based on number of classes and how many [boats are racing] per class. We will be using standard race marks.

Weather-wise, what kind conditions can sailors expect to encounter on Lake Carlyle in late May? What are the best-case and worst-case weather scenarios?

Normally, May is a great time to race on Carlyle Lake. Late spring typically brings 10-15 knot breezes and comfortable weather conditions.

However, spring can also bring various and quick changing weather.

Do you see local knowledge playing a big or small role in the regatta’s outcome? Can you please explain?

Local knowledge is important in most venues, and here it’s no different. The lay of the surrounding land and how this terrain affects various wind directions and their shifts is valuable.

If you could offer one piece of advice to visiting (and local) sailors, what would it be?

Avoid the shores.

Do you have any entrants that you’re eyeing for podium finishes? What about any dark horses who you think could prove to be fast, once the starting guns begin sounding?

In the A-Class, the Paoli boys, father and son, are super-fast and [are] probably the most experienced cat sailors around. After them, it’s up in the air as many have new boats so I believe there could be some real surprises this regatta. Paul Hanson brings decades of sailing to this only his second year racing a catamaran; could be the dark horse.

In the Hobie class, Leimbach, Tuffli and Bautz had a real good battle all last season; this class is a total toss up who’ll take the gold.

Can you tell us about any efforts that you and the other regatta organizers have made to try to lower the regatta’s environmental footprint or otherwise green-up the regatta?

Our club as a whole has been involved in plastics, glass and metal cans recycling for years. We’ve also moved away from many of our past paper mailings, rosters, and notifications.

Is there anything else that you’d like to add, for the record?

Carlyle Sailing Association has been recognized around the country as a world-class sailing facility. We have sailing options for all ages, including Junior and adult sailing camps, three-hour lessons, and a fun sailing events calendar. As a volunteer-run club, our doors are open to come sail with us.

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