All Roads lead to Tulsa! An interview with IV McNamara
By Andrew Kerr
This year’s National Championships are being hosted by Windy Crest sailing club and S20 fleet # 37 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The racing is going to take part on Keystone Lake and is going to be a great event for the class. S20 sailor IV Mc Namara is a very active member of the fleet and the class; his team has traveled to S20 events all over the country. The Oklahoma fleets are true road warriors and IV along with other fleet # 37 members is actively involved in preparations to host the championships. Andrew Kerr sat down with IV to find out about his sailing, his team, the venue and what a team can expect at this year’s championships.
AK: Tell us about your background in sailing – how did you get involved with the sport?
IV: The family joke is that my mother was grinding a winch with one hand and breast feeding me with the other. I grew up racing on my parents Catalina 30. We did that every weekend when I was little. I then graduated to my own boat, a Capri 14.2 which my brother and I sailed in junior events in the region. I didn’t sail much in college, but school I missed sailing so I negotiated a deal with one of my dads buddies new wife to remove the E-Scow from her back yard in exchange for ownership of the boat. I took Olivia sailing for the first time in that boat. We proceeded to capsize it and almost sink it. When she showed up a few weeks late to do it all again I realized I was in love. We joined Windycrest and raced the E-Scow for 2 summers.
AK: What brought you to the S20 class?
IV: I had been actively racing at Windycrest on my E-Scow for a couple of summers. I was interested in getting into a keelboat that had good one design racing within the club. I also wanted a boat that was easy enough to crew that my wife, a novice sailor, could easily participate with me. I looked at the J24 and several other one design boats, the problem was that Windycrest did not really strong and active one design fleet at the time. Rumor leaked out that I was looking to get into a Keel Boat and Britt Williams recruited me and hounded on me to buy this bright Red S20 that was dying for someone to race it. He basically sold me on the idea of traveling with the S20. So I bought a boat “The One Tomato” and we had a Ton of FUN. I sailed the Tomato for 2 summers then came across this nut who was selling a brand new S20 out in San Francisco on eBay for almost nothing. I made a low ball offer and walked away with a great boat and a great story to tell. I like the class because there is a lot of support from other sailors. Always offering a kind word or suggestion about improving your sailing.
AK: Tell us about your team and the experiences you have had traveling to different events:
IV: My number one team mate is my wife Olivia. She has become a great foredeck and is the envy of the entire fleet! We really enjoy traveling with the boat. We try to make it to most of the regional events and 2 or 3 venues further away every year. We try to mix in non sailing things while traveling i.e. visiting the Grand Canyon on the way to West Coast venues or taking an extra day to visit the nearest big city. I have become an expert in parallel parking while towing the S20 in downtown areas. The team has a primary goal of having a good time, but we all realize it is a lot easier to have a good time if you are performing well in the regatta so we focus on that as well. Early in the year I will plan what events I want to go to and communicate that to the crew. I think it is important to have the same 3 people on the boat all season long. Time in the boat is the biggest factor that keeps us in the top half of the fleet.
AK: Fleet # 37 is very active, both at the local level and with traveling to different venues and supporting S20 events, tell us about the fleet and the people in it. How have you been able to achieve this level of activity?
IV: Two Words: Britt Williams. Britt is really the motivation behind Fleet 37. He has purchased many boats and fixed them up and sold them to locals to race in. The fleet has a few core racers and several people who participate socially. We try to keep an even mix of sailing and partying to keep those who are not hardcore racers involved and out on the race course a few times a summer. Traveling is always more fun when you have a bigger group, so we encourage everyone to come have fun with us. Britt, with a little bit of my help, has done a good job of getting a few guys in Oklahoma City to begin traveling with us as well as a few more Windycrest guys interested. We are always looking for opportunities to visit other potential fleets that are within a days drive to encourage them to come race at our place.
AK: Tell us about the venue for this year’s Nationals – what can a first time visitor to the lake & area expect?
IV: This year’s Nationals are going to be a great time. The whole club is really buzzing about it. We will have many volunteers on hand to help traveling sailors feel at home. For sailors on a budget, we have great camping facilities or we can even find spare bedroom room in a club member’s house for you and your crew. There are also some great hotels about 20 minutes away if that is what you prefer. In June we would anticipate breeze between 8 and 17 knots, generally from the south. This sets up for great race courses. We have organized a well seasoned Race Committee who has been involved in many aspects of organizing the Regatta. Steve Snider, a Snipe and Sunfish Racer, has taken on the task of Regatta Chairman, he and is wife Mary are working really hard to make sure this thing goes off without a hitch. The biggest obstacle we face is the drive time from the West Coast fleets. My experience is that if that if there are 3 drivers in the car and you stick to strict 2 hour rotations pulling an all nighter is easy. If team “old guys” on boat #920 can do it anyone can.
We are also planning on having the S20 Southwest Regional Regatta a few weeks prior to the nationals. If anyone wants to bring their boat out early, participate in the regional, fly home, and fly back for the Nationals they are more than welcome to. I will personally drive you to and from the airport.
Tulsa is a great town to visit. We are celebrating the States Centennial Anniversary and local businesses have many exciting things planned. (The regatta has been classified an official state centennial event!) I encourage everyone to spend a few extra days here to enjoy the best the state has to offer. You can find all kinds of things to do at http://www.travelok.com
AK: Thank you IV, everyone is looking forward to a great time in Tulsa.