Deep in the heart of Dixie, along the Florida gulf coast just east of Pensacola, Navarre Beach is home to Juana’s Pagodas. Juana, is a fiery red head that runs a Tiki Bar style Beach Club on the protected side of barrier island. Her beach is perfect for launching 100 beachcats at the same time into flat protected water. Since you can rig, park and launch your boat from Juana’s beach, eat breakfast, lunch and dinner at the restaurant, drink cold beer and listen to live music at the “Sand Bar”, sailing here has come to be known as a “Good Time”. Now, although this race is conducted in accordance with our traditional racing rules of sailing, Juana reserves the right to step in and take control as she sees fit to ensure everyone has a “Good Time”. Everyone seems onboard with this and calmly handles things with a “hey, it’s Juana’s” attitude. So, we’re all there to race, but one must not trespass on the cult tradition of this “good time” rule of reverence. Got it? And, whatever you may think of this practice, remember, over 100 boats show up every year and we had 8 F18’s.
This was our second year that we split a condo on the beach with Team Ingram. 14th floor overlooking the gulf, 2 bedrooms, large kitchen, great for having friends over and cheaper than a hotel. As with most regattas the boat rigging can be easily turned into part of the party with little effort. Folks are friendly, the mood is festive yet well organized and registration Friday night is very lively. We got there Thursday and rigged up while officially kicking off the party and ready to sail Friday for a shake down. Since our ever so tolerant and patient wives support our sailing addiction much of the year by watching from the beach, this event has them on the boat and firmly in control. So far, we are indeed having a “good time”.
Before we move into the sailing aspect of this weekend, and considering Juana’s intended rules of engagement. There is something that needs to be addressed. This issue could potentially degrade our sport and our way of life. It’s a matter of ethics. Due to poor education, lack of ambition, or perhaps just poor genetic influence, it has become accepted without dispute to prepare some of our most revered elixir with artificial and very low grade components. In this specific case I address, the Margarita. Trust me, the Margarita from a premade mix and cheap tequila does not represent the proper drink, the experience or the result.
Cast away those processed mixers and that cheap tequila. Go buy yourself a mid-grade or better tequila, there is a difference. This stuff is very strong so you shouldn’t be drinking that much of it anyway. Buy some fresh juice oranges and some fresh limes. A bottle of agave sweetener and a margarita glass salter. Squeeze the juices and blend the two for taste. My normal ratio is 6 parts orange to 1 part lime, depends on the fruit. In a pinch you can get most of the juice from the fruit by cutting in halves and mashing a fork into the meat. When your mix is good and tart add some agave sweetener to taste. Not too sweet, the fruit is full of sugars that will react with the tequila. Chances are you’ll get to point where you say, “oooh that’s good”. Put one serving in a shaker with ice and shake it up. On a small plate pour out some agave to dip the top of the glass hold the salt. Another dip into the salter and your glass is ready for ice. The juice mix should start out strong because the ice shaker starts diluting it, and now we’re adding ice to the glass also. Don’t want it too watered down.
Now your salted glass is ready for ice, a full glass. One shot of that really expensive wonder juice over the ice. Now gently pour the juice in as to NOT mix it up. Leave room at the top for a half shot floater. As you can see, we’ve got some octane in this mix and it will make some real power. Good tequila has a very enjoyable flavor and by not stirring the tequila into the juice you get that distinct flavor and the juices separate on your palate.
This is a sipping drink that can be enjoyed in the heat of the summer or snuggled up around the fire at the ski resort. It’s all natural and fortified with vitamin C. Very important… you should not drink this without a large glass of good quality PH balanced water in hand. Cheap filtered water is very acidic and can promote a tummy ache with the OJ. Drink the water and sip the drink. This prevents a hangover and the drink will last a long time. If you’re out in the heat, keep adding ice until you’re drinking water. Only then can you have another. Note to the bartender, I normally do a shot or two when mixing to ensure the ingredients are fresh and suitable for those to whom I serve. Also, my lovely wife should really get the credit for this recipe.
Friday turns out to be the best breeze of the weekend. We decide to run the distance race course which leaves Juana’s and heads west 20 miles, rounds a mark in front of Key Sailing and back to Juana’s. 2 F18’s with wives at the helm set out with the company of Rick and Terry on their I20. The girls have some fun with the spin run and nobody goes swimming. Well it was close this one time, but almost don’t count. We pulled up on the beach for lunch and sailed back to Juana’s with a good beer buzz… I mean well hydrated. The ride back was a touch reachy which my skipper loves, she drives the rumb line and leaves the rest to me. Playing with the trim on our new Performance sails was fun for me and we managed to stay in the lead all the way back. So far we are indeed having a “Good Time”.
Saturday morning’s distance race is greeted by a soft but consistent breeze with a forecast to get worse before better. Since everyone is busy having a “Good Time” the race got started late and started at about the time the breeze got fickle. We found a nice little hole near the start line amongst the other 100 boats and had a really bad start. Now, my starts are nothing to brag about, but this one was one of my best worst ones. And even though I was enthusiastically reciting all my bad words, we were still having a “Good Time”.
As we go blazing down the river like a thundering herd of turtles the fleet splits to the north and south shores. The south shore is more popular since the sea breeze should start there first. But my play is to sit on the north shore since the land mass is bigger and darker, and should have it’s own lift right at the edge. After some agonizingly soft and shifty breezes we finally started to get paid from our shore lift. We had made our way back up to the leaders, but a mile away on the other side of the river.
By this time most of the boats we were with had bailed out for the south shore. Just us and a few stragglers on the north shore making our big comeback mid race. And then, everyone on the south side started to turn back toward Juana’s(?). The other north shore boats all start making a beeline for that south side too! What the (!@#$)!!! They shortened the course to the Hobie 16 course! No!!! not now, I’m starting to do good!!! You (%^&*, *&^%$…)!!! Nobody told me!!! Do you know who I am??!!! Watching the entire fleet rounding a mark that was at least ¾ of a mile away and upwind meant we were now DFL. Guess what?! I am NOT having a “Good Time”. Well…, nothing left to do but enjoy the nice ride back to beach and hopefully nobody drank all my beer. It was a nice ride and there was plenty of beer left.
Reports from the south side had everyone scrapping for a meager sea breeze and then going (Huh?) as Randy made a right turn toward the mark. Now it’s only a rumor, and his defense was that he says he was taking care of business, but it was noticed that a certain scissor boat skipper was walking his boat along. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. As long as you’re having a “Good Time”, I guess.
It was a big surprise to all that the course was changed and actually very few boats knew. Apparently the volunteer boat that distributes water and beer to the desperate sailors of this grueling event had whispered of a course change. Well that’s not fair! But hey, “it’s Juana’s”. I have come to accept the flavor of this event and its intended purpose. But I must say there were some unhappy folks and things were said. Not by me of course. But that Ding guy… no, wasn’t him either.
Sunday began with even lighter winds then Saturday and the forecast would not improve until later in the day. But we went out racing anyway and had some light but sailable breeze. A course was set very close to the beach at Juana’s and must have made for some great spectating. The F18 fleet mixed it up with all the 20’s and the Hobie 16s and other assorted boats and even after all the yelling and near misses a “Good Time” was had by all. All things considered me and mine just concentrated on NOT getting boat damage since we would be leaving for Sandy Hook in 4 days. My girl prefers distance racing but will agree to do buoys if the wind is moderate. We sailed the races together and had a “Good Time” together on the boat. I’m not the best sailor, but I am a lucky man.
So, Juana’s was another great year to get together with 100 other cat sailors of different types and just enjoy some sailing without a high level of seriousness. Most of the folks there are very happy with that, but I do think there is an element that is looking for more. More in the way of racing. With an 8 boat F18 fleet we could have had a course more aligned with our expectations. Moving forward, the Southern Area plans to be more proactive in discussing expectations with race management. We believe if we ask, we’ll probably get most of what we want. What we want, is to have some racing spooled up to our fleet’s capabilities without attempting to change the nature of the event. There is a lot of tradition here, but we’re gonna ask Juana real nice. And who could refuse us?
-Write Up Submitted by the Best F18 Write Up Author Yet, Dick MacDonald-
Juana’s is a two day regatta with a distance race on Saturday and buoy races on Sunday, the distance race is from Juana’s in Navarre west to Pensacola Beach and back and is about 32 miles or there abouts. It’s an easy sail in the protected water of Sana Rosa Sound and always seems to be a light air affair and this year was no different. After a short postponement we were off in a roaring 2 knots of breeze screaming across the sound under a tight spin reach. After about 30 minutes the wind went more on the nose and we began the slow crawl upwind and it was time to choose, work the south side (gulf side) or work the north side (mainland side) and there was a very distinct split in the fleet. We were mainland side and the locals kept making a commitment to the south side of a sound clearly setting up for the expected sea breeze and I couldn’t stand it anymore and we clawed our way across the bay to join the locals and wait for the sea breeze and wait we did. Allegedly Randy Smyth was working the shore hard by walking his boat west in the shallow water but that is a completely unsubstantiated rumor and it would be inappropriate to report it. As expected a very soft sea breeze filed mid afternoon but at the same time the breeze never really left the mainland side of the shore and the boats that decided to stay were making slow but steady progress and it was now a drag race with the sea breeze fleet with a slightly longer fetch to the turn or the mainland fleet with a more direct shorter route. The Sea breeze fleet was running tight spin reach with kites and the mainland fleet was sailing too close to the breeze to run the kite. But shortly after the sea breeze filled Randy began to head deep to the north shore or no apparent reason followed by Kirk and Andy Humphries and I assumed it was just a hard right shift but no, it was a shortened course and this caused all kinds of mayhem and basically reset everything at the shortened turn mark. Fortunately we were rewarded with a tight spin reach back to the finish and in plenty of time for a sunset with an adult beverage.
Sunday we had two short races around the buoys and called it a wrap. We broke down the boats and had a fabulous feast with the peninsula teams back at the condo Sunday night. The Sunday feast is becoming my favorite part of this regatta.
-Write Up Submitted by our Only Class Measurer (because no one else will take the job), David Ingram-
Photos by Dick MacDonald and Juana’s Good Time Regatta Website