PolySail International

High Performance/Low Cost Sails for Small Sailboats




Evolution of the Z-PDR (A Class Racing Version of the PDRacer)

2011-2012 Update

This article updates the history of the Z-PDR, a lightweight PDRacer, from the last entry on July 13, 2010, and includes:

P        A recounting of Froggie’s encounter with the Hutchison Island Causeway

P        Wild Duck takes flight

P        The rebirth of the Z-PDR and the building of Wedgie

P        The roasting of Wild Duck and Wedgie

P        An account of an unexpected dismasting

P        A successful launch with an unlikely first mate

P        First-time sailors

P        The 2012 World Championship

P        The Z-PDR gets a new home


Ryan Gray pilots the Z-PDR back to shore after her first test run. Note the angle of the kick-up

leeboard  as he powers into the sandy shore of the Intercoastal Waterway near Port St. Lucie, Florida.


In the fall of 2010, a few days before the semester began in early August, I received an invitation to teach three Student Success classes at Indian River State College at the Saint Lucie West Campus. The three classes met back to back on Tuesday and Thursday mornings running from 8:00 am to 12:30. I had forgotten how much preparation teaching required, and soon I found that I had little time for boats and sails, and what little time I did devote to sailing was simply a matter of building customer sails, assembling and mailing PolySail Kits, or managing a calendar campaign to raise money for the PDRacer web site and the 2011 World Championship sponsors in Oklahoma. This work pattern continued into the spring semester and was complicated further by having a longer Friday class in another location. Somehow I managed to make it through the spring busy season for PolySails and still fulfill my obligations to my students, but I vowed to take the summer off to enjoy some sailing and prepare for the 2011 World Championships to be held in Oklahoma in October.


In late 2010 I had sailed the Z-PDR on only one occasion at the US Sailing Center in Jensen Beach where I held a membership during 2010. I didn’t sail again until June 22, 2011. I had allowed my membership to lapse at the Sailing Center as my grandparent responsibilities had continued to increase prior to the birth of my grandson in May. Dixie was traveling extensively while my daughter-in-law had been prescribed bed rest for a few weeks before the delivery, so I was doing double duty in babysitting my granddaughter until my grandson was born. I was building a ton of sails in my spare minutes, and, when I was not busy with one of those projects, I was designing a smaller version of a PDRacer, a kid’s boat that I wanted  to take to the 2011 Worlds which I dubbed Wedgie.

Froggie VS. the Hutchison Island Causeway


About June 20 I received a call from Paul Boucher asking if it would be okay if he stopped by for a couple of days. Paul, who goes by the handle of “Froggie” in PDRacer circles, was on his way to stay with a friend in Palm Beach and planned to pass through Port St. Lucie on his way. I was elated to have one of my PDRacer boat buddies stop by, and I proposed that he stay over and join me on a sail out on the Intercoastal Waterway (ICW). That invitation led to a comedy of errors that would be hard to top, and almost resulted in the demise of two PDRacers.


On a sunny June 22 after a long evening of boat talk, we packed a couple of lunches, borrowed my son’s Harbor Freight trailer, and hauled the Z-PDR and Wild Duck #143 down to the Jensen Beach public ramp next to the Sailing Center. Froggie took command of the Z-PDR while I manned my recently reworked Wild Duck. Our plan was to sail across the ICW to a sandy beach near the Jenson Beach Causeway, eat a quick lunch, and sail back. I had brought Wild Duck’s new set of sails and a fat, shallow leeboard to try while Froggie was experimenting with a new striped leg o’ mutton sail on the Z.  We had gotten a late start, complicated further by my forgetting my oars and having to go back for them. Timing was a concern only because I knew that the wind really piped up in the afternoons as the sea breeze swept across Hutchison Island and stirred up a steep chop on the shallow intercoastal. At the last minute, I decided to sail with only one of Wild Duck’s two sails rigged, and I left the other one in the weeds near the beach.


After we traded photo ops and maneuvered out into the channel, we set off at a brisk pace for the beach on the far side of the Indian River Lagoon as it is known locally. I tried to capture a few shots of the Z as it shot ahead of the heavier, deeper Wild Duck, but I was overly concerned about dropping the camera overboard since I had already lost one camera in the 2009 Worlds. I snapped off a couple of quick shots then turned my attention to our destination about a quarter mile ahead. Suddenly, we both came to an abrupt halt, temporarily hung up on a shallow sand bar about 2” below the water’s surface. Taking the easy way out, I hopped out and guided Wild Duck across the broad sand bar, then hopped back aboard as soon as I reached a foot or so of water. Froggie followed my lead, and we were soon wading ashore on the other side. Froggie lost no time in breaking out sandwiches and a glass jar of Sailor Jerry while we basked in the Florida sun and traded tall tales.


Dave waves at the camera from behind Wild Duck in the foreground. Little did I know this would be her last sail.

Froggie gives the Z and the cameraman a thumbs up.

The Z-PDR splashes through the chop with the Hutchison Island Causeway in the background.

Contrast the mounting of the sprit boom on Wild Duck with the odd angle on the Z. And, check out that leeboard on Wild Duck. Its nickname is “Fat Bastard.”

Froggie enjoys a little repast on the beach. Note the jar of Sailor Jerry  mid-deck and his rolled up shirt resting on the beach chair down in the hull. A sailor most of his life, Paul would have been right at home on a pirate ship sailing our Treasure Coast. I can’t recall the reason for the long pole.


I noticed the waves building on the lagoon and suggested that we had better head back. Froggie waved off any concerns and continued enjoying his entertaining memories and stories. Eventually, the tide lifted him free of the beach mid-story; and he was sailing again, like it or not. I turned my boat around and gave chase. This time there was no mistaking the chop out on the lagoon. As soon as we lost the protection of the Island trees, we were in whitecaps fighting to make headway against a much stronger southeast wind. We seemed to be making progress, however. Wild Duck’s 16” freeboard on the front half of the hull protected me from taking on any water. I was impressed with her performance under her single 52 sq. ft. Leg O’ Mutton combined with Fat Bastard’s wide “bite” on the shallow lagoon. My lightened rudder case and big rudder also seemed to be … sideways???  Whoops! The pintles and gudgeons seemed to have lost contact with each other. I was sure I had put the stop on… No matter, I needed control, and fast. Wild Duck had enough weather helm to keep her nose into the wind, but I was being pushed backward toward the causeway rocks in a hurry. Finally, I was able to secure the board and put the stop back in place― no mean feat when you are being bounced violently around by steep waves. Picking up speed, I tried to spot Froggie’s sail in the distance figuring he must be well out front of me by now. Then I realized there was no sail to be seen. Froggie was in the water about thirty yards ahead trying mightily to right the Z and clamor back aboard.


Now the Z has a lot of positive flotation up under the decks and in the sides. It was pretty clear it was not about to sink. What really puzzled me was how it even managed to take on water. In flotation tests I had done earlier, It would float on its side with the decks only submerged a couple of inches of their 6” width on the sides. How did he get so much water in the hull? As I learned later, Froggie had caught a wave on the port corner. The bow pig-rooted on that port corner and either flipped or pitchpoled. In either case, Froggie finally got the boat righted and managed to climb aboard and start sailing again even with the hull full of water. He had lost the beach chair and his shirt, and the small bailer he still had was not up to the task. With so much water in the hull along with Froggie, the Z was now nearly impossible to balance and sail, so Froggie was soon back in the water floating with the boat rapidly toward the causeway pilings. I tried to capture all the flotsam while he got back aboard a second time, then I grabbed the painter and tried to tow him back toward the sandy beach. Unfortunately, we were too close to the rocks and pilings, and I was unable to prevent a certain collision; so Froggie cut me loose and I was just able to maneuver around a piling, under the bridge, and around to the lee side where the wind was effectively blocked.


Eventually, I found a place where I could pull my boat ashore and go check on Froggie. I figured that by now, he had gotten some help from the many fishermen who were fishing where he would have floated into the pilings and that the boat would already have been pulled around to the rocky area where it could be hauled ashore. Arriving at the scene, I found that was not the case. Froggie was sitting on a bench smoking a damp cigarette and the boat was being banged into the barnacles on the bridge pilings.  We soon organized a rescue party from among the fisherman and eventually maneuvered the Z around to the rocks. That was no mean feat because the wind and waves kept driving the boat back under the concrete that spanned the pilings pinning the boat between pilings. Having a broken mast, sail, and all the foils still attached and in the water did not help matters. Once we got the boat around to the rocks, I wanted to haul her out and go beg the fishermen for a ride back to my CRV and trailer. Froggie was too worn out to commit to that approach and instead attached the painter to a rock and threw it out as an anchor. I wasn’t convinced that his rock anchor would hold, but Froggie assured me it would, so I begged a ride from a tourist/fisherman from Chicago and headed back for the trailer and vehicle at the Sailing Center.


Returning to the causeway park, I was astounded to see the Z driven back into its original position between pilings. The first struggle to get her away from the pilings and barnacles had left us exhausted, so we tried to come up with an alternative plan. I suggested that it might be possible to haul her straight up over the railing if we could get to the painter. Fully loaded, the Z probably weighs less than 80 lb. and the flotation foam was floating her well out of most of the water. Before we could even agree on the plan, Froggie jumped over the railing and back into the water. After a couple of wild throws, one of the fishermen was able to catch the painter, and together we hauled the Z up and over the rail.

This photo of the Z-PDR was taken from the rocky shoreline after I returned from picking up the trailer to find the Z floating in the same position she had been earlier. Notice how high out of the water the boat floats. By this time the winds had abated somewhat making the second recovery somewhat easier.



As we loaded the boat onto the trailer, I became aware of how much damage the Z had sustained from the barnacles on the pilings and our efforts to drag her free. Her corners looked like they had been lunch for a pack of angry Dobermans and the sides, bottom, and deck had a rash of gouges and scratches. Amazingly, the hull was structurally intact, but the mast and sail were disasters. The shards of the broken bamboo mast had penetrated the sail and gouged a hole in the center. With its stripes, any repair to the sail was going to be very noticeable.


Wild Duck Takes Flight


Finally getting the Z aboard the trailer, we headed down the parking access road to the spot where I had pulled Wild Duck ashore. Roughly two and a half hours had passed since we began our rescue of the Z—enough time for the tide to come in full. As luck would have it, we arrived at my pullout spot about 30 seconds after Wild Duck had floated off the beach. I thought I could catch her if I reacted quickly, but I opted to put on my life jacket before jumping in and swimming after her– just enough time for the wind to catch her and send Wild Duck flying down the channel. Seeing I was losing ground, Froggie called me back to shore where we watched a second helpless duck drift rapidly out of sight in the central channel of the Indian River Lagoon.


Starboard bow corner

Port stern corner

Striped sail with hole


Another two hours went by before we were able to track down and corral Wild Duck. Tracking her upriver along Indian River Drive, we hoped she would be driven ashore eventually by the stiff wind from the southeast. Fortunately, a couple of motoring fishermen got curious enough to pick up her painter, then haul her to a nearby private pier after they heard our shouts and appeals. This time we had to haul Wild Duck up a 10’ stretch of large rocks to bring her up to the roadway where we were parked. Wild Duck compares in weight to the Z about like a gorilla to a monkey, so we struggled mightily getting her up to the road and loaded onto the trailer.


With our two rescued ducks finally safely aboard, we headed toward home exhausted and famished. We stopped along the way to get a large pizza from Gigi’s, my favorite Italian hole-in-the-wall restaurant in Jenson Beach – a place where they only take cash. Recall that Froggie had lost his shirt and his driver’s license which happened to be in the pocket of his shirt when the boat went over. He didn’t think he could get by the owner’s “no shirt, no shoes, no service” policy. I didn’t look much better for my plunge into the Indian River. I was still damp and plenty dirty, but the fragrances drifting to us from Gigi’s were too heavenly to be ignored. I sneaked through the door, ordered a large pizza with everything from Gigi’s wife, and hurried back to the Honda to await the 25 minutes for our order to be prepared. Gigi’s wife must have felt sorry for us because our order was ready in a record 15 minutes, and we scarfed most of it down before we arrived safely home.


Rebirth of the Z-PDR and the Building of Wedgie


Froggie left a couple of days later. He wanted to stay to assist me with repairs, but the timing was not good. His friend in West Palm had left for New York, leaving Froggie with little option but to return home. I didn’t begin serious repair work until sometime in mid-July, but by then I was pushing hard to finish the Z-PDR repairs so that I could get to work on a new build for the 2011 Worlds out in Oklahoma. Wild Duck had already been through the restoration/remodeling process, and I was planning to sail her in the Worlds. The Z-PDR is actually my son Ryan’s boat, and I didn’t want to take her unless he could actually attend. Since his schedule wouldn’t allow his attendance, I planned to leave the Z-PDR behind.


What I wanted to do was build and take a kid’s version of the PDRacer out to the Worlds so that youngsters might get to enjoy the PDRacer experience and have fun wreaking havoc on the adult PDRacers they encountered. Armed with a giant squirt gun and capable of being rowed, sailed, or powered by a souped up trolling motor, I thought the design was primed for the task. The desire to work on Wedgie, the name I had given the kid’s boat, motivated me to work on the Z’s repairs at about the same time. Sanding, I figured, was still sanding whichever project I was working on. On the Z all the corners were rebuilt using scrap wood and thickened epoxy. The foam insert was removed and repairs made to the foam deck support pieces, as well as the mast partner, the bow support frames, and the deck itself. I brushed on a couple of coats of fresh white paint on the sides and transoms of the hull then decided to paint the scratched and faded naturally-finished deck all white as well. When I finished, I stored the Z under a tarp outside and continued work on Wedgie.

Starboard bow corner after first patch with thickened epoxy

Starboard bow corner after additional repairs and sanding

Interior and starboard side after initial repaint

Port transom corner after first patch

Port transom corner after additional patching and sanding

Foam insert and deck removed for repairs.


In a burst of boatbuilding activity, I repaired the Z and built Wedgie in between summer school classes and sailmaking for PolySail customers in late August and early September as a part of getting ready for the 2011 Worlds, scheduled for the first week in October. By late September Wedgie had gotten her feet wet and been taken for a light wind trial sail where she seemed to sail well in no wind at all. The last few days of the month were given over to refinements on Wild Duck and preparations for the drive to Oklahoma.


Wedgie sported a 7’ overall length, a two-level transom, hiking decks aft, and an off-center mast and rudder mounting. She was my first all-Okoume mahogany hull.

Both the Z to the left and Wedgie were worked on concurrently.

Wedgie is wheeled out for a photo shoot. The plunger-type squirt gun mounted up under the foredeck was capable of shooting over 50’ and could be reloaded and fired quickly. Her oars fit neatly under the side decks, and a beach chair could be mounted for rowing or relaxing.

My daughter-in-law and the grandkids enjoyed testing the hull in their pool.

Speeding along the canal with the 40 lb. thrust trolling motor with its speed prop mounted. Wedgie purposely had less rocker in the stern half than a PDRacer.

In the single sailing test I was able to give her, Wedgie performed flawlessly in almost no wind. I’m sure she would have given many PDR’s a run for their money.


The drive to Oklahoma began innocently enough on October 4. I had taken a week off from school and was looking forward to sailing Wild Duck in the Worlds. The packing had gone smoothly and I had clamshelled Wedgie on top of Wild Duck then packed all my camping gear and boat equipment inside the bottom boat, taking care that everything was well protected and unable to shift.  I was planning to camp out, but I wasn’t carrying new Coleman lantern or any fuel because I thought it might somehow spill or get too hot in the car or trailer…Little did I know.


The Roasting of Wild Duck and Wedgie


Florida’s turnpike comes to an end north of Orlando, and I was looking forward to getting off and making the turn west to my first planned overnight stop at the Florida/Alabama border. But a glance in the rearview mirror changed all that in an instant. Smoke was billowing from the trailer. At first glance I thought a bearing had overheated, but a quick second look showed me clearly that it was coming from between the two boats. I pulled to the side and stopped, and just as I did so, the smoke turned into bright orange flames. Working rapidly, I disconnected the trailer from the Honda CRV and pulled the car forward. Having no extinguisher or means of fighting the fire, I called 911 and gave the dispatcher my location. About five minutes later a state trooper arrived and emptied his extinguisher in an attempt to put out the fine. It was briefly suppressed, but then it flared up again. By then it was clear I wouldn’t be taking any boats to Oklahoma. The trooper called the nearest fire department, and with the help of another trooper and a roving breakdown truck, shut down the turnpike so that the southbound fire equipment could shift to the northbound lane at a pass-through near the fire. A hundred gallons of tanker water finally took care of the fire, but not much was left of the boats or equipment. I was stunned!


Wedgie (top) and Wild Duck go up in flames along Florida’s Turnpike. Fire investigators could find no specific cause for the mysterious blaze, but speculated that it could have been a cigarette tossed from a passing vehicle or the marine battery that arced when something metal came into contact with the posts.

Cell phone photo of the remains of Wild Duck hauled back to a dumpster at a service center I had passed shortly before the fire.

Beach towels, lifejackets, and the tarp that covered Wild Duck were among the few pieces of recognizable debris from the fire. Very little survived unscorched.

Wild Duck set a World PDRacer record for the amount of sail carried (164 sq. ft.) and was the only active biplane rigged PDR. Her new, matching, windowed leg o’ mutton sails were atop the CRV and survived the fire.


The Unexpected Dismasting


The loss of my two boats, my camping equipment, and about a dozen sails I was bringing to the Sail Oklahoma Flea Market left me without a boat. For about a month I moped around and concentrated on my classes at Indian River State College. Then a call from Marc Krawatski requesting an opportunity for his son to test a PDRacer lifted me out of the doldrums. The Z-PDR was, at least, ready to respond, so a date was arranged. In late November, we got together at the Jenson Beach Public Ramp next to the US Sailing Center and unloaded and rigged the Z. Patrick Johnson also came up from near West Palm Beach with his Redrum Duck for the test. Gary Culp was an interested observer, too. Marc’s son Levi was only 7, but he had been trained on an Opti and was intent on having his own boat. His father wanted him to give a PDRacer a test just to see if the boat interested him. As usual, winds on the ICW/Indian River Lagoon were strong, but I was confident the revamped Z could handle them especially with Wedgie’s mere 42 sq. ft. shoulder o’ mutton mounted.


I was demonstrating the shape of the sail when, without warning, the mast broke. Crap! No mast, no demo! About all I could do was rig for rowing and show how the Z handled the waves. I think that Levi had lost interest though. I apologized to the assembly, cursed my recent duck luck, loaded up and headed home.



A Successful Launch with an Unlikely First Mate


It was late December on a fine South Florida day when I was encouraged to go sailing again. As I packed up the re-repaired mast and the Z for transport to a nearby park lake, David, one of the children of a wonderful family who was staying with us over the holidays, asked if he could go along. I was surprised and amazed because I had only seen him playing video games since he arrived in Florida – he even slept on the couch in front of the TV!  This boy needed to sail, so we headed to the little park where we both enjoyed the rowing and sailing for about a half hour. I think the “Beware of Alligator” sign worried my first mate a little. It wasn’t long before he let me know that it was time for lunch, so we packed up and headed home. At long last, a launch and sail without incident. Perhaps my duck luck was changing.!


David Thompson handles the mainsheet and learns some nautical jargon. I hope he enjoyed his sailing lesson enough to continue enjoying the sport.



The First Time Sailors


In the spring of 2012, Roger Jewell sent me an email to see if an offer I made in the fall to help him and his sons to build a PDRacer was still good. I said that I would be happy to help him build a PDRacer, and that I was building one myself for the 2012 Worlds. I thought it would be easy to use the same plans for Roger’s boat. Roger is a missionary with a home in the DR (Dominican Republic) and hoped that he and his sons could learn a little about sailing and boat building before they returned home. His plan was to complete one boat with his sons under my mentorship, then return to the DR and build three more PDRacers—one for each of his sons. So, early this spring, they took me up on my offer. In about a week’s time, we completed DR Duck, just in time for Roger and the boys to load themselves and their boat on an old DC-6 that flies relief missions to the Caribbean out of nearby Ft. Pierce, FL.


Of course, Roger and the boys had never been in a sailboat before, so at one point we took a break and took the Z-PDR over to a nearby park for sailing lessons. Roger was a big guy, I mean a very BIG guy, and I had some concerns about the 5mm luauan bottom because my son Ryan had stepped through the bottom on a couple of occasions. However, the skids that I had added, seemed to have strengthened the bottom enough to hold both Roger and one of his sons, and after holding my breath most of the morning, I finally let it out when we loaded the boat intact back on its trailer.


I haven’t heard from the Jewells since they flew home to the DR.  Strange.


The boys needed to learn how to row first, so their dad took them out one by one to give them rowing lessons. The Z was riding pretty low to the water with both Roger and his oldest son aboard.

We were under pressure to vacate the area before the RC sailors started their races, so Roger gave himself some sailing lessons.

Roger was having such a good time that I had trouble getting him to come in to shore. He picked up sailing the Z-PDR in no time.

My son Ryan dropped over just in time to help nail the bottom on the DR Duck. Here he congratulates Roger and the boys-- David, Samuel, and Jessie--on their progress.

To keep costs down, we constructed this boat mostly from materials I had lying around the shop. In this case the sides and transoms had a 2mm PVC covering over a foam and wood framework.

The Jewells pose with me and their finished hull shortly before returning to their home in the DR. They were wonderful apprentices, and I was proud to be their mentor.


The 2012 World Championship


After the Jewells left, I loaded the Z-PDR onto my wheelbarrow turned boat carrier, tarped it over, and left it out behind the storage shed in the back yard where it was almost completely ignored until late summer. The sail business was consuming nearly all of my time, and what little extra waking time was available was usually involved with family activities; work on Dangerous Duck, my replacement PDRacer for Wild Duck; or work on a kit boat that I was struggling to finish for a family in New Jersey. All my resolutions about getting in plenty of sailing practice before the 2012 Worlds had evaporated as summer heated up and wore on. I managed to launch Dangerous Duck and sail her with her big 76 sq. ft. fully battened batwing, but I could see there were twist problems with this sail that only made it viable in light airs. I didn’t know if I would have time to make the twin sprit sails that I hoped to equip DD with in the Worlds much less practice with them. I had similar concerns about getting the Z-PDR ready for her captain.


At some point I learned that Rick Landreville, the 2010 PDRacer World Champ, would be flying to Lake Arhtur in Pennsylvania to sail in the Worlds and that he didn’t have a loaner boat to sail. Since I was planning to trailer Dangerous Duck there anyway, it seemed like it would be very little trouble to take the Z-PDR along for Rick to sail. Besides, that arrangement would certainly help to increase the chances that a boat flying a PolySail would again win the Worlds. I knew of at least two other boats from Pennsylvania that had also purchased our sails, so I thought that, if nothing else, PolySails should have a better chance at making a decent showing with Rick sailing the Z. However, it was not until the last moment that I had a chance to clean up and prepare the Z-PDR for the race. I had forgotten, for example, that the Z needed a new, longer mast for the race. The 67 sq. ft. battened shoulder o’ mutton sail that I had made earlier for this race would not fit on the mast I had been using when Roger sailed the Z. That was because I had mounted the small 47 sq. ft. sail for Wedgie, the kid’s boat, on the Z when Roger had visited, and that sail only required a mast of about 12’.  I would need at least a 16-footer for the Z’s new sail. I hurriedly cut a long straight piece of bamboo to take along for a mast, hoping that it would work in the aluminum base I had used with the smaller sail.


I’ve recounted my experiences in the 2012 Worlds in great detail in another photo essay/narrative called 2012 Worlds, so I won’t duplicate that effort here. Suffice it to say that our chances for placing well in the Worlds came to an end in Race three when Rick and I almost collided on opposite tacks. My boat turned over and I got unceremoniously dumped. Meanwhile, the Z with Rick at the helm got entangled in my mainsheet and had to stop until I was able to untangle my sheet from a cleat on his boat. By the time we both got going again, the leaders were nearly out of sight. Rick eventually placed 4th  overall while I dropped back at least three places to 8th. Still, I could take some solace in the fact that fully one-third of the top nine finishers were flying PolySails that I had constructed.


The Z-PDR  Gets a New Home



By Saturday evening the 2012 PDRacer World Championship races were history. The Z  was now an established part of that history having placed 4th in both the 2009 World Championship and in the 2012 World Championship. It would soon be time to pack up and head home.  Sunday’s weather forecast called for high winds and thunderstorms beginning in mid-morning, so many of the competitors who had only light packing to do started home early. I was not looking forward to packing all that gear for two boats back into the CRV and onto n the Harbor Freight trailer for the 1100-mile trip back home to Florida, but I saw little sense in waiting around to try to pack everything up by mid-morning, so I worked until dark getting as much packed for the road as I could.


The idea of leaving the Z behind had occurred to me earlier, and, as I packed, I became more convinced that it might be a good idea; so I called my son Ryan to ask if it would be okay with him to leave his boat behind. Ryan seemed a little puzzled at my reasons for wanting to leave his boat in Pennsylvania, but he gave me approval with the tacit understanding that I would build him and his family another boat. With Ryan’s approval in hand, I approached Ken Sherwood to consult with him about giving the boat to his youngest daughter. Ken’s older daughter Clara had raced her PDRacer Piranha  and been very competitive, placing sixth overall. Ken’s youngest daughter Cissie, however, did not yet have a boat, but was already a decent sailor. Besides, she had already touched my heart by thanking me and giving me a hug for “allowing her” to sail my boat over to the start area for the race. She had actually done me the favor. She also helped out by taking a few race photos that I would otherwise have missed. Ken initially suggested that I give the boat to a non-profit that he was associated with, but eventually agreed that the boat might get more use with Cissie at the helm.


As I drove away from Lake Arthur early the next morning, I saluted the Z and silently wished her good fortune and better care in her new home in Indiana, Pennsylvania. Then the predicted thunderstorms descended in a fury, and I was on my way back through the mountains in the rain, thankful that I was pulling only one boat.


PDRacers jocky for position before the start of race #1 of the 2012 World Championships. The Z-PDR  (middle, coming toward the camera next to the red boat,) was captained by Rick Landreville, 2010 PDRacer World Champion. Rick and I would collide shortly after the start of race #3, causing us both to lose valuable positions in the final standings.

Cissie Sherwood, left, assists her sister Clara in preparing to launch Clara’s PDRacer Piranha. Cissie is now the proud owner of # 351, the Z-PDR.




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This page updated on 8/15/2012