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Winning Team

For more than 20 years, on and off, the Zephyr Program has been trying to win the Lake Pontchartrain Racing Circuit’s “Boat of the Regatta” and the infamous “Red Jacket” award. Well, the stars aligned, hell froze over and the blind squirrel found five nuts over 3 days. Now a little bit about the program and win…. Give us a little Zephyr history if you would please.

ZV2.o: The Zephyr Team was started around 1988 when Jackie Tonguis purchased a J30 in New Orleans for her family to race. The boat has raced in just about every major regatta between New Orleans and Pensacola. It was even trucked to Annapolis and Chicago (twice). Biggest wins include 5 North American Championships, several Sugar Bowls, Mardi Gras Regatta’s and a dozen or so GYA offshore Challenge Cups. The original Zephyr sunk in it’s slip because Brandon didn’t slack the dock lines during Hurricane Katrina. About a year after Katrina another J30 was purchased on EBAY to replace the original. Our techie majority owner named it Zephyr Version 2.o. Tell us more about the racing program you guys run.

ZV2.o: We have a great program and are very thankful for our Hooters Sponsorship that helps make all of our fun so affordable. Our current team is quite extensive and varies from week to week as all of us have very busy schedules. The team is currently made up of the following folks: Scottie, Dale, Dave, Ruth, Glen, John, Christy, Amy, Rory, Donnie, Benz, Rob, Chris, Tim, Regan, Mary, Tyler, Zahn, Brent, Buzzy, Jay T, Terry Mac, Morgan, Paul and Nathalie. A good bit of the team finds themselves busy with other obligations and we substitute new folks in quite often. A general rule of thumb to qualify for our team is to “play well with others”… although we have made exceptions and quite often we fight like we’re siblings. How about “Da Boat”?

ZV2.o: The boat was a real fixer upper. Steve Sintes did the bulk of the work top side with Dave under his tutelage. Donnie Brennan tweeked everything below the waterline. Benz handles the sail inventory. But our real secret weapon is Glen Tonguis… perhaps the best machinest in this town. His metal finish work is always factory fresh and perfect. He has done a few things that make our boat very “tricked out”… check out the mainsheet car arrangement, mast navigation mount and our out board sheeting tracks… the guy is an incredible master craftsman in every sense of the term. Everyone tells us that the new boat ain’t as fast as the old one… all I can tell you is that we’re getting there. Any specifics on the crew that powered the boat over LPRC weekend?

ZV2.o: The team was made up of Scott Tonguis (Skipper, Tactician, Trimmer), Dave Erwin (Progam Manager), Rory Hebbler (Trimmer), Ruth Thieneman (Trimmer & Bar Tender), Dale Steinkamp (Driver and Instigator), Jay Toncrey (Trimmer & Referee), John Wolf (Mast, Pit and stays on brain trust to cover and protect lead) and Glen Tonguis (Foredeck). Our team MVP is currently Dave who handles logistics, recruits crew, makes sure bills are paid, handles boat preparation and maintains harmony. Harmony sounds pretty important, with five bullets it looks you had it in all five races, care to elaborate?

We had a good bit of harmony through out the regatta except for the last leg of race #2… when all hell broke loose. About ¼ mile into the beat the genoa shackle broke and the sail came down… the crew work was excellent and had it back up with another halyard in less than 45 seconds… it did cause our lead to shrink. We ended up the last third of the beat covering the third place boat. At that time… a lot of commotion and hollering was breaking out in the back of the boat with the brain trust as to whether or not we should cover Jalapeno or try to pass the first place boat. As far as we could tell, Dale couldn’t get the hiking stick off of the tiller so he brought his fists to a wench handle fight with Scot… Mr. Toncrey peeled them apart from the fisticuff and thru them like rag dolls to their corners… fight was settled… they left the loose cover, went for the bullet…. and got the win. Lesson learned from losing bleeding crew member… wench handle trumps fists &/or hiking stick. Seriously, we all have troubles but what were you doing to dominate so consistently through out the series?

ZV2.o: As humbly as possible… we were damn near perfect 3 days in a row. We were fast, we hit the starting line on time with boat speed at the favored end, we nailed the shifts consistently and had solid crew work all weekend long. We always read about it in the sailing rags but we actually executed the text book strategy in races 1,2 & 4… we stayed off of the lay lines on the last third of every beat in those races…instead of picking a side at the end of the beat… we always tried to nail two more shifts up the middle and it worked out… and stretched our lead. We did a better job of covering when out in front this year and making sure we had clean lanes when we hit traffic. Ya’ll stuck it out in race # 3 and made it happen…how?

ZV2.o: We were thinking of going to the bar early when the GPS said the ETA was over 35 hours. We were exhausted mentally and physically about 5 hours into the race. As we got closer to shore, the GPS time improved in our favor. After the 6th hour the GPS said we were close to making the finish on time, the adrenalin started to flow causing us to work even harder to optimize our performance. It was very hard to maintain focus over a 7 hour light air race. Once we heard the RC say that the time limit expired for the class ahead of us, we knew we had about 5 minutes to reach the line. The last 5 minutes we worked the boat as hard as possible to beat the clock and win. Any other secrets to your success that you want to share?

ZV2.o: We basically build our racing program off of Wednesday Night Racing. We have a very delightful group that makes about 25 of these fun races a year. The crew is a mix of guys and gals, young and old, knowitalls and newbies. We also have one of the best stereo systems for a racing boat, lots of rum and beer and that helps with the harmony. We do a lot of training on Wednesday, different trimmers, different drivers and different bar tenders. We truly have developed some of our newer crew to a higher level. Our Wednesday night goal is to have fun and beat Gilbert… in that order. One of our other rules is “If you are going to yell… make sure you yell something funny”… occasionally we break it. What is in the future for the ZV2.o program?

ZV2.o: Well with heart felt sadness, ZV2.o is for sale for the firm price of $49,000. We are looking to replace her with a Melges 32 if we can pull the sponsorship and financing together. We hope to have in place by March 2011. Thanks for making time for

ZV2.o: No problem… anytime.


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