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On the Bay: March 19, 2010

Wind and water…. Sailors the world over travel long distances in search of wind and water. Family vacations are spent in locales where wind and water are in abundance. Sailors even go so far as spending a good portion of their winter planning their leisure time to take advantage of the best wind and water. But, good grief! Have they gone overboard in hoping and praying for the perfect sailing conditions?

Let’s hope that it was not our wonderful sailors who pushed Mother Nature over the edge, igniting her fury on the towns around Long Island Sound. What a week it was! When can anyone remember thinking that fighting a rising tide in a flooded basement meant you were lucky? Damage was extensive, but by the time this column is read, hopefully the flooding will have receded and power restored. And let’s hope that there is still some wind left over for a good season of sailing!

Bad weather seems to be a theme this winter. For our frostbiters, many Sundays of racing have been cancelled due to high winds. But that was not the case for 76 Interclub Dinghy sailors, who braved sub-freezing temperatures and a near blizzard at the IC Midwinter Championship hosted by Severn Sailing Association in Annapolis, MD. Ice on the Severn River had to be chipped away, and the racing could be described as interesting at best, as it was difficult to see in the near white-out conditions. But racing continued, and winners anointed. Team Vineyard Vines out of Larchmont YC with John and Molly Baxter sailing A division and Danny Pletsch with crew Megan Magill in B division won the event by a decisive 33 points. The second place team with 57 points was Paul-Jon Patin and Kendall Mockridge in A joined with Mike Ingham and Victor De Leon sailing B division. The highlights of the regatta include numerous bowls of chili, chowder, a roaring fire and other warm libations between sets. Local racer, Pedro Lorson/Kevin Morgan came in third in Fleet A, fourth overall.

The next leg on the IC circuit was to be the Stanley Bell Memorial Regatta at Larchmont YC this past weekend, March 13-14. Our frostbiters, forever hopeful, were at the boatyard Saturday morning in the pouring rain strapping their dinghies to the top of their cars, then driving over the Throgs Neck Bridge in super high wind on the way to Larchmont YC. But arrive they did, only to find that the high winds on Saturday and the lightning storm on Sunday, cancelled the entire regatta. It will be rescheduled for another time, but one must have entertained the thought that these frostbiters are “totally nuts.” Maybe so… but when you live in the northeast, there is no other venue for racing during the winter months. Anyone who has been out on the water in the middle of winter will defend their actions, mostly because there is something about racing in the winter, when the elements are most severe, that makes frostbiting so much fun. And just think of all the stories to tell back at the club. Kind of like those fish stories we always hear about.

The history of the Stanley Bell Memorial Regatta is interesting. Bell was a Life Member of Larchmont YC, past Vice Commodore of the Storm Trysail Club and past member of New York YC. His dedication to the IC Dinghy class has been the inspiration for keeping the class going over the years. As a young boy, he crewed for the late Arthur Knapp in IC dinghies in the early years of frostbite racing on Long Island Sound. His interpersonal and management skills made him perfect for managing races, which include the 1988 International Dinghy Team Regatta and the 1990 and 1996 IC Nationals, each of which included over 70 boats, and the 1999 IC MidWinters and the IC Midsummers in 1995-97. Over all, Bell managed 21 seasons of Winter Racing at LYC, with 100-150 races each season. What Bell is noted for is making sure racers got a square course without making the racers wait around on cold winter days for the starting sequence to begin. In 2000, Bell was awarded US SAILING’s John H. Gardiner, Jr. Trophy for his lifetime of service to one design sailing through the IC Dinghy class. Bell expanded his winter race management skills to help with the Storm Trysail Block Island Race and Block Island Race Week. It is quite fitting that the winter regatta remembers this remarkable man. For more information on winter sailing, IC dinghies, go to www.interclub.org

In other news: Last month, the New York Yacht Club (NYYC) invited the leading American yacht clubs to compete for spots in the second biennial New York Yacht Club Invitational Cup, to be sailed in Newport, R.I., September 10-17, 2011. The U.S. Qualifying Series will be held in Newport, R.I. this September 7-11. Twenty-four yacht clubs have accepted the NYYC’s invitation to compete in the 2010 U.S. Qualifying Series. They are American in Rye, N.Y.; Annapolis; Bayview in Detroit; Boston in Marblehead, Mass.; Carolina in Charleston, S.C.; Eastern in Marblehead, Mass.; Fishing Bay in Deltaville, Va.; Fort Worth Boat Club in Texas; Ida Lewis in Newport, R.I.; Indian Harbor in Greenwich, Conn.; Larchmont in New York; Little Traverse in Harbor Springs, Mich.; Long Beach in California; Newport Harbor in Newport Beach, Calif.; Pequot in Southport, Conn.; Rochester in New York; San Diego; San Francisco; Seattle; Seawanhaka Corinthian in Oyster Bay, N.Y.; Southern in New Orleans; St. Francis in San Francisco; St. Petersburg in Florida; and Stamford in Connecticut. The U.S. Qualifying Series is an invitational fleet racing regatta to be sailed in Sonars and J/22s. The goal is to select three U.S. yacht club teams who will be invited to participate in the NYYC Invitational Cup held in Swan 42 Class yachts, September 10-17, 2011. The U.S. Qualifying Series is the only opportunity for U.S. Yacht Clubs to earn an invitation to the 2011 NYYC Invitational Cup. The top U.S. teams will join the top six teams from 2009: New York, Royal Canadian, Japan Sailing Federation, Nylandska Jaktklubben of Finland; Royal Cork of Ireland and Royal Bermuda, plus at least 10 other international teams, to be invited in the spring of 2010. For more information, www.nyyc.org.

ISAF recently made several ‘mid-term’ rule changes that went into effect on January 1, 2010. Though these changes are subtle and will probably not affect 99.9% of your racing, readers might be interested in the changes. Two of the amended rules (Rule 18.2c and the Definition of Obstruction) involve slight changes in the rules text that appears in Part 2 of Learn The Racing Rules. However, they do not affect any of the diagrams, sailing demonstrations or explanations of the rules that appear in either part of Learn The Racing Rules. In case you are interested in learning more about the recent rule changes, see the official text of changes on ISAF website: http://www.sailing.org/rrs/supplement1. Another explanation for the rules changes are described by Dick Rose in Sailing World Magazine at http://www.sailingworld.com/from-the-experts/rules/isaf-implements-two-important-rule-changes-1000080029.html. And readers are also directed to David Dellenbaugh’ website for information, www.speedandsmarts.com, a really great website for racers. Try it, you’ll like it!