Port Washington is a town that is rich in sailing history. The first Star boat was sailed in Manhasset Bay; America's Cup sailors and designers learned to love the water and hone their skills here; and we have three significant regattas each year - The Leukemia Cup, The Knickerbocker Cup and The Fall Series. What many don't realize is that we are continuing this tradition with our juniors of today. Two young people who are distinguishing themselves with their sailing skills are Matt Himler and Laura Browning. Matt, who lives in Manhasset, has just won the prestigious Clinton M. Bell Trophy, given for achieving the highest percentage of racing perfection in the 420, Laser or Radial Laser Class. The Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound presented the trophy to Matt (in absentia as he was away at school) during their Perennial Awards ceremonies held on Feb. 9 at the Beach Point YC in Mamaroneck, New York. Matt, who sails for Manhasset Bay YC, had a very good sailing season during 2001. He won the Commodore's Cup (the most outstanding sailor in the Manhasset Bay Junior YC), which he also won the year before. And he won the Commodore Charles F. Chapman Trophy, which is awarded annually to the member of the MBJYC with the most distinguished achievement in events outside J. S. A. competition. He has won this trophy in the two previous years - 1999 and 2000. Matt is certainly building an extensive sailing resume.
Laura Browning, who resides in Plandome, is an active junior sailor here on our bay. She also happens to be one of the hardy sailors who frostbite through the cold winter months. Readers are familiar with the weekly reports of the top winners from the Sunday afternoon competition. What readers may not know is how tough this competition is. Frostbiting attracts the top sailors because it is the only venue that allows a sailor to continue sailing year-round unless one travels to distant waters for warm-weather sailing. Thus the teams of dinghy sailors gathering on the starting line on any given Sunday are some of the best in the area. Given this background, it is exciting that Laura Browning, who is still a junior sailor, came in third overall for the day last Sunday, March 3. Laura's mother, Stephanie Baas, who is a terrific sailor and who was also sailing her IC dinghy last Sunday, said proudly "she was hot" Laura is not new to receiving awards for her sailing achievements. Last summer, she won the Manhasset Bay Junior YC Helmle Trophy, awarded to the member of the MBJYC who displays the best seamanship. In September, Laura, after reading about the "Next Step" program in conjunction with the Rolex Women's Keelboat Championship in this column, submitted an essay and was invited to join 25 junior women sailors in Annapolis, MD, for a weekend of sailing. As part of the "Next Step" program, which is a mentoring program for young women, aged 13-19 years old, Laura spent two days before the beginning of the regatta in a fast-paced program to learn new things about racing and rub elbows with the heroines in their sport. Congratulations to both Matt Himler and Laura Browning. We can look forward to hearing more about these talented juniors who have made sailing a part of their life, and in doing so, have made an impact on our sailing community.
Last Sunday, March 3, was a very special day for the frostbiters. They were treated to "on-the-water" coaching by Ralf Stietz, who is the director of Offshore Sailing for the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and an experienced America's Cup sailor. He was part of the crew of Stars and Stripes when they won the Cup back from Australia in 1987; again with Team Dennis Conner in 1992 and 1995. In 2000, Ralf was with Paul Cayard on America One. So when the nine teams of frostbiters who came out for the afternoon to find Ralf willing to coach them on roll tacking techniques, and starting line tactics, they were delighted. For those unfamiliar with the term, roll-tacking means using the crew weight to assist the boat in turning through the wind (tacking), a concept that sounds simple, but requires practice, coordination, and team effort. When done in a small boat like the IC dinghy, effective roll-tacking can help a team make their boat tack faster in light wind conditions. Top winners for the day: 1. #536, Pedro Lorson/Mimi Berry, 2. Bob Kirtland/David Cornachio, and 3. Laura Browning/Brian Kutner.
In the April issue of Soundings, there is an article that may be of interest to local sailors. The U.S. Power Squadrons and the Coast Guard Auxiliary have collaborated on a new safe boating course, called America's Boating Course that is available on-line. It is recognized by the Coast Guard and approved by the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators; it also meets requirements for safe boating education certificates in most states. Aimed for those busy people who cannot attend a class, the course offers a CD-ROM (plus a 76-page manual) and Internet versions with a variety of information, from rules of the road and basic maintenance to selecting the right boat and safety tips. For more information, call 866-262-8222, or visit the website at www.americasboatingcourse.com.
On Saturday, March 23, at 4:30 p.m, ESPN2 will air Leg 4 of the Volvo Ocean Race. And in case you miss this program, ESPN2 will re-air the program on Friday, April 5 at 12:00 p.m.