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Nothing, absolutely nothing, can beat the first sail of the season. To be out on Long Island Sound in early spring, with good winds and no other boat in sight (or hardly any, to be more precise), is well worth the wait during the long winter months. Even if one is a frostbiter (which many of us are), there is something very special to be in a boat larger than a dinghy, out on the sound, with good winds and friendly crew. Maybe it's the lack of rain, hail, snow or sleet that makes the spring sailing season so appealing. Most likely it is just a different kind of experience, with each season offering die-hard sailors an opportunity to be out on the water all year long. In any event, sailors can look forward with anticipation to their first race or cruise out on our beautiful bay and on the sound. A note of caution, though. We all know that the World Trade Center is gone. But to sail under the Throgs Neck Bridge and see New York City's altered landscape is still shocking, and brings back the events of 9/11 as if they were yesterday. Reactions to the city's skyline will be as varied as each individual, but it surely will be therapeutic, for it says that life can and will continue, but we will never forget.

The past weekend was filled with sailing events. On Saturday, May 18, about 25 Sonar sailors gathered for an all-day seminar given by North Sails at Manhasset Bay YC. Then the next day, several of the Sonars were out on the bay racing informally. The CBCA (Cow Bay Cruising Association), aka Thirsty Thursday, were out sailing last week, even though their first official race of the Spring Series does not start until tonight, May 23rd. While all marks have not been accurately measured, the following results are approximates based on a 11.08 mile course for Division I and II, and a 5.88 mile course for Division III and IV. Division I: 1. Free Fall, 2. #33877, Rising Star, Yehuda Rosenstock. Division II: 1. #53384, Vision, Marc Epstein. Division III: 1. #257, Sundance, Joel Ziev, 2. #244, En Passant, Robert Ebenau. Division IV: #50124, N Joy Two, Israel Gerber. Catamaran Division: Renegade, Andy Ledins.

The Mill Pond Model YC has been active for the last month. These sailors, many of whom build their own boats, have been out on Mill Pond racing on Saturdays and Sundays, and enjoying the camaraderie of this close-knit group. A special event highlighted the weekend sailing for the group, as Charlie Blume, a member of the YC since the early '70s, launched his new boat, an International A Class boat. The A class is built to formula similar to the 12 meters boats, in that the size, displacement, weight and sail area of the boat must comply with a set formula. While this class of model boat is almost obsolete, there are about 15 of them that are sailed on Mill Pond, which organizes 7-8 International A Class model regattas each year. The boat is 6.5 feet in length (almost 80 inches), is 43 pounds, and carries just under 100 square inches of sail. Most model boat sailors build their boats from a kit, but not Charlie Blume. He found what appeared to be 1/2 size copies of the original drawings of the boat from the '30s in a drawer at the Mill Pond Model YC and decided to build the boat from scratch. Charlie has built two other boats, but decided after his retirement in 1999, that he wanted to build a "big boat" (a relative term when speaking of model boats!) and began his adventure last October. His yet-to-be-named boat is all wood, and carries with it some of Port Washington local nautical history. It seems that a friend of Charlie's found some mahogany wood destined for the dumpster at one of the area's yacht clubs, presented his find to Charlie, which immediately became part of the new boat, along with a sugar pine deck and brass fittings. Scrap lead was located at Davy James' shop here in town, but Charlie admits to purchasing the sail. After spending approximately 150-200 man-hours on his newest boat, Charlie raced her for the first time last week. His comments: "I'm happy with the way it turned out, and was worried about the balance, but I changed the underwater profile to make the boat more maneuverable to accommodate the radio controls." In the "old days" model boats did not have controls such as we know them today. Model boat racers would stand on a footbridge on the Mill Pond that was 100 feet west of the existing clubhouse, launch their boat toward the bay, then run along side of the pond to catch the boat near the Shore road side of the pond. There they would re-trim the sails for the downwind leg back to the clubhouse. The steering gear in those days was designed to be steady on the course, while the high-tech radio controls seen today allow for trimming and adjusting similar to boats that race out on our bay, thus the need to alter the design of the boat. To recognize Charlie's accomplishment, his friends surprised him with an appropriate celebration with all the trappings - including champagne - which one would expect from this fun-loving group of expert sailors. Congratulations to Charlie Blume and his new boat.


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