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The wind was howling early Sunday morning, Dec. 15, and frostbiters were put on notice that the afternoon competition might be cancelled. But by midmorning, the wind had diminished somewhat, with weather forecasters predicting even less wind, so Race Committee Chair Herb Schmidt, e-mailed his committee and all the sailors that racing was on! And what a beautiful day it turned out to be - good winds, not too much chop in the bay, and warm weather (a relative term at this time of year). Readers have heard this before - frostbiters are the best. An anecdote from last Sunday's sailing would seem to support this statement. Nichols Silbersack, a freshman in high school, who has crewed for his father during the past several frostbite seasons, has now "graduated" to skippering his own boat, with a new young crew named Peter Varny. It so happened that Dan Coughlin, the director of sailing at Seawanhaka YC, decided to help the race committee on one of the crash boats last Sunday. As he watched the racing, he thought it might be helpful to crew for Nichols to give him some helpful hints to improve boat speed. So between the end of one race and the start of another, a quick change put Dan on IC dingy #539, and brought young Peter Varny to Kraus' Kastle, where he was immediately plied with a sausage/pepper hero hot off the grill, and the best homemade chocolate cookies, compliments of the RC chair's wife, Barbara Schmidt. A very appreciative Peter was overheard saying, "Gee, this is like a party." After learning what the RC really does on Kraus Kastle, Peter was back in #539, crewing for Nichols for the rest of the afternoon. Later in the day, Dan was out again on another boat, offering some pointers to another skipper on such things as how to negotiate the wind shifts, sail trim and other boat adjustments. Where else in the sailing world do you get this kind of thoughtful, personal attention during a race, where even though sailors are competing for prizes, they place great emphasis on "coaching" young sailors, and those new to dinghy sailing. And this is not the only time "on-the-water" coaching has been part of frostbite racing. Ralf Steitz, a sailing coach from the Merchant Marine Academy, and a frostbiter, has been known to hop on a competitor's boat to offer helpful suggestions, as has Pedro Lorson, a very experienced dinghy sailor. Winners for the day (eight teams): 1. #536, Pedro Lorson/Mimi Berry, 2. #514, Ted Toombs/Matt Cornachio, and 3. #121, Fee Mitropoulos/Tina Aufiero. Mimi Berry won the crew race.

Three Mill Pond Model YC "frostbiters." L to R: David Coode, Bob Lombard and Allan Hoffman.

The frostbiters who sail on Manhasset Bay each Sunday are not the only group of frostbiters in our area. The Mill Pond Model YC has a frostbite group and they were also out sailing last Sunday on the Mill Pond. It was their last day of frostbiting until the spring, and only two boats were competing. One of the competitors was David Coode, who is temporarily living in Jersey City, but who hails from London. He was attracted to the Mill Pond Model YC, rather than a club closer to home in New Jersey because the Mill Pond Model YC races "A" boats, a boat that he sails at the Guildford Model YC, located about 40 miles southwest of London. Bob Lombard, from Stratford, CT skippered the second boat competing last Sunday. He belongs to the Housatonic Model YC, which does not offer frostbiting for obvious reasons - the pond is frozen solid. A third skipper, Allan Hoffman, from Whitestone, planned to compete, but his mast step broke, which was enough to relegate him to score keeping. It appeared that Bob Lombard was in the lead, but official scores are unavailable.

America's Cup update: In a previous column it was mentioned that Team New Zealand has been "skirting" their boat to prevent outsiders from seeing the hull's underbody. Speculation and rumors around Auckland have provided no new information - until this past week. It appears that Team New Zealand has circumvented the America's Cup protocol with a very clever and creative design for their newest boat. Team New Zealand's design team has produced a boat with a "second skin" or a false underbody attached to the body of the boat with an appendage, which increases the sailing length of the boat and thus its speed. This creative thinking complies with America's Cup design rules which allow for two moveable appendages (the rudder and a keel). The rules say nothing about a third non-moveable appendage, such as the one on Team New Zealand's new boat. This latest design, which has been replicated by the Swiss Alinghi and Larry Ellison's Oracle BMW is being called the "most creative circumvention of the design rules in 151 years of America's Cup racing." Tom Schnackenberg, of Team New Zealand is unhappy that two syndicates have copied their new design, as he had hoped to keep it a secret until the official unveiling on Jan. 7, 2003. Trying to protect their advantage, Team New Zealand has written a letter to the challengers' management stating that the rules for the challenger series are in conflict with the America's Cup Protocol and pointing out the protocol has precedence. Under the protocol, they note, it is the "yacht" that wins the semifinals and progresses to the challenger finals that can win the right to sail for the Cup. Another interesting twist in the saga that surrounds the oldest trophy in the history of sport.

The scoreboard: Alinghi defeated Oracle BMW 4-0 and advances to the Louis Vuitton Finals. OneWorld defeated Prada, so Prada is eliminated and goes home. Oracle BMW and OneWorld will go head to head in an "All-American" semifinals of the Repechage, a best of seven series, the winner of which will face off with Alinghi in the Louis Vuitton Finals, competing for the right to challenge Team New Zealand for the Cup.


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