There's a group of women sailors who have been out on the water season after season honing their racing skills and having a great time. They are the intrepid sailors who make up the Women's Racing Clinic (WRC) and they are a fun-loving bunch of gals. Though their season is over for this year, they got together for an evening in late October to continue the fun and antics at their (now famous) Halloween Party. This year's event was held at the Port Washington YC and the ladies (and some children, too) arrived at the gala in all their finery, dressed to the nines as famous women. After an extended social hour, and a great dinner, the ladies got down to the raison d'être of the evening - the Annual Awards. These awards are taken very seriously by the awarders and awardees. For example, take the Princess Henrietta, the Navigator Award. While the names of awardees cannot be divulged, the story is just too good to pass up. It goes something like this....Two boats appeared for the prestigious Manhasset Bay YC Women's Day Race. One Ideal 18 was sailed by a well-known sailing luminary and an experienced crew, the other by a mother and her young daughter. The luminary won both races by a mile, but that was OK as the mother and daughter enjoyed their bonding experience. Then the rains came, and our losing skipper took pity on her shivering crew, decided to skip the rest of the races and headed back to shelter as quickly as possible. With the races over, mom, who is great at multi-tasking, pulls out her cell phone and calls her office (who thinks she is working from home). Knowing that it is illegal to talk on the cell phone and drive at the same time, she gives the helm to her daughter and says, "head for the club." Mother continues to conduct business from an Ideal 18 in the middle of Manhasset Bay as her daughter, an accomplished junior sailor, takes the helm with confidence and proceeds to bring the boat to a grinding halt - run aground on Plum Point. By this time Mother and daughter don't care much about bonding any more, they are out of sight of the Race Committee, they are wet and cold, the cell phone stopped working - another special family moment. So the two do what anyone would do in a similar situation - they waved their arms frantically in the universal 'SOS' configuration. A passing motorboat sees them and calls the Coast Guard, who calls the MBYC Dock Master who comes to their rescue. For joining the fraternity of sailors who have become intimate with Plum Point, Mother and daughter received the Princess Henrietta the Navigator Award with sand dollar clusters. One has to wonder what mom's office was thinking through all this. Isn't telecommuting great?
It's that time of year again to start thinking about US Sailing's Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswomen of the Year awards. And these are serious awards, not a "mostly for fun kind" like the one mentioned above. This award is presented annually to individuals who demonstrate excellence through outstanding on-the-water sailing achievement during the current year. A panel of sailing journalist are presented a slate of nominees and determine the winners by secret ballot. Established in 1961, this award is one of the most prestigious awarded by US Sailing. All who are members of US Sailing have a chance to pick the next awardees. To take advantage of your membership and submit your nominations for 2004, go online to www.ussailing.org/awards/rolex. The deadline is November 30, 2004.
This week seems to be full of news about awards. There's a new one that US Sailing's executive committee recently approved for excellence in race administration. The Harman Hawkins Trophy will be awarded annually to an individual who has made outstanding contributions to the sport of sailing in the field of Race Administration (Judging, Race Management, Appeals and Racing Rules). Harman Hawkins, who died in 2002, was a former US Sailing President, and a past Commodore of Manhasset Bay YC (1970-71), and lived in Port Washington and Plandome before moving to Shelter Island about ten years ago. The first award will be presented at the 2005 Spring Meeting in Newport, RI. Nominations are currently being accepted at www.ussailing.org/raceadmin/hhawkins.htm.
Move over Blue Jays! Bruce Kirby, the designer of the Laser, which has been called the most popular sailing dinghy in the world (over 182,000 sold), has done it again. The name of his newest design the Pixel. This new boat is designed for beginner and intermediate junior sailors. "I have a really good feeling about the Pixel," said Kirby, who has designed about 60 boats in his lifetime. "Its doing what I want it to do, and what I hoped it would do and what the calculations said it would do." It seems that Kirby was a bit surprised at how fast this 13-foot, 9-inch open ended boat could sail. In 20 knots of breeze off Darien, CT, the Pixel gathered so much speed that her hull rose far enough in the water to begin planing upwind with its occupants hiking out over the water. The Pixel weighs about 185 pounds lighter than a Blue Jay, and has an updated main sail with a jib that gives the Pixel 100 square feet of sail, about ten square feet more than a Blue Jay. She's quick in a puff, seems nimble and can be capsized and righted with little trouble, thanks to the cutout transom. Kirby chose the name Pixel because it is a modern word that kids understand ( a pixel is the smallest element in a digital photo). And like the word Laser, a pixel is pixel in every language. The Pixel, which came about because of what is perceived as a decline in interest in the Blue Jay (a junior boat that has trained many young sailors for years), will sell for about $6,000 and will be on the market in the spring. Considering Kirby's reputation, the Pixel could change the face of junior club sailing. According to Gary Jobson, who as Ted Turner's tactician helped win the America's Cup in 1977 and is ESPN's sailing analyst, "The Blue Jay has served our sport well for many decades, but new designs are faster and more fun to sail. The Blue Jay has lost its popularity in most of the country. I think Bruce's boat will do well." Lee Parks, who oversees class sailing for the U.S. Sailing Association in Portsmouth, RI, agreed. "The Blue Jay is definitely an old-fashioned design. Kids are looking for a high-performance, high-action boat." Looks like it will be an interesting summer for our junior sailors.