The start of a race at the 2005 Frostbite Yacht Club's New Year's Regatta. Right to left: Ralf Steitz/Jaime Steitz (#537), Steve Benjamin/Brouck Anderson (#60), Rich du Moulin/Ellen Nash (#90), Pedro Lorson/Mimi Berry (#536) and Claude Chazotte/Florencann Paterno (#532).
Another new year has dawned on our beautiful peninsula, and with it comes another Frostbite New Years Regatta. A tradition in the local sailing community for the past 73 years, the Frostbite YC has hosted their annual regatta each year in weather that would send most people huddled in their homes near a warm fireplace. But for those intrepid sailors who savor the challenges of inclement weather with the continuous prospect of taking a swim in the chilly waters of Manhasset Bay, there is great concern amongst the sailors. For it seemed that this might be the second year in a row that the weather on New Year's Day has been almost balmy, threatening to tarnish the reputation of our stalwart skippers and crew. But Mother Nature came to the rescue and after a few races on the first day in January, she threw in a few curve balls that took the fleet by surprise. A strong gust caught a few teams off guard, and on the downwind leg of the fourth race one boat capsized, followed by another boat capsizing at the leeward mark. A third boat swamped as they returned to the dock and they capsized. Two other boats had equipment failures; one a broken head stay, another a broken mast. Race Committee immediately cancelled racing for the remainder of the day and proceeded to drag skippers and crews out of the bay. William Taylor, the yachting correspondent for the New York Herald, when writing about the first regatta in 1932, said, "The idea of a Frostbite Regatta, of course, is to prove that some people are crazier than others and those who are craziest sail races in 11-foot open boats in the middle of snowstorms - and enjoy it." While this year's regatta did not have a snowstorm, and the weather was in the 50° range, the wind shifts and gusts helped our sailors uphold their reputation as frostbite sailors.
Following tradition, the first race of the new year was the Past Commodore's Race. Usually held at 10 a.m. on January first, this year the regatta was pushed back to a more respectable 12:30 start. Nine teams competed, with Paul-Jon Patin and Anne Patin, from Larchmont YC, taking line honors. Pedro Lorson and Mimi Lorson Berry came in second, with Ted Toombs and Matt Cornachio third. The Frostbite Regatta commenced immediately after the conclusion of the Past Commodore's Race. The Race Committee ran a total of eleven races over the two-day regatta for two classes of boats: IC Dinghies, and Penguins. The results for the IC Dinghy fleet (13 boats): 1. #17, Paul-Jon Patin/Anne Patin, Larchmont YC, 2. #60, Steve Benjamin/Brouck Anderson, Larchmont YC, and 3. #536, Pedro Lorson/Mimi Lorson Berry. Top teams in the Penguin class (3 boats): 1. #9666, Neal Litman/Ben Litman, 2. #9667, Malcolm Hendry/Jackie Littman, Centerport YC, and 3. #9681, Teresa Hendry/Karyanne Reichel, Centerport YC.
Back on shore, the 73rd Annual Meeting of the Frostbite YC took place in the Grill Room of Manhasset Bay YC. Bob Black, Commodore, opened the meeting by asking the Dock Captain, Stephanie Baas, to ring eight bells, and called for a moment of silence for all those who "have sailed their last race." Vice Commodore Dan Coughlin gathered all the children attending the meeting to help distribute the Wassail Bowl. This year the troupe of up and coming sailors included: Sabrina Lorson (6 years old), Courtney Berry (5) and Maura Berry (7), Elvis Mitropoulos (12) and Sophia Mitropoulos (9), J.D. Drewes (12), Emily Browning (11), Catryn Silbersack (11) and Johanna Silbersack (12). When all sailors, crew, Race Committee, family and friends were in possession of a "cup of cheer," Commodore Black offered a toast for a year of good sailing. Then the Flag Officers of the Frostbite YC got down to business - and the high jinks ensued. The Secretary's Report, by Matt Kelly was short and to the point, "Progress." Steve Moore read the Treasure's Report by Commodore John Mitchell, who again did not appear at the meeting, leading many to think he is a figment of our imagination. This report was followed by John Browning giving a full and detailed accounting of his duties as Measurer. Steve Moore, Chair of Special Awards, had several awards to hand out to very deserving recipients, who would probably have preferred to be anywhere else but in the Grill Room at the moment. These awards are similar in style to the Moosehead Award given to Race Committees who really "mess up." This year's recipients and their awards: Steve Benjamin got the Royal Order of the Bath with Triple Recidivist Clusters for capsizing his dinghy two times in as many months, John Silbersack got the Order of the Bath for his capsize on New Year's Day, Peter Kallman was awarded the Chief Boat Wrecker Award for his broken mast, Ralf Steitz won the Assistant Chief Boat Wrecker when he swamped after his head stay broke, and Bill Drewes got the Order of the Bath for his swamp and subsequent capsize at the MBYC dock.
Then the meeting went into serious mode for a moment or two. Commodore Black awarded the Commodore Robert W. Fraser Memorial Trophy to Paul-Jon and Anne Patin, who won the Past Commodore's Race. Then the slate of Officers for the 2005-2006 Frostbite YC was presented to the membership and voted on: Commodore: Dan Coughlin; Vice Commodore: Mimi Berry; Rear Commodore: Steve Benjamin; Fleet Captain: Stephanie Baas; Treasure: Commodore Bob Mitchell; Secretary: Ralf Steitz; Measurer: John Browning; Dock Captain: Matt Kelly; Harbor Master: John Silbersack.
The Awards Ceremony took place immediately after the racing on Sunday, Jan. 2. Sue Miller, regatta chair, and Herb Schmidt, race committee chair, handed out awards to the top finishers in both the IC Dinghy and Penguin fleets. Perpetual trophies were awarded to the following: The Sam Wetherill Trophy, awarded to the outstanding skipper at the Annual Frostbite Dinghy Regatta, went to Paul-Jon Patin, who also won the Baker-Taylor Founders Trophy for the highest percentage in any class sailing in the Annual New Year's Frostbite Yacht Club Regatta. Upon receiving these awards, Paul -Jon said, "It was great sailing against great sailors and great friends. Thank you all - I'm a little bit in awe (of winning)." Then Commodore Dan Coughlin presented a brand new award, yet to be named, to increase interest in the New Year's Regatta. Since all the awards are for the top boats, Dan thought it would be great to have a trophy for the team that doesn't come out at the top each year, but comes back year after year to support the regatta. This year, the first recipient is Greg Corkett, sailing with crew member Carter Boothe. The beautiful new award is an anchor light, that keeps glowing, just as the winner of this award works hard and keeps coming back each year.