Last Sunday, April 24 was a day made for frostbiters. After several weeks of warm weather that had some of our sailors out in shorts, Sunday brought overcast skies, chilly and damp air, and high winds. The last sail for the season, the Long Distance Race, scheduled for Saturday, but cancelled due to a dire forecast, was held the following day in winds that were a steady 12-15 knots, with gusts clocked as high as 24 mph. For those ocean racers, winds at these high gusts are not too problematic, but when you are in a small, rather unforgiving dinghy, these gusts can be dangerous. Three rescue boats closely followed the fleet, at the ready to offer assistance as needed. That opportunity came about 2/3 into the race, when one of our best sailors capsized while trying to jibe around the leeward mark. Our excellent RC had one of their rescue boats race to the scene to drag skipper and crew out of Manhasset Bay and begin the task of rescuing the overturned dinghy. Readers will be pleased to hear all three - skipper, crew and boat - arrived safely on shore. This race was originally sailed (1946) from Manhasset Bay to Sands Point, ending out in Long Island Sound, with the picnic held at the home of Mr. and Mrs. Joe Wheeler, Jr. In recent years, the race course was set in Manhasset Bay, and this year the Race Committee ran the race off the Manhasset Bay YC dock, and set a course that took the sailors south toward Plandome, then over toward the Great Neck Shore, with a finish back at the dock.
The traditional picnic after the Long Distance Race seemed especially good this year. The menu of mussels, clams, hamburgers and hotdogs, plus the usual variety of great drinks was a welcome respite from an exciting day on the bay, and the group who gathered was lively and full of fun. To get an idea of how rough the conditions were that day, one of the skippers, when asked what it was like to be sailing in such high winds, said, in a rather tongue-in-cheek fashion, "Fine, when I wasn't terrified." When asked how his young crew felt, he quickly said, "Oh, she thought it was great!" That pretty much sums up the essence of frostbiting. It is a dedicated group of very skilled sailors who enjoy the water in all seasons, and bring along their wives, siblings, and children to share in their enthusiasm for cold weather sailing. While it may be sad to say goodbye to another season of confronting the elements, it's nice to look forward to seeing our beautiful bay change her mantle and sparkle in the warmth of the springtime sun. Later in May, the frostbiters will have their Annual Awards dinner, and then it is on to the different fleets - be it the one-design sailors (Sonars, MBOs, KODs, Ideal 18, etc.) or the big-boat sailors. Congratulations to Ted Toombs and Matt Cornachio (IC Dinghy #514) for winning the Interclub Frostbite Dinghy Fleet's Annual Long Distance Race. Ted has won this award three other times, in 1975, 1985, and 1997. Ted and Matt will have their names engraved on the permanent trophy that resides at Manhasset Bay YC and join a group of sailors that reads like a history of winter sailing: Peter Lorson (Frappe, 1967, 1971, 1976); Howard Seymour (Sneezy, 1968, 1982); Robert Kirtland (Brujita, 1969, 1970, 1993); Randy Bartholomew (Pushover, 1974, 1978); James B. Moore, Jr. (Icy Lure, 1973,1979); Rich du Moulin (Eucalyptus, 1983); Douglas McKeige (#671, 1987,1989); Stephen W. Moore (Spinnaker, 1988, 1999); Pedro Lorson (Lunatic Express VII, 1995-96, 2000-2003); and John Browning (Umiak, 1998). One has to be impressed with the staying power frostbiting has: Ted Toombs started winning in 1975 and is still at the top of the leader board, and Bob Kirtland started his long successful tour with the frostbiters back in 1969 and is still out there challenging the younger generation. Speaking of generations, Pedro Lorson is following in the footsteps of his father, Peter Lorson, who started winning in Frappe when Pedro was a small child. Now Pedro, who has won the Long Distance Race five times - more than anyone else in the history of Manhasset Bay frostbiting - has enticed his daughter, Sabrina, to crew for him. Who knows, in another 20 years, she may be out on the bay on a cold April morning, taking top honors from yet a third generation of frostbiters.
Dean Barker beat out Russell Coutts for the 41st Congressional Cup Title in Long Beach, California a few weeks ago. This must have been a sweet victory for Barker to defeat his mentor, Russell Coutts, who five years ago in the Hauraki Gulf, succeeded Coutts on the Emirates Team New Zealand, when Coutts left to sail with the Alinghi team. Barker, speaking about his experiences in the last America's Cup race, said in a sportsmanship manner, "The Alinghi team was much better prepared, but it's always nice to meet Russell because he's such a good competitor. It's a healthy relationship. In the America's Cup it's never one individual against another, but team against team." The Kiwis did well this year at the Congressional Cup, capturing first, second and third place. For those who are unfamiliar with match racing, you will have a chance to learn much more about this very exciting form of racing. The Knickerbocker YC will host the 2005 Knickerbocker Cup later this summer from August 23-27. Be on the lookout for more information as the event gets closer, for there will be speakers that you won't want to miss, and opportunities to watch international match racers from around the world sail in our bay.
The Third Annual Gold Coast Lighthouse Cruise will take place on Sunday, May 1, from 9 a.m. - 3 p.m. Long Island's premier lighthouse cruise will be on the Skyline Princess and will leave from the Town Dock in Port Washington. The itinerary includes lighthouses at Stepping Stones, Sands Point, Execution Rocks, Cold Spring Harbor, Eaton's Neck and Huntington Harbor. Those participating may also see the Nantucket Lightship, as well. The cruise includes breakfast, a buffet lunch, indoor and outdoor viewing area, live entertainment by Sampawams Creek. Bob Muller, author of Long Island's Lighthouses: Past and Present, Paul De Orsay, Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Whaling Museum, and Monica Randall, author of The Mansions of Long Island's Gold Coast will provide historic narration. The cost of the cruise is $85 for nonmembers/$75 for members and payment should be sent to LI Lighthouse Society, PO Box 744, Patchogue, NY 11772. . This event sells out early, so if you are interested in spending a glorious day on the water, make your reservations now. For more information, readers can go to their website: www.LILighthousesociety.org or email to email@example.com