While many of us are recovering from the holidays, there are some families who are spending a rather non-traditional holiday week. For some, the week off from school and work means skiing in New England or out west, taking a trip to Europe, or traveling to warmer climates. But for some sailing families, specifically those with junior sailors, it may mean heading south to participate in the International Youth Orange Bowl Regatta. Elizabeth Whipple, daughter of Chip and Lynne Whipple, Manhasset Bay YC, will be competing in the 420 class.
According to this year's event organizers there are over 700 Opti, 420 and Laser Radial sailors registered for the week-long competition, and that does not count the brothers, sisters, parents, family friends and coaches who descend on the Coral Reef YC in Coconut Grove, FL. Many of these families come year after year, at least until their offspring age out of the regatta - and this has become their holiday tradition. This event, which begins on Dec. 26 with registration, with racing from Dec. 27-30, is a USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival, a part of the US SAILING's Junior Olympic Sailing Program, a nationwide series of regattas for youth ages 8 to 21. Each event in this family of regattas is hosted by a different club or organization, but all events share a common goal: to encourage young sailors to enjoy sailing, develop their skills, and get more experience on the water while having fun participating in clinics and regattas. Events mix Olympic-style competition with elements of learning and fun for all levels--from beginning racers to those with Olympic aspirations. In 2006, 25 events were held at sailing organizations across the country, starting in May, ending with a "grand finale" at the "Orange Bowl." Junior Olympic Sailing is coordinated by US SAILING and sponsored by West Marine and Gill. To follow the action, go to www.coralreefyachtclub.org. More to follow with results.
For those women out there who are planning their next year's vacation, you may want to take note of an event coming up in early February - a premiere sailing convention for women. Set to commence on Saturday, Feb. 3, 2007 at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Corona del Mar, CA, this event is open to all women from novices to experts. Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS) will again be the primary sponsor of the 18th Annual Women's Sailing Convention, presented by the Southern California Yachting Association (SCYA). The 2007 program is packed with workshops to choose from -- both on and off the water -- including: Welcome Aboard (for beginners), Suddenly Single-handed, Sail Trim, Using GPS, Provisioning, Diesels for Dummies, Basic Navigation, Anchoring, Spinnaker Rigging and Going Offshore. All of the workshops are presented by top women sailors from all over Southern California, many of whom are Coast Guard licensed operators. "We offer something for everyone whether you race, cruise or day sail," said Gail Hine, the event's organizer. "For those who are already involved but desire more, we will offer some new areas of inspiration and instruction along with excellent networking opportunities," she added.
To cap off the event, the dinner guest speaker will be Capt. Holly Scott of Seal Beach, CA. Scott is a well-known local sailor who has been very popular during her previous convention seminars and brings a great sense of humor in making women feel empowered in mastering sailing skills. An annual sell-out, participation at the convention is limited to about 275 and registration is $135 which includes breakfast, lunch, dinner, and all workshops, handouts, and a skipper's bag. To find out more or to register, go to http://www.BoatUS.com/women, or http://www.SCYA.org or contact Gail Hine at firstname.lastname@example.org.
With the temperature in the high 40s to mid 50s, this does not seem like the first month of winter. So it might be interesting to see what other parts of the country are doing that have weather more appropriate for the season. One reporter, Richard Chin, writing for the Pioneer Press, out in St. Paul, Minnesota, tells of a "flat-out exciting" sport that is synonymous with severe weather. Some people might even remember old-timers in our area talking about this sport, and the challenges and thrilling conditions it offers. What we are talking about is iceboating. Frostbiters, eat your heart out! This is truly a sport for the hardy folks - those who love really cold weather, and live for the chance to get to speeds reaching 60 miles per hour - on the ice. According to the article written by the above-mentioned reporter, iceboating is sailing on frozen lakes (or other bodies of water) in boats that speed on metal runners. Mr. Chin describes it further, "skimming along on your back a few inches above the ice, even 25 miles per hour seems fast. The shore rushes toward you with startling speed, and when you turn back, the sail's boom threatens to scrape your face as the sail switches from one side of the boat to the other." The challenge is to find the right conditions - enough wind to fill their sails, a frozen pond thick enough to be safe, and minus a layer of snow that would slow down the boat's runners. Finding all three conditions in one place is not an easy task, and that is why so many come from all over the world to participate in the Great Western Challenge. This takes places every December, and is the kickoff for the iceboating season. Sailed in the International DN - a real "little hot rod of a boat," she is a skinny, 12-foot-long, 50-pound wood-hulled boat, which many have likened to an open, tapered, old-fashioned coffin because competing sailors ride in it, lying on their backs. A 16-foot-high mast supports 60 square feet of sail, and with little friction that the metal runners generate on the ice, the DN can reach speeds greater than 60 mph. For those who thought frostbiters were a little crazy, this sport is right out there on the edge. And what is even more amazing, this boat weights only 100 - 150 pounds, and breaks down to parts small enough to load on a plane. In what can only be described as an understatement, the reporter mentions, "iceboating can be a little hazardous." To read the entire article, go to www.twincities.com/mld/pioneerpress.com or www.iceboating.net.