Sports
A sure sign of spring! Model boats racing on Mill Pond on Saturday, March 29. If you look really closely, you can see two spectators at the top of the photo.

Sailors with their eternally optimistic outlook on weather and all things water-related have determined that spring is here. The outside temperatures at night may still hit mid-20, but you can't tell that to a sailor. Take for instance last Saturday and Sunday. The folks over at the Mill Pond Model YC were out sailing both days, and while the sun was out, so was the wind. But a few intrepid souls were racing their boats - and not just for a few races. They spent the good part of the morning each day having a great time at the Mill Pond. Other signs of spring are popping up all around town. Groups of sailors are meeting in small groups and at parties to trade "sailing stories" and getting mentally ready for the sailing season. Soon all the yacht clubs will go into commissioning. And the PW Chamber of Commerce HarborFEST, scheduled this year for Sunday, June 1, will again sponsor the Model Boat Regatta for the third-grade classes. Volunteers are being lined up to teach just about 400 children how to build a catamaran out of recycled materials. The reward for all their efforts - a real regatta run by sailors that brings out families, relatives, assorted dogs. It's always great fun. This year the regatta will take place at Baxter Pond, but will return to the Mill Pond after renovations are completed. It won't be long until the long winter will be a distant memory!

For some racers, the arrival of spring means something entirely different. These are those hearty sailors who sail all winter long, in freezing temperatures, in small, uncomfortable and wet IC dinghies. Some winter sailors opt to sail in Ideal 18s, which are a bit more comfortable but they still have to contend with the winter winds and cold temperatures. Spring for these teams means the conclusion of their winter season with the Long Distance Race and picnic. The last few weeks, the number of boats has diminished somewhat, with some sailing over at Larchmont for the Stanley Bell trophy. Results for Sunday, March 16: 7 races (Ideal 18s only): Ryan Christie/Michael Silverman (1, 2, 3, 1, 3, 1, 2) squeaked past Bob Kirtland/Alan Thompson (2, 1, 1, 2, 2, 3, 3) by one point, with John Browning/Steve Moore (4, 4, 2, 3, 1, 2, 1) coming in third place for the day. Steve Moore won the crew race.

On Sunday, March 30, both the IC dinghies and the Ideal 18 were out. Five races total with one crew race. Top boats for the day: 1. #603, Matt Kelley/Mary Endsey (1, 1, 1, 1, 2), 2. #514, Ted Toombs/Jenny McCarthy (2, 4, 2, 2, 1), and 3. #628, Dana Schnipper/Brandon Schnipper (3, 3, 4, 3, 4). Sophia Mitropoulos won the crew race. Winners in the Ideal 18 fleet: 1. #177 Bob Kirtland/Alan Thompson (1, 1, 3, 1, 1), 2. Ryan Christie/Michael Silverman (3, 2, 1, 3, 4), and 3. Vince Syracuse/Steve Moore (2, 2, 4, 3, 5). Chip Pena, sailing with Bob Schwartz, won the crew race.

There is news from the organizers of the Newport to Bermuda Race. This year's event expected to bring more than 3,000 visitors to Bermuda. A total of 212 yachts have already signed up before the registration deadline. This surpasses all previous Newport Bermuda Races except the race's centennial in 2006, which welcomed 264 boats. Premier and Minister of Tourism and Transport Dr. Ewart Brown said: "the sports tourism strategy was creating excitement for the overall tourism product." He said: "Each of those boats carries an average of 10 people on the team, not to mention the fact that every race participant typically brings in another one or two people who take part in the on-island activities. Before long we're talking about 3,000-plus visitors coming to Bermuda."

The Royal Bermuda Yacht Club Commodore Ralph Richardson said: "There are 72 boats in the race for the first time this year and 45 new skippers. So that tells me the publicity this year and the momentum of the 2006 race has been a real plus in getting the numbers we have had so far. "The spirit of anticipation is high and we are looking forward to a fantastic race." The Newport Bermuda Race, which was founded in 1906, is run every two years from Newport, Rhode Island to St. David's Island. The 2008 race begins on Friday, June 20 and it takes about three to six days for the yachts to travel the 635 miles. -- http://bermudasun.bm

At a ceremony at the Old Royal Naval College in Greenwich Thursday, BT Team Ellen skipper Dame Ellen MacArthur, was awarded France's highest decoration, the Légion d'Honneur by French President Nicolas Sarkozy. This was a formal recognition of the award that was bestowed upon Ellen after she set a new solo non-stop round the world record of 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes and 33 seconds in February 2005. In his speech, the president highlighted the reasons why Ellen had been chosen for this prestigious award by saying that Ellen is a symbol of Franco-British friendship - adored by people from both countries and she symbolizes something that unites the two countries.

President Sarkozy in his remarks about Dame Ellen mentioned her passion for the sea and her courage given the fact that she was so young when she first sailed into the record books. Not only is she a very brave person who has made people dream with her adventures on the sea, but she is also an extremely kind and generous person as evidenced by her work with the Ellen MacArthur Trust taking young people with cancer and leukemia sailing to help them rebuild their confidence.

Ellen responded to this award saying it is a huge honor to receive this award from a country from where she had set off on some of her greatest adventures. She has spent a great deal of time in France over the past 11 years, and the support and warmth shown by its people has been truly touching. She also mentioned she feels huge gratitude towards the incredible team she works with, as it was as much their commitment and drive as her own which has lead to where they are today.

Port Sailing School is offering a Basic Coastal Cruising Course on April 26 -27. This is geared for people who want to learn to sail and charter large cruising boats. Students will learn to sail, anchor, plot a course, and perform MOB (Man Overboard) drills, dock and more - all on a 36-foot Beneteau. To be eligible for this course, applicants need to have completed Basic Keelboat or have similar sailing experience. The cost of the course is $650, members $600. For more information, info@portsailing.com, visit their website at www.portsailing.com, or call the school at 767-7245.


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