Written by Andrea Watson Friday, 12 August 2011 00:00
This past week, Manhasset Bay YC hosted the Green Fleet Regatta, which is sailboat race for the youngest sailors in a junior sailing program. This is their first regatta ever and they race in little prams called Optimists. Each year the Chair of the regatta, along with the junior sailing instructors, choose a charity they promote throughout the day. This year they chose the Nautical Council of the Port Washington Public Library. The Nautical Council is one of five advisory councils at the library – the others being Music, Art, Health and Children. More on the Council in a moment.
For those who are not sailors – and information coming my way indicates that some readers of this column are not bitten by the sailing bug – let me describe what fun a regatta is for kids – especially their first one. Young skippers from both Manhasset Bay YC and Port Washington YC came out on Wednesday, Aug. 3 for a day of racing. Not all 43 boats were part of the Green Fleet (the first-timers). There were competitors in the Blue, Red and White Fleets that were a bit more experienced. To take readers out to the race course – let me present a visual of the joy and fun this regatta brings to not only the skippers and crew, but all those in close proximity.
The first thing you notice is the energy level of the kids. Boats are all sailing all over the place as Mother Nature doesn’t supply any wind in the morning. So racing has been postponed for awhile waiting for the tiniest indication that the wind might make an appearance on the bay. Do these kids sit around and mope? Not a chance! They are out on the water, sculling (moving their tillers back and forth to propel their boats forward), just happy to be out on the water.
Finally some wind comes in around 11:30 a.m. and Head Junior Sailing Instructor, Caitlin Fitzpatrick calls her Race Committee to make final adjustments to the race course and get a starting sequence going. After all, pizza will be delivered to the club at 12:30 p.m., so there is no wasting time! First up are the Blue and Red Fleets as they are the most experienced racers. Their starting line skills surprise even this columnist who has been watching racers for many years. They are polite, seem to know the rules, don’t bump into each other and no one is OCS (over early) at the start. Granted there is a little coaching from the Race Committee, but in this regatta that is A-Okay. Off they go and the White Fleet is next. This is a smaller group and they show great starting line skills too. They go off, but find that the wind is already starting to decrease, which is proven in the last leg when one of leading competitors saw her lead evaporate as those behind her found a puff and raced past her. The last fleet to start are the newbies, the Green Fleet, who by now have been out on the bay for awhile in the hot sun. One would think these young sailors would lose interest, but they sail to the starting line (some needed assistance to make the start as the wind really dropped). They get their start and off they go and every last one of them make it around the triangular course and to the finish line. Some of their comments were priceless: One young skipper commented, “Am I finished yet?” which is akin to the kids in the backseat on a vacation saying, “Are we there yet?” As Caitlin and her Race Committee congratulate each finisher, Caitlin instructs them to head for home and pizza. Next thing heard, is Caitlin calling out “No, no….your home is this way…” pointing in the direction of MBCY where the pizza is waiting to be devoured.
Lest readers think this is way too much competition for young children…it is important to know that every participant received a medal which they immediately (and proudly) hung around their necks. According to Carline Ralph Kenlon, chair of the regatta, “The event is about getting on the water and having fun! Please also note that is it an annual event and would love to have more neighboring clubs participating.”
The winners of the regatta according to their division: Red and Blue Fleet:
1. Katarina Catallo (PWYC), 2. Corrine Hall (PWYC), 3. Christian Hill (PWYC) and 4. TJ Danilek (MBYC). White Fleet winners: 1. Kendall Hall (PWYC), 2. Carter Shields (MBYC), 3. Lauren Krim (MBYC) and 4. Jake Brandvold (PWYC). The Green Fleet winners (first time racers): 1. Harry Thompson (MBYC), 2. Jack McCusker (PWYC), 3. Rebecca Hance (MBYC) and 4. Annie Miller (MBYC).
Now to the Nautical Council… The mission of the Nautical Council is to serve as an archive and a forum of the history of boating and yachting and the facilities which serve them on Manhasset Bay. Books, periodicals, photographs, memorabilia, manuscripts, maps, films, audio and video tapes, logs, charts, artifacts and other primary source material are collected. The Center promotes its nautical interest by sponsoring programs for the nautically minded as well as the general public. The Council is made up of members who have an interest in our waterfront, and come from the community at large and local yacht clubs. Their cumulative knowledge of the bay, its history and the future of sailing are the foundation upon which the Council decides programs for each year.
The Nautical Council started the HarborFest Model Boat Regatta many years ago and continues to support this popular event. This regatta teaches third graders in all Port schools how to build a boat, and culminates in a regatta held during HarborFest each June. Over 400 children participated in this event this year, and which was funded by nautical-minded people and organizations, including the Nautical Council. A few years ago, the Nautical Council partnered with Matt Meyran, Port Washington Water Taxi to offer bay tours to the public. Each summer the Council runs two tours on each of three days. This year, as in the past, the day the times and dates of the tours are published, the tours are sold out, with request for a waiting list. This summer, passengers on the boat tours will have the added pleasure of hearing what Jennifer Wilson Pines, a local environmentalist, has to say about our waterfront. During the fall, winter and spring, the Nautical Council hosts lectures and seminars on topics of interest to the public. Noted presenters in the past have included Dawn Riley, America’s Cup skipper; John Rousmaniere, an internationally known and respected nautical historian; Midshipmen from USMMA; local historian Alan Dinn, grandson of the Purdy family, who spoke about the famous Aphrodite, Jock Whitney’s commuter yacht, which transported Whitney to NYC each day.
By day’s end, Caroline Kenlon summed the day up nicely by saying, “We were thrilled to be able to donate to our local library. The waterfront is a valuable asset and we hope to instill that value in our kids.”
For more information about the Nautical Council, please see www.pwpl.org.