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On The Bay: November 15, 2011

Normally this column reports on local events with a sprinkling of national and international sailing events that relate to our area or are so interesting they need to be included. Last month, there was an event over at American Yacht Club that just begs to be shared for several reasons: the energetic folks at American YC raised a ton of money for the US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program and they collaborated with four other regional yacht clubs. Now many readers may wonder why it is such a big deal that yacht clubs would work together for a common cause, but it is a rare event to say the least. In recent years, some clubs on the north side of the Sound have banned together to host a regatta or event and this is becoming more frequent. But it is not the norm at all. So when information came out about American YC, people took notice. According to the press release, American Yacht Club raised an impressive $125,000 for the US Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Program at an event held October 22 in collaboration with four regional yacht clubs: Larchmont, Centerport, Noroton and Stamford. Co-chairs of the evening were Siobhan Reilly and Bill Sandberg. As a result of the efforts of American Yacht Club and their generous support, US SAILING has recognized American Yacht Club as a Gold Medal Partner Club, joining the ranks of St. Francis Yacht Club and New York Yacht Club.

“We’re very pleased with the initiative that American Yacht Club undertook to help send our athletes to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Their generous support will enable our athletes to perform at the highest levels and achieve their goals,” said Olympic Sailing Chairman Dean Brenner (Wallingford, Conn.). Over 150 supporters gathered at AYC’s main clubhouse in Rye, N.Y. for an evening event that celebrated the hard work, team work and dedication required to achieve success at the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Those who attended had the opportunity to bid on two ready-to-race Laser sailboats donated by LaserPerformance and signed by USSTAG members Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) and Rob Crane (Darien, Conn.). LaserPerformance, a silver sponsor of the team, has agreed to annually donate two sailboats to be auctioned off at fundraisers. The proceeds will directly benefit Olympic and Paralympic hopefuls.

Fresh off her bronze medal at the 2011 Pan American Games, Railey added her signature to the auctioned Radial with a specialized message for the winner. Another highlight of the live auction was a package for two people to cheer on Team USA at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England, that included coveted tickets to the opening ceremonies, the Women’s Volleyball preliminary games, and the sailing regatta in Weymouth.

“We were pleased to host the event, as it is the core of AYC’s mission,” said American Yacht Club’s Commodore Duncan Hennes. “Besides raising a good deal of money, our members got to meet members of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics and now have a fuller understanding that in addition to being great sailors, they are great people. These are athletes that we can all be proud of.”

The Olympic Sailing Program would also like to thank all of the generous donors, event organizers, the American Yacht Club and the USSTAG event sponsors of LaserPerformance, AlphaGraphics and Atlantis WeatherGear.

The US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics is managed by the United States Sailing Association (US SAILING), the national governing body for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing. The top athletes in each Olympic and Paralympic class are selected annually to be members of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. US SAILING supports these elite athletes with funding, coaching and training. The title sponsor of the team is AlphaGraphics; other sponsors include Rolex Watch USA, Atlantis WeatherGear, Sperry Top-Sider, LaserPerformance, Harken Team McLube, Trinity Yachts, New England Ropes, Group Experiential Learning and Bow Down Training. http://sailingteams.ussailing.org.

Score a big one for smart phones. Reports from the Mediterranean have surfaced with this report, compliments of The Telegraph. French solo sailing star, Florence Arthaud, fell off her boat but was saved from the Mediterranean waters by rescuers after she called her mother by mobile phone. Ms. Arthaud, winner in 1990 of the Route du Rhum single-handed transatlantic sailing race, was located and rescued near the island of Corsica thanks to a headlamp and the GPS system on her phone.

A small wave hit the boat and knocked her overboard while she was taking a bathroom break without her usual harness, she said. “I quite simply fell into the water…” the 54-year-old told BFM television. Ms. Arthaud, alone on her 10-metre (33ft) yacht, The Argade II, when she fell overboard, managed to hold her phone, encased in a waterproof covering, above water and call her mother in Paris to raise the alarm. Her mother alerted a rescue team, which set off in search of the sailor. Ms. Arthaud, one of the most respected female sailors in the world, was sailing for her own pleasure when the incident occurred. She spent almost two hours in the water before being rescued, and was suffering from hypothermia.