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On The Bay: December 13, 2011

The Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound (YRA of LIS) held its Annual Meeting and Awards Ceremony on Sunday, Dec. 4, at the Larchmont Yacht Club Junior Club House. In addition to celebrating sailor’s achievement on the water, new board members were voted into office for the upcoming year.

For those readers who are unfamiliar with the YRA, this nonprofit organization has been serving local racing sailors for over 100 years. From organizing championships to rating boats using the latest handicap standards, YRALIS is dedicated to promoting safe, fair and challenging sailboat racing throughout Western Long Island Sound. Today, the YRA has over 65 member clubs, and nearly a thousand individual members. Over 700 boats are registered in the PHRF fleet, racing in both spinnaker and non-spinnaker classes. In addition, there are several offshore one-designs: J-44, J-120, J-35, J-105, J-30, J-92, J-80, Mumm 30s and Express 37s. Our member clubs and class associations provide inshore one-design competition and support learn-to-sail programs for sailors new to the sport. Top inshore one-design classes include Vanguard 15s, Etchells, Sonars, Lightnings, Flying Scots, Shields, Lasers, IODs, Ideal 18s and Interclubs. Many of our member clubs also provide learn to sail and racing programs for young sailors, through our affiliate, the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound.

Dawn Riley, the executive director at Oakcliff Sailing Center, gave a very interesting and informative presentation to the 60 plus YRA members who attended the meeting. As CEO and captain of America True, Riley was the first woman to manage an America’s Cup sailing team. She raced on four America’s Cup and two Whitbread (now Volvo Ocean Race) teams. She is the former president of the Woman’s Sports Foundation, serves on the board of U.S. Sailing, and is an advisor to several public service organizations. Riley spent time talking about her early years in sailing and explained the Oakcliff Sailing Center mission, the programs for sailors (match racing and fleet racing), and volunteer opportunities. What was really interesting was how the mission evolved into what Oakcliff actually does for the sailing community. When Dawn came on board, she and others in leadership roles at Oakcliff looked at what was already happening on Long Island Sound at yacht clubs and sailing centers, and were committed to not duplicating efforts already in place. So Oakcliff offers a unique program that can’t be found at any other venue on Long Island Sound.

Also attending the YRA meeting was Bill Simon, who is Oakcliff’s Race Director and responsible for match racing regattas and clinegattas (regatta with a teaching clinic), plus coaching clinics and fleet racing. Local sailors know Bill as the Fleet Captain for Sonar Fleet #11 and see him out in his Sonar, Weekend Warrior. Bill resides in Port Washington. For complete information about Oakcliff Sailing Center, go to:

Each year the YRA elects new officers for their board. Elected into office by unanimous vote are the following: President, Bernard Armstrong, Riverside Yacht Club; Vice President, Charles Powers, Lloyd Harbor Yacht Club; Dana Schnipper, Sea Cliff Yacht Club and Port Washington resident; Treasurer, Edward Yocum, Larchmont Yacht Club; Secretary, Mark Parry, Riverside Yacht Club. Directors voted into office: Class of 2012: George Petrides, American Yacht Club and John Silbersack, Manhasset Bay Yacht Club and Port Washington resident; Class of 2013: CDR Chris Gasiorek, U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and Charles Goodrich, Stamford Yacht Club; Class of 2014: Sandison Weil, American Yacht Club and Park Benjamin III, Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club. The Nominating Committee was: William Kirkpatrick, William Kirkpatrick, Centerport Yacht Club (Chair); Richard du Moulin, Larchmont Yacht Club; Susan Miller, Manhasset Bay Yacht Club, past commodore of MBYC and Port Washington resident; Jonathan Nye, Indian Harbor Yacht Club and Andree Pruett, Riverside Yacht Club.

Next up were the awards. President Bernie Armstrong with the help of Steve Cain, Glen Island Yacht Club, awarded season awards and the four Special Awards. Local sailors receiving awards for one-design sailing included: MBOD class: 1. Ralph Heinzerling, Miss B Haven, 2. John Silbersack, Dogged. In the Sonar class: 1. Greg Danilek, Housemartin, 2. Sue Miller and John Browning, Ping, and 3. Robert Kirtland, Delight. The Cow Bay Trophy went to Greg Danilek, for having the highest score for the season in a fleet with five or more qualifiers. Other local sailors who won in the PHRF division: 1. Paul Strauch, Andiamo, YRA Fall Gitana and Overall Gitana; and 1. Chris Gasiorek, Renegade, USMMA, YRA Overall Competitors.

Lastly, the Special Discretionary Awards were described and the awardees brought to the podium. The David Pryor Sportsmanship Trophy, which is for individual sportsmanship, was changed this year to give this award to eight very deserving recipients, who happen to be from North Shore YC and race in our bay. The award was given to the crew of Serenity (Jacques Blinbaum, skipper, Klaus Marreck and Peter Hirschhorn) and the crew of Vision (Marc Epstein, skipper, Mike Beck, Steve Harkavy, and MaryLu and Bill Palafox. The award read:

“The 2011 David Pryor Sportsmanship Trophy is awarded to the crews of Vision and Serenity to recognize their single act of exemplary conduct in a regatta on September 6, 2011. Vision and Serenity were returning from a regatta at 9 p.m. in pitch dark conditions when a crew member on Serenity was struck by the boom during a jibe, knocked unconscious, and thrown into the dark waters without a life jacket. Fortunately a floatable flashlight went overboard at the same time helping to locate the unconscious sailor.

“Crew from Serenity immediately called 911 and jumped into the water to locate and aid the injured sailor. Crew from Vision supplied rescue lines and flotation while another scrambled to Vision’s stern platform to assist hauling in the sailor and continue mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. A Coast Guard boat from the Town Dock picked up the injured sailor and rushed him to shore and to a waiting ambulance to take him to the hospital. This act by both crews saved the sailor’s life and was a real team effort.

“All seven individuals risked their lives and have collectively earned the David Pryor Sportsmanship Trophy. On Serenity: Jacques Blinbaum, skipper, Klaus Marreck, Peter Hirschhorn. On Vision: Marc Epstein, skipper, Mike Beck, Steve Harkavy, Bill Palafox, Mary Lu Palafox. Congratulations to the crew of both Serenity and Vision for their heroic effort to save a fellow sailor’s life.”

For a complete listing of all winners and photos from the event, please go to: