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On the Bay

American Yacht Club’s Spring Series has come and gone. And with it marks the beginning of the sailing and racing season here on Manhasset Bay. After a long winter, spring always brings hope for a season filled with good wind, sunny days, and lots of great racing. For those who prefer a calmer day on the water, there is always the lure of a cruise to harbors near and far. The days are long, the sunsets beautiful, and the shipyards are a bevy of activity. It won’t be long until all the boats are at their moorings, waiting for their owners to take them for a spin. It was a long wait, but worth it.

The weekend of May 30 will be a busy one for local racers. Sonar Fleet #11, Manhasset Bay YC and the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point are sponsoring the Sonar Atlantic Coast Championships on May 30-31. Racing will be in western Long Island Sound. There are approximately 20-25 competitors expected to make this a really great event. After racing on Saturday evening, there will be complimentary kegs of beer to enjoy as racers can ask questions to an expert panel, followed by a BBQ dinner on the terrace at MBYC. Registration is discounted if completed before May 17, so get your act together and log onto www.manhassetbayyc.org for the Notice of Race and registration.

 

Also on May 30 is the North Shore Day Race. Ron Fink is the PRO, and in an email he said, “This event is geared to the sailors. We start at Can 1, use government marks, finish in the bay and the club hosts light refreshments, beer and soda at days end. We have a time limit so you can still make dinner plans with non-sailing friends. For those with full crew and ‘race programs,’ go spinnaker. Short crew, enter double handed non-spinnaker. Four boats or more of one class sailing in the same configuration, we will give you your own start. Hope to see you all on the starting line.” The Freedom Cup will be awarded to the best performing yacht in the 2-handed division, the Ostling Cup for the best performance by a NSYC member boat in the Cruising Canvas division; and the Reiman Trophy for best performance by a NSYC boat in any division, except Cruising Canvas. For more information, please go to www.nsyc.net. With these two events, there is something for everyone, so no sitting at home watching; get out and enjoy the beauty of Manhasset Bay, the Sound, and the companionship of your sailing friends!

Some of our local racers participated in the American YC Spring Series. Louis Nees, Out of Reach III, from Port Washington YC, came in third place in IRC 35 Division 6. Bob Schwartz, Nordlys, Manhasset Bay YC, came in third in the J/109 Division. George Marks, Georgetown III, North Shore YC, came in 5th in J/122 Div. 4. The winds were light and the weekend ended up rainy, but the skippers and crews were all glad to be out on the racecourse again. Interesting to note that 21 boats were on the starting line for the J/105 fleet. Other boats participating in the Spring Series that may be familiar to readers include: Nimbus, Hunt Lawrence, Oyster Bay, 1st, IRC 50 Div. 1, High Noon, Steve and Heidi Benjamin, Norwalk, Challenge IV, Jeffrey Willis, Huntington. For more information about the Spring Series, go to www.ayc.org.

For those of you who are not tied down to a work week, or happen to be on vacation, why not check out the International Yacht Restoration School (IYRS) in Newport, RI. On Thursday, May 14, IYRS will officially open the newly restored 1831 Aquidneck Mill building, which was originally built for textile manufacturing. The historic landmark has been repurposed to house expansion space for IYRS, a maritime research library, the school’s new Visitor Center that is expected to draw thousands of visitors to the area this summer, and lease space for twelve companies that have relocated businesses, jobs, and new economic activity to the Lower Thames Street neighborhood. “There are wonderfully layered benefits to this restored Mill,” said Terry Nathan, president of IYRS. “The Mill provides much needed space for additional school growth, as well as a separate income component associated with tenants. It also satisfies the long-term mission of the school to preserve the entire historic campus, and what a beautiful improvement to the quality of life in this neighborhood. The entire mix of benefits is very gratifying.”

IYRS is known in our area for restoring several Manhasset Bay One Designs (MBO). The MBOs were the first design by Olin Stephens, one of the most famous boat designers in the world, when he was 19 years old and just starting out at what was to become Sparkman and Stephens. IYRS trains skilled workers for the marine industry, an important business in the state of Rhode Island, with full-time and continuing education programs at its Newport campus and a newly expanded satellite location in Bristol (R.I.). Now affiliated with the Museum of Yachting, IYRS and the museum have coordinated summer exhibitions and restoration projects in a dedicated effort to create new attractions that will draw visitors to the area. A water taxi to ferry visitors across Newport Harbor between the school and the museum will run in the summer months, adding a unique mode of travel to those interested in Newport’s maritime culture.

The beauty of sailing has been depicted by a great artist whose love and knowledge of sailing and racing bring an extra element to nautical paintings. One such artist grew up in Manhasset and now resides in Newport, RI. Johnny Mac, as he is affectionately called by his friends, but known in the art world as John G. MacGowan, will have a spring show of his new oil painting from May 1 through May 30. Over the past decade, MacGowan has caught the attention of art collectors and sailing enthusiasts alike with his uniquely contemporary interpretation of ocean racing. Years of top-level sailboat racing, including six America’s Cup campaigns, have sharpened MacGowan’s observation of the Atlantic Ocean and the vessels that navigate it. MacGowan’s latest collection features modern yachts on Long Island Sound in fleet racing situations, dramatic shoreline views under a full moon, and new pieces from his signature “Skiff Series” in multiple sizes and blazing colors. As with the great maritime painters before him, MacGowan combines art and sailing to create works of striking power and beauty. So for all you art lovers out there, why not see New England’s seacoast through the eyes of a sailor: invigorating, captivating, and ever changing. Gallery hours are Tuesdays through Saturdays, 10 - 5 p.m., Sundays by Appointment. Noroton Gallery, 1977 Post Road, Darien, CT 06820. Tel: 203-655-9687. For more information, go to www.noroton-gallerly.com.