Sunday, July 31, 2011

Notes From A NOOD Newbie











Race clips Brooke captured from the media boat and interview with George Brengle, Executive Director of NOOD racing

Marblehead Junior Race Week (MJRW) had just ended. The lively hordes of Opti, O'pec Bic, Laser, and 420 sailors had departed. By any logic, this should have signaled a period of comparative quiet on the banks of Marblehead Harbor.

Not quite.

The dinghy trailers had scarcely left the yard at Eastern Yacht Club when a steady caravan of Etchells, Sonars, J-24's, Rhodes 19's, Viper 640's and other classes began to stream in. The Sailing-World-organized  Sperry Top-Sider 2011 Marblehead NOOD Regatta was here. The younger kids had left, and the older kids had arrived.

The Marblehead NOOD is essentially MJRW with cooler toys, post-racing cocktails, and equal amounts of fun. The NOOD (which stands for National Offshore One-Design) regatta circuit spans the whole breadth of the country, starting in St. Petersburg, and heading to San Diego, Annapolis, Seattle, Detroit, Chicago, and San Francisco, before finally ending up in Marblehead, where the US SAILING Roadshow joined in the action for a day. Many view one-design sailing as the purest form of the sport. Excuses are always easy to come up with in any athletic endeavor ("Their boat is faster in light air"...."We have a terrible PHRF rating"...."The Wind Gods just hate us.") but in one-design sailing, most boat-related advantages are nullified. It all comes down to who crosses the finish line first.

Any one-design class can petition for its own seperate starting sequence at a NOOD event. All that is required is a decent number of entries. For big-boat class associations, there are few easier ways to add quality racing time to the summer schedule than getting a fleet organized for a NOOD event. Plus, having so many other classes racing nearby raises the level of visual spectacle and fun present at the event, and allows sailors of many different disciplines to mingle and exchange ideas.

I was lucky enough to be drafted at the last minute as guest tactician and spinnaker trimmer onboard Ben Steinberg's aptly-named "Mongoose," a Viper 640. With my dinghy racing background, I could not have been more at home on the powered-up, quick-to-plane, and agile Viper. The class has been steadily gaining steam for the past few years, and shows no sign of slowing down. After a day of hard racing, it was easy to see why.

Mongoose readies to hunt down some Vipers

The Viper simply came alive in the 12-15 knots and 2-foot swells that we were spoiled with in Marblehead. As soon as we rounded the windward mark, the boat took off like a shot. Hiking straps were definitely key, even downwind. The big asymmetrical chute made trimming simple and fun, and at one point we hit 13.2 knots downwind. Not bad at all.

Paralympic Gold Medallist Maureen McKinnon-Tucker onboard a Viper. 
It is standard Roadshow policy to follow our friend Maureen around wherever she goes! 

Solid starts, and figuring out the current pattern early, allowed us to post 3rd place finishes in each of the three races we sailed that day. The 19-boat fleet was competitive, and remarkably generous and with their heard-earned knowledge. Viper crews compared rigging tips and tricks after each days' racing, and both jokes and compliments were plentiful. In short, the atmosphere is everything you hope to find in a racing class. "Corinthian Spirit" is a term that also comes to mind.

If you are a even a casual one-design sailor, and are looking to have a great time while increasing your racing skills, the NOOD regattas are a fantastic option. Keep an eye on the Sailing World Magazine website for details about next year's circuit.

Corinthian Yacht Club, host of the 2011 Marblehead NOOD.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Catching Up With Will and Brooke

A short wrap-up of an eventful week on the 2011 US SAILING Summer Roadshow:

  Weekly Recap from Brooke and Will at Marblehead Harbor by US SAILING

Discovering Our Roots - Pleon Yacht Club & MJRW











Interview and Highlights with Pleon Yacht Club Commodore, Kyle Heffrin 

It is only fitting that the US SAILING Roadshow, which celebrates and promotes junior sailing on an almost daily basis, should visit the place where junior sailing in the United States originally began.

On June 29th, 1887, a humble organization was founded in Marblehead, Massachusetts that would have a profound impact on youth participation in American sailing. Pleon Yacht Club was then, and remains today, a truly unique institution. Founded by a group of local kids without the means to join a large yacht club, Pleon came into existence for the very best of reasons: A simple love of sailing.

With officers elected from amongst the kids themselves, the only people allowed on the premises over the age of 18 are hired instructors. The Commodore of the club is typically a senior in high school. Far from being a disorganized playground, however, Pleon is a model of competence and efficiency. Each day, younger kids see their older counterparts accepting great responsibility, and bearing it well. This has always been a tremendous source of inspiration, and is perhaps the real secret behind the club's success.

For over a century, Pleon has overcome many challenges to its existence. It has survived fires, wars, funding crises, and a lack of property, all while succeeding in giving tens of thousands of New England kids a lifelong passion for sailing. Pleon sailors have also excelled in competition, with many students having competed for, and won, youth, national, world and America's Cup titles. It is the oldest junior yacht club in the U.S., and remains one of the very best.

We were lucky enough to catch the tail end of Pleon's signature summer regatta, Marblehead Junior Race Week (MJRW). One of the best-known events in Massachusetts, MJRW attracts the fastest kids in the region, as well as relative newcomers to racing.

As we arrived on Wednesday morning, we observed the typical pre-racing bustle and activity found at many regattas. Masts were stepped, sails unrolled, and hulls carted down ramps. However, nowhere to be found was a grey-haired individual directing throngs of sailors and parents. Instead, the youthful, enthusiastic and capable staff of Pleon made sure that all stages of the event ran as intended. For a regatta of such great size, this alone was no small accomplishment. It was also a powerful indicator of the strength of Pleon's youth-led model.

Pleon YC Photo - 2011 MJRW

All of us who grew up participating in organized sailing classes of any kind owe the founders of Pleon Yacht Club a great debt. With any luck, the waters around Marblehead harbor will remain a wellspring of junior sailing activity for yet another century.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011


The road to a coveted spot on The US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics is long and difficult. As any team member will tell you, however, it's well worth the effort. With any luck, some of the nearly 400 sailors who descended upon Island Heights, New Jersey this week will someday choose to follow that same path.

As a side note, this event was a truly impressive organizational effort on the part of IHYC. It's easy to focus on impressive fleet sizes (340 boats!) without thinking about how challenging it is for a club to stage this kind of event. Many clubs will attempt such an undertaking once every decade or so. Island Heights pulls it off every year.

Registration was smooth, quiet and stress free. There was plenty of rigging space and ramp/hoist availability. The harbor starts and first guns were precisely on time. Emergency plans were well rehearsed, and local police and rescue teams fully briefed. Even the pre-regatta pageantry was well done. All in all, regatta chair Buzz Reynolds and his staff of volunteers have formed one of the best problem-solving "SWAT" teams I've seen at a junior sailing event.

Clearly, there's a reason this event has grown to become one of the most popular junior regattas on the east coast. When you arrive, you simply know that you're in good hands.


Island Heights coach Grace Lucas dispensing some lunchtime advice.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Park City Regatta, Bridgeport CT

Fighting Cancer on the Water

This weekend the Roadshow had the chance to participate the Park City Regatta. The biggest thing that has stood out about PHRF sailing all summer is it's diversity and popularity. On any given day at any particular club, the PHRF community is pulling out tons of great sailors and racing opportunities. Overall it seems that PHRF events are about improving your sailing through a community of friends; who won't hesitate to tease you about a bad start, or joke with you about a poor spinnaker dowse at the regatta party. The cool thing is, how many other sports rely on competitors to be the best coaches and pals? 

On top of all that is the diversity the PHRF racers are able to include. In all aspects of sailing one typically finds a strong sense of community- but this is especially true of PHRF sailing. Usually very welcoming but keeping the competitive edge, the PHRF sailors are at the heart and bulk of what makes sailing a great sport. The Park City Regatta was a perfect example of that spirit this year. The Roadshow had a great time on and off the water.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Corinthian Spirit at Yale Corinthian

We knew it was going to be a hot day when our glasses fogged up when stepping out of the truck. Caught in the massive heatwave, outside of our air-conditioned vehicle, extra sunscreen was going to be a must at Yale Corinthian. However the people and the program at Yale were great, making the day bearable in the extreme heat.

Knowing it was going to be difficult to expect too much of the kids while thermostats climbed to 105 degrees, we aptly chose the day to do a flip test. With paddle boards, Bics and the club's normal 420's, we rotated boats to flip. Even towing paddlers behind a 420 or just clinging onto the back of a boat was fun enough and we let the morning pass.

The afternoon racing crowd was able to fit in quite a few races and some swimming too.

It was fun to be at the sailing center with college coaches, several of whom are currently students at Yale. The facility and scenery are quintessential New England landscape and the perfect nook for competitive college sailing as much as a fun junior program.

Simple and direct, the summer program at Yale Corinthian is about getting kids on the water and letting them experience it. Get the kids rigged, do some sailing, do some races, do some swimming, enjoy being on the water and in the sun.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Photos of the Week

Over the summer so far, the Roadshow has accumulated tons of great photo's that unfortunately don't always make it on the blog. Once a week we will dedicate some time to pulling out some of our favorite pictures that recap everywhere we've been!

On bow of a Cal 33 during Vineyard Cup, Sail Martha's Vineyard

Sailor of the Week, Kionte Storey jumps onboard US Paralympic Coach, Betsy Alison

Recently wounded soldiers gather around at Sail Newport for a break during sailing

Waiting during a lull of  Vineyard Cup

Highlights of Renaissance Regatta at CBC, Providence

Talking to program director Will Lippitt about Community Boating Center, Providence, shed some light on the positive attitude and community that makes the sailing center tick. Check out what he has to say and some of our highlights below!











Thursday, July 21, 2011

Planting the Seeds In Providence

If the city of Providence itself has come a long way in the past 20 years, so has community sailing.

On no other day is this more evident than during the aptly-named "Renaissance Regatta," Providence Community Boating Center's signature summer event. Each July, dozens of enthusiastic parents, spectators, sponsors, patrons and community leaders converge at CBC's beautiful facility at India Point Park. During the course of the day, these guests get to see firsthand what CBC is all about, and, if they so choose, help ensure that its valuable programs continue to function.

In addition to showcasing the hard-earned sailing skills of CBC's students, the Renaissance Regatta's other role is as the center's principal fundraising event for the year. To ensure its success, CBC really pulls out all the stops. A silent auction in the main clubhouse, well-stocked by local business and artists, is the center of activity. Outside, a large tent abuts a bustling BBQ pit, where the grilling begins an amazing seven hours before the regatta commences. By the time dusk hits, guests have more incredible food on hand than they know what to do with. Seconds are absolutely necessary.

The level of sponsorship is also impressive, with big local names such as Deloitte & Touche LLP, NEXTera Energy Resources, and Citizens Bank numbering among the many supporters of the event. The presence of such companies and firms at the Renaissance Regatta is really a sign of how the city has embraced the center, and its ongoing success, over the past two decades.

Also worthy of celebration is CBC's successful implementation of the groundbreaking STEM curriculum into its sailing program. Standing for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, the study of STEM concepts within the context of sailing allows the local PASA (Providence After-School Alliance) students who participate in the program to use sailing as a powerful academic tool.

These guys in Providence just seem to get it. When sailing is made truly accessible to everyone, regardless of economic status, there is simply no containing it. In the past week alone, a congressman and a major news outlet both visited CBC to see what all the commotion was about. By all accounts, both came away impressed.

In short, whatever they're brewing at CBC needs to be bottled and exported as soon as possible, and US SAILING stands ready to help that happen.


Putting On A Show In 'Frisco

Congratulations to US SAILING Roadshow partner Bic Sport and St. Francis Yacht Club for what seems like an incredible start to the 2011 Techno 293 World Championships. We'll be following the results (and the awesome footage) each day!


Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Sailing with Soldiers

Prior to my days in high school, the only real facts I knew about the Vietnam War was that my dad was there, and that he remembers the song Like A Bridge Over Troubled Troubled Water playing on the radio as he was driving across a bridge in Vietnam. At the sailing session of the USOC Paralympic Military Sports Camp, there is spoken and unspoken language about what's happening as we took recently injured men and women of the U.S. military sailing. It is truly a challenge to describe the moments that made sailing with these individuals such a moving experience.

It's moments like this: sailing with someone who can't walk, spontaneously decides that he wants to switch from the leeward to windward rail after watching me during tacks. And when he stumbles, being the hand that's going to get him across the boat before he has to ask for help. It's when it's clear a person with a relatively new disability is uncomfortable with the boat heeled over, but will only nod and say, "I've got my lifejacket." Off the water it's things like helping an Army veteran clean his sunglasses as he realizes he's never had salt water dry on his lenses before.

What this sailing camp does is expose these heroes to something radically new and fun. In the words of one man I was sailing with, one of the worst parts of being wounded is that you're not allowed to do your job anymore. After being in a world structured around combat, where does one go when that is taken away? In a program designed to introduce Paralympic sports to the military active duty and veterans with us today, one day of sailing might give someone a place to go. Even if it's not one person's "cup of tea", in the words of USSTAG's Paralympic Coach Betsy Alison, it's still a day of exposure to a new element.

What many of the participants in the Paralympic Military Camp said they liked about sailing was the sense of freedom. One man I sailed with went so far to say that sailing for him was scarier than the combat zone, just because it was so unfamiliar. The others in the boat nodded silently, clutching the rail. Hearing something like that about an activity I do almost every day from a man who is normally in a wheelchair, puts things in new perspective.

At the end of the day, the group I was sailing with generally agreed that once they mentally adjusted to the fact that it's okay for the boat to tip and it's okay to get wet- sailing was actually kind of fun. And it's thanks to Betsy Alison (Paralympic Coach), Maureen Mckinnon-Tucker (Paralympic Gold Medalist), Jim Donahue (a wounded Vietnam veteran himself), the U.S. Olympic Committee and U.S. Paralympics, and the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics athletes for making the day happen.

Apart from everyone's interaction during sailing, more significant was for them, I believe, was to meet other disabled men and women who have pursued and succeeded at the sport. Half of the problem for recently wounded military is not knowing where to go next, and seeing what sailing has done for similar people was inspiring.

At the end of the day, watching a U.S. Marine hoist the spinnaker of a SKUD-18 with an ear-to-ear grin gives hope that these heroes will find something just as amazing in the next chapter of their lives.

Sail Martha's Vineyard, Brock Callen

While on Martha's Vineyard we had the opportunity to get to know Sail Martha's Vineyard program director, Brock Callen. He was able to share with us what makes the junior and adult events so popular and special on the island, and the mentality that makes Martha's Vineyard work the way it does.











Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Blasting Around Nantucket Sound - The Vineyard Cup

In the early 1990's, the sport of sailing was in trouble on the island of Martha's Vineyard. If you were not lucky enough to own a boat, few avenues existed for those looking to get out on the water. Only the stirring sight of the schooner Shenandoah gliding in and out of Vineyard Haven Harbor served as evidence of the island's rich maritime past.

Vineyard Haven at dusk. Shenandoah lies at anchor.

Luckily, all of that was about to change. Since its founding in 1992, Sail Martha's Vineyard has provided a much-needed spark. With a mission of reconnecting the people of Martha's Vineyard with the ocean, it's programs have continuously expanded for the last two decades. These days, Sail MV proudly offers (among other things) a thriving summer program for kids, a varsity high school racing team, weekly adult sessions, and, as an annual signature event, the Vineyard Cup Regatta.

While the Roadshow only had three short days to take everything in, we tried our best to see it all. Tucked away in an idyllic corner of the Oak Bluffs Lagoon, the Sail MV junior sailing program operates out of a refurbished fishing barn. There, in the shadow of tall trees and scenic hills, island kids can start their lifelong relationship with the water without any fear of choppy seas or marine traffic. It really is an incredible spot. Led by a merry band of Irish and American coaches, these kids truly learn how to enjoy sailing for its own sake, as evidenced by the many hours of laughing, yelling and splashing that took place onboard Optis, Capris, 420s and US SAILING Roadshow O'Pen Bics. However, these kids are also given a clear path towards racing through the middle and high school teams, should they choose to follow it.
Above: The mighty Black Dog Tall Ship Alabama heads for the line. 
Below: Preparing for a start at the Vineyard Cup onboard the Morris 42 Jinji.

Our final two days were spent enjoying what was easily the most beautiful, amiable and well-organized big-boat regatta either of us has ever been a part of. Major credit goes out to the Sail MV Staff, led by Brock and Hope Callen, for attracted upwards of 70 boats and an incredible 24 major sponsors (And I mean major, with the likes of Men's Journal, AT&T, The Black Dog, Samuel Adams, Revo, and others) to the Vineyard Cup. The courses led the fleet all over Nantucket Sound each afternoon, from Vineyard Haven, over to the shores of Cape Cod, and past Oak Bluffs on the way back. Even better, the breeze cooperated magnificently each day, providing close, exciting racing amidst white-capped waters and a stiff current. Hurtling up the Sound, perched on the windward rail, with your legs dangling high over the water, it's easy to reconnect with your innate love of sailing. Life just doesn't get any better.

The Sail MV Junior Program

It seems clear that thanks to Sail MV, the lucky islanders of Martha's Vineyard will never again be in danger of losing the intimate relationship with the ocean that helps to define this special place.


Post-regatta shoreside festivities

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Coaches Corner: Games

In the past few weeks Will and I have seen the range of kids and coaches; and all of the requirements that comes with different groups. Everything from holding a kids hand who has never been near water before, to advanced racing clinics, to our AlphaGraphics team sharing their thoughts on coaching. Overall, coaching is a difficult but rewarding job if done right. In light of these experiences the Roadshow Crew is opening up a Coaches Corner to help coaches talk about techniques, tips, and useful ideas for coaching this summer.

The other day at Larchmont Yacht Club we were inspired by the range of games the kids were playing on and off the water. No matter what, the kids were always involved in some sort of activity with coaches supervising and participating. Does anyone remember playing Mafia growing up? Capture the Flag? Ultimate Frisbee? How about tug-of-war? Or who can jump the farthest? Or who can bounce a ball the highest?

Coaches also shared with us the game Rocks and Logs, where each kid has to pretend to be a rock or log. First person to move loses!

A favorite game on the water among kids and coaches is tag with a tennis ball- where a kid tosses the ball into another boat to tag someone. However, coaches working with disadvantaged or special needs kids are hesitant about games that involve throwing objects. Any ideas for an alternative game?

My favorite on the water game as a kid and coach has always been Follow the Leader. What are your favorite games? I always prefer the simplest, old school games, but what sailing games have been popular this summer?

Saturday, July 16, 2011

US SAILING & Bic Sport Invade Larchmont!

Well, it's official. O'Pen Bic dinghies are pretty much irresistible to American junior sailors. The proof has been plain to see at every stop we've made so far.

When our truck pulls up to a club or sailing center, you can practically see the students begin to salivate. There's just something about having a fast, simple and modern boat to play with that immediately commands the attention of dinghy sailors of every age. Monofilm sails and carbon masts just have a way of getting noticed. Oh, and there's that small matter of not ever having to bail out the boat. That alone is usually enough to sell the kids on the O'Pen Bic design.

When we arrived at Larchmont Yacht Club, which is proud to host one of the largest junior programs in the U.S., we received yet another warm reaction. As a former junior coach, I can attest to the value of having kids try out as many new types of boat as possible, in addition to their regular racing or instructional class of dinghy. Solving the usual sailing challenges on a new platform increases overall reaction time, adaptability, and creative thinking. The Bic Sport equipment ably fulfills this role.

If you're looking to shake things up for a day at your junior sailing program, give us a call. When we arrive with our trailer full of toys, bailing is officially cancelled!


Thursday, July 14, 2011

Empire State Sailing

"We are one of the largest growth engines for sailing in the country. If you do not know what we do, you should." These words, given to me before our visit by Manhattan Sailing Club Commodore Micheal Fortenbaugh, could not have been proven more accurate. The program, centered around one of the most visually dramatic patches of water in the world, offers a truly unique, and truly American, sailing experience. On what other racecourse do you have to account for the wind shadows of Ellis Island and The Statue of Liberty? Where else can you observe sailing races from a custom-built floating clubhouse, complete with bar and live commentary? Sitting on the upper deck, your eyes are torn between watching the action unfold, and seeing the sunset light up Lower Manhattan. There is simply nothing like this place. Anywhere.

The staff at Manhattan Sailing Club are working tirelessly to transform New York Harbor into a true sailing hub, and by all indications are succeeding with style. If you live in New York City, New Jersey, or Connecticut, you really need to get down to North Cove Marina and check it out. For an in-depth profile, see Brooke's blog post below.

North Cove Marina, Lower Manhattan

We were fortunate enough to sit down with two senior staff members, and get a clearer picture of all the activity going on:

Manhattan Sailing Club - Instructors Hans Jensen and Kate D'Alleva at Liberty State Park by US SAILING

Kate and Hans

The clubhouse, "The Honorable William Wall," at dusk

Wrapping Up Our Swing Through New Jersey

Roadshow video production was a bit hampered this week by running out of space on the ol' hard drive... (There's just too much fun stuff to film!)

Fear not, sailing masses! We've got some more coverage for you:

A Day With The Tom's River Yacht Club Junior Sailing Program:

The Red Grant Regatta, Raritan Yacht Club:

City Sailing, Manhattan Sailing Club

Manhattan Sailing Club, a hybrid between a Yacht Club and Sailing Center as its name suggests is exactly that. Located in it’s own secluded lair of downtown Manhattan just blocks away from Ground Zero, the Manhattan Sailing Club is it’s own breed of sailing adapted to big city sailing.

Similar to DC Sail in its location of using docked boats and barges as offices and boathouses, Manhattan Sailing Club has expanded this concept of city sailing. Spread out among docks of NYC’s financial district, MYC is a floating clubhouse with bases along the Hudson. Cruising across the Hudson in a RIB almost feels surreal… a cross between Planet of the Apes when zooming under the Statue of Liberty and Water World as we jump among the several floating docks that make up the club.

And moored just off of Ellis Island includes the main home base, The Honorable William Wall Floating Bar. From the Honorable float, a two-story clubhouse with the wood interior of an expensive yacht club the Manhattan Sailing Club launches races with the Honorable as the starting line. Spectators look out at Ellis Island and the city skyline can’t help but think of the hundreds of years immigrants came through this very channel- and now we are listening to reggae while watching sailboat racing from a floating bar.

This is where sailing has adapted creatively into its city surrounds. Brilliant actually from the perspective of making sailing more spectator-friendly, the starting line never moves, just the wind. This made actually for exciting viewing yesterday, as we spectator all downwind starts. When the gun goes off and 30 boats hoist spinnakers in front of the NYC skyline, it’s a sight to remember.

Other ways that Manhattan Sailing Club has incorporated the city is in its membership. What started as investment bankers has grown into an eclectic group of NYC sailboat enthusiasts including families, artists, filmmakers, businessmen, and corporations. Manhattan Sailing Club encourages this growth by even hosting a Corporate Night where companies such as Merrill Lynch race their team boat with colleagues or cheer their company on from the Honorable William Wall.

However, beyond all this Manhattan Sailing Club has some interesting goals for community sailing. Running a teen and junior sailing camp off of floating docks by Liberty Park in the day, the Sailing Club is the only place for city kids to sail. Coaches appreciate the teen class who can jump on the metro, sail, and walk or metro home after class, which is also how the Roadshow reached the Sailing Club. A couple teen members have recently been initiated as full members, a 16 year old marking the youngest membership out of 800.

With the help of a savvy staff including previous college sailors such as Hans Jensen and Emily Whipple, the program is also interested in enhancing college sailing. With floating docks there are a couple nooks and crannies that would be perfect to set up a college racecourse. In density, the commodore claims that NYC has more college institutions than even Boston, so why not develop college sailing in such a dense area?
After visiting Manhattan Sailing Club, the fact that this club of floating docks exists under the hustle bustle of New York Harbor is surreal and awe-inspiring. It wins in creativity, but it’s successful enough to inspire even further creative vision. What would happen if eventually New York Harbor could utilize its harbor for more than ferries like San Francisco, Boston, or other city sailing? What is there for other city sailing communities to learn from Manhattan Sailing Club?

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tom's River Yacht Club

Upon arriving to the Tom's River Yacht Club, the entrance itself said everything one would expect of a place called Tom's River. In a flower bed surrounding the "Tom's River Yacht Club" sign, a woman was cutting away at roses with a beautiful view of the water.

As one might be suspect of other things that some "Tom" has labeled such as,

Tom's Shoes:

And Tom's Soap:

And Tom & Tom's Nantucket Nectars:

Tom's River is the perfect breath of fresh air one would expect sailing on Tom's River.

Sailing on Tom's River is the type of environment that actually matches the picturesque postcard that would have a caption reading, "summer sailing". Just like Raritan Yacht Club, one would never know until venturing around the corner to a deli called "Jersey Shore Subs" that served whole pickles on sandwiches that we were even close to the stereotype of the Jersey shoreline.

If there was one way to think about how Tom's River YC fits into a whole, it would have to be the collaboration of all the clubs along Tom's River. Tom's River Yacht Club by itself is a great place, but what it has that many similar clubs might lack is its involvement in a network with similar clubs, all within sight or sailing distance from each other.

What the Tom's River region has done is created the BBYRA, Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association. As a member of US Sailing, the BBYRA has coordinated all of these clubs to take turns hosting and racing each other in an organized way, creating a community and environment where everyone improves. Whether it is invitational regattas (adult and junior) or inviting a coach from another club to bring his students over for some team racing like yesterday- the Tom's River area has figured out a great way to collaborate. The other aspect of Tom's River Yacht Club is it's active involvement in it's area. One example is Tom's River Yacht Club being home to Ocean Community College Sailing Team. In the words of Commodore Joe Matteo, what makes OCC Sailing special to Tom's River is that you know you're helping kids from your own neighborhoods sail, and sail better.

I would say community and collaboration are the factors that have made Tom's River such a hotbed for competitive sailing. As the junior program director mentioned, "what really makes it special for the juniors is knowing each kid and each sail number on the bay". I can attest to the fact that when everyone on the bay knows everyone else by sail number and lifejacket color- it's a great component that builds sailing friends for life. On the whole, I'd have to say the Jersey Yacht Clubs are a haven for amazing summer sailing. Whoever Tom is, he's onto a lot of great things including Tom's River.


On The Water of the Red Grant Regatta

I knew right when Will and I rounded the corner to the Raritan Yacht Club parking lot, this was a club I was going to like. As my first time sailing in Jersey, I couldn't help but have images of some grenades and guidos on sailboats.... but luckily Raritan is the exact opposite of any Jersey stereotype one could think of. Sailing in Jersey wasn't my only first adventure on this stop. Thanks to our amazing host family, the Myers and plenty of club members, this stop also included my first Italian Ice, my first time racing in a PHRF fleet, first time painting my nails on a boat, and first time (helping) on bow in competitive races.

After years of one design sailing, jumping into a handicapped fleet was completely different experience. Used to sailing in fleets where every boat is exactly the same, it was refreshing that you can fairly compete in different boats and have a huge variety of designs on the starting line. The Red Grant Regatta's turnout included several racecourses each with multiple fleets- making no room for excuses to not participate. On one hand I was amazed how fun it is must be to rig up your own unique, individual, boat and go racing. On the other hand, handicapped racing brought out a completely new competitive side of me once I realized that just beating another boat wasn't going to make the cut... we had to beat them by 40 seconds! The paranoia of timing the difference between our finish and other boats was a completely new concept for me, and it even worse that there was one boat on the line that actually was the same as ours. However despite the variety of sailors and boats, everyone came together at the Raritan Yacht Club.

No matter your boat, fleet, or "rating", the Red Grant Regatta is filled with good people and good sailors who were all so welcoming. Although there were no guidos and grenades to be found, the Red Grant Regatta was filled with great competitive sailing for all fleets, classes, and ages.