Friday, June 5, 2015

ESPN 30 For 30 Ted Turner's Greatest Race

Narrated by Gary Jobson, Past President of US Sailing

When Ted Turner entered his yacht Tenacious in the famed Fastnet Race in 1979, he did not need to prove himself. Turner already had the following on his résumé: founder of a television network, owner of the Atlanta Hawks and Braves, and, most appropriate here, winner of the 1977 America’s Cup. Still, he loved to sail and loved to race with his crew of carefully selected mates. This race would prove to be like no other Turner had ever entered when a freak storm turned the Celtic Sea into chaos. When the winds stopped and the race was over, many of the 303 entrants hadn’t even finished and, tragically, 15 sailors had lost their lives. The victorious crew of the Tenacious relive the voyage, of which Turner famously said: “I was more afraid of losing than I was of dying.”

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Reflections from the President

by Tom Hubbell

A Tale of Two Teammates

I struggled to return to reality after the second Florida Thistle regatta. We had so much fun! Kathy, at 24, perpetually happy and energetic kept the old guys on our toes. Mark, our rock star teammate, started thinking and planning the day on the water as soon as his eyelids popped open in the morning.

After a not-so-great weekend long ago I realized that the first step to enjoyable racing is a compatible, enjoyable team. No matter how intensely you race, there is a lot of time to pass in the boat, in the boat-park, and on the road with your teammates. I became aware that it’s the playmates that count and everything else is secondary.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Growing a Frostbiting Fleet on Long Island Sound

“Just remember, when it’s snowing you can see the wind shifts.”

That’s the motto of a group of sailors that race in the Long Island Sound every Sunday from October through April off the Riverside Yacht Club docks in Riverside, Conn. The group sails in the renowned Dyer Dinghy, a 10-foot, single sailboat that is easy to learn but difficult to master.

Known as the Riverside Dyer Dinghy Association (RDDA), the group believes that the winter months on Long Island Sound offer some of the most spectacular sailing and exciting one-design racing. The weather conditions vary from balmy breezes and warm water in October to shoveling snow out of the boats in February. They sail in wind that can be anywhere from zero to 20 knots and the diverse group of both men and women range in age from mid-teens to late-60s. But it’s because of the organization’s enthusiasm that it’s grown to become a leader, with one the largest, if not the largest frostbiting fleets in the country.

Will Morrison, the RDDA Fleet Co-Captain, attributes this to not just a great antidote to cabin fever, but Dyer frostbiting appeals to those with limited time as well as consistent communication with members.

“We have a launch meeting at the beginning of the season to go through the upcoming schedule, SI’s, dock assignments, race committee obligations, chartering or sharing a boat, and the waiver,” he says. “Non-Riverside Yacht Club members are given limited access to the Club and we also make an effort to arrange for a boat share if a charter is not available. Weekly emails are sent that summarizes the Sunday racing experience and include racing tips from the top finishers.”

The group also cultivates an environment of helping racers new to the program with the quirks of the Dyer, while there’s also a focus on safety with racers wearing dry suits and ample chase boats that are made available.

In the 2013/2014 season, RDDA added 10 boats to their fleet achieving a new record with a total of 79 participants in the series. This means crowded start lines of sometimes 50+ boats, but it also means that the growing fleet has created camaraderie amongst sailors with a revival in one-design racing, and that there is a demand for Dyer Dinghies once again.

The Dyers are single handed so there is no searching for crew. The boats are dry sailed from the Club docks in a racing “arena” immediately off the shore. The boats are easy to set up in just 15 minutes and the races are short, typically 20 minutes with six races per day, with the teenagers consistently challenging the more experienced members of the fleet for the lead.

RDDA Fleet Co-Captain Dana O'Brien says that one of the primary factors involved in sustaining the fleet is the boat itself. Dyers not only have tremendous longevity, but they are also simple with just a few strings to pull and freeze. Additionally, Dyers are highly regulated, relatively dry, and easy to store in the off-season.

“Dyers are inexpensive to buy or charter and have an extremely low maintenance cost of just $20-$50 per year,” he said. “We have been successful in arranging shares for newcomers of a boat that is underutilized and they are all basically very equal. Dyers can be handled well by anyone ages 15-75 and we use a ballast to equalize the total of boat and skipper weight across the fleet.”
The RDDA fleet includes vintage boats from the 1960’s that have been lovingly maintained as well as brand new boats.

Further innovations over the years have been made by the fleet in pursuit of reasonable cost and fun one-design racing. Custom blades were designed to enhance stability and performance and the fleet purchases new sails in one large fleet purchase every four or five years. This means that every fleet member has an identical sail with an identical age. 

The RDDA wants to encourage participation at all levels, so special clinics are hosted by professional sailing instructors of Riverside Yacht Club as well as private sessions. It not only helps newer racers with basic boat handling tactics and rules, but also advances experienced skippers through detailed critiques. The group feels as though these factors open up interest in Team and Match Racing from the basic fleet racing. Participation awards are given at an awards dinner and RDDA hosts lunches throughout the year.

Membership in the RDDA is open to all, with the assistance of sponsorship by a member of Riverside Yacht Club. The success of the RDDA program has attracted sailors from a growing area that extends well beyond the town lines of Riverside and can be attributed to the creative innovations of its members and the ability to create a model of one-design sailing that appeals to many different levels of sailors.

Learn more about the Riverside Dyer Dinghy Association Frostbiting Fleet.

by Kara DiCamillo

Monday, April 6, 2015

A Letter to the Editor of Sailing Magazine

Dear Sailing Magazine Editor,

In the February edition of Sailing magazine, Nick Hayes published an editorial piece entitled - “Kids should sail because it’s fun, not because it’s homework”. The article made references to US Sailing’s Reach initiative for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education. First, a big thanks to Nick for his continued work promoting sailing, and for highlighting these innovative programs.

We would like to take this opportunity to provide your readers with some background on the Reach initiative and address some misconceptions. Much of what Nick discusses regarding sailing and learning, kids and fun, are cornerstones for the Reach program and other STEM sailing initiatives. We are certainly not trying to change the face of youth sailing, but open doors to new possibilities. Reach is a grass-roots program derived from community sailing, the bedrock of learn to sail programs around the country. These organizations are utilizing their infrastructure, expertise and relationships to be a more valuable and relevant resource for their communities.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

US Sailing Adaptive Programs in Action: College of Charleston and Jacob Raymond

When Jacob Raymond returned from Iraq and enrolled at the College of Charleston in 2008, he couldn’t shake the feeling of disconnection from his world.

As a military policeman in the National Guard, Jacob rode convoys and survived a roadside bombing, but like many war veterans, he had a difficult time integrating into the college community.

“I’d witnessed the worst corners of the world, but for my friends it was like nothing had happened,” said Jacob. “They were just living their lives.”

Traverse Area Community Sailing – Connections for Success

Traverse Area Community Sailing (TACS) has come a long way in its first 20 years. This Traverse City, Michigan operation has grown from a small handful of passionate sailors and dedicated volunteer instructors to a full-service sailing center serving over 500 youth and adults each year with US Sailing certified instructors and a fleet of over 100 sail and powerboats.

TACS earned its foothold in community sailing through Youth Learn to Sail programs. Over the years, the all-volunteer Board of Directors has guided the growth of TACS to include Adult Learn to Sail, Advanced Sailing, Adaptive Sailing, Open Sailing, High School Racing Team, and Keelboat programs. In an effort to expand their creative programming to increase participation and introduce newcomers to sailing, TACS has recognized the demand for non-racing related programs for those more interested in experiencing sailing without competition or traditional buoy racing as the focus. They are in the process of launching a new series of programs that foster this type of community interest.

Westwind Sailing’s Success: Innovative Opportunities and Partnerships

“We all have something awesome to offer the kids in our community,” said Diane Wenzel, Executive Director of Westwind Sailing, an organization located in San Juan Capistrano, Calif. that is dedicated to providing safe boating and sailing education for the general public. “We’ve built strong relationships with our neighboring clubs and organizations through the years and our passionate staff has worked hard to grow and expand in new communities.”

And Westwind Sailing has certainly expanded.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Reflections from the President - Tale of Two Meals

Tom Hubbell w/Alicia Martorella (Outstanding Community Sailing Director Award)

by Tom Hubbell

Scene 1:  We had a record 340 people in New Orleans two weeks ago for the National Sailing Programs Symposium (NSPS) which is our premier training and community sailing event. A remarkable majority of the group grew up after the ‘60s; they are younger people engaged in teaching and sharing the sport.  Their enthusiasm spread throughout the symposium sessions and into the social functions some of which made New Orleans proud to host us along with our NSPS mascot, Marvin the Gator.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Reflections from the President - 2014 in Review

by Tom Hubbell, President of US Sailing

The Sailing Leadership Forum in San Diego last February brought over 600 sailors together to share ideas and inspiration. There are a lot of savvy volunteers and US Sailing staff who know about strong programs. US Sailing creates the foundation for sharing that intellectual wisdom. This chemistry gelled into a three-day festival of ideas and sailing enthusiasm. 

The US Sailing Board, consisting of six women and nine men, meets three times a year in person and monthly by phone. The typical phone conference takes two hours! Sailors on the board have distinguished backgrounds that represent all areas of the sport. They are engaged in growing the sport and supporting racing, and they are simply good people with whom to work. Membership is growing and we only use black ink for the bottom line.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

All Shapes and Sizes in Sarasota

The Sarasota Sailing Squadron is a club of a different shape – an umbrella shape, to be precise. Under the umbrella of the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, and within the nine-acre property boundary, a host of “silent” water sports affiliations coexist and thrive, including kayaking, paddle boarding, one-design racing, casual cruising, youth racing and adventure sailing, adult learn-to-sail programs, big boat beer can racing and more.

The Sarasota Sailing Squadron provides the clubhouse, the dockage, maintains the schedule, offers boat rentals, maintains the facilities and hosts the parties – with the help of a small army of volunteers.