Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Daily Lift - Zach Railey's Start to Sailing

Did you know that Zach Railey first started sailing when he was eight years old at the advice of his dentist?  By the time he was ten years old, he had qualified for his first ever World Championship in the Optimist Class.  Today, Zach has a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games, is a member of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, and is representing the United States again in the Finn Class for the 2012 Olympics in Weymouth.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Daily Lift - Mark Mendelblatt at Tufts

Did you know that Mark Mendelblatt, of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, was a three-time Collegiate All-American at Tufts University? During his college career Mendelblatt won the ICSA Singlehanded National Championship in 1993. He was also awarded the Clarence “Pop” Houston Award for Tufts’ Athlete of the Year in 1993 and 1994.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Daily Lift

The United States has held the largest medal count in sailing at five Olympiads (1932, 1948, 1952, 1968, and 1984).  Great Britain is the only other country that boasts this acheivement, taking the largest sailing medal count in 2008 to even the score with the United States.  With both countries tied at the top of the leaderboard of Olympic Sailing history, the 2012 games present an opportunity for each country to assert their sailing dominance over the rest of the world.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Daily Lift

During the modern Olympic era, how many times has the United States finished with the largest overall medal count in Sailing?  Come back tomorrow for the answer!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Daily Lift

Did you know that the United States has medaled three out of six times that the women's 470 class has been raced in the Olympics?  Allison Jolly, won the gold medal for the United States in 470's inaugural Olympics as a women's class.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Daily Lift

Brazil has won a total of 16 medals in Sailing during the modern Olympic Era.  Nine of these medals are accounted for between Robert Scheidt (4) and Torben Grael (5).  Grael won two gold medals, a silver medal, and two bronze medals between 1984 and 2004 in the Star and Soling classes.  He is currently the only sailor in Olympic history with five total medals.  Scheidt won two gold medals and two silver medals between 1996 and 2008 in the Laser and Star classes.  He is one of the favorites for the upcoming 2012 games, in Weymouth, to take home gold in the Star class.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Daily Lift - Tunnicliffe

Did you know that Olympic Gold Medalist Anna Tunnicliffe has won 3 ICSA Women’s Singlehanded National Championships at Old Dominion University, and is one of the few female sailors in the history of college sailing to receive Co-ed All-American Honors?

Friday, July 20, 2012

Daily Lift - Olympic Trivia

Norway won the most medals (11) in Olympic Sailing history in 1920 in Antwerp, Belgium.  Norway racked up seven gold medals, three silver medals, and a single bronze medal at this Olympiad.  The 1920 games was also the second of four straight Olympiads in which Norway won the most medals in sailing (1912, 1920, 1924, and 1928).

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Daily Lift - Olympic Trivia

The most medals a single country has earned in Sailing in a given Olympiad are 11.  Name the country and the year in which that country won 11 medals in Sailing.  Come back tomorrow for the answer!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Daily Lift - Storck and Moore

Erik Storck and Trevor Moore are sailing for the United States this summer’s Olympic Games in the 49er class for U.S. Sailing Sperry Top-Sider.  Did you know that both were finalists for ICSA’s College Sailor of the Year award in 2007?  Moore, sailing for Hobart and William Smith, won the award over Stork, sailing for Dartmouth.  Today, Moore crews for Stork as they set off for Olympic Gold in Weymouth

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Daily Lift - Star Class Debut

In 1932, the first Olympic Games since 1904 were held in the U.S.A. The Olympic Regatta was sailed off of Newport Beach, where the Star class made its debut with seven entries. The U.S.A.’s team of Gilbert Gray and Andrew Libano won the gold medal -- the first gold medal in sailing for the nation.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Daily Lift - Greatest American Sailor Final

The back and forth continues moving into the weekend of the Greatest American Sailor Tournament Final between National Sailing Hall of Famers, #1 Dennis Conner and #1 Buddy Melges.  This is your chance to make a difference!  Cast your votes today!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Daily Lift - Greatest American Sailor Final

#1 Melges takes the lead back from #1 Conner in the Greatest American Sailor Tournament!  There's still time to vote and register to win some great prizes!  Cast your final round votes today!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Improving Yacht Club Safety

with Dan Cooney

As the Associate Executive Director of US Sailing and Rear Commodore of the Beverly Yacht Club (BYC), Dan Cooney sees safety issues through multiple lenses – what more can US Sailing do to help clubs and sailors become more educated about the issues and what practical steps can his club take to leverage US Sailing resources.  This was the case when US Sailing organized an independent review panel to research a tragic accident that occurred on Severn River with a junior sailing program participant in 2011.

Cooney took the US Sailing recommendations to the BYC with the goal of implementing new and revised procedures in safety planning. In this Q&A with US Sailing, Cooney discusses how the Beverly Yacht Club put these safety recommendations in motion. 

US Sailing: What prompted Beverly Yacht Club to form a Safety Committee?

Dan Cooney: Two things were happening at the same time. Last summer, a couple of our more experienced PHRF racers, led by fellow member Barry Steinberg, were becoming increasingly uncomfortable about the lack of a formal process for determining whether our Wednesday and Thursday night racing should take place or not in the face of inclement weather.  First and foremost our members’ safety was at stake, not to mention significant club and member property.  Our PRO’s are volunteers with varying levels of experience and so having the right tools and process available for proper decision-making is key. Although we were initially concerned about our evening races, our club runs over 300 races per year so our work needed to address our entire program.

At the same time, I was following the investigations we were doing at US Sailing and the Severn Sailing incident report written in the fall by John Rousmaniere hit me like a ton of bricks. I had also been a PRO on a night where we just missed getting caught out and thought we could do better, for starters, than using my iPhone to track thunderstorms when there were 40 boats and 200 people on the water.  Our club’s board agreed that we ought to have a safety review and our Commodore appointed a committee led by Barry.

US Sailing: What was your goal?

Dan Cooney: We eventually decided we wanted to review our club’s operations on and off the water and evaluate and improve our safety preparedness in each of these areas.  There’s an important cultural piece here as well and we are trying to strike the right balance between organizational mindfulness and attention to safety issues while still embracing the joys of sailing and racing despite their inherent risks.

US Sailing: Did you have comprehensive written safety procedures in place before the committee started?

Dan Cooney: We had a lot of the pieces. We had a comprehensive Storm Preparation Plan and employee handbooks. We had a solid Race Guide, proper Sailing Instructions and we had good Junior Sailing documentation but it was incomplete and not tied up in the bow it deserved.

US Sailing: Who was on the Committee?

Dan Cooney:  We brought together a broad cross-section of our membership – racers, cruisers, race managers and junior sailing volunteers. It turned out to be a good move to include a lawyer and a doctor who happened to represent one or more of these constituencies, and of course our General Manager.

US Sailing:  What did you look at first?

Dan Cooney: The US Sailing investigation of the SSA tragedy put 420 trapeze harnesses at the top of our list. We also were committed to do something to support PRO decision-making on GO/NO-GO calls.

US Sailing: How did you end up on the harness issue?

Dan Cooney: Our Junior Sailing representatives on the Committee looked at all the options, but we ended up retrofitting 17 harnesses with a quick release hook system. We are also going to require every 420 sailor to go through drills where, under controlled circumstances, they will capsize to windward with their harnesses on. We will have US Sailing-certified instructors on scene and a rescue diver in the water that happens to be an MD. The idea is to simulate a situation that young sailors may encounter and to help them to understand how to self-rescue if necessary. The thing that got me personally about the SSA incident was that at first people were saying that this was a freak accident and what the investigation found out was that while the tragic consequence was rare, entrapment itself was not uncommon.  I should have known that but I didn’t.

US Sailing: How did you improve the GO/NO-GO process?

Dan Cooney: We struggled with that because in the end we all know that you are relying on good judgment and common sense of the PRO’s to make sound decisions. You could probably find a reason not to race about half of the time for one reason or another but we were not looking to become risk-averse in the extreme. We ended up creating a document with the idea to make explicit some of the things an experienced PRO would think about when judging potential inclement conditions – who the PRO should consult before making the call, what weather resources are available to consider, what are the options for postponement and abandonment, how and when they should communicate decisions to the fleets – simple things all. We’ll refine the document as we go but it’s a start and it pushes us in a better direction.  We also put an iPad on the signal boat which allows us a larger weather radar display and that’s an improvement on a phone’s small screen!

US Sailing: What else did the Committee do?

Dan Cooney: Barry and the committee did a great job of looking broadly at the problem. We’ve taken the excellent US Sailing Burgee Program/Gowrie safety manual templates for both the clubhouse and the Junior Sailing Program and customized them for our club. This moved our documentation level up several notches. We moved our AED to a more visible location and scheduled an OSHA/EPA expert to walk through our club to suggest improvements.

We’ve put together an “Emergency Communications Card” and will place laminated copies in every support boat.  The idea of the card is to breakdown very clearly who to call in an emergency with all the numbers immediately available in addition to the 911 call. We have met with our town’s Harbormaster and have included him on regular club emails so he and his staff are better informed about our activities. He met with our instructors during their boat prep week and the officers and our council (Board) have invited his entire staff over for a cook-out just to build relationships. 

We ran a CPR/First-Aid training for the general membership and we were fortunate that two of our more experienced sailors were already planning to run one of the excellent CCA-developed “Suddenly Alone” programs.  I believe the Suddenly Alone program was originally conceived by Ron Trossbach, a member of US Sailing’s Safety at Sea Committee. Both educational programs were enthusiastically embraced by the membership.

After some discussion, the club committed to invest the resources to add a support boat to our regular racing program.  In the past, a beloved past Commodore voluntarily patrolled our racing fleets and towed in or assisted too many boats to count over the years.  When he retired from that service several years ago we never found another way to continue that coverage.  This year we are staffing the support boat with a paid US Sailing-certified instructor with CPR training and we hope to add a volunteer rotation to the support boat program soon.

After the Full Crew Farallones tragedy off San Francisco this spring, there was a local Coast Guard communication reminding sailing organizations in our area to file for Marine Event Permits for all organized sailing activity.  In the past, our club had only filed the permits for special events but this year we filed for our entire regularly scheduled program which includes racing five days a week.  I think some might argue how much the permitting process enhances safety but it’s a regulation and it provides the Coast Guard the right people and cell phones to call if they need to reach us.  We filed the permits so that it bundled multiple classes and racing series so the paperwork wasn’t overwhelming.

US Sailing: What’s next?

Dan Cooney: There’s plenty more to do, I’m confident other clubs have done more.  I’m hopeful this Q&A opens up a dialog and draws out what other clubs are doing on this issue.  One of the best things I think US Sailing does is increases collaboration among clubs and speeds the learning curve for volunteers tackling similar questions.  I looked back at the April 2011 Yacht Club Summit presentation list and while many topics touched on safety, there wasn’t a single specifically focused panel on safety.  Our sailing world has changed since then.  You can bet that won’t be the case the next time around, and until then, I hope we learn a lot from each other.

How has your club’s safety planning, procedures and equipment evolved over the years? What have you learned from US Sailing's recent safety reports? Share your stories and ideas on best practices with readers by commenting below.

Daily Lift - Greatest American Sailor Final

#1 Dennis Conner takes a slight lead over #1 Buddy Melges, for yet another day to day lead change in the Greatest American Sailor Tournament.  All signs point to this matchup coming down to the wire, and every vote counts.  You can not only make the difference in who wins, but also register for a chance to win tickets to an America's Cup event, and an opportunity to attend the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Luncheon.  Cast your final round votes today!

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Daily Lift - Greatest American Sailor Final

In the final matchup of the Greatest American Sailor Tournament, #1 Dennis Conner took an early lead, only to be narrowly surpassed overnight by #1 Buddy Melges.  This has the look of an entire week of back and forth lead changes between two National Sailing Hall of Famers.  Every vote counts, and you can make a difference in this Championship matchup by casting your final round votes for the Greatest American Sailor Tournament!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Daily Lift: Dennis Conner vs. Buddy Melges

The final of the Greatest American Sailor tournament is here! Two National Sailing Hall of Famers in #1 Buddy Melges and #1 Dennis Conner compete head to head for the title.  See how these Hall of Fame resumes stack up against one another, and vote for your last chance to win the Grand Prize Package, which includes tickets to an America’s Cup World Series Event!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Daily Lift - Greatest American Sailor

Would you like to steer a boat at the America's Cup? Enter to win a chance to be a guest racer at an America's Cup World Series Event this summer, a guest package for two at the Louis Vuitton Cup, an invitation to the Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year Luncheon, and other great prizes, by registering and voting in the America's Greatest Sailor Tournament!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Daily Lift

In the Semifinal Four of the Greatest American Sailor Tournament, #2 Ed Baird squares off against, National Sailing Hall of Famer, #1 Dennis Conner.  Did you know that Ed Baird is the only sailor in the Semifinal Four without a Star World Championship?  He is also the only sailor in the Semifinal Four with a World Championship in the Laser Class.  Cast your votes for the Greatest American Sailor Tournament today!