Menantic Yacht Club breaks records opening 2017 season

Commodore Pete Bethge of the Menantic Yacht Club looking down the start line 30 seconds before the start of a July 2 race on West Neck Harbor.

COURTESY PHOTO Commodore Pete Bethge of the Menantic Yacht Club looking down the start line 30 seconds before the start of a July 2 race on West Neck Harbor.

The Menantic Yacht Club (MYC) held its first Sunfish race of the 2017 season on Sunday, July 2 in West Neck Harbor.

Mother Nature was at her best with plenty of sunshine and wind that built steadily all afternoon, blowing between 4 and 10 knots from the west. It was gusty and quite squirrely, which made for fun rounding the upwind mark. There were a number of flips and some crashes; one caused extensive damage and one involved the boom of one sailor hitting the head of another sailor with a sound heard ‘round the world.

Just before Sunday’s races, Commodore Pete Bethge held a short skippers meeting to discuss the coming season and introduce new sailors. The day before, the commodore’s daughter and son-in-law, Melissa and Steve Shepstone, held a women’s only seminar and practice race, concentrating on practice starts. A source who shall remain nameless told me that my starting technique was used as an example of what not to do. Evidently, I “barge,” meaning I force my way into the line quite a bit.

Having learned my lesson, I managed not to barge on Sunday.

The club broke two records on Sunday. The first was the number of general recalls (four). A number of sailors were extremely aggressive at the start of some of the races. Could it be that the previous day’s seminar was the culprit? The other record was the number of sailors participating in our first series of races, which at 32 far exceeded attendance in prior years.

Newcomers included Larry Suter, Tom Arnold, Gregg Mills, Michael Branen and Nick Robet.

Coming from afar were Lee Montes and Ruth Hakanson. Lee got caught in traffic and arrived at the rigging area late. Luckily for him, Stuart Homer also arrived late and was able to help Lee unload his boat. The rivalry between brothers John and Charlie Modica continues, with John besting his older brother.

Joe Sullivan, the sailor banged on the head, kept sailing and seemed no worse for wear. John Colby arrived for the last two races, but probably wishes he hadn’t come at all since he accidently T-boned Chris Lane’s boat, putting a hole in the hull. Accidents are uncommon but do happen.

The Race Committee held five races, the first two were course “T,” once around a triangle. The last three races were course “F,” the triangle plus the windward mark, leeward mark with an upwind finish.

Racing was competitive. Because of the fluky wind conditions, the leadership kept changing. The right side of the course was favored one minute, the left side the next, a total toss up as to where one should be. Throw into the mix 31 boats, many of which were trying to round the marks at the same time, and it wouldn’t take much to get knocked down a few places. Larry Suter took first place overall with three first place wins, but Melissa Shepstone won the Windels Perpetual trophy by placing first in the first race. She placed third overall.

In second place overall with no first place wins, but two second places, was Chris Lane, a part time MYC member and a recent college grad. Way to go, all!

The Race Committee — consisting of Commodore and Sallie Bethge, Susie Masse, Judy Hole and Betsy Colby — did a superb job, as always. Thank you. Sailors, before the start of racing each week, please sail up alongside the committee boat and give them your full name and sail number. Also, remember to wear your life jacket.

Billy Sulahian was unable to captain the stake boat this week, but we hope to see him back next week. Filling in for Billy were Ed Goebles, Rita Gates and Melanie Coronetz. They were needed to tow Lee Montes back to shore when his rudder was unexpectedly destroyed when another boat accidentally rammed him.

As usual, Tom McMahon and Linda Gibbs hosted the first after-race party. Spirits were running high after a successful day of sailing. Around 50 people showed up for a barbeque showcasing Tom McMahon’s talents as a master griller.

We are a congenial club open to all, with no dues, no fees and no clubhouse. The sailing is great, we have tremendous fun, and we often have after-race barbeques. All sailors, novice to expert, are welcome. Meet the fleet at 2 p.m. on Sunday in West Neck Harbor. Commodore Bethge has several Sunfish available on a first-to–reserve basis.

Call him at (631) 749-1297 or Bob Harris at (631) 749-0524 at least one day prior to racing to reserve a boat, and please show up at 12:30 p.m. so your boat can be rigged in time for the 2 p.m. races.

See you on the water.