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Practice races gearing up for the real thing

COURTESY PHOTO |  The Menantic Yacht Club under sail last week, Sailors, from left, are Richard Smith, Linda Gibbs and Cole Colby.

The Menantic Yacht Club under sail last week. Sailors, from left, are Richard Smith, Linda Gibbs and Cole Colby.

The Menantic Yacht Club (MYC) held its first and only practice race of the 2014 season on Sunday, June 29 in West Neck Harbor.

There was a little excitement — one sailor flipped and one boat was accidently damaged. The winds were steady at about 8 to 10 knots from the east. The Race Committee held a series of practice starts prior to running six or seven races. All the races were course G, a triangle plus windward mark with a downwind finish. The course was short to hold more races practicing starts and mark roundings.

I did not count the exact number of races because I accidently rammed a boat shared by Oscar Champigneuille and Cedric Kendric, putting a small hole in my bow. Sorry, Oscar and Cedric. My boat is light and dry and I wanted to keep it that way, so I headed straight to the beach and exchanged boats with a club boat. Dave Olsen volunteered to help me do the repairs. Thanks, Dave. The boat I use belongs to my wife, whose only comment was that I can no longer complain when she runs it up onto the beach scratching the bottom.

Prior to sailing, we held a skippers meeting presided over by Steve Shepstone, filling in for Commodore Bethge, who was out of town. Steve and his wife, Melissa, are world-class sailors and on Saturday they were practicing sailing Sonars in Groton. They have won World Championship Sonar races. Steve is also one of the few people who hears appeals for the United States Sailing Association, for which he serves as umpire and judge.

The main topic discussed was the rules at the start. Prior to the two minute mark, there really are no rules. After the two minute gun has sounded, the leeward boat can force the windward boat up and over the start line, as happens to me sometimes. The one thing the leeward boat cannot do is force the windward boat into the committee boat. If a starboard boat is in the right but causes damage to a boat that is in the wrong because the starboard does not alter course to avoid the collision, the starboard boat is penalized as well as the leeward boat.

It was a beautiful day and 20 sailors on 17 boats participated. After a long cold winter, it was good catching up with some of our regulars, Dave Olsen, Bill Martens, Charlie Modica, Richard Smith, Melanie Corenetz, the Colbys, John Woodward, Jim Koehler from the Dingy Shop and Ronnie Hill. Tom McMahon and Linda Gibbs were also present. Linda just returned from what she said was a business trip the Athens. I will attribute her being the only sailor who flipped to jet lag. Kudos to John Colby for jumping overboard from a boat he was sharing with daughter, Marnie, and helping Linda right her boat. Newcomers were Peter Stearn and daughter, Amina, who shared a boat. Mark Vollmer also joined us and will return. One regular, Mary Vetri is using the excuse of a broken wrist not to sail, and Rita Gates had a gardening function to attend.

Many thanks to the Race Committee consisting of Susie Masse and Betsy Colby, you did a great job. Being practice races, they did not keep score. Maybe next week, Betsy will sail along with the rest of her clan.
Next Sunday, July 6, the MYC will hold its first official Sunfish race of the season. There will be a skippers’ meeting at Commodore Pete Bethge’s house starting at 1 p.m. at 1 east Brander Parkway in Silver Beach.

The racing will commence at 2 p.m. in West Neck Harbor. Please sail alongside the committee boat and give them your full name and sail number prior to the race. Remember to bring and wear a life vest.
MYC is a very friendly club. Whether you are a novice or expert sailor, come join in the fun and camaraderie. There are no fees or dues. The club has extra Sunfish available on a first to reserve basis. Call either Pete Bethge at 749-1297 or Bob Harris at 749-0524 to reserve your boat.

See you on the water.