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Column: Waiting for Wind

COURTESY PHOTO Helplessly hoping. The Menantic Yacht Club becalmed before a race on July 29.
Helplessly hoping. The Menantic Yacht Club becalmed before a race on July 29.

Saturday, July 29 brought small craft warnings with the wind gusting up to 32 knots around Shelter Island.

On Sunday morning the winds were still blowing around 10 knots. At 2 p.m., kickoff time for the fifth series of Sunfish races this year hosted by the Menantic Yacht Club (MYC), the wind was practically nonexistent — zero to 1 knot. Boats were drifting aimlessly, waiting for the Race Committee to make a decision about racing. Fortunately for those sailors who arrived late, the racing did not begin until almost 3 p.m. due to lack of wind.

By 2:30, the 1 knot breeze had shifted to the southwest from the northeast and picked up to maybe 2 knots. The Race Committee had to change marks accordingly. At first, the right side of the course was favored, then it shifted left then right again.

Squirrelly does not even begin to describe the wind conditions. At one point I was actually moving backwards while boats on either side of me were moving toward the mark. By the last race the wind was howling at about 5 knots.

The club came close to breaking a record — one not to be proud of. There were a total of four general recalls, three before the first race finally took off, tying the previous record. People: Stay behind the line. One sailor in particular, Paul Zinger, was called over early in at least two races. Being over early can really cost one a few positions in the final standings.

Even without regulars Chris and Jack Lane and Charlie Modica, 17 sailors showed up to sail. Charlie chose to participate in the Dodish regatta at the Shelter Island Yacht Club. (I can’t imagine how those boats were moving on Sunday.) Newcomers included Maeve Gately and Tom McMallow.

The Race Committee held four short races. The first two races were course “W,” up the windward mark, down around the pin end of the start line, back up to the windward mark with a downwind finish. The last two races were course “T1” around a shortened triangle.

Obviously there were no flips or crashes, but the racing was more competitive than usual.

Joining the MYC this week were Ann Patin, sailing with her nine-year old son, Andre, as crew. Ann placed second in the Women’s North American Sunfish Championship race last September in West Neck Harbor. She placed second overall on Sunday.

For the first time this year, Jim Kohler joined in the fun. Two weeks ago he won the World’s Longest Sunfish Race sponsored by the Southhold Yacht Club. On Sunday Jim placed third overall. Joe Sullivan and Larry Sutter, both world-class sailors, appeared this week also. Larry placed first overall with four first place wins. In fourth place was Linda Gibbs, sailing one of her best series of races to date. Way to go, all!

Billy Sulahian was unavailable this week so Cole Colby captained the stake boat. His crew of Larry and Marion Thomsen were kept busy changing mark locations. They worked harder than any of us. Thanks, guys.

The Race Committee, consisting of Commodore and Sallie Bethge, Betsy Colby, Judy Hole and Melanie Coronetz did a superb job, as always. Sorry for not mentioning you in last week’s article, Melanie. 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.

Melanie Coronetz and Bruce Miller hosted the after-race barbecue this week. Bruce’s brother, Craig, and his wife, Chris, prepared a feast of pulled chicken and brisket along with all the trimmings. Delicious! Thank you.

Besides sail talk at the party, Melanie told us a fascinating story about the “Turtle Sign Caper.” Most Shelter Islanders will go out of their way to save a turtle, i.e., make sure it makes it to the other side of the street. Mel went further. She contacted Turtle Rescue of the Hamptons, actually located in Jamesport, and obtained signs reminding drivers and lawn mowers to watch out for turtles. She placed the signs on the Ram Island causeway only to discover the next morning that they were gone .

Who would do such a thing? A Shelter Island Police Department investigation followed, resulting in prompt recovery of the signs, which Melanie quickly anchored in place again. The $64,000 question is, will they remain in place?

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 often have after-race barbecues.

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 2 p.m. races.

See you on the water.
1.    Larry Sutter  4
2.    Ann Patin and Andre  11
3.    Jim Kohler  11
4.    Linda Gibbs  18
5.    Paul Zinger  26
6.    Joe Sullivan  26
7.    George Zinger  28
8.    Bob Harris  29
9.    Dave Olsen  31
10.    Suzane Hulme  42
11.    Maeve Gately  49
12.    John Colby  50
13.    Tom McMallow  50
14.    Will Lehr  53
15.    Mary Vetri  58
16.    Jody Sisely  62
17.    Jonathan Brush  66