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Menantic Yacht Club comes sailing back

At the end of May I wasn’t sure that the Menantic Yacht Club (MYC) would be holding any Sunfish racing this summer.

However, I’m happy to say that in the past week the Shelter Island Police Department has given us the green light to proceed, and the MYC is now sailing ahead with plans for a strong summer of racing, with safety protocols in place as outlined below.

For the time being, Commodore and Sallie Bethge are sheltering at their home in Florida, and Debbie and I are “stuck” in New Mexico, so the MYC will be co-captained by Linda Gibbs and Tom McMahon.

The MYC has always been about an afternoon of fun and community above all else. That said, the safety of every participant is paramount, and due to COVID-19, the following new safety rules will be in place until further notice:

1. Masks must be worn most of the time, especially at the rigging area, at the start line and rounding marks. The only time you may elect to be maskless is if you are at least 6 feet away from another boat on the course.

2. Queuing is required at the rigging and launching areas so that social distancing is maintained at all times. When launching your boat at the rigging area, stay back and wait your turn.

3. Do not touch another person’s dolly, and only offer to lend a hand if asked, and you feel comfortable doing so, and you can maintain social distancing.

4. At the end of racing, wait your turn to beach your boat at the landing area until the area is clear enough that you can maintain social distancing.

5. Maintaining social distance at the start line, rounding marks and even on the course is essential. I know that we are a competitive fleet, but safety comes first, even if it means losing a place in the standings.

6. Hand wipes and sanitizer will be available at the staging area and on the chase and Race Committee boats.

I know these new rules may affect the camaraderie of our club, but please follow them for your and everybody else’s safety. If anyone is not comfortable with the above rules, please join us next year when, hopefully, at least some, if not all, of these new rules can be relaxed.

Billy Sulahian has volunteered to run the chase boat. However, due to COVID-19, he, along with everyone else, must maintain social distance, and so will be limited in his ability to help. With this in mind, before joining a race, make sure you are physically capable and able to right your boat yourself if you go over.

The Race Committee Boat will only have family members, and Betsy Colby, an integral part of our fleet, who will maintain social distancing. Tom McMahon will be contacting sailors to volunteer for Race Committee and chase boat duty among other things.

Despite this year’s challenges due to COVID-19, the MYC remains a unique club with no dues, no fees and no club house. Normally, we are open to everyone from novice sailors to experts. There are several world-class sailors in the club as well as others of all levels. This year will be an exception to our total openness as a club, unfortunately.

Due to COVID-19 and safe distancing requirements, mentoring and giving a helping hand will be extremely limited. In the past, sailors’ ages have ranged from 10 to 88 and we’ve all had a fabulous time. Currently we have very few young sailors and would like to change that. On average, 50 or more sailors join in the fun during the season, and between 20 and 25 on any given Sunday. Some sailors show up with a son or daughter and share a boat. Be sure to bring your life jacket for safety along with your mask and hand sanitizer.

The MYC started in the 1930s racing Cape Cod Rockets. In 1966, Commodore Bethge reactivated the MYC and has been holding dinghy races in West Neck Harbor ever since. Keep up the tradition and join us on the water.

There will be practice racing at 2 p.m. on Sunday, June 28, with regular racing commencing on Sunday, July 5, and every Sunday thereafter through Sunday of Labor Day Weekend, September 6. Races start at 2 p.m. in West Neck Harbor. With the new safety protocols in effect, please give yourself plenty of extra time to rig and launch your boat, and give your name and sail number to the Race Committee before the 2 p.m. start.

Unfortunately, I may not be joining in the fun on the water until there is a safe way to travel from Albuquerque to Shelter Island. But, “with a little help from my friends,” and some creative virtual viewing, I will continue reporting on the MYC’s activities this summer.

On another note, Peter Beardsley, a member of the MYC, but outside of the auspices of the MYC, is offering to hold sailing classes for sailors who have some experience and their own boat. Call him for information at 917-696-8229, or email [email protected] Peter is also the person to call if you want to reserve a loaner boat for the Sunday races, on a first-to-reserve basis and, unfortunately, only to experienced Sunfishers this season.

If a sailor plans on joining the fleet every Sunday, we will try to reserve a boat for you for the season.

See you on the water?