BY JAMES BERGSTROM
On July 29, Shelter Island Yacht Club hosted over 114 sailors at their annual JSA Invitational Regatta.
The event was open to those who sailed in both PGJSA and JSA of LIS member clubs, and sailors came to the Island to compete from 15 different junior sailing programs. Some came from as close as Southold, others came from Connecticut. After not hosting a regatta last summer due to the pandemic, sailors and coaches were excited to be racing again with a big fleet on the water.
In addition to hosting regattas, the SIYC Junior Sailing Program runs daily classes that provide children with a range of ages and sailing abilities the opportunity to sail. The program allows over 100 children each summer to improve their sailing skills and have fun spending time on the water.
From the moment sailors arrived, volunteers worked to help keep the event running smoothly. They directed traffic, unloaded boats and distributed the famous SIYC regatta shirts.
When asked, many of the sailors said they were returning to a regatta that they remembered enjoying in past years, but for some sailors it was their first time at the SIYC Laser/420 regatta. Laser Sailor Richard Kalich was returning for his third time and remarked that he enjoyed the Shelter Island event because “there is a huge, nice fleet and I get a lot of nice competition.”
Will Clemens, coaching at the regatta from American Yacht Club, had sailed in the regatta several times. “Memories were totally fun,” he said. “I came out here with all my buddies and my coaches were totally fun to hang out with.”
In addition to C420s, Laser Standards, and Laser Radials, this year’s regatta also featured two more classes of boats: Laser 4.7s and RS Fevas. Junior Sailing Program Director Jeffrey Bresnahan chose to offer these fleets because “adding the 4.7 and Fevas allows younger and lighter kids to sail high performance boats. The Opti is a great boat but some kids outgrow the boat because of size and lack of extreme sailing situations.”
Unlike the 2019 SIYC Laser/420 regatta, when competitors were bored by the lack of wind, it was clear by the start of the day that this year would be plenty windy. The day began with strong winds, above 10 knots, and continued to fill throughout the day. While Mr. Bresnahan, who ran the racing that day, had wanted to complete six races in order to allow sailors to drop their worst score, the increasing winds led him to reduce the number of races for every fleet except the C420s.
All three of the Laser fleets completed five races, while the Feva class completed only three. As in previous years, Jim Preston, a long time SIYC member, headed the safety boats, and equipment breakdowns were safely and effectively handled, with one competitor even continuing to race after replacing a broken mast and a torn sail.
In addition to the winds, the day was made more exciting by the arrival of MacGuffin, a 29-meter yacht, which motored onto the course while the racing was underway. The Race Committee eventually succeeded in contacting the yacht, and a coach boat escorted it off the race course.
Shelter Island sailors took the first two places in Laser Standard, second in Laser 4.7s, third and fourth place in C420s, eighth place in Laser Radials, and the top three places in the three boat Feva division. Many sailors from the Island also qualified for the JSA of LIS championship regatta, which the club attended August 1st and 2nd.
Mr. Bresnahan was delighted by the high level of competition and noted that “everyone sailed at the highest level.” He also wanted to thank the Yacht Club and all the volunteers who helped make the event possible.