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Afloat: Sailing for all at the Shelter Island Yacht Club

Of interest to all Islanders who sail, or are considering having their children learn to sail, are the Shelter Island Yacht Club’s (SIYC) racing activities and junior sailing program. Both are open to all Islanders. The junior sailing program is also an excellent way for parents to become familiar with the SIYC.

Junior Sailing

Lisa Reich, the new commodore (and second woman ever to hold the honor) observed, “Our junior sailing is one of the most successful on the East Coast.”

This year there are 161 participants, ages 6 to 18. Headed by longtime SIYC Sailing Director and Connecticut College Sailing Coach Jeffrey Bresnahan, this summer program starts youthful sailors out in JY Trainers, then on to Optimists.

From there, the young sailors graduate to the larger 420 and Laser classes. All classes have beginning, intermediate and advanced groupings. Shelter Island can count so many successful sailors coming out of the program it would take a page to enumerate them all. Notably, U.S. Olympic qualifier Amanda Clark stands out.

Information on eligibility, programs, schedules and fees is on the Junior Sailing link on the SIYC website at siyc.com.

Adult Sailing

The SIYC has a big boat committee headed by longtime resident Andrew Ward. According to Andrew, “Our goal is to have as many boats from both inside and outside the club participate in all three SIYC race events.” Don’t be scared by the term “big boat.” The vessel can be as small as 19 feet. All boats with a Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) rating are welcome. There usually are four divisions on the starting line.

The three club sponsored events are the Heatherton Trophy race July 3, SI Race Week August 5 and 6 and the Poor Memorial on September 4. The notice of race and details for all three events can be found on Yachtscoring.com.

For the more athletic, the Club has an Etchells fleet. These 30-foot, popular, one-design racing machines attract some of the world’s best sailors.

They compete every Saturday in Orient Harbor and anyone with a certified Etchells can participate. Sailors who want to get a relatively low-cost start in sailboat racing will find an Etchells is a good choice. Don Jones is the fleet captain. He can be contacted through the Club.

Wednesday Night Races 

While the Club does not sponsor these, many participants are members. Boats from Greenport and Orient join in the fun. The race starts with the 6 p.m. Greenport siren from the Greenport jetty and there’s no official scoring. If you have anything that floats, just show up. For more, see shelterislandreporter.timesreview.com/2020/10/27/2020-wednesday-night-races-a-blessing-for-all/?preview_id=53683&preview_nonce=b2cc4e4811&preview=true&_thumbnail_id=53684

So, along with the Club’s and the American flags flying from the pole on the front lawn, the welcome flag has been unfurled too.

Regarding Club business

Saturday, May 28, saw the official start of the sailing season with the morning general meeting and the 137th commissioning ceremony held later in the day.

Founded in 1886 and located on Dering Harbor’s west side, the SIYC is one of the oldest yacht clubs in America.