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Light winds and lots of patience for Shelter Island Yacht Club’s Poor Memorial

The Poor Memorial, the fourth and final Shelter Island Yacht Club (SIYC) big boat race of the season, was sailed on Sunday, Sept. 3.

This around-theIsland event is open to all sailors with a PHRF rating. There were 27 boats in four divisions, three spinnaker and one non. Because of the forecast and reality of winds under 10 knots, the Professional Race Officer set out to send division 1 and 2 around the Island and division 3 and 4 into Peconic Bay.

The start was just off the outer edge of the Dering Harbor mooring field and the instructions were to sail counterclockwise. Basically, it was the “Wednesday Night Races”, i.e., past Paradise Point, find some buoys in Peconic Bay … and return. There was simply not enough wind to round the Island.

What George Bernard Shaw said of second marriages could be said for light wind sailing: “The triumph of hope over experience.” It takes dedication to the sport to sail in light winds. It also helps to have both a light race boat that’s able to move in gentle breezes, high tech sails, and large spinnakers for the downwind legs.

But more than that, it takes real patience. So that even in a sunbaked cockpit moving through what seems like Vaseline and enduring the shake, rattle and roll byproduct created by an armada of holidaying power boats, a sailor still focuses on every slight zephyr teasing the sails.

They must stare longingly ahead, waiting to spot a ripple on the water, and hope against hope that the wind fills in and the forecasters were wrong.

Sadly, as skipper of a heavy cruising boat with low-tech sails and an aversion to baking in the sun, this form of patience eluded my crew and me. Sachem, going nowhere slow, retired just past Jennings Point.

Persistence paid off for Doug Davis in Gypsy Moon, who won non-spinnaker division 4; 2nd was Beth Van der Eems in Osprey; 3rd was Peter Swerdloff in Wyvern.

Division 3 winner was Peter Dinkel in the club’s Sonar Windy; 2nd was Mike Rouzee in Starlight; 3rd was Peter Larsen sailing Jane.

Division 2 winner was Richard Prieto in Zorro XF; 2nd was Kevin Horne in CALLI se; 3rd was Peter Beardsley in Glory Days.

Division 1 winner was Andrew and Sedgwick Ward on Bravo; 2nd was Jeffrey Pribor on Renegade; 3rd was Steven Guyer on Alliance. No outdoor sport guarantees perfect conditions, and the capriciousness of winds make sailing reliant on factors that are unpredictable.

However, the dedication of the volunteer SIYC race committee delivered the predictable professionalism that ensured a successful Poor Memorial.