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Shelter Island’s Menantic Yacht Club: Racing against the storm

The Menantic Yacht Club is back in full swing, but it was a close call for the 18 sailors who participated in last Sunday’s Sunfish races. 

All week the forecast was for heavy winds, severe thunder storms and even hail, with an 80-90% chance of rain. But I tried to stay optimistic and it paid off. Despite strong winds, we got some incredible racing completed before the storm hit. There were a number of flips and some broken parts, but overall, it was a very successful first day.

The wind was blowing in the mid-teens, gusting to maybe 23 or so at the start of racing, but calmed slightly as the afternoon wore on. Melissa Shepstone was diligently watching the radar maps from home, and in the middle of the fifth race notified the Race Committee that it was time to come in. By canceling the fifth race in mid-flight, the fleet made it to shore just before the storm hit.

I know my capabilities, so I chose chase boat duties along with Dave Daley and Betty Bishop. We were kept fairly busy, or, I should say Dave, the diver, was. He actually said the water was warm the several times he went in to help a flipped sailor.

Kate Duff righted her boat quickly after flipping, as did Alicia Rojas, but Linda Gibbs holds the record with three. She headed to shore early only to discover that her husband Tom McMahon beat her to it. We watched one sailor slide off his boat just as he was closing in on the front of the pack.

Stephen Dahlgren went in early to assist his friend, Tim, who suffered a major malfunction after flipping and was towed to shore. John Modica suffered a torn sail along the bottom boom — blaming his brother Charlie of course — but actually sailed better after it ripped. Who would have known?

The old sailing rule states that if a sailor in the water asks for help, he or she will be disqualified for that race if help is received.  The new rule states that if a person is in the water, that person is considered in danger and can be helped without any penalty.

The racing was competitive among the 14 boats remaining on the course. Three racers had first-place finishes. Peter Beardsley placed first in two races and placed first overall, followed by Nat Spencer in second and Charlie Modica, Jr. in third.

Betsy Colby ran Race Committee assisted by Steve Shepstone, Marian Thomsen and Amy Cococcia. They ran four full races. The wind shifted slightly necessitating minor mark moves. The starting horn was not working; a new one will be in next week, so the timer on Betsy’s iPhone was used along with a hand-held horn. Great job guys, and many thanks.

Matt Fox captained the mark boat, using Charlie Modica’s inflatable set marks, and moved a few marks and towed one boat to shore. His able crew of Ben Gonzalez and Susie Masse assisted. Thanks, guys.  At the end of the day, Charlie and John decided to leave the inflatable tied up at Susie’s dock and take a ride home to Dering Harbor with John Colby. A very wise decision.

Ted Hills, a friend of some of the sailors was cruising around watching the races.

Unfortunately, Linda Gibbs and Tom McMahon were forced to cancel the after-race party due to inclement weather. All were disappointed, but everyone is looking forward to Charlie Modica’s extravaganza on board the Honey Fitz next Sunday, July 7. You all know what to bring; Charlie will provide the main course. Location to be determined.

We are a very congenial, family-friendly club, open to all. We may not have a clubhouse, but the sailing is great, the camaraderie is superb, and we just have tremendous fun. All sailors, novice to expert, are welcome.

Just show up in West Neck Harbor at 2 p.m. on any Sunday through Labor Day, check in with the Race Committee, giving them your full name and sail number, and be sure to bring your life jacket. Non-sailors are also welcome to assist with the Race Committee boat and the stake boat. You can get more information about the MYC at the MYC Facebook page: Menantic Yacht Club, or from Bob Harris at [email protected].

Steve and Melissa Shepstone  have a fleet of loaner boats available on a first to reserve basis. Contact Ellen Leonforte at 914-450-1450 or [email protected] to reserve your boat.

See you on the water.

On another note: The MYC and the Shelter Island Yacht club are working out details to hold a friendly, casual but competitive event. Of course it will involve sailboats and the winner gets bragging rights and maybe a cheap bottle of champagne. It should be fun for all involved and, in the words of SIYC Commodore John Sommi, “a way to develop a relationship with Menantic going forward.”  

Results:                            Points  Place

Peter Beardsley               8                1

Nat Spencer                     11             2

Charlie Modica Jr            11             3

Derek Webster                 15             4

Paul Zinger                        21             5

Charlie Modica                28             6

Denise Fenchel                32             7

John Modica                      33             8

Rachel Beardsley            38             9

Alicia Rojas                        39             10

Eric Ryan                            41             11

Will Lehr                             45             12

John Colby                         51             13

Ellen Leonforte                54             14