Hello, all. It has been sixty degrees, New Years has come and gone, and Marblehead mooring bills are in hand. It must be time to start thinking about sailing. Before getting into this year’s plans, a quick recap of last year is in order.
Awards Party: First, a big thank you to Bruce Bolen for once again hosting the annual Awards Party at his house. As always, Bruce’s hospitality and the potluck spread make for a great evening. Of course the Fleet 5 bar, kept well stocked by Social Chair, Bob Meyer, is a significant factor. Fleet Captain Mike Lane gave a recap of the 2006 season before presenting the annual awards.
The biggest event of last year for our fleet was hosting the East Coast Championship. The regatta was a huge success with 34 boats registered, a good crowd, great sponsors and fortunately awesome food. The only thing that didn’t cooperate was the weather with the entire northeast coast locked up in a major lull. With a bunch of landlocked racing sailors hanging around the food kept the savage beasts at bay. Despite the conditions Dennis Esposito and the Race Committee did manage to get 4 races started making it a fair regatta. Mike gave kudos to the committee who put the regatta together: Maura Power, Miller Shropsmire, Steve Braese, Steve Uhl, Karl Renney, Bob Meyer, Tom King, Pete Kaznoski, and Tom Despres.
Mike and Pete Kaznoski handed out the annual racing awards which are highlighted in this newsletter. Congratulations to all, especially to Doug Trees and Chris Small, winners of the 2006 Season Championship. Of special note are Fleet Five’s perpetual award winners. The President’s Trophy is awarded to the Fleet member who makes the largest single contribution to promote or add value to the fleet. This is often a tough choice but this year’s winner, Tom King, was far and away the obvious choice. Tom made a major contribution with his incredible effort and success in lining up sponsors for the East Coast Championship regatta. Beyond that Tom seemed to be everywhere that something needed to be done. Congratulations, Tom. A moment of high drama and entertainment was provided with the presentation of the Ritchie Santos award for Outstanding Crew. This year’s recipient was Renee Heffernan who accepted with cries of joy, tears and an Oscar Award winning performance. The Most Improved Award went to Doug Trees and Chris Small. Their seasons championship trophy says it all. Rookie of the Year award recognized Rick and Jessica Berliner for their persistence. The Charles T. Barr trophy was awarded to John Casler for his dominance in the Twilight series. Kim and Christina Pandapas received the Nick Nichols Award for the best overall record scoring all the fleet events. Congratulations to all!
New Fleet Officers: At the end of the awards presentation Mike announced the new slate of fleet officers for the upcoming season. They are: Tom Despres, Fleet Captain; Bruce Bolen, Vice President; Steve Uhl, Secretary; Doug Trees, treasurer; Pete Kasnowski, Scorer; and Bob Meyer as Social Chair. In addition Steve Uhl serves as the Fleet Five representative for the MRA and is regional VP for the Rhodes 19 Class Association.
Major Kudos: The announcement of the new slate of officers explains why I am writing this. Before going any further we need to give a big thanks to Mike Lane who served as Fleet Captain for the past 2 years. While Mike was very generous in recognizing the committee who put the East Coast Regatta together, it was his leadership and attention to detail that kept it moving forward. Mike also displayed great leadership in bringing the fleet through Keelgate 2005. After leading the fleet’s protest over the validity of the keel interpretation, for the long term health of the fleet and the class he took the high road, brought his boat into compliance and pushed the rest of us to do the same. Thanks to Mike, the keel issue is behind us and we had a great season.
MRA Changes: The MRA is looking at some changes for the upcoming season. One of the options under consideration is reassigning classes to the various lines. The Rhodes Fleet may have their starts on a line closer to the harbor. Stay tuned for more details.
Nationals Rules Vote: In the Fall Mainsheet, a proposed rules change to add a ¾ girth measurement for the mainsails was presented for vote. If you haven’t submitted your vote, please do so before the Jan. 31 deadline. A ballot was included in the Mainsheet or you can submit your vote by e-mail to Kirk Williamson at email@example.com.
The 2007 Season: Despite the mild weather it is perhaps a bit early to take the cover off the boat but it isn’t too early to start thinking about the season. We don’t have any major events coming up for the fleet so it will be a good season to get more folks involved and out on the race course. One of the issues facing one-design racing in general is flat or dropping participation. Our fleet has bucked that in the past but in the last few seasons we have seen the same trend. There are obstacles and competition for the time involved but let’s face it, racing sailboats is a blast. We just need to do more of it. How many times have you gone out sailing and wished you hadn’t? To paraphrase my Navy Chief, every sailboat race you pass up is a sailboat race you passed up. His actual quote had more to do about beer and drinking but that is another story. We all can’t resolve to get out there every week but we can get out there a few more times than we did last year. As Doug Trees has pointed out, I can drive up participation by one just by showing up myself. I’ll make that commitment. Now if we can get a few more of us “casual sailors” out there we can grow the fleet numbers quite easily.
Save The Dates: For a bit more bang this season how about planning to race in a different venue and participate in a class regatta. Fleet 9 in Padanarum will host the East Coast Championships June 22-24. The Nationals will be in Chicago Aug 14-17. It is not too early to start talking it up. Maybe some of us can combine forces and get a few more boats out to the mid West.