May 2023 Newsletter

Greetings From the Prez

KP.jpg Well, it’s just about show time. People are filing in and the orchestra is tuning. Opening day is on May 27th, which will be here before you know it.

I love opening day. Like the pageantry of opening day at Fenway, when the grass looks greener and the uniforms whiter, the first day of MRA is just a little more special. I love the ritual of putting up the rig, running the lines and making sure everything is just so. I love splashing the boat and rigging up for the first time. And there’s something so festive about that first sail out of the harbor. I’m excited.

But before we go sailing, we have a few housekeeping items. First, this year’s spring clinic is next Thursday May 11th. Details are below, so I won’t repeat, but three of the fastest sailors ever to sail Rhodes – Charlie Pendleton, Matt Hooks and Elise Nash (all Race Week winners, by the way), will spill the beans on how to be competitive in super light air and blowing stink. You can’t afford to miss that.

Second, please register. Registration is open for everything, and you’ll find the links below. Also, I know that the Hingham and Hull Fleets would love to get some East Coasts registration momentum going, so while you’re at it, why not register for that too.

In case you missed it, a harbor-wide initiative called Marblehead Clean Regattas commenced this year for all of Marblehead sailing to operate collectively as a ‘Clean Regatta.’ This is from MRA’s web site. “The Marblehead Racing Association will operate as a Clean Regatta, executing to the greatest extent possible all best practices defined by Sailors for the Sea in its Clean Regattas program.” Fleet 5 (and every other fleet) was asked to support this, and of course, we agreed. We’ve run clean regatta before, the most recent of which was Nationals 2021. But to my knowledge, this is the first time we committed to an ongoing responsible code of conduct. But it’s a no-brainer to support preserving this pristine playground we all so enjoy, so that’s what I’m asking us all to do. See below for specifics.

Thanks to everyone who attended the spring meeting. In addition to catching up over a beer, we resolved a few outstanding questions, the specifics of which are detailed below. Huge thanks to Anne Marije Veenland for toting the fleet bar and making sure no one went thirsty.

Remember that the MRA kickoff party is this Friday at 6PM. Details for that and the next few upcoming events are below. See you at the clinic.

Upcoming Events

MRA’s Cinco de Mayo Kickoff Party – Friday May 5th MRA kicks off 2023 at CYC.

Spring Clinic – Thursday May 11th The clinic starts at 7PM at CYC. Cash bar. Details below.

Twilight Series Practice Race – Thursday May 25th Our first race of 2023 is unscored, so a perfect chance to shake off the cobwebs.

MRA Series 1 – Days 1 & 2 – Saturday May 27 & Sunday May 28th. Opening day! The first two race days of our season will be run from one consolidated line.

Kickoff Cocktail Party – June 3rd Our first season party will be after racing at the home of Rebecca & Larry Ehrhardt. It will be potluck with the fleet bar.

The complete 2023 calendar is at the end of this newsletter.

Short Tacks

Spring Clinic – Succeeding in All Conditions The spring clinic will be Thursday May 11th at 7pm in the Fantail at CYC, and will focus on how to be competitive in both light-and-variable and blowing stink. Topics will include boat set-up, rig tuning, sail trim, depowering tricks, upwind & downwind techniques, and so on. The format is moderated panel of three people who know what they’re talking about, including Matt Hooks, Charlie Pendleton and Elise Nash. We also can look forward to opening remarks from CYC Commodore Jim Raisides, who as a 3-time national champ, should have a bit of insight to share. Kim P. will moderate. Cash bar.

Spring Meeting The fleet held its spring meeting on Thursday April 20, and resolved the following.

  1. To amend the 2023 MRA PRO guide by inserting the following language:
    1. Please consider the occasional upwind finish, especially in westerly conditions.
    2. The fleet would enjoy an occasional day (i.e. one per season) of multiple (5-6) short races (0.4 nm windward legs), as well as an occasional day with one long race (possibly around government marks).
  2. To make the following scoring changes:
    1. MRA Series 2, Day 1 on June 24th – Do not score, either for MRA or for Fleet 5 Season Championship.
    2. MRA Series 2, Day 5 on July 22nd – Do not score, either for MRA or for Fleet 5 Season Championship.
    3. Fall Series – Sept 9, 16 & 23 – Include results of all three days in Fleet 5 Season Championship scoring.
  3. To support Marblehead Clean Regattas.

Registration You’ll need three registrations to start the season, including Fleet 5, the R19 Class Association and MRA. Register for the fleet and class association through Regattaman here, and MRA here.

MRA Schedule MRA has posted its 2023 racing calendar, and you can download the NOR and SIs here.

East Coast Championships Fleet 46 will host the 2023 ECs Saturday and Sunday, June 24 – 25, on Hingham Bay, supported by both Hingham and Hull fleets. Register and pick up NOR on the Hull YC website and Regattaman. If questions, please contact Tod Riedel, Fleet 46 co-captain for the Hull Yacht Club ( , 617-543-5262) or Dave Nelson Fleet 46 co-captain for the Hingham Yacht Club (, 508-446-4053).

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Summer Clinic Taking Shape You’ll recall that we’re holding a second on-the-water clinic this season. This year’s clinic if the brainchild of Joe Fava who is organizing. The event is two-part and will be held on Saturday July 22nd and include live coaching by North Sails’ Stan Schreyer, followed by video and debrief on Sunday morning. More details to come.

Marblehead Clean Regatta – 2023

Marblehead Clean Regattas is an initiative undertaken by all of Marblehead sailing to operate collectively as a ‘Clean Regatta.’ Fleet 5 has committed to supporting this, voting at its spring meeting in support the following pledge.

“Fleet 5 is committed to providing environmental stewardship. All regattas that are hosted by Fleet 5 will execute, to the greatest extent possible, all best practices as defined by Sailors for the Sea in its Clean Regattas program. All of our competitors should plan to promote and adopt a “leave no trace” approach throughout our events and during the sailing season, both at sea and on shore. All competitors and support personnel, including vendors, are asked to cooperate by reducing waste, avoiding use of single-use plastics (such as bottled water), and preventing toxins from entering marine habitats.”

So what are next steps? First is to open a line of communication with Marblehead Clean Regattas. Fleet 5 alum Katie Bloxham has volunteered to take on that role, so thanks to her. Elise Nash also has agreed to make herself available for support and to answer questions. For the rest of us, we simply adopt a ‘leave no trace’ approach by observing a few commonsense guidelines, like using reusable water bottles, ditching plastic sandwich baggies and disposing of trash properly. It’s not a heavy lift, but if we each do our parts, it will make a difference.

Below is a list of best practices.

Eliminate Single Items

  • Eliminate Single-Use Water Bottles. Bring enough of your own re-usable water bottles to last the day. Use Gatorade packets. Make sure beer and everything else is in cans.
  • When available, refill water bottles on race committee or support inflatables.
  • Use Reusable Bags. Avoid plastic bags and plastic sandwich wrappers.
  • Award practical items or perpetual trophies that are passed on to subsequent winners.

Responsible Waste Management

  • Bring back everything that you take on the boat and properly sort waste for disposal.
  • Avoid paper. Use online Event and Race management and fleet correspondence.

Environmental Stewardship

  • Protect Wildlife and Habitat.

Green Boating

  • Prevent toxins from entering the water. Wash with water and use non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Use designated cleaning area or a permeable surface (grass) when available.
  • Avoid the use of shrink wrap by using a canvas cover. If you must shrink wrap, attempt to preserve it during removal and re-use next winter. If that’s not possible, recycle the shrink wrap at the transfer station.
  • Recycle used sails. Watch for plans to do this at the end of the season.

The Art of the Roll Tack – A Crew’s Perspective

By Elise Nash

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Description automatically generated with medium confidence When Kim asked me to write about roll tacking, I thought, ooo – yeah, nothing better than hitting a roll tack just right. And while you may be thinking “really?”, perfectly executed roll tacks can pay dividends over the course of a race day or regatta.

My favorite boat handling drills in college were tacking on the whistle, blind-folded sailing and rudderless sailing. While tacking on the whistle was simply about repetition, blindfolded and rudderless sailing were about developing a feel for the boat and an understanding the importance of weight placement in steering the boat – which is what roll tacking is all about.

The goal of a roll tack is to use your weight to help turn the boat through the wind while reducing tiller movement. RRS 42.3 (b) states: “A boat’s crew may move their bodies to exaggerate the rolling that facilitates steering the boat through a tack or a gybe, provided that, just after the tack or gybe is completed, the boat’s speed is not greater than it would have been in the absence of the tack or gybe.” I highly doubt you could make a Rhodes come out of a tack faster than when you went into it, but you can certainly make it come out less slowly.

The components of a roll tack are the pre-roll, roll and flatten. A good roll tack requires getting the timing down, and that is achieved through communication, patience and practice.

An important crew job is communicating the big picture to the driver, so they can focus on the jib telltales and going fast. Anticipating when you will need to tack and communicating information about shifts, lanes, waves (and flat spots to tack in) to the driver ensures that you are both ready and tacking at the best possible time.

Pre-roll: Depending on conditions, you may or may not pre-roll. Once the decision is made to tack, shifting your team’s weight to leeward helps turn the boat upwind. This is the pre-roll. On a light day, this may mean sitting on the leeward rail to help steer the boat up into the turn. On a moderately windy day, it may be as little as foot on the lower bench.

Roll: As the boat rounds up, watch the jib and count backwards out loud “3-2-1-roll” so that you roll together when the jib breaks. As the jib breaks, you want both driver and crew to shift their weight to the new leeward rail at the same time. This is the roll. Joe and I have been sailing together for over 20 years, and when we go into a tack, I count down to the roll every single time. This keeps us focused, dialed in to how the boat is moving and exactly in sync. When in doubt, err on the late side. If you roll too early, it’s like hitting a wall. The boat is not ready to turn yet, and throwing your weight on the new leeward side doesn’t have the same impact as it would have if you had waited that additional second. Once that jib breaks, release it. If you don’t and it backs for too long, you may end up pushing the bow too far down on the new tack, forcing the driver to steer more to bring the boat back up to close hauled – which is slow and essentially defeats the purpose of the roll tack. Here the driver wants to let the rudder follow the windward turn created by the pre-roll. It shouldn’t take much rudder, which is the idea.

Flatten: After you have rolled the boat to leeward and turned through the breeze, you need to shift your weight back up to the new windward side to flatten the boat, trim in and get up to speed on the new close-hauled tack. The speed at which you count down and the speed at which you flatten, are very condition-dependent and will vary from tack to tack, based on a number of factors (puffs, waves, proximity to other boats or the layline etc.). On a windy day, you are hopping up to the new windward rail as fast as you can. On a less windy day, you may pause on the low side for a bit longer, until the boat is loaded up a little before a quick trip to the rail to flatten, and then back to the middle or leeward side, being careful not to over-trim coming out of a tack.

Like anything, good roll tacks take practice. We don’t often have practices or run drills, but that doesn’t mean you can’t get out early on Saturdays to do a bunch of tacks to get your timing down before doing some speed testing and other pre-race prep. With enough practice, roll tacks will become second nature, and just maybe… you’ll get equally as excited to hit that timing just right. 😉

Notice Board

Boats Needed Several people are searching for boats to buy or charter. If you know of one, please contact Kim P. at

DF95 For Sale Colin Smith is selling a lightly used and ready-to-sail DragonFlite 95 ( If interested, contact Colin at

East Coasts Scores We’re looking for historical East Coasts Championship results. If you know where we can find them, let us know at

Got Gripes? Got gripes or constructive suggestions? Don’t be shy. Unload at The buck stops here.


Team Hefler Defers a Year We’ve all been looking forward to welcoming former Etchells sailor Greg Hefler, his daughter Hannah and wife Christina (collectively Team Hefler). Greg and Hannah have been preparing to hit our starting line for about a year, but have hit a snag. “Hi Kim, just want to give you a heads up on where I am at. I have transferred my transplant listing to MGH. They think that they will transplant me in 6 months or less. That being said, it means 2023 will be a no go for me. My recovery will be longer than most as I have had mechanical assistance for so long. The new goal is to be on the water in ‘24.” For those who didn’t know it, Greg has been waiting for a heart for several years now, and it seems things are finally moving in a positive direction. This, by the way, is yet another, and very close-to-home, example of why it’s important to register as an organ doner. I’ve got a heart on my license. Do you?

They’re Back! After a few years of sabbatical, long time Fleet 5ers Conway & Alex Felton have registered and will be back on our line in 2023. How awesome is that? Huge ‘welcome back’ to them.

An Update on Cannons We were copied on an email from Martha Martini to MRA Chair Mark Toso regarding cannons. “I want to register a strong vote for a return to cannon fire for starting races and signaling the first vessel across the finish.” Mark’s response was thoughtful. “It is an on-going discussion, and the three clubs still have the option to use cannons on a specific day, however, the move to the i-start is the most practical approach! The three clubs all agree to use cannons during Race Week or major regattas. Whether we return to cannons for MRA racing will always be the decision of each yacht club.

Innovations from the Laser Fleet Boy are those Laser guys creative! Here is an excerpt from Tom Dailey’s recent fleet email following a 25-knot day. “We added 2 penalty turn options (in addition to 360/720). You could tack twice (nobody did that), or you could hang out for 20 seconds (for a 1-turn foul) or 40 seconds (for a 2-turn foul). Bunch of people did that and it seemed pretty fair. Just sit there, catch your breath, holler “I’m sorry”, let a bunch of boats go by, and then saddle up again.” Pretty creative, right? Nobody wants to spin in big air, and this is a creative way of encouraging people to leave it on the course.

But That’s Not All Another creative innovation from the Lasers was, “to set the automatic horn for three minutes and let it roll for about 15 minutes before the first race so there’ll be an incentive to come out and get in a couple practice starts and set up your rig for the first beat.” We like that too. MRA might consider something like this to make pre-race and postponements more productive.

Caribbean Update In their ongoing Caribbean odyssey, Fleet alums Jeremy & Katie Bloxham seem to be spending a lot of time at Basil’s Bar in Mustique. In this first shot, they’re enjoying cocktails with Fleet alums Renee & Mitch Mitchel. In the second, they’re back at that same bar with Fleet alums Dru & Jack Slattery. Well, Jack is probably more of a friend of the fleet than alum, though he made it out with Dru at least once we can remember.

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Mail Bag

We heard from old friend Chris Schreiber, who is spending a lot of time in blue water delivering boats up and down the coast. “Thanks for keeping us on your mailing list! One of these days I may get back to the Rhodes, once I escape from all these big boats. Besides the Swan, I’m working on a Hinckley 59 and an X-48 this year. Haven’t raced small boats in way too long. Or anything else for that matter! I don’t really want to be known as a one-hit wonder but life seems to have gone in another direction. Best to the Fleet 5 crew.” It’s clear to anyone who has raced against Chris & Debbie Schreiber that they are butt-kickers and anything but one hit wonders.

Sarah Sheldon on behalf of Team Garuda teammates Ann Sousa and Joan Thayer sent in this generous offer. “The Garuda ladies have enjoyed years of Rhodes’ hospitality, and Rhodes sailors are wonderful hosts! So put me on your list of happy hosts.” Thanks Sarah and consider it done. We’ll add you the list.

Two folks wrote in with the correct answer to Alex Felton’s ‘other boat’ challenge referencing the picture below, “First one who can name the ‘other boat’ and its home port gets a free drink at the Fleet bar. Cheers.” First was Jim Taylor, who wrote, “The ‘Other Boat’ is Rebecca, a +/-150ft superyacht. When she’s not racing at St Barths, she likes cruising in Maine.” The other is Forbes Barber, “Looks like Rebecca. Wouldn’t be a bad way to cruise. We all need something to strive for.” Congrats to both Jim and Forbes – well done. Please come claim your free drink at the fleet party on June 3rd.

We got an email from Doyle Sails to let us know they are now also in the canvas cover business. “Reviewing the list of racer’s resources, please note Doyle has a (relatively) new canvas department which is a more local solution than Sailors Tailor! Contact Amanda for any and all canvas needs.” Done.

Something in last month’s newsletter prompted John Casler to send in this shot with the comment, “In Valencia looking for Twilight crew.” I’m pretty sure any of those characters would fit right in.

Racers Resource Board

Dave Whittier of Stuart Marine in Rockland Maine is the exclusive builder of Rhodes 19s. Call Dave at 207-594-5515 for pricing on new boats, used boats, repairs and parts.

Doyle Sails – Call (978) 740-5950 for new sails, sail repairs and all variety of canvas work, including boat covers, rudder bags and marine stitching.

Chris Small – Full restorations and glass work- cs had totally rebuilt Rhodes 19 hull, (978) 500-9021.

Seacoast Specialty Marine – Call Greg Dolan at 978-255-2769, click on, or visit on Facebook @seacoastspecialtymarine.

Neal Lewanda – Repairs, fiberglass/gel coat, rudders, keel work, etc. –, or call 978-525-2700

Kenny Harvey – Rigging or (781) 631-6644

Waterline Systems provides a complete range of services. Call at (401) 682-1661.

Cape Cod Shipbuilding makes Zephyr extrusions and a full range of mast and boom hardware and fittings. Call Dick Landis at (508) 295-2240.

The Trailer Shop – Located on 87 High St. in Danvers for any trailer repairs. Call Dan Sullivan at (978) 750-6799

Sailor’s Tailor for boat covers, rudder bags and marine stitching.

Newsletter Schedule

Fleet 5 newsletters are distributed on the 1st of January, March, April, May and November. The Road to the Cup mailings are distributed weekly starting one week before the season with the ‘Week 0’ edition, and continuing until the end of the season, typically on Sunday mornings, unless there is racing on Sunday, in which case Monday mornings.

Fleet 5 Calendar

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