January 2024 Newsletter

Greetings From the Prez

Well, here we go again!  Today begins yet another action-packed, fun filled Fleet 5 season.  For Christina and me, there have been a lot of them.  To the best my recollection, 2024 marks our 30th year in Fleet 5.  Can you imagine that?  Of course, that pales in comparison to guys like Mike LaneJim Taylor or His Eminence John Casler, who have been around longer than Homer Simpson.  But still – 30 years.  We started this ride four years after Christina and I were married, a year after Bill Clinton was elected president, and five years before our oldest old son, Nicholas, was born.  I was still in my 30s for God’s sake.  Where did that time go?

And you know, the fleet really hasn’t changed that much.  It looks a lot today like it did in 1994.  The guys we were chasing back then included names like BrehobCarpenterCaswellCressyDimond and Hallawell.  But they also included LaneTaylor and even a guy named Hourihan.  So sure, a lot of the names have changed, but the character of the fleet has not. 

Our culture of tough competition blended with lots of social time has kept the fleet strong and resilient.  The fast guys continue to be generous, sharing their secrets with anyone who asks.  We continue to attract families who want to sail together, and in fact, today have no fewer than 10 family teams.  And the high number of women skippers and crew, which has always been our calling card, remains a key strength.  The bottom line is that Fleet 5 is still the same warm, caring, vibrant, collegial community that we joined 30 years ago.  It really is special.

A key ingredient in our secret sauce is contribution.  If you attended our awards party, you heard me list the legions of people who contributed in 2023.  I won’t repeat them all here, but trust me, there were a lot and we’re indebted to all of them.  I do want, however, to single out the folks on the leadership team listed on the masthead above.  After putting up with me all last year, they somehow were willing to sign on again, as in “thank you, may I have another, so a grateful tip of the cap to them.  We continue to need help in a variety of ways, so if you’re looking to pitch in, just let me know.

As usual, the leadership group met in December to plan next season.  The process isn’t done yet, but one thing is for sure, this year will be interesting.  What we have so far is summarized in Upcoming Events below.

On the sailing front, the centerpiece will again be Race Week, though as always, the core will be MRA, and of course, Twilights.  As you may have heard, MRA is considering a bit of a refresh this year.  In response to survey feedback and fleet comments (including our proposal last fall), MRA plans to experiment with some changes, including new racing areas closer to the harbor, a combination of short and long course races, and a host of other possible enhancements.  More on that below. 

Additionally, Fleet 5 and the CYC will host East Coasts in June.  Mike Lane has stepped up to chair the regatta committee, and I’m sure can use help, so if you’re looking for a way to plug in, here it is.  Contact Mike at lanmik@gmail.com.  Finally, Nationals will be just down the road in Hingham in August, and word on the street is that they’re planning to bring their A-game.  So, the 2024 season promises all sorts of goodies.  Stay tuned.

First gun is in five months.  Happy new year!

Upcoming Events

You’ll find an abbreviated calendar below and we’ll provide the complete draft 2024 calendar of events in the March newsletter.  Here are a few the near-term events you should know about.

Winter Party – Saturday February 3rd This year’s Fleet 5’s winter party will again be hosted by Anne Marije Veenland & Bryan Lee on Saturday evening, February 3rd.  The party will be potluck and the Fleet bar will be ‘in the house.’  Circle the date and keep an eye out for the evite.

Spring Meeting – Thursday April 25th This year’s spring meeting will be held on Thursday April 25th at the home of Christina & Kim Pandapas.  We’ll discuss racing, scoring and social details of the upcoming season, and maybe even vote on a few things, while enjoying a few hors d’oeuvres, the fleet bar and each other’s company.  We may also even have a laptop available to help you register.

MRA Kick-off Party – Friday May 3rd  The MRA will kick off the season with a party at CYC on Friday evening May 3rd.  Details to follow.

Short Tacks

2024 East Coasts in Marblehead – The East Coasts will return to the friendly waters of Marblehead on June 15-16.  The event will be hosted by Fleet 5 and the Corinthian Yacht Club, and organized by event chair Mike Lane.  We’ll let you know when the NOR is posted, and keep you updated on details as they are worked out.  If you want to pitch in to help (and we hope you do), contact Mike at lanmik@gmail.com.

Two Clinics in 2024 – As we did last year, the fleet will again hold two clinics: one spring off-the-water Clinic, which is scheduled for May 9th, and a redo of last year’s popular on-the-water clinic, which will be either July 13th or 20th.  The formats of both will be similar to last year, but details have yet to be worked out.  Stay tuned.  

2024 Nationals in Hingham – This year’s Nationals will be hosted by Hingham/Hull’s Fleet 46 and the Hingham Yacht Club this August 21-25.  Here is a tentative schedule.

  • Wednesday – 8/21/24 – Registration, Measurement
  • Thursday – 8/22/24 – Registration, Measurement, Practice Race, Annual Meeting
  • Friday – 8/23/24 – Race Day
  • Saturday – 8/24/24 – Race Day
  • Sunday – 8/25/24 – Race Day

Last time we checked, the NOR was not yet posted.  We’ll let you know when it is.

Around Misery Islands Race – The oracles of booth racing, Bart Snow and David Graham, have selected Saturday August 17th for the much anticipated and increasingly popular race around Misery Island.  Circle the date. 

Helly Hansen Sets Regatta Schedule The HH regatta schedule is set, and as usual, includes Race Week, which will be held July 25-28.

Stuart Marine Closed for the Winter – If you didn’t get the notice, Dave Whittier of Stuart Marine has decided to shut down January and February to do a little ice fishing.  The company will continue to accept parts orders but won’t send them out until they return in March. 

2025 Nationals Coming Back to Marblehead – Fleet 5 and the Eastern Yacht Club will, in all probability, host the 2025 Nationals.  While it may seem like we just held Nationals here (2021), it will have been four years (Chicago in 2022, New Orleans 2023 and Hingham in 2024), so it’s our turn.  All parties, including new Class President Mike Hebert, are on board, but dates haven’t yet been set and nothing is finalized.  A formal bid letter will be delivered to the class at the 2024 annual meeting and voted on by membership at that meeting. 

Fleet 5 Awards Recap 

Fleet 5’s 2023 awards party was held at Christina & Kim Pandapas’ house with around 50 of us in attendance.  KP presided over the festivities, which in addition to a recap of the various series winners, included the presenting of our Twilight awards and Fleet perpetuals, as well as the presentation of the class President’s Trophy to Jim Taylor by outgoing class president Mike Lane.  The presentation closed with the always spirited selection of the 2023 Hacker Award, a ceremony presided over by Elise Nash with an assist from Matt Hooks.  All 2023 racing results are listed below, but it’s worth pausing one final time to celebrate the winners of our perpetuals.

Hallawell Family Trophy – The Regnault family –Marine, Alex, Nicholas and Felix.

The Family Trophy was donated by Barbara & Kent Hallawell in 2000 to celebrate their family’s then 20, now 40+ year association with Fleet 5 and its strong family tradition.  The trophy is awarded annually to a family for significant contributions to the class, to our fleet or to the sport of sailboat racing.  This year, in her first full season, Marine Regnault sailed 60% of Fleet 5 races in various combinations with family members, including her husband Alex and sons Nicholas (16) and Felix (13).  On the water and off, they are never without a smile, and their immediate and important contribution to Fleet 5 is the fostering and perpetuation of our fleet’s deep family culture.

Rookie of the Year – Marine Regnault 

This is awarded annually to that rookie skipper with an impressive showing, typically based on overall scores, though also on the basis of an outstanding showing, or importantly, overall enthusiasm and commitment.  Marine is a first-time skipper, so enthusiasm and commitment were weighted heavily.  She sailed in all three MRA series as well as Race Week.  She was extremely proactive in figuring out the boat, and reached out to most everyone for advice on everything from rig tuning to boat handling and speed tricks. 

Most Improved Skipper – Rich Denton 

Most Improved is awarded each year to that skipper who demonstrates the most improvement from the previous season.  Selection is based primarily on a year-to-year comparison of the overall score, including MRA, Twilight series, Race Week and the Fall series (if there is one).  Rich sailed in all three MRA Series and Race Week.  Although he didn’t win an MRA series, he and Rosie were always in the mix, finishing 5th in Series 1, 6th in Series 2, 3rd in Series 3 for 4th overall, as compared with 12th overall in 2022. 

Richie Santos Outstanding Crew – Christina Pandapas 

This is awarded each season to that individual who most distinguishes him or herself as crew.  Selection is based on long-term contribution, overall performance during a single season or regatta, or even a single compelling event.  Christina checks all the boxes.  She has sailed at a high level for close to three decades, including double-digit MRA championships, double-digit season championships, and double-digit Race Week podiums, including six wins.  In 2023, she finished 1st in MRA and 1st overall for the season, earning 20 podiums in 41 races, including ten bullets. 

President’s Trophy – Timmy Dittrich 

The President’s Trophy is awarded annually at the Fleet Captain’s discretion to that person who has been of most help or generally contributed above and beyond the call.  Timmy has only been in the fleet 3-4 years, but has already contributed more than some do in 20 years.  In his first year, he accepted the role of class secretary.  In his second, he agreed to serve on the 2021 Nationals Committee to manage the shoreside social events.  In the third, he accepted the role of Fleet Secretary.  Timmy is a doer who understands that contribution matters, and he stands as a great example to all of us of what it means to step up.

Hacker Award – Steve Uhl

This year’s Hacker competition included two strong contenders in Mike Lane and Steve Uhl.  Mike was nominated for his Series 1 starboard leeward mark rounding (in traffic) and Steve for not watching where he was going on a port tack reach prior to a start (with unsurprising results).  Voting was close, but Steve was voted the winner (or loser, depending on how you look at it).

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MRA Fall Meeting Update 

In case you hadn’t heard, Jud Smith, whose many distinctions include R19 national champ, joined the EYC Race Committee as its chair.  MRA’s leadership rotates through the clubs each year, and as 2024 is EYC’s turn, Jud has stepped up as the MRA chair. 

Jud joins MRA at an inflection point.  MRA’s numbers have been trending down, consistent with those of Saturday racing across the country, as racers have gradually migrated to weekday evenings, team- and match-racing alternatives.  Locally, racers and fleets have been building conviction in various ideas that might help turn that around. 

Jud wasted no time in introducing some fresh ideas, beginning with holding a town hall of MRA stakeholders instead of the traditional MRA Fleet Reps meeting.  The event was well attended and included a mix of racers, race committee and bridge members from the three clubs. 

Attending for Fleet 5 was MRA Rep Joe Fava and Fleet Captain Kim Pandapas, plus several additional active R19 racers, including EYC Commodore Peter Frisch.  MRA did a ton of prep work, including designing a survey targeting these issues, and compiling the results into a lengthy list of potential initiatives, which they then presented at the meeting.  Some of the initiatives MRA is considering include:

Introducing Short Course Races in the Mix – Survey results suggest that more than half of MRA sailors surveyed would enjoy mixing in two days of six or more races on shorter courses, and MRA is considering that.

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Adding Lines Closer to The Harbor – Commute time to and from the racecourse has been a hot button issue for a while.  The survey suggested an overwhelming majority favored adding lines closer to the harbor.  MRA is considering adding two short course lines – Archers on the near side of Children’s Island and Brimbles on the far side.  They additionally are considering moving the south line closer to the harbor while leaving North line where it is.  It’s unclear at this point how line assignments might work.

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Introduce Occasional Longer Courses Around Government Marks – MRA’s thoughts on this were less clear, but more than half of those surveyed favor an occasional longer course.

Introduce a Race to the Harbor to End the Day – More than 60% of those surveyed like this idea, though were divided on how to score it. 

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MRA continues to solicit feedback.  If you have constructive thoughts on this, send them to Kim Pandapas (kpandapas@comcast.net), Joe Fava (joseph.c.fava@gmail.com, or directly to Jud Smith (judsmithsailing@gmail.com).

Congratulations To Our 2023 winners


Security Loophole – Pilot extraordinaire Steve Uhl took a ride down to Martha’s Vineyard a while back, and someone got this shot of him on the tarmac running through his preflight routine.  Rest assured that he went through no security protocols before wondering around the tarmac close to the Jet Blue plane.  Think about that next time they ask you to take off your shoes or hand over your shampoo.

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Mike & BJ Sighting – Speaking of Steve Uhl, not long ago he spent some time with old friends Mike Carpenter & BJ Mansfield, and sent in the shot below.  For those who don’t know them, Mike & BJ were a centerpiece of Fleet 5 for decades.  They are skilled sailors who raced with poise, humility and graciousness, and over the years, won just about everything you could win.  They contributed early and often, serving in fleet leadership, chairing regattas, and doing just about anything that needed to be done.  They were culture carriers who set a high bar as role models for the rest of us.  They sold their boat (2003 – You Sexy Thing) a couple of years ago to Rich & Rosie Denton

Mail Bag

Several wrote in with comments on the RTTC Holiday Edition, most of them complementary.  Let’s start with Joan Thayer.  “Thank you for helping us all remember the good times we had in Fleet 5.” 

Marine Regnault-Stoel wrote, “Always such a joy reading your Road to the Cup.  Thank you.” 

CYC RC Chair Dan Himes wrote “Great article, Kim!”, and his predecessor former CYC RC chair Mark Toso wrote “This newsletter is one of the reasons the R-19 fleet has maintained and grown its membership.”

And from old friend JP Zonnenberg, “Definitely the funniest Road to the Cup ever.  Enjoyed reading it.  Happy Holidays.”

But they weren’t all positive.  Elise Nash rightly pointed out that she, not Evan Cooke as incorrectly reported, was on the spring clinic panel.  “It would have been AWESOME if Evan Cooke was at the Spring Clinic.  However, I believe due to last minute work travel, he was not.  I am going to assume this means I did not say anything sufficiently embarrassing, which I will take as a win.”  Boy is my face red!  Totally my bad.  I completely forgot that Elise generously agreed to fill in when Evan developed a conflict.  Her contribution, by the way, was anything but embarrassing.

We heard from two of our perpetual award winners who were unable to be at the awards party.  Marine Regnault-Stoel, who won both the Family and Rookie of the Year trophies, wrote this.  “We feel so honored to be awarded the trophies for our family and rookie of the year.  I cannot express how much joy it brings us, and especially me to be a part of this fleet, to be able to go out there, learn from the best and just experience the beautiful Salem Sound in this friendly competitive environment.”

And President’s Award winner Timmy Dittrich wrote,  “Holy smokes!  WOW!  I am humbled and SO grateful for the recognition.  Thank you and thank the Fleet.  Your words were very kind and generous.  I truly love to ‘do.’  I truly have a deep commitment to give something back for being allowed to get into this sport/life.   I am SO grateful to all those “ol guys” who let me in.”

Mark Rubin wrote in with this support of MRA mixing things up.  “The opportunity to get extra starts and extra mark roundings (via clinic day and a few other short course racing closer-to-the harbor days) is a welcome regatta prep bonus.  Thanks for your leadership and for soliciting feedback.” 

Mark, who lives in DC and travels up for racing, also added this suggestion.  “If there’s a convenient way to live stream and/or record/post the next spring indoor clinic, then that would be most appreciated.”  Great idea.  We should be able to run a Zoom during the event.

Finally, in a veiled reference to EYC’s tennis facility (generally referred to as the Taj Mahut) and the ongoing discussions at CYC about upping its tennis game, rabble rouser John Casler sent this in with the caption “Artist Rendering, new CYC tennis hut at 17 Corinthian Lane.

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Racers Resource Board

Alcole Marine – Luke Andrews (978-500-1505) and Renato Qarri (781-470-4550) do high quality fiberglass repair, gelcoat & Awlgrip and boat detailing.  Email alcole.marine@gmail.com.

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

Chris Small – Full restorations and glass work- csmall9021@yahoo.com, (978) 500-9021.

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.

Kenny Harvey – Rigging kenny@harveyrigging.com or (781) 631-6644

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

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

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

Stuart Marine – 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.

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

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 through the end of the season, typically on Sunday mornings, unless there is racing on Sunday, in which case Monday mornings. 

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