March 2024 Newsletter

Greetings From the Prez

“Holy crap, March already! Where has the winter gone?” That, by the way, is a direct quote from last year’s March newsletter, which admittedly is kind of lame, but hey, if the shoe fits.

In contrast to winter, spring kind of sneaks up you. The ‘winter is coming’ thing is like a slow-motion train wreck. The leaves fall, the harbor empties, the days get gradually shorter, temps creep down, and you watch helplessly the unrelenting approach of bleak, dark frigidity. But the approach of spring is different. It kind of tiptoes in behind you, tossing little bouquets of optimism along the way. The sun rises before 7 and sets after 5. You get the occasional sunny day in the 50s. More people are out walking their dogs in the morning, more joggers are on the causeway, and so on. A big one for me is always ‘Truck Day,’ the day the Red Sox equipment truck leaves for Florida. That blessed event occurred Feb 5. Pitchers and catchers reported Feb 15th, followed by the full squad workouts five days later. See what I mean? February is barely over but the boys of summer are playing baseball. Spring sneaks up on you, and spring, as my Brother Jim Raisides might say, means it’s time to talk boat.

It’s been a busy offseason and we have a lot to get to, but first I’d like to thank Anne Marije Veenland & Bryan Lee for hosting this year’s winter party – again. Regrettably, I missed it while in Maine attempting to breakeven on my season ski pass, but by all accounts, it was a great event; well-attended with awesome food (judging from this shot) and plenty to drink. Huge thanks to them for once again opening their home to us (more party pix below).

So let’s start with MRA. As they do every year, the fine folks of MRA have been working hard to pull together our season. You’ll recall that we sent them a proposal last fall urging them to consider some changes, and we weren’t alone. Several fleets sent similar suggestions, and rank and file sailors added their voices through the MRA’s annual survey. MRA heard us, and this year has been working to introduce changes intended to augment and improve our experience. Included are things like a later start, race areas closer to the harbor, more race variety and augmented communications. There is more on that below, but here is my point. MRA is a group of hard-working volunteers, many of whom have day gigs and who already have their hands full. They typically burn the midnight oil just pulling together the Rubik’s Cube that is our harbor calendar, which balances club schedules, multiple fleets, conflicting events, RC capacity, volunteer resources and so on. It’s a tall task, even without introducing changes. But the extra work required to make material changes requires a ton of time, thought and effort. It would have been easier simply to leave things as they were and call it a day. But instead, they chose ‘hard,’ and rolled up their sleeves to do the heavy lifting of figuring out how to nudge things forward. We owe these dedicated volunteers a debt of gratitude for that. Whether the 2024 experiment works or not, Fleet 5 applauds the initiative and appreciates the effort, and we encourage you to thank them next time you see them.

Next is the Spring Clinic. Dave Reynolds generously stepped up to lead this year’s clinic, and has been busy sculpting an evening around what to expect from MRA this season. The event will start with a deep dive into the expected changes led by yours truly (including Q&A), and finish with a moderated panel of sailors who do a lot of short course racing, and who will share their thoughts on keys to succeeding in that format. More detail below, and you’ll hear more as the date approaches.

Finally, as I did last year, I’ve taken the liberty of pulling together a season calendar of all events involving Fleet 5, from meetings and parties to racing and clinics. It’s still draft, as not everything is fully locked down yet, so we’ll continue to iterate, and will include updated versions in the April and May newsletters. You’ll find version 1 of that at the end of this newsletter.

First gun is in 12 weeks.

Upcoming Events

Here’s what’s coming up in the near term.

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

MRA Kickoff Party – Friday May 3rd The MRA will kick off the season with a party at CYC on Friday evening May 3rd. Cost is $25 per person and registration will open April 1st on Eventbrite. They will send out the link to sign up, and we’ll try to provide it here as well.

Spring Clinic – Thursday May 9th The fleet will host its traditional spring clinic on Thursday evening, May 9th at the Corinthian Yacht Club. Details below.

Short Tacks

Registration is Open – Believe it or not, registrations are open for the fleet and the class, and you’ll find both here. Just enter your email and select ‘Memberships.’

2024 Snowflake Regatta Warm-Up Party – March 16th

The 2024 Snowflake Regatta event is held for the benefit of the Sail Salem Scholarship Fund and dedicated to the memory of Brad White. The kickoff of this two-part event was in February at Finz Seafood & Grill in Salem, and the second will be March 16th in North Conway. You find details here.

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 and his team. 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

Two Clinics in 2024 – As we did last year, the fleet will hold two clinics: one in the spring, which is scheduled for May 9th, and a redo of last year’s popular on-the-water clinic, which will be July 13th. The formats of both will be similar to last year.

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

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

  • Wednesday – 8/21 – Registration, Measurement
  • Thursday – 8/22 – Registration, Measurement, Practice Race, Annual Meeting at Hull YC.
  • Friday – 8/23 – Skippers meeting at Hingham YC (or by zoom), Race Day 1 with first gun no earlier than 12 noon. Dinner at Hull YC.
  • Saturday – 8/24 – Race Day 2 (starts no earlier than noon), dinner at Hingham YC.
  • Sunday – 8/25 – Race Day 3 (starts no earlier than 11am), with no warning after 2pm. Awards at 4pm at Hull YC

Last we heard, the NOR was still in draft and not yet posted on the event site, which is itself still under construction. We’ll keep you posted. For questions, email Tod Riedel at

2025 Nationals Coming Back to Marblehead – Mark your calendars. Fleet 5 and the Eastern Yacht Club will host the 2025 Rhodes 19 Nationals August 20-24, 2025. Still very early in its planning, a formal bid letter will be delivered to the class at the 2024 annual meeting and voted on by membership.

Online Racing Webinars – Acclaimed sailor & coach Dave Dellenbaugh, who for decades has published Speed & Smarts, by far the best racing newsletter available, is putting on two webinar series in March and April/May. The March series is called ‘Clashing Priorities’ and the April/May is ‘Dave’s Top 50 Tips.’ Both four-part webinars are designed to give specific strategies, techniques and tactics to help prepare for the upcoming season. Click the links for more info.

Spring Clinic

MRA Changes: How will changes affect Fleet 5 and what will it take to succeed on new racecourses? By Dave Reynolds

In response to feedback from sailors and some polite agitation by fleet leaders, MRA is planning some changes to the Saturday format for this season. While final decisions have not yet been made, we will occasionally be sailing in different course locations (i.e. closer to the harbor), sailing shorter races, and using a larger variety of racecourses. Our spring clinic will focus on explaining the changes and hearing from a panel of some short course experts about what it takes to win on a shorter racecourse. The panel will include Larry Ehrhardt, Joe Fava and Christina Pandapas, and will be moderated by Dave Reynolds. The clinic will be held on Thursday May 9th at 7PM in the fantail at the Corinthian Yacht Club. Cash bar.

MRA Update

Here is a summary of MRA’s proposed 2024 changes, with the disclaimer that nothing is yet finalized.

Later Start – MRA is proposing that first gun be a half hour later at 1PM instead of 12:30. The change is intended to better match the start of racing with when the breeze usually fills in, reducing long light air slogs to the racecourse and pre-race postponements.

More Racing Variety – MRA is contemplating introducing more course variety, including a mix of short and long courses, as well as possible new course and mark configurations. The current thinking is to provide two short course racing days per 5-day series (for a maximum of six short course days for the season). Course configurations are expected to include the usual array of WLs, with 1-2 additional added for the short course lines. MRA also is considering using vertical offsets at the weather mark (see mailbag below).

Updated Racing Lines – MRA’s two priorities relative to the racing areas are, 1) to reduce commute time, and 2) add additional lines for short course racing and inclement weather. Below is a chart of the current proposed line configuration with circle diameters. The North and South lines are for the longer, more traditional MRA races. The Brimbles line will be for short courses races between 20 and 30 minutes. The Archers, Brimbles and Bowditch lines are for days when the weather or sea state make them more favorable. Class line assignments will be posted in the schedule, but could change based on the weather, so MRA is augmenting its communications arsenal (see below) to keep us informed.

A map with red circles

Description automatically generated

2024 Line Assignments – Here are Fleet 5’s expected line assignment for the season, including ECs and Race Week (not including Twilights). These are as of March 1 and still draft, so intended for illustration purposes. These will likely evolve as MRA continues to fine-tune the calendar.

Augmented Racer Communications – If the forecast looks questionable, registered boats will be notified of possible line change in the Thursday MRA email/text blast and in a WhatsApp notice. If there is an actual line change, that will be communicated to competitors before 5pm on the day before race-day by 1) an email/text blast, 2) a WhatsApp notice and 3) posting on the Official Notice Board. Same protocol for race day changes and before 10am. For last-minute condition changes on the racecourse, the RC may raise a ‘L’ (Lima) flag and lead the fleet(s) to a more suitable race area. They also will signal this move with a VHF broadcast and WhatsApp posting.

MRA continues to solicit feedback. If you have constructive thoughts about this, send them to Kim Pandapas (, Joe Fava (, or directly to Jud Smith (


Winter Party Pics – Winter party host Anne Marije Veenland wrote in that “Fleet 5 winter party was a hit, delicious food, even the hallway was occupied 😊, and Susie provided some insight on upcoming season racing format.” She also generously sent in these shots.

A group of people posing for a photo

Description automatically generated

A group of people standing in a room

Description automatically generated

A group of women sitting on a couch with plates of food

Description automatically generated

Two women smiling at the camera

Description automatically generated

Bill Colehower Got Himself a Boat – You’re recall that Bill Colehower joined us last season chartering 1790 from Stefan Thibodeaux. This year, Bill will be sailing his own boat, 1341, purchased in January from Greg Dolan at Seacoast Specialty Marine. Here is what Bill had to say. “It is official – 1341 will be joining fleet 5. Susan & Bill Colehower will be sailing together. Susan is a bit new to sailing and does not have much experience racing. Bill will bring her out for twilight races and if all goes well, she will be ready for some spinnaker racing on Saturdays very soon. At this time, the only thing the boat is missing is a name. If anyone knows any history on this boat (formerly owned by Tara), we would enjoy hearing some stories — hopefully good ones.” How awesome! Yet another husband wife team. Welcome to Bill and Susan!


Need Used Sails – Hugh Townsend, who you’ll recall came down from Maine to sail Race Week with us last year, is looking for used sails. “The small fleet in Northport, Maine, is growing and there seems to be a shortage of racing sails. New racing sails aren’t needed here now but serviceable used racing sails would likely be appreciated. We’re racing now with only mains and jibs. I presume Fleet 5 members have quite a few used racing sails lying around.” So if you have some old sails kicking around, reach out to Hugh at

Used Sails for Sale – Four sails available, including a main, jib and two spinnakers. Email

Mail Bag

The January newsletter didn’t generate much except this from Joan Thayer. “Right on schedule and full of humor. Thank you for getting me to mark my 2024 calendar with the important stuff – now!

We also got this question from Kathleen Lane about a proposed MRA course configuration. “One of the things I heard that may be coming is the addition of a second windward mark, to weather of the initial mark. The thought being that it would prevent port tackers from coming in at the windward mark and potentially fouling others. I would like to understand more about how it would work and what problem it would solve. Thank you.”

Kathleen, you are correct. We got this from CYC RC Chair Dan Himes. “Yes, we are going to talk to the fleets about experimenting with ‘vertical offsets’ which have been used in various regattas with positive feedback.”

The idea is to place an offset (Mark 1A) no less than 6-7 boat lengths directly to weather of the windward mark (Mark 1). This has the same impact as the horizontal offset in that it clears the boats approaching the windward marks from boats rounding the mark and heading downwind. But as you implied, the principal benefit is to move port tack layline crossings away from the mark and out of the zone (see illustration below). Note that both marks are left to port, going up and down. One potential downside of this is that it can neutralize an advantage for teams able to execute a flawless jibe set (like Team Frisch / Hourihan for example), a tactical maneuver that can sometime provide offensive positioning advantages on the downwind leg. However, establishing the inside and jibing around Mark 1 accomplishes the same thing with the advantage of being beyond the wind shadow of the parade of starboard tackers approaching Mark 1A.

A group of colorful objects on a black background

Description automatically generated

Racers Resource Board

Alcole MarineLuke Andrews (978-500-1505) and Renato Qarri (781-470-4550) do high quality fiberglass repair, gelcoat & Awlgrip and boat detailing. Email

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-, (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 or (781) 631-6644

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

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

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

Stuart MarineDave 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.

Similar Posts