Member Interest RSS feed for this section

Take a Wild Ride to Sail Better: The North U – OSS Performance Week

Laying the mark at Performance Race Week. Photos courtesy Offshore Sailing School.

Laying the mark at Performance Race Week. Photos courtesy Offshore Sailing School.

It was sudden and violent. A brutal “bang” and the rig crashed down around us, the boom dragging in the water, the boat skidding to a stop.

“Everyone all right?” asked Rod Favela from his coaching spot on the stern.

We were fine. The boat? Not so much.

It was a downwind run on a Colgate 26, the school boat at the Performance Race Week put on by Offshore Sailing School and North U at Captiva Island on the west coast of Florida, near Ft. Myers. Each spring, North U director Bill Gladstone rounds up a fleet of coaches and 44 students for this intensive, six-day school.

The drill is similar all six days: An 8 am start, rigging boats and heading out to the nearby race area; three hours of racing; then ground school back on shore with lunch; another three hour thrash on the water; and another ground school. I love to sail, but by mid-week I confess I wanted a break from more hours battling the boat and heavy wind. During nearly every session this year the wind blew into the teens and they said it was the heaviest they’ve seen. Really? This was my second trip to the school and it blew just as hard or harder last time!

Our team. Mike's trimming main.

Our team. Mike’s trimming main.

So what happened that dismasted us? We weren’t sure. Maybe something broke. More likely, our relatively inexperienced helmsman may have thrown us into a “death roll,” the spinnaker pole hit the water and the stress took down the rig. Out of 11 racing boats, two were carrying spinnakers in heavy wind. We were one of them.

We began dragging boat parts onto the hull, untangling and untying the mess that seconds before had been a fully-functioning sailboat. By afternoon, we’d been given a back-up boat and we were back on the race course. More starts, more races.

Surprisingly, Steve and Doris Colgate keep a great attitude about these little mishaps. They founded Offshore Sailing School 50 years ago and know that when sailors push the boats this hard, things break. Their shore crew fixes them and sends us back for more. Most of the year the boats are used to teach people to sail or sail better. This one week of high-performance racing has become a school mainstay and in 2015 will celebrate its 15th anniversary. To put a cherry on top of this chocolate sundae, each year Steve and Doris roll out a new suit of sails for all the boats, just to keep the competition close.

Their partner is Bill Gladstone, a fun, funny, upbeat imp who teaches with enthusiasm and stuffs the classroom portions with content. He follows the classroom with a sailing circus act, hoisting himself to the spreaders of a cruising boat, lashing himself on and chasing us around the race course with a video camera. He calls it his “helicopter” shot. By playing back selected video from this perspective during the afternoon debrief, he can point out tactical and trim lessons while it’s all still fresh.

Spinnaker run.

Spinnaker run.

On each 26-foot boat are four students and one coach. The students are required to rotate positions, from helm to mainsheet trim to foredeck to jib/spin trim and back again. The rotation helps everybody understand the demands of each position—and drives home how important good crew work is. The students bring a variety of racing backgrounds, but most are pretty experienced sailors looking for a competitive edge. Nearly half are repeats.

One of the easiest parts of the week is life at South Seas Island Resort on Captiva Island. Our rooms are within a short walk of the boats and Captiva is spectacular spot, surrounded by water from the gulf. Each night, crowds gather on the beach just to watch one of the most predictable and glorious shows on earth: sunset.

What did I learn? On the plane home, I ran over in my mind what I’d picked up this time. Maybe 20-30 things. Many small. Some just finally jelled in my mind after years. There’s nothing quite like racing every day for several days straight to get the rhythm of it. Nothing quite like Rod Favela urging us on from the coach’s box in back of the boat. Even if sometimes it got just a bit too exciting.

Resources: North U, Offshore Sailing School, Performance Race Week. The Performance Race Week sells out every year, so if you’re interested in attending, sign up early. The 2014 school was sold out by the end of December 2013.
The class photo at the 2014 Performance Race Week.

The class photo at the 2014 Performance Race Week. That’s Bill Gladstone on the lower left.

Strong wind pushed the boats all week.

Strong wind pushed the boats all week.

Returning crew. This bunch (plus one other) sailed together in 2012 and were back for 2014. From left: Mark Allison, Coach Rod Favela, Dave Bohl, and Mike Ferring.

Returning crew. This bunch (plus one other) sailed together in 2012 and were back for 2014. From left: Mark Allison, Coach Rod Favela, Dave Bohl, and Mike Ferring. AYCer Chris Smith also attended the school in 2012.

Jumping on the Riddell Crazy Train

The view of oncoming spin-flying boats was so pretty the crew applauded. Photos: Mike Ferring

The view of oncoming spin-flying boats was so pretty the crew applauded. Photos: Mike Ferring

Here’s a prescription for sailing chaos: Take a dozen men who barely know each other, throw them in a frat-house hot-house, mix in gallons of beer and vodka, drop them on a 37-foot boat that most of them have never sailed, on a race course that’s a complete mystery to them, outlaw speed and nav instruments, give them 45 minutes to practice, and put them up against 10 well-drilled, well-honed competitors.

Oh, and just to make things interesting, make most of the dozen captains of their own boats with their own ideas of speed and tactics. And as an icebreaker, one of them greets another one by announcing, “I don’t like you and I don’t know how I can sail with you.”

So, how did it come out?

Not bad, actually.

John Riddell conducting the AYC symphony.

John Riddell conducting the AYC symphony.

None of this is made up and some of it you’d never believe anyway, but for the third year AYC membership director John Riddell patched together a crew of guys from the club with the express goal of their getting to know each other, of mingling experience with inexperience—heading off to have fun while trying not to make fools of themselves in front of the best of the West Coast sailing glitterati. First year’s results: last. Second year: next to last. Third year: third from last. At this rate, it’s victory in 2022!

The venue is the Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week, a very well organized and run regatta that this year drew 142 boats, including a couple TP52s and boats that are even bigger. Tony Chapman told me before the regatta that he thinks it’s the best on the coast and he’s been going for years. In fact, all the AYC Vipers were there to compete. And Chris Smith towed his J/80 for this event and another race that sails to Catalina. In all, there were probably over 30 AYC people racing on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

We all gathered Thursday in a very nice rented house not far from Long Beach Yacht Club and a short walk to the clatter of 2nd Avenue’s row of restaurants and shops. I never got an exact count, but there were at least 15 men sharing this four bedroom, 2½ bath house. What they did at night is the stuff of next-day legend, but what happens in Long Beach, you know, stays there. Animal House didn’t have much on this bunch of much-older-than-thats.

Some of the raucous pick-up crew of Crazy Train.

Some of the raucous pick-up crew of Crazy Train.

So we gathered in a meeting where John Riddell cracked jokes and made it clear that he was pretty sure he knew what he was doing on big boats and he expected us to follow instructions and no backtalk. He said in the past he had a habit of shouting instructions (and other words) from the back of the boat to the front of the boat and this year he damn well wasn’t going to do that (a vow he broke constantly all three days). Everybody talked; some listened. It was very loud.

I woke up at 6-something Friday morning to the smell of frying bacon and sausage. Peter Lehrach would stand in front of the frying pans for a couple hours each morning stacking eggs and bacon for the gathering mob. Thanks, Peter. And then Adam “The Badger” Torel would mass-assemble a countertop of sandwiches to bag for lunch. Adam was John’s able organizer off the water.

Identical Catalina 37s were our Crazy Train.

Identical Catalina 37s were our Crazy Train.

The 11 racing boats lined up stern-to in slips in front of Long Beach Yacht Club, each boat rented from the club for the regatta. They’re 1990 Catalina 37s, built for the Congressional Cup match racing regatta that was already famous when Frank Butler custom built these 11-of-a-kind boats that have been used for that prestigious event ever since. They’re maintained perfectly. This weekend they had crispy new sails.

You’ll see in the picture that our team was outfitted in new team shirts, another Riddell LBRW tradition. We were the “Crazy Train,” a name that fit comfortably. Other teams were also wearing team shirts and moving around the boats with a studied familiarity. A couple teams sail these boats nearly every week. Others sail as a team on other kinds of boats. They all knew what they were doing.

In matching team shirts, the Crazy Train gets ready to set sail.

In matching team shirts, the Crazy Train gets ready to set sail.

With all of 45 minutes permitted before the first gun, we had enough time to figure out pretty much what everybody should sorta do. Fortunately, helmsman Trey Harlow had drafted his friend JB to handle the front of the boat, so the front and the back were in good hands. The middle? Some work needed. Some position-swapping. Some encouragement from John.

The boat is big and heavy and slow to respond and likes to keep moving, gathering speed slowly out of tacks. That’s about all we knew when the first gun sounded and we approached the much-too-short start line. Late. John said he wasn’t ready to mix it up with the fast guys this early, especially after last year, but we won’t talk about that.

Tenth. Out of 11. Race and repeat. Ninth. Not so bad when you consider the size of the hill we had to climb. I was assigned the job of standing at the back of the boat trying to look useful—something I’m pretty good at faking. Not a bad gig, really, with a nice view. But main trimmer Jason Donkersley aggravated a back injury and was carted off to the ER and suddenly I had a new job Saturday: main trimmer. Cool. The view’s not as nice, craning your neck to watch the trim and judging whether the top batten tell tale is stalling 50% of the time as John prescribed or 35% of the time, which he knew wasn’t enough, or not at all, which I darn well knew was the right way (as one of the many “captains” trimming on this boat).

Thistle Maestro Trey Harlow at the helm.

Thistle Maestro Trey Harlow at the helm.

And BANG. Saturday’s first race saw us on the starting line at speed and actually freaking leading at the windward mark and only giving back two places to finish THIRD! “See we know how to sail this boat!” John shouted across the water to no one in particular.

Hubris, of course. The next race we went this way and the wind went that way and we were gargling salt water in last place. Last. The pain was palpable. We recovered for a 9th in the third race of the day and went into Saturday night clinging to 9th overall by one point and staring at a 7-point gap to 8th. On Sunday we scored an 8th and a finale fifth and left the race course feeling very good about the distance we’d come.

Chris Reinhardt spin trims as the afterguard works the boat downwind.

Chris Reinhardt spin trims as the afterguard works the boat downwind.

Los Alamitos Yacht Club and Long Beach Yacht Club offered up noisy, liquid parties each night and we got a chance to compare our day with the Viper guys and hear about that mark rounding where Chris Smith was supposed to leave it to starboard and a boat three times his size was supposed to round to port and, wow, it all came out all right. And the expensive Velocitek? Kicked overboard. Fortunes of war.

As we scattered for the airport or a highway dash across the desert, I think everyone was savoring a weekend well spent. I know I was. The weather was gorgeous. The boats and races were fun. Fifteen or so guys in a house worked better than I ever thought it would. Thank you, John Riddell, you crazy SOB, for driving this insane experiment.

Rob Gibbs wind sprints the spin halyard.

Rob Gibbs wind sprints the halyard.

New member and veteran sailor Scott Burkhardt gets into the racing thing.

New member and veteran sailor Scott Burkhardt gets into the racing thing.

Nailing the start.

Nailing the start.

Commodore Peter Lehrach kept the pit cooking. And breakfast.

Commodore Peter Lehrach kept the pit cooking. And breakfast.

Hike hard. Adam Torel and Josh McClain.

Hike hard. Adam Torel and Josh McClain.

Here’s a video that Rob Gibbs put together of the event (using some of these pictures).

AYC Turns Out in Force for Long Beach Race Week

The dozen members of the Crazy Train pick-up team organized by John Riddell.

The dozen members of the Crazy Train pick-up team organized by John Riddell.

First there are the sailors of the Viper fleet. All of them headed for Long Beach June 27-29 for the Ullman Sails Long Beach Race Week. And then there were the misfits of the Crazy Train, a dozen guys thrown together to sail a Catalina 37. And Chris Smith and his team on his J/80 sailing the longer “random leg” course. A couple dozen or so AYC people altogether.

How did it go? Far as I could tell, everybody was having a good time with slightly lighter than usual wind, lots of sun, and temperatures in the 70s. Yes, 70s. Why would this not be good? And the LBRW was a very well organized event with 142 entries sailing over three days.

Court Roberts edged Tony Chapman for local honors in the 23-boat Viper fleet, finishing 10 and 11. Chris Smith grabbed fifth in his segment of the random leg. And the misfits? More on this later, but they were feeling pretty good with a 9th out of a 11 given the size of the challenge.

The Catalina 37 starts were challenging on a short line and 11 big boats. Photos: Mike Ferring

The Catalina 37 starts were challenging on a short line and 11 big boats. Photos: Mike Ferring

Heading downwind at Long Beach Race Week. The Crazy Train team hustles.

Heading downwind at Long Beach Race Week. The Crazy Train team hustles.

Emory Heisler Honored by National Buccaneer Association

Emory Heisler, recipient of the national Buccaneer group's service award.

Emory Heisler, recipient of the national Buccaneer group’s service award.

AYC’s Emory Heisler has been chosen for a national honor for his work with the national Buccaneer 18 class. Each year the Buccaneer 18 class selects one member to be the official “Quaiche* Bearer,” recognizing outstanding effort and service to the class−and Emory is the 2014 honoree.

Bucc Commodore Jimmy Yurko says, “I’m proud to know Emory. Emory is a remarkable man with unparalleled optimism and enthusiasm. His dedication to the class and the sport of sailing are truly admirable, and the Buccaneer class is fortunate to have such a devoted sailor, leader and friend.”

Our club’s sailors nominated Emory for the award with this letter:

Fleet 79 from Arizona proudly nominates Emory Heisler for the MacAlpine Downie Gibbs Quaich in recognition of his dedication and contributions to the Buccaneer 18 Class Association.

Emory was one of the early Buccaneer 18 sailors in Arizona and helped grow Fleet 79, as well as other fleets across the country. For over a decade, Emory’s spirit and fervor for the Class, as well as his willingness to serve and help others, has been an immeasurable asset to the Class.

At the national level, Emory has been an enthusiastic ambassador of Fleet 79 for many years.  In addition to representing his local Fleet, Emory has made several contributions to the Buccaneer 18 National Class Association, including heading up the Buccaneer 18 Mid Winters in Arizona, serving as Race Chair for the 2009 Buccaneer 18 North American Championship, and serving as webmaster for the Class.

Emory has also contributed to the Class in many, less tangible ways.  With his outgoing charm and personality, he encourages sailors to join the Class and compete in Class events.   He works hard behind the scenes to selflessly find crew, boats, and/or rides for others, so they can attend and enjoy national events.  And, he does it all with a smile, making the events fun for everyone!

And the pirate version of Emory Heisler!

And the pirate version of Emory Heisler!

Emory also lends his services to his local yacht club, serving on the Arizona Yacht Club board for several years, including the in the roles of Commodore and Birthday Regatta Chair.  Emory also served as the Buccaneer 18 Fleet representative to the AYC for several years, before passing the torch to someone else.  Emory has used his positions in leadership roles as an opportunity for mentoring others, setting others up to take on additional responsibilities within the club.

Emory is the reason that many of us in Arizona, as well as others outside the state, are Buccaneers.  His zeal and generosity in helping and teaching others has helped grow the Buccaneer Class and Fleet 79.

*What’s a quaich? Noun (obsolete): A traditional, shallow, two-handled Scottish cup symbolising friendship. It was originally used to toast the arrival or departure of a visitor.

Aloha Commodore’s Celebration!

Mike Ferring receiving a Superman shirt along with the US Sailing Sportsmanship award.

Mike Ferring receiving a Superman shirt along with the US Sailing Sportsmanship award… and Blunder Bucket

This was a Commodore’s Celebration of a different kind: a Luau with fire dancers, hula dancers, and AYC dancers. Sizzled with some awards, music, and a changing of the guard.

New Commodore Peter Lehrach called for continued high level of excitement for the club heading into the next year and welcomed  his board of directors: Senior Staff Commodore Mike Ferring, Junior Staff Commodore Cindy Pillote, Vice Commodore Christina Campo, Rear Commodore Chris Smith, Fleet Captain Steve Brown, Cruising Captain Tom Errickson, Membership Directors John Riddell and Dianna Andress, and (elected by the board that night), Secretary Lori Reger and Treasurer Tony Chapman.

Outgoing Commodore Cindy Pillote presented the night’s top award to Mike Ferring, the US Sailing Sportsmanship Award, otherwise known as the MVP award. And Mike scored a unique double: winning the coveted Blunder Bucket for creating a new way to break a mast at Tempe Town Lake by driving the boat under overhanging rowing shells.

The ASF Jerry Linderman Most Improved Junior Racer award went to Peter Blake. The Wayne Jason Tucker Most Improved Junior award was given to Ian Altobelli. And the Heavy Lifting Award for contribution to ASF was given to Don Hubele. Who immediately dropped it.

Commodore Peter Lehrach welcomes the new board of directors. From left: Christina Campo, Lori Reger, Chris Smith, Dianna Andress, Tom Errickson, Peter, and Mike Ferring. Off camera: Cindy Pillote. Not present: John Riddell, Tony Chapman, and Steve Brown.

Commodore Peter Lehrach welcomes the new board of directors. From left: Christina Campo, Lori Reger, Chris Smith, Dianna Andress, Tom Errickson, Peter, and Mike Ferring. Off camera: Cindy Pillote. Not present: John Riddell, Tony Chapman, and Steve Brown.

Martin Lorch (right) and Kyle Clark accept the big cup for winning the Club Championship. It's the sixth time for Martin. Photos: Mike Ferring

Martin Lorch (right) and Kyle Clark accept the big cup for winning the Club Championship. It’s the sixth time for Martin. Photos: Mike Ferring

Peter Lehrach, Cedric Lorch, Rick Johnson, and Emory Heisler wiggle on cue to the delight of the crowd.

Peter Lehrach, Cedric Lorch, Rick Johnson, and Emory Heisler wiggle on cue to the delight of the crowd.

The delighted crowd.

The delighted crowd.

And the women showing how the hula dancing is actually done.

And the women showing how the hula dancing is actually done.

Well, okay, THIS is how it's really done.

Well, okay, THIS is how it’s really done.

To the sound of music from the Island of Mesa.

To the sound of music from the Island of Mesa.

And a flash of fire.

And a flash of fire.

Big surprise: George Tingom that day had proposed to Bev Cryer.

Big surprise: George Tingom that day had proposed to Bev Cryer. She accepted.

George presents the Jerry Linderman award to Peter Blake.

George presents the Jerry Linderman award to Peter Blake.

Ian Altobelli (with father Frank) won the Wayne Jason Tucker award.

Ian Altobelli (with father Frank) won the Wayne Jason Tucker award.

Don Hubele receives the ASF Heavy Lifting Award (and immediately drops it).

Don Hubele receives the ASF Heavy Lifting Award (and immediately drops it).

Aloha Alexia Lorch, Maryellen Ferring, Christina Campo, and Cindy Pillote.

Aloha Alexia Lorch, Maryellen Ferring, Christina Campo, and Cindy Pillote.

Christina organized the event at the Mesa HQ of Polynesian Luau.

Christina organized the event at the Mesa HQ of Polynesian Luau.

New Rear Commodore Chris Smith with Cruising Captain Tom Errickson.

New Rear Commodore Chris Smith with Cruising Captain Tom Errickson.

Commodore Peter Lehrach

Commodore Peter Lehrach

Maryellen Ferring with Victor Felice.

Maryellen Ferring with Victor Felice.

Faye Hubele and Dennis Davis.

Faye Hubele and Dennis Davis.

Greg Jackson, Chrisann Tortora, Dave Christensen and Wendy Larsen

Greg Jackson, Chrisann Tortora, Dave Christensen and Wendy Larsen

Chris Smith with Mike Grijalva

Chris Smith with Mike Grijalva

Greg Jackson and Chrisann Tortora

Greg Jackson and Chrisann Tortora

Ian and Isabel Love

Ian and Isabel Love

Honorary Life Member Tia Renshaw

Honorary Life Member Tia Renshaw

Trey Harlow explains mark rounding to Life Member Mike Yarnell. Nina Harlow doubts it.

Trey Harlow explains mark rounding to Honorary Life Member Mike Yarnell. Nina Harlow doubts it.

Outgoing Senior Staff Commodore and hula dancer Emory Heisler

Outgoing Senior Staff Commodore and hula dancer Emory Heisler

Peter Lehrach Becomes AYC Commodore

Peter Lehrach is the new AYC Commodore.

Peter Lehrach is the new AYC Commodore.

Peter Lehrach and the rest of the slate of officers have been elected in the 2014 spring elections. All will officially take their seats on the board Saturday night (5/17) during the Commodore’s Celebration.

Peter joined AYC just two years ago and has served as club secretary and Vice Commodore. He’s raced at Lake Pleasant as crew on J/80s with both Mike Ferring and Chris Smith. He was the driving force behind AYC’s adopt-a-highway cleanup program, organizing cleaning parties for a stretch of Carefree Highway near Lake Pleasant.

Others on the board are Senior Staff Commodore Mike Ferring, Junior Staff Commodore Cindy Pillote, Vice Commodore Christina Campo, Rear Commodore Chris Smith, Fleet Captain Steve Brown, Membership Directors John Riddell (two-year term) and Dianna Andress (one-year term), and Cruising Captain Tom Errickson. On Saturday, the board will select a Treasurer (Tony Chapman) and Secretary (Lori Reger).

We thank the departing board members for their service to AYC: Emory Heisler, Thom Dickerson, Andrea Love, Ralph Vatalaro,  and Greg Woodcock.

Voters also overwhelmingly approved an increase in club dues from $125 per year to $150 per year, effective with the next renewal period. It’s been 10 years since AYC increased dues and 83% of voters approved doing it now.

Fame & Fortune: Sailing World Highlights AYC Birthday Regatta

A two-page picture spread opens the Sailing World coverage.

A two-page picture spread opens the Sailing World coverage.

Sailing World magazine has given the Arizona Yacht Club star treatment in the June issue: five full pages on January’s Birthday Regatta and Leukemia Cup.

The story by Meredith Powlison with photos by Meredith and Peter Howson plays on the usual “isn’t it amazing they sail in the desert” angle, but does an excellent job of taking it the next step, explaining about the lake, the club, and the sailing we  do. Meredith crewed with Viper 640 skippers Jim Sears (visiting from California) and Trey Harlow (with Russ Marcellus on a borrowed boat) and on Chris Smith’s J/80 (with Sheila Reed, Craig Quist, and Peter Lehrach).

She extensively quotes several of our members, including Birthday Regatta Chairman Emory Heisler, Tony Chapman, Chris Smith, Peter Lehrach, and Sarah Hester. She also details how some of her races went awry when our Famous Lake Pleasant Breeze pulled some nasty trick, including a 180-degree wind shift.

The story is accompanied by some dazzling pictures, nicely laid out in Sailing World’s new picture-forward format. Unfortunately, if you don’t subscribe to the magazine (and you should), the story doesn’t seem to be available online, at least not yet. I think it’s their policy to hold online material from the magazine until subscribers have had a chance to read it.

Two more pages from the Sailing World coverage, including a Lake Pleasant map and shots of your AYC pals.

Two more pages from the Sailing World coverage, including a Lake Pleasant map and shots of your AYC pals.

Also, The Arizona Republic ran a story about the ASF High School Sailing program, written by an ASU student, Harmony Huskinson. “It’s a powerful feeling to know that you’re controlling this 100-pound piece of fiberglass,” she quotes Maddie Cordova as saying. Learning to sail, learning to right a capsized boat; it’s all part of the curriculum in the program. Here’s more information about the classes.

AYC Election for the Next Board of Directors

The annual election of AYC officers has begun. Here are the nominees:

Peter Lehrach

Peter Lehrach has been nominated to be the next AYC Commodore.

Commodore: Peter Lehrach
Vice Commodore: Christina Campo
Rear Commodore: Chris Smith
Junior Staff Commodore: Cynthia Pillote
One-Year Membership Director: Dianna Andress
Two-Year Membership Director: John Riddell
Fleet Captain: Steve Brown
Cruising Captain: Tom Errickson

In addition, the board selects a Treasurer and Secretary. Tony Chapman has agreed to continue as Treasurer and Lori Reger will continue as Secretary. Continuing on the board as Senior Staff Commodore, Mike Ferring.

The nominating committee: Martin Lorch, Matt Davis, George Tingom, J.M. Kiel, George Sheller, Bruce Andress, Victor Felice, Chris Smith, Ben Doane, Mike Parker, Tom Errickson, Jeff Sloan, Cindy Pillote (non voting).

In addition to voting for officers, you’ll be asked to decide whether to increase the annual dues from $125/year to $150/year. The increase requires a two-thirds majority in order to pass. (AYC dues have not increased for more than 10 years.)

A link to voting has been emailed to all the full members of record as of April 1. If you didn’t receive the link, contact Mike Ferring. If you requested a paper ballot, you’ll need to return it postmarked by May 9 or bring it to the counting session at the Caddy Shack by 6pm on Tuesday, May 13. With electronic voting, the counting takes about one minute, so don’t be late.

Survey Shows Widespread Support for Raising AYC Reserves

Here are the results of a member survey conducted the week of February 17 about AYC finances. Seventy-seven members completed the survey, presented online using Constant Contact’s survey system. All responses were confidential.

Headlines and Executive Summary:

Members value membership. Is AYC worth the money you pay? The result is a resounding “yes.” Using a five-point scale, with one being “lousy” and five “outstanding,” respondents rate AYC 4.0 for the value they think they get for the money they spend. Breaking it down, 35% rate AYC’s value at the top score of  5; 42% rate it a 4; and just over 20% rate it a 3 or lower.

Who are the 20% who don’t rate it as highly? Speaking generally, they’re people who don’t race (50% race vs. 72% of those who rate it higher), but there’s no pattern for how long they’ve been members of the club. Not surprisingly these people don’t think dues should be raised, but think racing fees should go up. And they’re more likely to say it’s more important for the club to cut costs than to raise revenue.

The AYC survey showed widespread support for building the cash reserves.

The AYC survey showed widespread support for building the cash reserves.

It’s reassuring to learn that members rate the club’s value highly, but the main purpose of the survey was to learn how members think the club should deal with dues, fees, and expenses.

The survey found members overwhelmingly agree that it’s a good idea to try to increase financial reserves to be ready for the day when equipment needs to be replaced.

86% of the respondents think it’s important to build reserves. The few who disagree (14%) tend to be the people who think the club is poorly run or isn’t concerned enough about keeping costs down—or who simply don’t want to pay more money.

65% think it’s more important to raise revenue than it is to cut costs. 31% think the opposite.

Clearly the members of the board of directors think they’re being responsible stewards of the club checkbook, saving money wherever possible and spending no more than necessary to present the quality of equipment and programs members expect. A minority of respondents isn’t so sure. They haven’t studied club spending of course, but they’re sure there’s money to be saved. “Every line item needs to be reviewed for cost savings,” wrote one. “Anywhere possible,” said another. (In fact, Commodore Cindy Pillote has appointed a committee to review the spending line by line to look for ways to economize.)

Over the last two years, the fleet captains have increased entry fees about 15%, with nonmembers paying even higher increases. Respondents believe racing fees should increase further by a high margin (62%-31%). 32% say raise them 10%; 20% say 20%; and 18% say raise them by 5% or less. Objections to raising fees? Mostly concern that higher fees would drive away entries.

The club dues are $125/year and have not increased in some 10 years. Is it time to bump them up? 71% say they would support a dues increase. How much? 32% say raise dues to $150; 19% say $175; and 9% say $200. The ones who don’t want an increase are inclined to think that dues are high enough already or that if we would economize, an increase wouldn’t be necessary.

The board will decide at its next meeting whether to submit a proposal for a dues increase to the general membership. The increase would need to be approved in a vote, probably at the same time as the next election of officers.

AYC Dues-Fees Survey.

Interested in learning more about how the club works? Here’s an explanation and link to the bylaws. And here’s the current budget.

Protected: Members please offer your opinions

This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below:

Women’s Sailing Convention

We would love to see you at the Women’s Sailing Convention at the Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club in Newport February 1!

Classes (and fun) for everyone from novice to expert. If you haven’t yet attended this convention, this 25th anniversary event would be a great time to do so.

On-the-water: Offered as single morning or afternoon classes, qualified instructors lead courses in anchoring, docking, overboard procedures, and boat operation on various skill levels. There’s even an afternoon race with trophy awards at dinner.

On-the-land: Experienced and enthusiastic instructors offer dry-land classes during two morning and two afternoon sessions. New courses this year include Basic Nav Rules and Bowlines, Maintenance Mania, How to Heave a Line, and DIY Canvas Basics.

If you’re interested, but don’t have a ride, let us know and we will try to put people together that might want to carpool.

Learn more here.

Brenda Shears and Julie Thompson

The Women's Sailing Convention is February 1.

The Women’s Sailing Convention is February 1.

Keeping the Club Floating High

There was a large and interested turnout for Tuesday night’s meeting (1/14) reviewing the financial affairs of the Arizona Yacht Club—and a clear consensus among the group that AYC is an inexpensive club, that it’s time to ratchet up dues and entry fees, and that it’s essential to keep the club on a sound footing.

The biggest cost we face is Lake Pleasant racing, but it’s also our most important activity. As Steve Nahkala said, “It’s why I belong to AYC.”

Over the last two years, the fleet captains have slowly increased race fees, especially those for nonmembers, to close the gap between revenue and expenses, but Lake Pleasant racing is still a big consumer of club dollars. (Tempe Town Lake racing takes in a bit more than it spends, thanks to the ability to use ASF equipment.)

In contrast, club dues have remained unchanged since 2003, when they were boosted from $75 to $125 per year. If dues had kept pace with the Consumer Price Index, they would have been $158 last year.

Club treasurer Tony Chapman

Club treasurer Tony Chapman

When former Commodore Bill Hutchinson asked what the club was doing to keep a healthy reserve in order to be ready when equipment replacements are needed, Treasurer Tony Chapman replied, “Bingo. That’s the heart of the question tonight.” In fact, reserves are hovering around $20,000 after drifting down the last few years in which when the club was breaking even or losing money (last year we were about $170 in the black).

Some members questioned the decision to purchase the Boston Whaler Outrage, with its higher operating cost, instead of sticking with the aluminum bass boat that’s been the runabout for the last dozen years. Fleet Captain Greg Woodcock responded by saying that the bass boat was an accident waiting to happen and had to be patched together to make it out onto the water. Lake Pleasant Fleet Captain Bruce Andress noted that one of the big expenses was avoidable repairs when people were careless in the way they took care of the boats. (The board attempted to address that issue by requiring certification for all club boat operators.)

When asked if the group was ready to raise the dues, the response was overwhelmingly yes. Now it’s up to the board to propose the next step. If they think it’s time for a dues increase, the move would need to be approved by a vote of members, probably at the same time as the vote for next year’s officers.

Here’s a link to the current AYC budget. And here’s an explanation of how the club operates.

 

Dennis Martinelli Memories in Video

Dennis Martinelli. Photo: Mike Ferring

Dennis Martinelli. Photo: Mike Ferring

David Spira has put together a nice memory video of our pal Dennis Martinelli, using pictures contributed by lots of people. You’ll find it here.

US Sailing Instructor Class is Full!

Some 50 boats sailed on Tempe Town Lake Sunday, October 27. Photo: Phil Freedman

Kids and adults learning to sail on Tempe Town Lake. Photo: Phil Freedman

Great news! ASF President George Tingom reports that the January US Sailing level one small boat instructor class is full and cannot accept any further students.

Now there will the 12 new instructors available to teach the ASF classes.

The class is extensive and taught by one of the best: the instructor of instructors, Ray Treppa. The classes are all day on January 4-5 and 11-12 in Tempe, with on-the-water work at Tempe Town Lake.

The news that the class has filled is in sharp contrast to the last two years when the class had to be canceled for lack of participation.

If you wanted to enroll in this class but missed out, make sure George has your name for future classes. Call ASF president George Tingom at 480.948.3814 or email him.

Getting Stronger by Getting Together with LPSC

Arizona Yacht Club and Lake Pleasant Sailing Club have stepped up efforts to work together, to promote the sport of sailing and to increase participation in each other’s events.

There have been two meetings of representatives of the two clubs. The second this week developed some specific steps to explore, explained in this report:

An AYC/LPSC joint committee has been created to build a bridge between the two groups. Ralph Vatalaro and Mike and Maryellen Ferring are representing AYC while Tim and Rhonda Brewer are representing the LPSC. The purpose of the committee is to increase communication, share information and co-plan events that are of interest to members of both groups. The initial meeting occurred Tuesday, October 29 at the House of Tricks restaurant in Tempe. Over glasses of wine, fabulous dinners and even a dessert or two, they suggested these next steps.

  • Staging a low-key sailing event on January 1, with members of both clubs invited to spend a couple of hours sailing and meeting at the Waterfront Grille for food, drinks, and football.
  • Setting up a sailing event for late winter or early spring that would encourage members of each club to team up with some members of the other club. We talked about trading crews, a poker run, or even a Capture the Flag theme.
  • To promote understanding, each club—AYC racing and LPSC cruising—the group discussed an information exchange. Mike and Maryellen volunteered to present a program at an LPSC membership meeting tentatively titled, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sailboat Racing in Just 30 Minutes. The program would include information on start procedures, fleet descriptions, ratings, protocols, etc. as well as an invitation to race with AYC. Tim and Rhonda Brewer or other interested LPSC members might reciprocate with a presentation about cruising and exploring Lake Pleasant or raft-up protocols and expectations.
  • The group discussed the possibility of joining forces to get more boats for a Catalina Cruise in July 2014. (Both clubs have had cruises to Catalina, but attendance has collapsed for both.)
  • Maryellen invited all LPSC women to the casual Women Who Sail parties. A couple dozen women interested in sailing gather quarterly for wine and appetizers at one of the women’s homes. Rhonda will talk to the Board to get approval to share LPSC email addresses for invitations.

All members of the group left the meeting encouraged about the plans. If you have feedback, questions or suggestions, please contact Ralph, Maryellen, Mike, Rhonda or Tim.

LPSC_LOGOLPSC has several events planned between now and the end of the year, as Rhonda describes:

The last few months of 2013 are filled with fun events, both on land and water. Besides the Halloween Spooktacular and Christmas party planned by Mary, Robin and Crystal, we have five more exciting events lined up.

On November 9 and 10 John Bagwell and Roland Cleveland are planning a Walk the Plank raft-up/camping party in Two Cow cove. Those of us on boats will raft up in the cove while the RVers and tent campers will set up on shore. The fun officially begins on Saturday, however, rumor has it that some members are planning to set up campsites on Friday afternoon.

As a complement to the Walk the Plank event, Tim and Rhonda Brewer have planned a Show Us Your Booty sail beginning at 10 am in front of the dam. Basically, we will chase each other around the lake exchanging “booty” between boats.

On November 17 LPSC members will host guests on the third Sunday Sail. Response to the September and October sails was extremely positive, so please consider joining the November sail as a host boat.

To prepare ourselves for 2014, on December 28 Tim and Rhonda will host a Tack Into 2014 sail. It will be similar to the Follow the Leader sail last spring, however, the fleet will be required to change tack and follow a new leader every 15 minutes.

Following the Tack Into 2014 sail on December 28, we hope everyone will gather in the barbeque area of PHM to share in a Potluck Dock Party. Please consider attending this party even if you don’t participate in the Tack Into 2014 sail. This is a great way to spend the end of 2013 with friends who share the love of sailing!

Falling spars, lines everywhere, topped with sails

Norm Anderson's Blue Streak dismasted. No one hurt. Photo: Chris Smith

Norm Anderson’s Blue Streak dismasted. No one hurt. Photo: Chris Smith

During Saturday’s races (10/5), as the RC boat’s wind speed indicator was showing 21+ knots, Norm Anderson’s Blue Streak Merit 25 suddenly—very suddenly—dismasted. Crash! Here’s Norm’s description of what happened:

Big winds and choppy waves. We had it in tight and guess conditions were at a max. The mast broke just below the spreaders. Tom Errickson also looked at the mast break and we decided there was no apparent reason. The shrouds and stays were fine, so it just was a failure in the mast itself.

We had a spare mast and boom from a boat we salvaged out of LA a few years back (a Merit 25) and it was the correct mast. We had to do some swapping of shrouds and after we tuned it, we were good to go. The lines weren’t set up as we wanted, but as you could see, we made it work. Missed the first two races, but made it to the third and WON! How about that for persistence?

I can tell you what it was like up close—falling aluminum spars, lines everywhere and topped off with sails. Fortunately, the sails were unharmed.

It was just a bit disconcerting as being in the back of the boat, the jagged edges of the masts (virtually in half) came down about a foot from my face. Sometimes you are good, and sometimes lucky. I like the lucky part.

One for the books.

Norm

Norm’s hard-working crew: Paul and Anthony Miachika, Ed Chamberlin and John Gallagher

Bob Whyte and Peter Lehrach tow Blue Streak home after her dismasting. The new mark/safety boat performed perfectly on its first outing. Photo: Chris Smith

Bob Whyte and Peter Lehrach tow Blue Streak home after her dismasting. The new mark/safety boat performed perfectly on its first outing. Photo: Chris Smith

Want to Learn to Charter and Sail to Catalina?

Avalon harbor on Catalina Island, a great charter destination. Photo: Ralph Vatalaro

Avalon harbor on Catalina Island, a great charter destination. Photo: Ralph Vatalaro

Or how about the British Virgin Islands?

Before the monthly meeting in September, Cruising Captain Ralph Vatalaro will give you specific information on how to take the big of step of chartering a boat and sailing it yourself. He’ll be checking interest in putting together an AYC charter trip so you can take the step with friends and expert guidance.

If you’ve thought about chartering but were concerned about whether you could do it, you need to be there.

This “pre-meeting” will begin at 6pm on Tuesday, September 10, at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.

If you’ve already done some chartering (or lots of it), we’d love to have you come by and share your expertise. Pull up a chair, order a beer, and let’s talk.

 

Catalina 22 National Commodore is September Meeting Speaker

C22 National Commodore Don Boyko

C22 National Commodore Don Boyko

September’s AYC Monthly Meeting features the new Commodore for the C22 National Association, Don Boyko, from San Marcos, CA. Don is working to build C22 action in the West.

The meeting is Tuesday, September 10, beginning at 7pm (but arrive early for dinner). Monthly meetings are held at the Caddy Shack @ Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend.

Also, we’re planning a “pre-meeting” on cruising and chartering, beginning at 6pm. Come on by!

One of the big western events for Catalina 22s is Don’s 5th annual “Post Thanksgiving Day Weekend” at Mission Bay Yacht Club in San Diego. It includes free vehicle and trailer parking, free launching, free dockage for the weekend, free use of the MBYC facilities, and the galley will be open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner during the entire weekend.

He’s also planning a 2014 West Coast Cruise next July, starting at Mission Bay Yacht Club. They’ll spend a couple days in Mission Bay, then sail around Pt. Loma and into San Diego Bay for the rest of the week. Home port in the south bay will be at the Chula Vista Marina, which offers great facilities, with a restaurant and bar located right at the marina and the best sailboat ramp on San Diego Bay.

Don and his wife have been very active in the San Diego area, organizing various events, including that Thanksgiving weekend cruise. He’s also written often for the Catalina 22 Main Brace publication and is active on Internet forums—enough so that he was asked to take the Commodore slot. Don wrote an interesting bio for us that you can read here.

AYC’s Wilson Davis Competes in O’Pen Bic Event in SF

Wilson Davis hikes on SF Bay. Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget, America's Cup

Wilson Davis hikes on SF Bay. Photo: Gilles Martin-Raget, America’s Cup

O’Pen Bic sailboats are high-performance fun for junior-high age kids and last weekend (8/17), AYC’s Wilson Davis (age 11) got a full dose of it at the O’Pen Bic event at the America’s Cup venue in San Francisco.

Here are four minutes of high speed coverage:

Greg Fine Drowns in Lake Pleasant

Greg Fine at the helm of "Bitchen" during an AYC race weekend. Photo: Chris Smith

Greg Fine at the helm of “Bitchen” during an AYC race weekend. Photo: Chris Smith

AYC member Greg Fine was lost in a drowning accident over the weekend.

Services for Greg will be Saturday (8/24) at 2pm at St Patrick’s church on north 84th St near I-101 and Shea in Scottsdale.

Greg was a fairly new member of the club, but immediately made lots of friends—a positive and friendly guy who was always happy near the water, ready to crew for anyone who needed help. He loved spending weekends on his Catalina 25.

This from Greg’s LinkedIn page: He was a senior vice president of Wells Fargo bank, a position he took after retiring from the U.S. Navy. He was a 1981 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and served on submarines. Since 2010 he was Submarine Force Reserve Component Chief of Staff in the Navy Reserve. He also received an MBA degree from the Anderson School of Management at UCLA.

Greg’s daughter just graduated from the Naval Academy.