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AYC Sailors Splash at Mission Bay

In August, four AYC sailors packed their Lasers off to Mission Bay Yacht Club for one-design races in the Pacific. David Newland describes what happened.

By David Newland

David Newland on the big water of the Pacific. Photo: Lori Lorenz

When AYC hosted the Laser District race in March, five members from San Diego’s Mission Bay Yacht Club came to join the fun… and they’re not even in our District!

We talked about supporting each other’s future races, and I take those conversations seriously as traveling to different venues is a great opportunity to race, learn and meet new people in our sport.

I got with Mark Young, MBYC’s Laser Fleet Captain, soon after our event to review MBYC’s calendar. MBYC OD in August. Yup! No brainer. Ocean course, too. That was about the length of our conversation, so I shot out an interest-sparking email to the AYC Laser Fleet.

Rob Gibbs, Paul Miachika, Paul Wojtczak and I made the trek west, with only Paul Miachika having solid ocean experience (just this summer he attended the Masters US Nationals at Monterey Peninsula YC and the Masters PCC’s at Cascade Locks, Oregon).

Rob handled logistics by getting a triple-Laser trailer rigged and fueled up the RV. He, Paul Wojtczak and I made camp at Campland on the Bay in Mission Beach. Campland is a very clean and well managed facility, and even I held to their strict nighttime no-noise rules.

MBYC, founded in 1927, has prime real estate right on Mission Bay, including a nice stretch of beach and grass that made for easy launching for some 15 Lasers and a handful of multihulls. The Laser Fleet hosted a BBQ Friday night. And Saturday night we cleaned up for a full-spread Luau with a fabulous buffet, a live band and hula dancers! Both nights took place right on their private beach.

MBYC managed our racing well, knowing that some Laser racers are actually 2020 Olympic hopefuls. Rob was able to lock a third-place finish on race three, which put a nice smile on his face! Paul Miachika had some strong finishes as well but got held up by kelp on race seven.

Paul Wojtczak and I kept at it, trying to gain some ocean racing insight with each race. Or, maybe we were distracted by the dolphin and seals that liked messing around our course. We learned much about ocean racing but know we’re just scratching the surface.

Thank you, MBYC, for being gracious hosts! Did I mention this race was free? Thanks for that, too! What a solid and grounded group of sailors with a fantastic, good vibe YC! We’ll be back.

A cluster of Lasers at the Mission Bay One Design races. Photo: Lori Lorenz

Monsoon Rain Didn’t Dampen Campers’ Spirits

A little late afternoon monsoon both Friday and Saturday didn’t keep the Annual AYC Campout from being tons of fun!

With a high temp of 80 and tucked in a stand of pine trees, Dairy Springs Campground was as hospitable a venue as you’d find to escape the Phoenix summer heat. The shelters included tents, trucks, and RVs. Kids brought their bikes and BB guns.

Breakfast was everything from low tech dutch oven to high tech butane stove cooking. The best part is always the BYO Meat cookout though! This year the grill saw beef steaks, brats, a ton of marinated chicken, a few pieces of salmon, baked ziti and meatballs, and even a cast iron skillet with Spanish rice! Desert was root beer floats, banana smores, pecan pie, and a few other things I’m sure I was too full to eat! Put it on your calendar for next year!

 

2019-2020 Season Calendar – Winter is Coming!

Hi everyone…

We’re really excited about the 2019-2020 racing calendar! We have maintained the traditional Fall and Spring racing series, but have added 4 Saturdays across December and January at Lake Pleasant. We’re calling it “The Winter Series.” By default, it does not count towards the Championship, but your fleet can choose it by submitting Fleet Rules that define how you are choosing your Champion.

Why did we do this? MORE SAILING! Use this as an opportunity to try out a different fleet or boat; try out new crew; bring some kids along; work on your boat handling skills with your crew; See if you can try that one tactic that you thought was to risky to try in a race that counted for the Championship. GO HAVE FUN SAILING!

If you have questions please see your Fleet Captain, or you can always email or call me: Commodore@ArizonaYachtClub.org.

Sign Up for Tall Cactus Fun Regatta

Start with a social gathering at Spinnaker Point from 10-noon, launch your boat, start at 2pm, dash around a couple islands and various marks and finish.

That’s this year’s Tall Cactus Regatta, our fun pretty-much-end-of-the-season regatta, Saturday, April 27. Register now on the Racing page, where you’ll also find the chart and the documents.

Principal Race Officer Rob Gibbs has answered one important question before you ask: Yes, you do have to sail around Horse and Balance Rock islands in addition to the drop marks at those locations.

A chunk of the Tall Cactus race chart showing the route around the northern islands of Lake Pleasant.

Updating the AYC Bylaws

Every three-to-four years we’ve been updating the AYC Bylaws to clarify, simplify, and update the document that governs how the club is run. Time to to it again.

On your election ballot this year are various non-controversial changes to the bylaws, including these changes:

  1. Eliminate the provision requiring publishing the names of people who have not paid renewal dues by mid-August. Time to stop “shaming.”
  2. Conduct elections by electronic ballot. We’ve actually been doing this for several years. We retain your right to vote by appearing at the election counting spot in person.
  3. Establish a method for certifying election results and setting a time for the new board to take office.
  4. Simplify the wording of rules for Board of Directors meetings and allow email votes on routine matters.
  5. Clarify and simplify the composition and responsibility of the Rules Committee. No actual change compared to how this has been handled forever.
  6. Simplify the section on appointed committees.
  7. Considerably simplify the process for amending or changing the bylaws.

Here’s a copy of the mark-up version of the changes for your review.

The changes were proposed by Junior Staff Commodore Mike Ferring. Commodore Rob Gibbs convened a review committee composed of himself, Emory Heisler, John Mayall, Mike Yarnell, Mike Ferring and Will Zornik, which agreed to the final version. The AYC Board then approved the changes and voted to put them on the ballot.

Changes to the AYC Bylaws are on the ballot this year.

Like to Learn About a Blokart?

Yes, Blokart. A sailing cart. No water required. A variation on a sailboat or an iceboat for speeded-crazed people like, well, you.

The Lake Pleasant Sailing Club (LPSC) has invited Charlie Quiroz of Musselman Honda Circuit kart racing track in Tucson to explain this nutty concept at the club’s meeting Tuesday, April 16, at 7pm, at Rolling Hills, the same place AYC meets. AYC members are invited to join in.

Here’s more about a Blowkart. And below is a typical video.

A basic Blowkart thrill machine.

 

Women’s Sailing Gathering March 23

By Debbie Huntsman

Gathering of women for the Lake Pontchartrain Knot Tea Party.

Are you a woman interested in literally sailing into your future? Or perhaps you already know how to get across an ocean using the wind? Or maybe you’re just curious about sailing in the desert? The knot tie tea party is for all of you.

I’m the national Women’s Sailing Association president and will be the lead knot teacher at Lake Pleasant on Saturday, March 23, from 3-5 pm. This will be the first monthly National Women’s Sailing Association’s Learn About Sailing Things (L.A.S.T.) workshop for women sailors in the greater Phoenix area.

At the Knot Tie Tea Party you’ll socialize, drink tea (or a beverage you choose), learn to tie a few useful nautical knots or show others how it’s done if you are so skilled, and watch the sun as it lowers over the lake and we decide what to learn next about sailing.

The L.A.S.T. group will gather at the blue-topped shuttle shelter in the public parking lot at Pleasant Harbor. Turn right after you enter the facility and the lot is on your right. There’s a $6 fee to enter the park.

Our friends at Tumbleweed Sailing will provide refreshments…tea and crumpets. Bring your favorite tea cup.

If you’re able to join us, please RSVP to me by this email.

Regatta Extra: Dave Perry Critiques Your Sailing

Dave Perry spent Birthday Regatta Saturday, February 9, buzzing around Lake Pleasant on David Newland’s powerboat, shooting video of your sailing with simultaneous commentary. Scary, right? Well, yes, and fun. And highly educational.

The video is on Google Drive, so it’s best to view it on Chrome. I encountered a limit to the number I could view until I downloaded the vGet browser extension. That seems to work.

Click here to go to the video.

Here’s a log of the clips:

Dave Perry watching as Vipers approach the start line during the 2019 Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup. Photo: Mike Ferring

Fun Shots

3 – Introduction

6 – Lotta people

68 – Kids

64 – Dogs

11 – Fred!

12 – Full chute

69 – AZ pride!

23 – RC at work

Starts

4 – Viper

7 – Santana

9 – PHRF

16 – PHRF non-spin

17 – Laser

18 – Laser

22 – Catalina

24 – Etchells

71 – PHRF

76 – Santana

92 – Viper

Dave Perry holds his small video camera, shooting the action and offering commentary. Photo: Mike Ferring

Upwind Trim & Tacks

5 – Viper

10 – PHRF

13 – Buccaneer

15 – Buccaneer

20 – Laser

25 – Etchells

29 – Viper

30 – Viper

32 – Viper

34 – Viper

40 – Santana

41 – Santana

42 – Santana

61 – 63 – Multihulls

73 – PHRF

Upwind Tactics

8 – Santana

14 – Buccaneer

19 – Laser

31 – Viper

33 – Viper

38 – Viper

43 – Santana

72 – PHRF

Windward Mark

26 – Etchells

35 – Viper

79 – Buccaneer

80 – Etchells

83 – Santana

85 – Rule 18.3, Tacking in the Zone

86 – Rule 18.3, Tacking in the Zone

David Newland chases around the race course to capture Dave Perry’s video. Photo: Mike Ferring

Downwind Trim & Gybes

28 – Catalina

36 – Viper

44 – Laser

87 – Viper

Downwind Tactics

39 – Santana

50 – PHRF

89 – Viper

Leeward Mark

37 – Vipers

45 – Laser

46 – Laser / PHRF

47 – 52 – PHRF

53 – Gaggle of boats

54 – Catalina

55 – Viper

57 – 58 PHRF non-spin

65 – Buccaneer

66 – Buccaneer

Finish – 70

Vipers in action at the 2019 Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup. Photo: Mike Ferring

Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup Party

Click here to go to all the information about the February 8-10 Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup.

International racing expert and speaker Dave Perry will headline the 2019 Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup.

The Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup is nearly here and we have 69 boats racing and more than 220 people coming to the Saturday night dinner.

The event is headlined this year by sailing expert Dave Perry, who will present two seminars—one on Friday night and then a clinic Saturday night. Get racing tips Friday night and then see how well you followed his advice when he offers video of the day’s racing Saturday night.

In addition to great racing, the regatta this year will feature (we pledge) the best Saturday night dinner in AYC Birthday history, catered by Arizona Taste. All in all, it’s an event not to be missed.

 

 

Merry Christmas AYC

A big, festive crowd turned out for the December AYC Christmas/Holiday party (12/11), with over 50 gifts tossed into the Buccaneer Gift Exchange. Commodore Santa Rob Gibbs presided over the madness, and as usual, the favorite gift of choice was a bottle of something containing alcohol.

Cindy Pillote hands over her mother’s handmade quilt to high bidders Emory and Debbra Heisler. The proceeds go to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Photo: Mike Ferring

Since we’re getting a jump on the Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup auction, Maryellen Ferring auctioned off a handmade quilt created by Cindy Pillote’s mother, with the proceeds going to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Debbra and Emory Heisler were the high bidders at $1,000. People also bought a couple dozen Birthday Regatta souvenir technical shirts and various other silent auction items.

Rob also presented the giant Governor’s Cup trophy to Joel Hurley and crew Grant Younger and quickly declared Ye Blunder Bucket voting over by choosing George Tingom as the winner for not showing up or returning the Bucket for this round of voting. Remember your other Blunder nominations for the next round at the Commodore’s Celebration in May.

Tony Chapman opens a gift of a racing board game. Tony didn’t keep it long since it was quickly “pirated.” Photo: Mike Ferring

Santa Rob awards the huge Governor’s Cup trophy to Joel Hurley and Grant Younger. Photo: Mike Ferring

Angela Hutchinson reveals one of the more than 50 gifts of the night. Photo: Mike Ferring

 

Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup Souvenir Shirt

The 2019 Birthday Regatta and Leukemia Cup shirt front with the AYC logo.

When you sign up for the February 8-10 Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup, be sure to outfit the crew in souvenir technical shirts. In fact, you don’t have to wait until you sign up (since we know that’ll be at the last minute). We’ll have the shirts available at the Christmas gift exchange on Tuesday night (12/11).

The graphic on the back of the shirt was drawn by Bob Downer, a cleat hitch around that Arizona landmark, the saguaro cactus. The shirt itself is a comfortable wicking technical shirt that usually sells for much more than the $20 you’ll spend for this beauty.

The 2019 Birthday Regatta and Leukemia Cup souvenir technical shirt with graphic drawn by Bob Downer.

Bid or Buy Now for Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup Silent Auction Items

Some three dozen items will be in the 2019 Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup silent auction, but you won’t have to wait until February to snag one of them.

All of the auction items are available right now at the “Buy Now” price. Simply email Maryellen Ferring (who gathered them all with some nice help) and tell her what you’d like. In addition, she’ll be bringing some of the items to the monthly meetings in December and January so you can see them and either bid on them or grab them for the “Buy Now” price. The December meeting is December 11 at the usual spot, Rolling Hills Golf Course, 1415 North Mill Avenue, Tempe, AZ 85281-1205 (map) and both members and non-members are welcome to attend. Arrive early enough to bid.

Here’s the list of items.

Proceeds from the auction will help defray the cost of the regatta and some will be donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

Much more information on the 2019 Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup here.

A collage of a few of the 2019 Birthday Regatta & Leukemia Cup silent auction items.

Five Decades in the Making, Adopt-A-Boat Gave Me Opportunity

AYC Lake Pleasant Lake Captain and J/70 crew David Newland this Sunday (11/11) did a foolishly brave thing: after never before sailing one, he adopted a Laser and went sailing at Tempe Town Lake in heavy, puffy wind. Crazy maybe, but he decided to, mmm, take the plunge.

Race results for the day

By David Newland

AYC Lake Captain David Newland at more familiar controls: the Boston Whaler. Photo: Mike Ferring

Overweight and out of shape, I decided to sign up for Bowline Cross Fit. I felt very intimidated when I arrived and saw Hurley crunching 100 sit-ups, Bernard bobbing and weaving the double-end boxing bag and Gibbs speed-skipping the gym rope.

Wait, did I say Bowline Cross Fit? I meant Laser racing.

In the late 70s, I spent many weekends motoring around Marina del Rey in my little Whaler. I liked to idle down and spectate when the kids were racing Lasers in the harbor. It looked like a ton of fun and I was quite envious. Getting hooked up with them never materialized.

Well, five decades and 120 pounds later (maybe 130), I got my chance! The weather forecast was on point this past weekend, so I reached out to Grant Younger to get signed up for an Adopt-a-Boat. He helped me pick out my weapon of choice and Joel Hurley helped me rig it (and de-rig and re-rig the items I thought I knew how to do without any instruction whatsoever).

OK, so far so good. Winds were blowing 20. KPH. Felt like MPH to me (And sometimes was –ed.). I got the Laser launched and was overly confident with the stability of this 2×4. Maryellen Ferring was helping with the bow line and just as she said, “don’t step on the…,” I stepped on the foredeck, and was immediately in the water. Note to self: That’s the wrong way to board a Laser.

What transpired during the next three hours was quite the combination of emotions. Mostly fun. Lots of laughs out loud to which the spectators on the shore and in manually-powered craft (to which I gave right-of-way) probably thought I left my medication at home.

Frustration. Mostly because I was envisioning my younger self in MDR. I just can’t duck the boom as efficiently as I probably could have 40 years ago! Surprisingly, I did fine. I still have all my teeth and no concussion symptoms yet.

Anxiety. That moment when you (okay, I) lose the tiller and the main sheet at the same time, knowing that capsizing is imminent. Thanks, Joel, for retrieving my hat. Did you see my Oakleys?

Let me digress for a moment. The wind was blowing. I faltered. Joel, from his cockpit, was able to maneuver his boat to help start my righting process, fixed some issue with my main sheet, located my hat, and then sailed off.

I survived. Quite well actually. I wasn’t a worthy racer, but I knew going in that racing wasn’t going to be my priority. It was getting my feet wet (and every other body part) with the Laser Fleet at TTL. What a great group of sailors. And thanks to Adopt-a-Boat for the opportunity.

Thank you Race Committee, as well as Toyota Motor Company for making a fantastic waterproof key fob, and to Bayer, maker of Aleve.

Oh: my disembarking. Yup. Cannonball! No more Laser foredeck for me.

You know it’s windy when the Laser sailors start swimming. This shot was taken a few years ago, but it could have been snapped Sunday. Photo: Mark Howell

A Big Ask…

YOUR Arizona Yacht Club is a great club with a host of vibrant social and sailing activities. From Racing to Cruising to just hanging out, it is a group that I’ve really enjoyed being a part of for over 13 years now. It didn’t get that way by the work of just one or two people, and it won’t continue to grow through the work of just one or two people (or even 10-15 people).

The BIG ASK of YOUR Club is that you find one thing we do that you are interested in, one thing that you would be willing to help out with and say YES! Give back to your friends and YOUR Club. YOUR Board of Directors has some focus areas we are working on that are important to the longevity of the club. We can’t do all of the work it is going to take to accomplish these goals alone. YOUR Club has events that need organizing and support. Just find one way this year to participate a little more.

YOUR Club is more than a membership card. YOUR Club is built on the relationships between its members. Relationships are what keep us coming back year after year. Relationships are also give and take. In order to continue to succeed and grow as a club, YOUR Arizona Yacht Club needs you to give a little back. The more you give, the more you will receive in return because you have helped sustain us into the future!

Thanks in advance for supporting YOUR Arizona Yacht Club!

Next AYC Happy Hour – O.H.S.O. North Scottsdale!

Our Happy Hour events are generally scheduled on the 4th Tuesday of the month and move around the valley! This one is going to be in North Scottsdale at O.H.S.O Brewery and Distillery 28 Aug!

This is another Local First location that not only has their own brews, but distills their own spirits (and the Rum is SMOOTH!) The club will spring for some appetizers and you are welcome to pay for your own drinks and dinner if you would like. Hope to see you there!

Click here is more information on the venue!

AYC Campout Was Cool!

AYC Cool Camp Out!

As monsoon storms hit the valley over the weekend, making the 100 degree temps wet and muggy, many of our members gathered in the cool pines outside of Mormon Lake and above 7000 feet where the high temp was about 79 degrees!

There was a little bit of everything as far as accommodations goes; everything from Class A motor homes to tents and hammocks! There was some rain on Friday evening after everyone was in bed, but that didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits.

Saturday night Steve Nahkala brought the fire for the Saturday night cookout, and that was welcome after a hard day of hiking, biking, horseshoes, and cornhole!

Club Member Wendy Larsen

After dinner as the sun set there was more fire as we enjoyed evening bonfire (with the monsoon storms the fire hazards had been lowered to allow it.) Next year we’re going to try and coordinate with LPSC who had a camp out here at the same campground two weeks earlier! We hope to see everyone then!

Organizer Steve Nahkala brings the FIRE.

Women’s Clinic Sept 23 at Del Rey Yacht Club

SCYA is sponsoring a women’s sailing clinic September 23.

The Southern California Yachting Association will present a Women’s Boating Clinic on Sunday, September 23 at the Del Rey Yacht Club in Marina del Rey, California. The price is just $99, including all instruction, continental breakfast, lunch, and appetizers at the end of the day.

The workshops will be on the water or in a classroom, and the women may choose some of several sessions being offered. Registration is available here.

For further information, contact Rosalie Green by email.

Here’s the line-up of classes:

On the Water Classes:  Each student observes and then practices the skills with guidance and feedback from the instructors. Four-Five students on each boat.

Anchoring Safely

Learn and practice the steps for anchoring properly. Learn about anchorages strengths and liabilities, type of holding ground, exposure to the prevailing wind, what conditions are best for anchoring here. What is the minimum anchor and ground tackle for the type of boat, how to determine where to drop, how the helm and foredeck communicate for a smooth process, how to check you are holding, retrieving the anchor. All student will have the opportunity to practice helming and lowering and retrieving the anchor.

Beginning Sailboat Racing

You ready know points of sail and basic sail trim. How to get started: learn how to find skippers needing crew, how to be a crew the skipper will invite back. Read the race documents. Learn the start procedure, buy a rule book, practice with your team. Also learn the steps necessary to be a racing skipper.

Intermediate Sailing

You already know the points of sail and basic sail trim. This workshop allows you to practice helming and trimming skills and basic tactics. Coaches inquire what you want to learn, observe and teach additional techniques to help you be more effective in your position

Electronic Navigation Basics

On the water always know where you are. Learn how to use everyday tools e.g. smartphones and tablets, GPS to navigate, which Apps are needed to accomplish the task. Practice finding your Latitude and Longitude, plotting a route.

Taming the Dinghy and Outboard Engine

Learn how to get in and out without falling in the water. Once in, let’s start that outboard. Check off the recommended steps, tips on pulling the string, learn what to check for if it doesn’t startup. Once the outboard is on. practice driving it. Learn what a prudent person should have in the dinghy in case of emergency.

Handling Boat and Docking Under Power

Learn the basics of docking and boat handling under power. What is necessary in pre-departure checks. How to start the boat’s engine, how wind and waves effect the boat’s response, how to maneuver forward, reverse, right and left. What cues to use to end up where you want to be. Each student will have a chance to practice.

Sail Trim

See trim demonstrated corresponding to points of sail. Observe how various trim adjustments change the shape of the sails e.g. halyard tension, Cunningham, outhaul, vang and fairleads. Learn how to use them effectively.

Classes dockside or in the classroom:

Suddenly Skipper

Know what to do if the skipper is impaired or falls overboard. You have tools at your disposal learn how to use them. Learn how to call for help on VHF, how to locate your position on GPS, find the MOB button, how to communicate your position. Learn where the emergency equipment is. Know what Mayday is and how to call it.

Troubleshooting Marine Diesels

Learn how to identify the most common problems with marine diesels. Learn what to check before leaving the dock. Also learn what can be easily fixed, what tools and parts are needed.

Troubleshooting Other Boat Systems

The stove won’t turn on, water won’t come out of the faucet, an electronic item isn’t turning on, how to open and close thru hulls. Learn possible

Provisioning Tips

Learn how to make the most of your space and equipment. How to include, prepare healthy attractive meals and store them safely. Get ideas for a suggested menu for an overnight to the island and for a week-long cruise.

Tips on Purchasing a Boat

Be a knowledgeable boat shopper. Learn what to consider from A-Z before purchasing a boat.

How to Prepare for Cruising

Learn what skills are necessary for going on a successful cruise. Learn effective strategies for overnight to Catalina and for longer trips.

 

How Do We Break Down Barriers to Racing?

By Mike Ferring

An event that works well. Martin Lorch hefts the Governor’s Cup, flanked by crew James Morphis and Katie Yearly. At right: Event Organizer Tom Errickson. Photo: Mike Ferring

In 2018, AYC membership is higher than ever, with 235 member families as of June 1. We have active series at two lakes, well-attended monthly meetings with interesting speakers, a nonprofit arm in ASF with sold-out adult classes and well-subscribed kids’ classes, and large entries in the Birthday Regatta, Governor’s Cup, Tall Cactus and Ruth Beals Cup. We have high-level equipment to run our races. Our club communication, event registration, and governance are all excellent.

Yet, it’s smart to look for ways to improve. Is our membership getting gray? If so, how do we recruit and engage younger members and their children? While registration for “event” races is very good and series entries are still strong, not as many boats are showing up on the race course. How do we get more out?

Commodore Rob Gibbs has set up four committees to create various initiatives to strengthen the club, including one aimed at building the racing program, which I think is the core of the club.

Below are some thoughts, a combination of my own and those of a group of hard-core racers we pulled together for an hour recently: George Sheller, Martin Lorch, Joel Hurley, Skip Kempff, and Scott Richards. If you’re looking for solid answers, this is not the place. These are mostly questions and perspectives rather than answers or prescriptions. Here we go.

Overview

The task of growing the sport of sailing in Arizona confronts some broad society problems in addition to our own local ones:

  • Sailing has always been a minor sport, especially away from the coasts.
  • Boat sales have been low for years.
  • Participation in sailboat racing is dropping nationally.
  • There is increased fragmentation of all leisure activity.
  • There is general reluctance to commit time to any single activity.
  • Natural life cycles bring people in and out of sailing: career, kids, retirement, travel, health and fluctuations in disposable income.

AYC can’t change any of these mega trends, but we know we need to adapt our programs to them if we can. Our subcommittee has identified some of the barriers we might be able to influence:

  • Time commitment required for series racing.
  • Availability of crew.
  • Availability of boats.
  • Knowledge of the sport and its rules and the ability for new people to join the action.
  • Quality of the sailing: wind, competition, too many fleets and choices

Time Commitment

We now have more racing than at any time in the club’s 60-year history. Sailing in every event (as some of us do) requires a considerable time commitment. It also spreads our available entrants and boats across more sailing choices.

Choice is good, right? Options are good, especially in an era when there’s so much competition for our time. But it also means we’ll probably have fewer boats at each event.

This is seen most clearly in the spring and fall race series. At Lake Pleasant, Catalina 22, Multi-hull, and JaM fleets are scoring (and racing) Saturday only. On Sunday morning this spring it was not unusual to have 2-3 Thistles, 2-3 Sport Boats, and a half dozen Spins on the water. If one of those fleets was on RC, the numbers dropped. At TTL, we saw 4-6 14.2s, 4-6 Lasers, and 2-3 Portsmouth… and one of those fleets was always on race committee.

Marc Danner and team (daughter Avery and son Myles) getting the non-spin fleet going again, leading the Jib and Main fleet (JaM, note his T-shirt). Photo: Jim Tomes

Do we need to increase throw outs so more people will participate? Or do throw outs simply mean “I don’t have to show up”? Is a season championship an outmoded concept? No one has proposed a good answer.

Members of our group noted that missing a weekend means giving up a good finishing position. You have to show up to place in nearly any of the fleets. Since it’s difficult to make all the races, do entrants simply give up and not bother to race other weekends as well? Instead of more throw-outs, is there a way to use the redress model and give missing racers an average of their other scores?

What is clear is that the one-day events (Beals, Governor’s, Tall Cactus) are working and appealing. They’re a small commitment, casual, and social. It’s a winning concept. But this caution: these events work partly because they’re unusual and special. Adding more would doubtless reduce the numbers for each.

Availability of Crew

We frequently hear skippers say they can’t find crew and we hear people who want to crew say they can’t find boats on which to sail. Clearly this is an issue we need to fix.

The group said we need to know more about the crew list people in order to decide whether to consider them. Possible answer: adding questions to the form and perhaps vetting all crew-list additions by phone to find out more about them and clarifying their commitment.

The key requirement for regular crew: to show up on time, every time, ready to race. Could we have a pool of people who would commit to sail on a given weekend and then make sure they get on boats? Would the new Go Sailing app help?

What about having a crew class where potential crew could learn the fundamentals? Or is the existing Introduction to Sailboat Racing class sufficient? (I think it should be.)

Availability of Boats

Paul Miachika silhouetted in Tempe Town Lake’s afternoon sun. Lasers are a popular one-design fleet. Photo: Mike Ferring

Sailors need boats and often new people don’t have boats, can’t afford boats, or aren’t ready to commit to a particular kind of boat. If they can’t crew, they drift away from the sport.

The adopt-a-boat program has been a boon, getting people onto boats who wouldn’t otherwise be able to sail and simultaneously strengthening the 14.2 fleet. But it has its limitations: people want to sail at times when the adopt-a-boat program isn’t operating. Is there a way to overcome this?

Is there a way to create a parallel keel-boat program? Would it be possible, for instance, to field a Tumbleweed Catalina 25 as a JaM entry with newbies onboard? Could we find a way to put a Catalina 22 or Santana 20 in play?

What about getting the juniors on board a keel boat for Lake Pleasant racing?

Why don’t people get their boats on the water? Many, including some board members, don’t do it. This might be a good target for a little market research.

Knowledge of the Sport

Are we doing enough to familiarize new people with the way the game is played? What additional classes or sailing opportunities could we provide to get people over the threshold and into the sport?

At one time, the club offered a “Challenger” fleet for new racers and put an experienced sailor on the boat for a while to help speed the orientation. It took a dedicated person to coordinate (Patty Rosky in that case), but it worked for a while.

Could we have a non-scored race weekend (or race day at TTL) where leaders of fleets could help people new to the fleet to compete better and to introduce new people to the different boats?

Quality of Competition

Unfortunately, there isn’t much that we can do to improve the wind. But what about the fleets?

Skip Kempff rightly says that the strength of the club depends on the strength of the fleets. How do we work to build them? Are there too many fleets for the number of competitors? Does this dilute the racing? How could we funnel boats into certain fleets to reduce fragmentation?

George Sheller would like to see us guide people into fewer types of one-design boats, perhaps C22, C14 and Laser. It’s unrealistic, he admits, to think that anyone would sell a PHRF boat to move into one of those fleets, but it might be possible to encourage newbies to go in that direction.

Thistle, Laser, and Santana 20 (and formerly Buccs) have been aggressive about finding boats for potential skippers, even lending them boats to try them out. How could we support this effort?

One stop-gap approach at Lake Pleasant would be to start more than one fleet at a time while scoring the fleets separately. For instance, one Sunday morning the Sport Boats started with the Spin fleet, which was more fun than sailing in a tiny fleet. However, Bob Worrall and I nearly came to blows on the VHF when I was PRO and wanted to start two JaM boats with the C22s. He wouldn’t hear of it. I think his viewpoint on this is short-sighted, but we’d need to get the Fleet Captains to agree if we go this way. (In contrast, Scott Richards and the Thistles welcomed the Fireballs into their start when there were three Fireballs racing.)

We also want to make sure there remains an avenue for those of us who enjoy higher-performance boats.

What can we do to support the fleets in attracting new members?

Summary

I hope this somewhat rambling essay can start the discussion. There are some specific steps we can take and others that will come from talking about it.

These include:

  • Continue to run and promote headline one-day events (Beals, Governor’s, and Tall Cactus)
  • Attack the issue of matching crew and skipper
  • Survey members to learn why they aren’t racing more often to discover answers
  • Look at providing boats for a few newbies
  • Consider combining fleets on starts
  • Funnel new members into existing one-design fleets

 

 

 

 

 

 

Membership Renewal Time

All AYC members have now received an invoice for next year’s dues (or non-dues for Life and Honorary Life members) and the membership team hopes you’ll renew right away so we don’t have to send you the increasingly sad and pleading emails. The 2018-2019 dues are payable by July 1.

If you plan not to renew your membership (you know, if you’ve been transferred to Fargo or something), please tell us that too.

Life and Honorary Life members pay no dues, but we need you to update your contact information each year.

Here’s a shot of some of those longtime AYC members, gathered together when former Commodore Joyce Seale visited from her New Zealand home.

To join the national organization, US Sailing, or to renew your US Sailing membership, click here.US-Sailing-logo If you use this link to join or renew US Sailing, you get a lower rate and AYC gets a $10 credit to use for US Sailing materials or training.

From left: Charlie and Debi Fife, Martin Lorch, Carol Ohlin, Mary Kay Farrington Lorch, Alexia Lorch, Tom Ohlin, Joyce Seale, and Dennis Lynde

From left: Debi and Charlie Fife, Martin Lorch, Carol Ohlin, Mary Kay Farrington Lorch, Alexia Lorch, Tom Ohlin, Joyce Seale, and Dennis Lynde. Joyce says George Sheller was also there, but he was the only one actually out sailing.

Former AYC Commodores Joyce Seale, Martin Lorch, and Tom Ohlin. Joyce and Tom are Honorary Life members.

Former AYC Commodores Joyce Seale, Martin Lorch, and Tom Ohlin. Joyce and Tom are Honorary Life members.

MVP for 2018: David Newland

David Newland, the recipient of our award for Most Valuable Player. Photo: Mike Ferring

David Newland is the recipient of the AYC Most Valuable Player award, what we call the US Sailing Sportsmanship Award. David has gone above and beyond constantly in his role as Lake Pleasant Lake Captain. I spent 45 minutes scanning a year’s worth of emails, hundreds of them, to try to give you a flavor of what he’s done and here’s just a glimpse of what I found.

He researched a new outboard for the Boston Whaler, negotiated price with three dealers, arranged for the purchase, warranty (10-year), and installation… and even got us a little money for the old motor.

When the monsoon hit Pleasant Harbor Marina and the AYC pontoon boat went flying across the storage yard, smashing into a passing cruiser, the trailer and pontoon ending up bent and twisted, he arranged for repair, handled the insurance… and had some money left over.

Commodore Mike Ferring and Lake Captain David Newland try out the new power on the AYC Boston Whaler. Photo: Maryellen Ferring

While he was at it, he personally redid the bunks on the trailer and replaced the brakes. Cleaned it up and rewired the control panel.

Then he went to work on the Boston Whaler, cleaning and repairing, replacing the rub strip, digging into the innards. Tony Chapman had been wondering how the boat had used so much oil over the last year. David found out why when he went into the bilge. Here’s part of that email:

“I’m guessing 1 gal of 2 stoke oil, along with 5 gal of water sitting underneath it all for good measure. Mix in some sand, dropped washers/nuts, clipped zip tie ends and the occasional twig, and we had quite the soup going. I even think there was a dead black widow in the anchor locker, but I didn’t give it much of a look.”

Then there was replacing the automatic race starting boxes at both LP & TTL, the VHF radios, finding and sorting out the boat and trailer registrations, cleaning and sorting lines, writing checklists, working the mark anchors and rode and buckets, and cleaning out the lockers, sorting keys. He showed up at the beginning and end of every race day to make sure things were done correctly and then fixed them because they never were.

Somewhere along the way the Commodore came up with a robotic race mark, the MarkSetBot that needed as much attention as a newborn baby and he handled most of that too.

He did this when nobody was watching and not expecting any reward. Our 2018 AYC MVP: David Newland.

David Newland drives the repowered AYC Boston Whaler at speed. Photo: Mike Ferring