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Lets Go Sailing! Fall Series XIV

by MARGUERITE KOEHLER 

This fall over 40 kids did just that; they came down to the Din-ghy Shop in Amityville, NY and raked masts instead of leaves at Fall Series XIV. For six consecutive Sundays from September 18 to October 30, kids from all over (some as far away as Tred Avon Yacht Club in Maryland and the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club in Bermuda) raced on the Great South Bay while their parents chased them around the racecourse in a kayak or watched from “parent beach.” Many had the chance to learn about sail-ing, while others perfected their starting prowess on a line with 30-plus boats. But each sailor was challenged by the conditions on the water and many made new and lasting friendships. My Dad, Jim Koehler, owns the Dinghy Shop, and every fall since my sisters and I started sailing he’s opened up our beach to host what has become the largest youth sailing series in the nation. It’s something that’s really special to him.

Lauren Krim was very excited about sailing in her first Fall Series. © Marguerite Koehler

Lauren Krim was very excited about sailing in her first Fall Series. © Marguerite Koehler

 

There are two special events in the Series, the Mum Regatta and the Great Pumpkin Regatta. It was a blustery fall day on the bay when the Mum Regatta arrived. Bob Terry, a well-known District 8 Laser sailor ventured out onto and into the water (wearing his drysuit) to film this year’s “Great Mum Movie.” Sailors competed in a fierce west wind that climbed to 22 knots sustained with recorded gusts of 27…there may have been more bailing then sailing. Big breeze and large waves funneled straight down the bay, making reach legs tricky and mark roundings dicey. It was a test of skill to keep your boat under control. Many sailors stepped up to the plate, stayed out on the water, and did their best to get around the course. At the end of the day, while we all warmed up with great cups of Mrs. Koehler’s hot cocoa and cider, Alex Ellis’ consistent scores and upright boat “flow-ered” him the 2011 Mum Champion! Alex, who sails out of Unqua Corinthian Yacht Club in Amityville, started racing in the Fall Series six years ago when he was 7.

 

Clinics are an integral part of the Dinghy Shop Fall Series. © Marguerite Koehler

Clinics are an integral part of the Dinghy Shop Fall Series. © Marguerite Koehler

The Great Pumpkin Regatta, sailed the last day of the Series, is a perennial favorite. Sailors get a chance to win a pumpkin and love trying to round Jack, our windward pumpkin-mark. That day tested not only sailors, but also the Race Committee’s ability. The weather prediction was horrible, but the sea breeze came and we were able to get seven races off. Phew! Running races isn’t easy. At times it’s downright nerve racking. Setting a good course is hard. And you can’t set a good course all on your own. We had an amazing team and most of us had raced in the Fall Series when we were junior sailors. Nick Klingler and Andy Monzon were mark set and safety, Tommy Sarant and I were on the RC, Dan Krug ran scoring, and Diana Beckman held down the fort. We worked well together and each week we became better and better. It wasn’t a cakewalk, but it was a lot of fun. JC Hermus won the Great Pumpkin, Antonia Bentel from SEAW was the top girl, and Mike Wollmann from Bermuda threw his bow into the ring and finished fourth.

 

This year’s Series Champion, JC Hermus from Bellport Bay Yacht Club, broke Matt Wefer’s (Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club) record by winning the Fall Series three consecutive times. Congratulations to JC. Katrina Catallo from Port Washington Yacht Club was the top girl.

Fall Series XIV was a lot of fun. It’s a delight to run this series for junior sailors. I don’t know how many of them will keep sailing, but I do know that they’ll have good memories from this fall, and it is an honor to be a part of them. I will admit part of me can’t believe we’ve been doing this for 14 years. Each year we have no idea how the Series will turn out, and every one is different. Next September will be the 15th Fall Series, and to commemorate Fall Series XV one lucky sailor will receive a brand New McLaughlin Optimist! For more information, visit dinghyshop.com.


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