Editor’s note: The following letters were submitted in response to the Publisher’s Log in our September issue in which Ben Cesare began a discussion on the nearly universal use of the Optimist in junior programs by stating, “I think the Optimist stinks as an early trainer.” We’ll have a full article on this topic next month.
I agree. I was greatly dismayed when my kids reached a young sailing age, and our yacht club began switching to Optimists from 7’ 11” Dyer Dhows. The Optimist was a tiny tub with no ability for multipurpose use, neither rowing nor motoring. The club expected us to shell out large dollars for this little pram which had no use other than a kiddie trainer. A boat that was supremely uncomfortable for a normal-sized adult or father and son (or daughter) to sail together, although we did when pressed, one time winning the parent/child race.
A New England Science & Sailing Opti Team member practices roll tacking in Stonington Harbor. © Caroline Knowles/nessf.orgRead more
Phew! It feels like these last two months, August and September, were like a mad scramble to enjoy summer while it lasted. Junior sailing wrapped up, family vacations happened in August, then the big, season ending or championship regattas all went down in September. (And due to that family vacation, you may not have been as prepared as you would have liked!) Cruisers and day sailors were out trying to milk the last few nice weekends and evenings before the non-stop string of low pressure systems rolled through. For those in the industry who support our passions, they had all this plus back-to-back to back boat shows to deal with. Fortunately this year, the weather cooperated for the most part and at the time of this writing, before our friends in Annapolis have theirs, the Newport and Norwalk shows had great products, good weather and good attendance.Read more
Last month, I exalted the WindCheck Community to celebrate the efforts of our kids and their supporters and pointed out some great successes. Well, now that junior sailing is over, and program heads take a well deserved breath before diving back into evaluating the pros and cons of their efforts, I’m going to jump right down onto the tracks and touch that third rail!
I think the Optimist stinks as an early trainer. Here is why. Like all sports, we are introducing our kids to sailing at a younger and younger age. It used to be 9 years old, and now programs start as young as 6. What does a typical 9 year old like? They tend to like other kids and want to be in close proximity to them. They don’t like to be scared. They don’t really have a handle on “seamanship” nor, unless they are gifted, the physics of sailing. And finally, sad to say, they may be a bit more spoiled than prior generations and like quick satisfaction (digital!) so menial chores, like bailing, turn them off more quickly.Read more
I guess it’s natural to worry about the lack of growth or progress in anything we are passionate about. There is certainly no lack of hand wringing about how hard it is getting kids involved in sailing and keeping them engaged. Almost every day in Scuttlebutt, there seems to be a success story juxtaposed with a lament that we are not doing it right. The success stories almost always revolve around some program finding a secret sauce (usually a combination of independence and fun). The other version is a dedicated group, donor, mentor or gifted coach that takes matters into their own hands to instill the joys of working hard at something and seeing the results.Read more
In choosing this month’s cover photograph, as usual, the WindCheck team had a lot of very good options. When presented with Kerstin’s (Kerstin Fairbend, WindCheck’s Graphic Designer) first choice, part of me groaned. Again?! “Seriously, how many times has that boat been on the cover of WindCheck?”(WindCheck hat for the first one who provides the correct answer). “It seems like every month there is a fantastic photo of her submitted for a cover or a story!” Zep (Chris Szepessy, Editor of WindCheck) said in an almost begrudging way, “But she is beautiful...and what a shot!”Read more
My father was an artisan. He loved craft and beauty. So much so that as a kid, if I wanted to fashion a new Laser tiller in his shop, I had to be sure to cut and drill the Montreal hockey stick and attach the PVC tube for a tiller extension when he was not around. Otherwise, while he might appreciate my logic for the weight-to-strength ratio of those laminated Montreal shafts, he would be far more concerned with why I had not chosen mahogany. And which plane was I going to use to round the edges before sanding them? And wasn’t I going to varnish it (four coats minimum, seven coats recommended)? And when did I need it by? And no, today was definitely not going to happen.Read more
Well, that was brutal. After a teasing thaw in February, enough to even get in a first round of golf, March and April have not been much fun for us in the Northeast. And while this is typical, it’s definitely upset some schedules as we prepare for the season. Hopefully, some of you got south to Sperry Charleston Race Week or further south to race in Miami or the Caribbean for a break! Now the sun is working and it’s going to be full on to get ready. May is going to be very busy regardless of the weather.Read more
By the time you read this, hopefully the string of nor’easters in March is just a bad memory. The April sun has melted the snow away, and the kids are actually going to school again on a regular basis. For me, it has truly been a period of reawakening. I have been working with the dedicated WindCheck team to carry on the sixteen year tradition of this great publication and been scheming on how we might improve it for the future.Read more
I’ve had a difficult time putting this month’s Editor’s Log together. Ironically, I am often forced to leave this space blank until the myriad other items on my monthly list have been checked off. Yet I’ve not been struggling with time management, but instead how best to explain all of the emotions that are going through my head at this time.Read more
Dear Sailing Community,
The overwhelming response and generosity to Jim Hahn’s GoFundMe page (gofundme.com/JimHahn) has been a powerful cog in Jim’s recovery. Watching the fund jump to over $100,000 in under 48 hours and reading the thoughtful comments put Jim and his family into full-send mode.
Jim’s catastrophic skiing accident on February 3 left him paralyzed from the waist down, and a GoFundMe page was quickly established to ensure that he can one day return to his life as the well-known energetic Ronstan traveling salesman, a sailor with a wealth of nautical knowledge and jokes, and the consummate cheerleader for his family (his wife Alix is the two-time International Women’s Keelboat champion and his son Nick is an American Yacht Club Optimist sailor).
Jim is already making great progress in physical therapy and while the Hahn’s course has been changed forever, the wave of support from the sailing community – well beyond what we originally hoped – is helping them navigate their new reality. Please know your good vibes and well wishes are fueling Jim’s recovery and giving them all the strength to get through today and look towards future days on the water.
With great appreciation and of course, Send it!
Carolyn Russell, Meghan Hopkins, and Jennifer Leary