I thought Adam Loory’s article (Teaching Old Sailors New Tricks; January/February 2019) regarding the concept of “Plus One” crew formats was great. I think the idea is fantastic.

Brooks Ritchey, via email

Sailing with a crew of three, Tom Reese’s 31-foot Corsair Cruze 970 Flight Simulator II (Youngstown, NY) finished third in the Multihulls division at Block Island Race Week in 2017. © Stephen R. Cloutier/Block Island Race Week XXVII

Brooks – Plus One (or Plus 1) is indeed a fantastic idea! As you know, Adam conceived this new shorthanded racing class as a solution to the problem of getting enough crew…and to make big boat racing fun again. In Adam’s words, “It also could be a help to doublehanders who are tired of working so hard, and for those doublehanders interested in doing other types of racing besides just distance courses.”

In Plus 1, a boat’s crew limit is one more person than the 10s digit of the boat’s hull length. Under this formula, boats from 20 to 29.9 feet sail with a crew of three, boats from 30 to 39.9 feet sail with four, and so on.

The Storm Trysail Club is offering Plus 1 divisions in several upcoming races. First up is the American Yacht Club Spring Series (April 27 & 28 and May 4 & 5), in which the Plus 1 group will sail around government marks. Next is the Edlu (May 11), a short distance race that starts off Larchmont, NY, goes east 16 miles, around a mark and back. The 186-mile Block Island Race starts May 24 off Stamford, CT, rounds Block Island and returns to Stamford. The last scheduled Plus One regatta is Block Island Race Week XXVIII (June 23 – 28), in which Plus 1 boats will sail a windward/leeward course each morning and a race around government marks each afternoon (and the Around the Island Race with the entire Race Week fleet)…and since not all old sailors can be taught every new trick, your “Plus 1” bar tab at The Oar might be a pleasant surprise!

Bring Back Bumper Boats!

I am an active racing sailor who started sailing when I was 11 years old. My parents weren’t sailors, but an opportunity to join the local club’s summer sailing program as a non-member kept me busy and out of my mother’s hair. I caught the sailing bug and became a very active racer in college. I did two Olympic campaigns in the Finn class and I’m still actively racing today.

I’ve won a few trophies, but looking back there’s one trophy I received that stands out amongst all of them and really shaped my initial love of sailing. That trophy, in my first year in the program, wasn’t a silver cup. It was a special trophy for that year, comprising a plastic model of Columbus’ Santa Maria – a bit broken – on top of a used soup can.

That trophy, awarded to the ‘Bumper Boat Champion,’ was a joke prize but looking back it was the coolest trophy and one which shaped my interest in sailing at a young age. We learned to sail in Dyer dinghies: small, single-sailed, round-bottomed, and tippy. As we would sail out each day, away the prying eyes of the instructors we played our game of bumper boats, dodging in and out of the moored boats in the harbor.

Yes, this was not proper seamanship and no, there weren’t any rules but it was the most fun and it taught me how to sail. First, you needed speed to get away or chase down your opponent so sail trim was very important. Second, you needed to be tactical to set up the right angle for perfect ramming speed. Dyers were pretty slow, so ramming was not at high speed and they would flex upon impact. In addition, upon ramming we would then do our best to capsize or de-rig our opponent in our most pirate-like ways! What a great way to spend a hot summer on Long Island Sound.

My point is that sailing should be fun!! Too many sailing programs at the entry level are geared towards racing and learning to race. Adventure sailing and just mucking around in boats should be considered by clubs to attract new participants. Maybe someone should design a boat for Bumper Boats! I bet that would get kids excited about going sailing!

Scott MacLeod, via email

Simply the Best

Editor’s note: Many readers enjoyed “Larchmont Yacht Club: A Living Legacy” by Buttons Padin (April 2018), and the article evoked wonderful memories for one in particular.

This club is the best! I was a member for the first fifty years of my life. Wish I lived closer to be able to take advantage of all that it offers. I was the Girls (Sailing) Champion of the LYC in 1962 and was on the swimming team, too. Some great coaches and instructors. Wedding reception fifty years ago was so great!

Andrea Calfee, via email

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