By Cate Sheahan
When two of your favorite hobbies can be combined into one activity, that’s pretty great. But when you win an award for your efforts, too? Well, it just doesn’t get much better than that. And that’s exactly what happened to Samson Dorfman and Colin Madaus of the Thames Yacht Club (TYC) Youth Sailing program in New London, CT.
These are the TYC youth sailors who competed in the 2016 Secor Volvo Fishers Island Sound Race in winds that topped 25 knots. Even after missing the first leg of the race due to treacherous towing conditions on the way to the starting line, the team finished third overall. From left to right are Will Robinson, Samson Race Dorfman, Colin Madaus, Caridad Muldro, Caroline Codner, Patrick Madaus, Mary Madaus and Allison Codner.
Dorfman and Madaus, along with their families, have been a part of TYC since both young men were toddlers on TYC’s beach. Eventually, watching the older kids learn to sail Optis drew them into the junior sailing program around age 6. They haven’t looked back since. When Dorfman and Madaus outgrew the Optis as 12-year-olds, TYC’s program was there to grow with them and they advanced to 420s.
This past summer, the high schoolers heard about the Secor Volvo Fishers Island Sound Race from their TYC instructors. Sponsored by Secor Volvo in New London and modeled after the Volvo Ocean Race, this unique event for 420 sailors is a challenging, club-to-club “circumnavigation” of Fishers Island Sound. With a 10-mile course along the shores of three states, teams make “stopovers” at Mason’s Island Yacht Club, Ram Island Yacht Club, Groton Long Point Club and Fishers Island Yacht Club.
“We were immediately intrigued with the challenge,” said Madaus. “This regatta was so different and we were super exited for the application of all things we learned through our years of sailing at TYC.” During one of the skippers meetings where sailors in the various programs come together to discuss events, program, racing and education, Dorfman and Madaus learned about the regatta-based video contest. Because movie making is their favorite pastime – after sailing, of course! – they were hooked.
The Secor Volvo Fishers Island Sound Race ‘Onboard Reporter’ Award is presented to the junior crew that best tells the story of their race day experience. Dorfman and Madaus’ teamwork, camaraderie and plain love for sailing are evident in their winning video, which includes some great footage shot from the trapeze. As the event’s top Onboard Reporters, Dorfman and Madaus won a WASPcam™ 9905 WiFi camera.
According to Madaus, sailing is a big part of the lives of all the team racers at TYC, “because the amount to teamwork and confidence we need in each other has allowed for us all to grow and mature together.” It shows. This year’s race was wild, with 25+ knot winds with towed boats bumping and surfing in 5-foot seas. The exhilarating sailing was captured with a very well produced video.
Dorfman and Madaus commend the adult members of TYC for being so supportive of juniors, allowing them to thrive as aspiring sailors. Junior racers often give back by becoming junior instructors themselves, including Madaus and Dorfman. “We are invested in the program we love so much,” said Madaus, “and spending 8:30 to 4:30 at the club allows us to all hang out on the water and help teach young kids to do what we are passionate about.”
Thames Yacht Club offers both youth and adult sailing programs for all skill levels. Racing and cruising are a big part of the fun at TYC. For more information, visit thamesyc.org.