Over 120 former members of the Junior Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound gathered on Saturday, September 8, 2018 under the Pandemonium at Larchmont Yacht Club, scene of many great dances during their junior sailing days.
The day began, naturally, with racing in Ideal 18s provided by LYC. Each team had a special connection – lifelong sailing pals Rich duMoulin and Elliot Oldak (both Knickerbocker YC); Instructor Bill Sandberg (American) and pupil Lili Jenkins (Noroton); the husband and wife team of Joan & Butch Hitchcock (American) and the brother/sister team of Monica Stautner Nichols and John Stautner (Indian Harbor). The Race Committee consisted of Jol Everett (American), Bizzy Monte-Sano (Larchmont), Ellen Isbrandtsen (Indian Harbor) and Nick Langone (Larchmont).
The real festivities began at 6 pm as dozens of former junior sailors streamed into the Pandemonium. And the lying began. “You haven’t changed a bit in 50 years.” Well, maybe the midsections were a bit wider, the foreheads a little larger and the hair a tad grayer. Free beer provided by Carlsberg and free wine provided by LYC eased the transition.
Reunion Chairman Bill Sandberg opened the evening with a moment of silence for those junior sailors no longer with us. He also recognized two achievements. Dave Sinclair of Noroton, 90 years young, was introduced as the oldest attendee, and Tex Poor (Manhasset Bay) was recognized as the person traveling the farthest, coming from Littleton, CO.
Each guest received the coveted JYRA hat and a memory booklet, put together by committee member Joan Potter Arnold with write-ups from The New York Times about 1950s and ‘60s Midget Championships (yes, the Times used to cover sailing), pictures of favorite boats (there really was a Lightning named Pussy Galore), and stories of days as juniors, highlighted by the hysterical “The Summer of ‘Crash’,” contributed by Tim Clark of Pequot.
Of course, no JYRA reunion could happen without a game of Wales Tails, between the Mainlanders and Islanders, with each team claiming victory. A special surprise came from John Browning of Manhasset, who brought the original official Wales Tails Rulebook he has kept since 1965. As the night wound down, there were promises to keep in touch and calls to do it again sometime.
The evening came off without a hitch due to the excellent planning of the Reunion Committee spanning a year and a half. Thanks to Shelly Gilmore Bell (Belle Haven); Susan & Jol Everett (Noroton & American); Cynthia Parthemos, Penny & Nick Langone and former Islander Rich duMoulin (all Larchmont); Joan Potter Arnold, George Huntington and Pam Prokop (all Manhasset Bay); and Leggie Mertz Torey, Bill Sandberg and Libby Alexander (all American).
So much for Thomas Wolfe and his famous novel. Old friends are the best ones – especially if they were/are sailors.