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News

July 28, 2007
By: Louise Kevin Burke

STORM TRYSAIL CLUB
CHESAPEAKE STATION
Presented on July 27th
JUNIOR SAILORS SAFETY AT SEA

”MAN OVERBOARD” came the cry from a 14 yr old aboard a J-40 on the Severn River. A very surprised student on the foredeck who was in the process of taking down the jib in a “Man Overboard” drill was now bobbing in the water with his life jacket on. During the wind-up discussions of the Junior Safety At Sea at the end of the day when asked how he felt about his unintentional swim he replied that it was no problem. Although he did admit that as the boat proceeded on without him he had a rather lost feeling. “But the boat turned right around and came back for me, threw me the Lifesling, and they pulled me aboard within 2 minutes time.” Pretty good for the first time with dinghy sailors doing Man Overboards. Then the boat crew had to retrieve the life jacket which was their practice overboard man during their drills.

 

Our thanks to Kevin McNeil, Fleet Captain of Storm Trysail Club (STC) Chesapeake Station, offshore racer and owner of the J-35 “Frequent Flyer” for his decision at our last meeting to run this seminar this year and to AYC for the use of AYC’s Annex building and Piers.

We began our day at 0800 with 36 students from SSA and AYC junior programs and Sea Scouts from Maryland. and Virginia brought by their Sea Scout instructors, Betsey Fehn and Douglas Yeckley and also Laura Adam a Red Cross Water Safety Instructor who brought 6 kids from her group. These instructors boarded the boats for the afternoon session.

I was incredibly fortunate to obtain the highly professional and knowledgeable offshore sailors listed below to speak and to coach on the water. The day began with show and tell lectures on correct use of big boat winches and heavy loads by myself, Louise Burke, also a STC member; Knot Tying, by STC member Robb Ladd, Yacht Designer and long time sailor. Then a shared show and tell about safety on deck with loaded lines, swinging booms, sail handling, trimming, and pictures of racing Trans-Atlantic with Tom Weaver, STC member, Yacht Designer, offshore distance racer and Coach on the J-105 “Storm Trysail” and Ian Gordon, STC member, Professional Coach on offshore racers including BMW “Oracle” and match racer in America’s Cup Teams and around the world Professional Racer brought humor and wide eyes to the kids. Tom Weaver showed what injury could be caused by a flying boom meeting the head of a careless sailor or caused by an inattentive helmsman in an uncontrolled gybe when he smashed a watermelon with a baseball bat flinging its bright red insides around the room. “This could happen to your head on big boats if you don’t know where the boom is all the time!” The kids’ eyes bugged out! These two showmen then went on to show how to raise a spinnaker of a 40 ft boat and how to get rid of it, fold it, bag it on a rolling deck and then had kids trying to stuff this huge chute into a small bag. This demo ended up with Tom and Ian picking up the large spinnaker and floating it over and down onto the 36 kids seated in the building. That brought plenty of laughter under the sail. I ended the morning session by showing safety harnesses, auto inflatables, and tethers and giving descriptions of Man Overboards to weather, downwind, and the Mom and Pop short handed rescue with the Lifesling. These lectures and on the water demonstrations were something I had done when the first Safety at Sea was launched at the USNA in 1978 where I worked for 14 years as a sailing coach and Director of Varsity Offshore Racing and previously as a professional offshore Skipper since 1968. on private yachts and racing boats.

At noon, Kellie Ladd, who organized the breakfast, lunch, and Pizza Party, handed out bagged lunches and drinks which were gobbled down quickly while anxious students threw on their mandatory lifejackets and rushed to their assigned boats The wind had freshened out of the SSE to 8-10 knots with gusts and a beautiful sunny day beckoned us onto the bay for three hours of practice drills, tacking, gybes, spinnaker work, and of course Man Overboard drills.. Now it was time for a short race. Karl von Schwarz, STC member, Past Commodore of AYC, owner of “ Huron” and long time offshore racer along with Ted Kaczmarski, a Professional Offshore Sailing Coach and racer and now coaching the Farr 40 “Ramrod” team, ran a short race for the 5 boats starting them in the Severn River and finishing them in Spa Creek. The racing instructions were simple. But in order to finish the race each boat had to do a number of tacks, gybes, and 3 Man Overboard drills before crossing the finish line. We all held our breaths as the 40 plus foot boats headed for the starting line with 36 young sailors, many of whom had never been out of dinghys and now they were at the helm of big boats racing. The U.S.Naval Academy 44 footer was first over the starting line with skipper Bob Howe, Director, U.S. Navy Sailing and his coaches, Jaye and Dan Lunsford,volunteer Coaches for the Academy’s cruising team. Then the boats split and headed off to get their Man Overboard drills over with and enjoy the rest of the race. WHOOPS! But the real man overboard not only was rescued very quickly from the Severn River but also it proved that when practiced, man overboard rescues really work!!

The J-105“Team Storm Trysail “was skippered by STC member Al Graf who is also on the Board of Governors at AYC and a long time offshore racer and with him was Ian Gordon, our morning lecturer. The J-105 “Team Tsunami” was skippered by Kevin Ryman, STC member, offshore racer, V.P. of J-Port and Coach Bud Dailey, offshore racer and one of the owners of the “Tsunami” syndicate. Both Kevin and Bud besides being offshore racers are also instructors of Junior sailing in the Bay. USNA J-105 was skippered by Ensign Ryan Field, Naval Academy Coach and Coach Dan Wittig, offshore racer, Co-Director of J-World and instructor of Junior sailing in the Bay. The J-40, “Lark” was skippered by Owner and STC member, Al Schreitmueller, and Coach Chip Carr an offshore racer who had raced many offshore miles with Al. Navy 44 was skippered by USNSA Director Bob Howe and Coaches Jaye and Dan Lunsford as mentioned before. So these kids were under the instruction of a cast of highly professional and competent instructors for the day.

Kevin McNeil, our Fleet Capt., Larry Dawes, STC member and offshore racer and a volunteer Coach for the Naval Academy and myself were on the water in Kevin’s fast “safety and photo” boat. Karl von Schwarz and Ted Kaczmarski sounded the horn in Spa Creek when “Team Storm Trysail” crossed the finish line in first place crewed by Alexandra Countiss, Charlie Rankin, Ben Laking, Reid Webb, Nick Coffey, and Gabe Watson. We came back to the pier and the students, after learning to fold and stow these large sails, enjoyed a pizza and cold drinks party until their parents came to take them home – full of stories.

The idea behind this seminar, run by the Storm Trysail Clubs around the country, is to get the kids into big boats in order to gain knowledge and safe handling of the heavier gear and sails, then prepare them for offshore racing and deliveries of the boats. Our Chesapeake Station races up and down the East Coast and Bermuda