Written by Mark Whitehead, Tim Wright
Editing and Proofreading Kathleen Whitehead
Photos by Tim Wright, Paul McBride, Mark Whitehead
Layout & Photo Captions by Paul McBride and Ken Gerber
Games by Dave Perry
Not Quite Ready
Back Bay hasn’t frozen over completely, but it’s still too chilly for dock installation and the start of sailing. As you can see by recent January snowfalls, things can change quickly – it’s time to jump on the skis instead.
The January Zoom meeting of the Back Bay Skippers was attended by twenty-seven members of the community and hosted by Steve Leker. The agenda included approval of the 2023 schedule, acceptance of the group’s officers, and the addition of Denis Boisvert to the Competition Committee. Added to the Sasquatch Footy Regatta were Bill Hagerup as race director, with assistance by Kathleen Whitehead, B. B. Wright, Karen Enos, and Jack Minahan. During general discussion, a more organized mentoring program was suggested as were two upwind buoys to better align the mark to the wind. Class determination and the scoring system were reviewed for better understanding.
We were delighted to hear an announcement from Bob Strodel, director of Camp Brookwoods, that he generously offered to hold a second get-together in early May for our group. Last year, we had a very informative session, complete with rigging comparisons, sail trim, knot tying, and rules. It was the first in-person gathering of the season and greatly appreciated by all who attended. Thank you, Bob. We look forward to this next session.
Sailing Upwind by Tim Wright
When the business part of the meeting had concluded, the meeting was turned over to me, Tim Wright, to lead a session on ‘sailing upwind.’ In defining sailing upwind, we talked about points of sail. The importance of finding and maintaining the proper angle to the wind was stressed, thereby keeping the boat as close to the wind as possible while at the same time keeping up boat speed. We discussed ‘velocity made good’ and ‘apparent wind.’ Understanding those concepts make racing a little easier to comprehend. It was a useful session, and hopefully as helpful to our newer skippers as it was for the more seasoned members of the group.
After the session, I thought about the process of learning something new. As a teacher, I have seen students gain understanding and know it has a process. For each student the path is different, but the concepts are the same. By learning new skills and vocabulary, beginning learners can start to give voice to what they are thinking and experiencing. Talking sailing can be like speaking a foreign language. As more skills and words are learned, sailors have the words to pose questions about the bigger racing picture. Eventually, the ability to evaluate and prioritize information helps to inform the learner about how to proceed in a more efficient and productive manner.
With sailing, and in this case remote-controlled sailing, those skills are difficult at first. “How do I get my boat to go?” “How do I stay clear of everyone else?” “Why can’t I keep up with the others?” “What can I do to improve my performance?”
Not everyone wants to challenge for ‘the lead.’ There are those among us who simply love to get together and sail, regardless of the results; they are in the minority. Most sailors want to do well, at least once in a while. Skills and vocabulary enable us to talk about what is going on. They help us come to a better understanding of all the various factors involved.
While the learning of skills and vocabulary are the building blocks, it is putting them together that really starts to improve one’s ability to perform. The ability to evaluate, synthesize, and prioritize all of the factors at play in a race will enable sailors to think about the big picture. Worrying about how to make your boat move, how to sail within the rules, how to be competitive, become more internalized, and easier to process. That leaves more room in the brain for “higher” level thoughts.
The sailor can then think about ‘strategy’ and ‘tactics,’ making “big” decisions that make a difference in performance. Learning to utilize wind shifts to your advantage and watching the wind to see if there are patterns, are signs of increasing awareness and growth.
The sessions I lead are about trying to get people conversant in sailing. They are about becoming familiar with ideas and topics so the rules are followed more closely and the sailing becomes less stressful and, instead, more fun. In the past two years, our sailors have definitely improved their understanding and abilities. As a result, the fleet has become more competitive. It is harder to do well consistently due to the improvement of so many in the group. What a positive sign!
I thank the group for their willingness to listen to these lessons about sailing and racing. Understanding skills and sailing terms make it easier to grow into competitive racers. Strategy and tactics become more pronounced.
In our next sessions, we will learn about strategies and tactics, including starts and buoy-rounding. We also will touch on rules and how to use them as a tactical advantage. As rules are grasped by more and more people, the racing will continue to become more competitive and even more exciting.
With all of that, let us not forget that Rule #1 is to Have Fun. That is, after all, why we come together to sail!
Denis Boisvert has been diligently updating our Soling building manual. John Barstow has printed our season’s supply of bowsies. Mark Whitehead has completed the masts, booms, and fittings for this year’s class, and Anthony Quinn is making the sails. Steve Leker is constructing the stands as well as finishing up some of the youngsters’ sailboat kits. Trophies for this year’s Sasquatch Footy Regatta are ready to be awarded, and also being created in the Whitehead workshop are buoys built from sign foam generously donated by JC Signs. Mark hopes that combination dinghy cover-risers and rescue stands he designed and created are successful.
Videos and Photos
- Back Bay Skippers Video (WMUR NH Chronicles)
- Back Bay Skippers YouTube Channel
- Latest Videos: Solings, US12s, Lily Pond
- Latest Photos: Solings, US12s, Lily Pond
- Photo Gallery
- Sasquatch Regatta (Nor’easter Footy Series) 2021, 2019
- Sheila Ryan Memorial Footy Regatta 2021, 2020
- Awards for 2019 Season
- Tim Wright Wins CAN/AM Challenge 2019
- Lake Discovery Camp 2019
- US12 AMYA Region 1 Championship, Nashua
- Spring Skippers Party 2019
Boat Dock – Boats For Sale:
- Soling 1M – NH Boat Museum, Mark Whitehead, email@example.com
- Soling 1M – George Greathead, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Soling 1M – Larry Gessman, email@example.com
- Victor Soling 1M Rudder + Keel Shells – Alan Perkins, firstname.lastname@example.org
- February – March 2023, Zoom Meetings and Sailing Classes, Watch this Space!
Links: American Model Yachting Association, MinuteMan Model Yacht Club, Nashua Model Yacht Club, Marblehead Model Yacht Club, Greater Worcester Model Yacht Club, Sarasota Model Yacht Club, Space Coast Model Sailing Club, Sun Coast Model Sailing Club, Stowe Yacht Club, USS Constitution Model Shipwright Guild, Vac-U-Soling, 3D Printed Radio Yachts, US Vintage Model Yacht Group, Raritan Yacht Club RC Laser Fleet, Racing Rules of Sailing 2021-2024