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Reporting: Storm Trysail Club Keeps Junior Sailors Safe

Added by damonAdmin on Jul 04, 2006 - 01:30 PM

Newport , R.I. (July 3, 2006) – “I never want to go out on the water and not be prepared.” That was the resounding sentiment expressed by 25 junior sailors after completing the Storm Trysail Club's Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminar in Newport, R.I. on June 28. The one-day program's mission was to arm juniors with the skills and confidence needed for an on-the-water emergency and instill in them the importance of safety on the water. Guest speakers included Volvo Ocean Race sailors Ken Read of Ericsson Racing Team and Jerry Kirby (both Newport ) of Pirates of the Caribbean , who together shared their first-hand stories of offshore racing and safety preparation.

“Our goal was to attract a group of kids ages 13-18 with advanced racing skills to the program and then give them the safety skills needed for big boat sailing or really anytime they go out on the water,” said Latimer Spinney (Newport) of STC's Newport Station, organizer of the day's program. “We have an incredible group of experienced sailors and marine industry companies within our community. All we had to do was ask and they willingly volunteered to give back to the juniors. Ida Lewis Yacht Club hosted the event and the local U.S. Coast Guard station at Castle Hill sent a team. Ralf Steitz came up from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy and enthusiastically led the kids through the whole day from onshore talks to on-the-water drills.”

Spinney added that there was no one highlight of the day as each experience was memorable. “In the morning, the Coast Guard brought a boat and demonstrated how fast it takes for water to get into a boat and how they use fire pumps to clear out a boat,” he said. “During lunch provided by Zelda's, Dan O'Connor from Life Raft and Survival Equipment did a demonstration on preparing a life raft, deploying and using it at sea as well as demonstrating the use of flares and EPIRBs.”

The afternoon session focused on Man Overboard drills aboard four boats procured by Jim and Jeff Johnstone of J/Boats. “It was really fun to drive a boat, then crew,” said Graham Anderson ( Newport ), a 13-year-old participant. “We took turns while the instructors threw a lifejacket overboard, and we had to drive around and pick it up. It was very windy, maybe 15 knots.” This was the first time that many of the juniors had ever tried a MOB drill. “I'm glad I did it,” said Anderson . “The first time and the second time I tried I was jittery, so if it does ever happen to me in the future I won't be as jittery and I'll know I can do it.”

Once everyone returned to shore, safety lessons were conveyed through speakers. Brock Callen told the story of personally trying to save a fellow crew member, Jamie Boeckel, who had been knocked off a boat they were racing four years ago. The Jamie Boeckel Memorial Fund was established in 2002 shortly after that sudden and tragic yacht racing accident and endeavors to preserve his memory through various charitable endeavors that reflect the adventurous and generous spirit of a young sailor who seized life with an unabashed spirit and offered friendship to all those with whom he came in contact. The fund donated 10 lifejackets to the afternoon raffle.

After the talks, everyone had a shot at the Harken Grinding competition organized by Harken's Oakely Jones. The day ended with a raffle where kids selected prizes from Arm Chair Sailor, Ockam Instruments, Sailing World, West Marine and Zelda's.

When asked if there was one lesson to take away from the day's activities, 15-year-old Meggi Johnstone said, “It is important to always having a rope or a life sling available if someone falls overboard. Also, having a GPS and radio turned on and on the right channel, and having harnesses that you can attach yourself to if there are heavy winds.” Anderson added, “ You should be safe, be aware of what's happening and always wear your lifejacket.”

Additional instructors included Ian Henderson, Aubie van Beuren, Andy Burton, Bill Fortenberry, Darris Whitham and Tony Bessinger.

About STC's Junior Safety-at-Sea Program

STC hosted its first Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminar in 1997 at Larchmont Yacht Club, where the STC has its home office. The ninth seminar in 2005, with significant support from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, attracted a record 220 sailors, ages 14-17, with 50 coaches on 25 borrowed boats ranging from 34 to 45 feet. With a mission to introduce junior sailors to big boat sailing in a fun and safe manner, the program continues next month in Marblehead , Mass and Larchmont , N.Y. A future program is planned for Annapolis , Md.

Dates and contacts for the remaining seminars in the 2006 schedule:

* Marblehead , Mass. (Pleon YC), July 7, Contact Toby Reilly,

* Larchmont , N.Y. (Larchmont YC), July 14, Contact STC,

* Annapolis , Md. (U.S. Naval Academy), t.b.a., Contact Karl von Schwarz,

For more information about the STC's Junior Safety-at-Sea Seminars, contact the Storm Trysail Club, 914-834-8857, visit www.stormtrysail.org .

About the Storm Trysail Club

The Storm Trysail Club (STC), reflecting in its name the sail to which sailors must shorten when facing adverse conditions, is one of the world's most respected sailing clubs, with its membership comprised strictly of skilled blue water and ocean racing sailors. In addition to holding various prestigious offshore racing events (among them the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race and Pineapple Cup Montego Bay Race), STC also has developed the Storm Trysail 65 and the Box Rule that will govern its design . STC has joined together with other leading establishments such as the St. Francis Yacht Club and the New York Yacht Club to establish and promote the use of the IRC rating system in North America . The rule was successfully introduced in 2005 at STC's Block Island Race and biennial Block Island Race Week presented by Rolex.

Footnote: This kind of seminar would be great for local catamaran clubs! No need for the liferaft drills, but drills intentionally capsizing, recovering overboard crew etc., would build confidence in young beachcat sailors.

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