Thursday, April 14, 2016

The End of the Season

For many people they are surprised to hear that my sailing season is just ending, April 17, 2016.  This is when the Snapper Inn JY15 Frostbite fleet concludes it's winter season with the JY15 Long Island Interfleet Championship.  This year it will be help at WPSA.  Last year Centerport's JY15 fleet beat the Snapper Inn Fleet, Breakwater and Port Jeff Fleets.

Frostbiting is actually my favorite sailing.  I like competitive sailing and the sailors who usually don't sail small boats, get in their JY15s and sail in the Frostbite fleets.  Sunfish are also sailed at Seacliff and I love going up their too.  There are other frostbite fleets around like the Seawanhaka Laser Fleet and Larchmont IC fleet and Babylon YC Flying Scot fleet.

Frostbite sailing is usually a mixture of sailing, skiing, NASCAR and socializing.  The winds are different in the summer, there is an adrenaline rush knowing there are boats just inches away from you most of the time with freezing water just below you.  This winter was very mild compared to the two winters before so the sailing was really excellent.

People look at me and ask if i am crazy...  I tell them, I t's like skiing, you dress appropriately and it's comfortable...  and you don't have to drive hours to do it.  So a dozen or so times on a Sunday, you can sail for a lot of fun and will find the competition is really good, but mostly it's a lot of fun...  after wards the JY15 sailors of Fleet 38 congregate in the Snapper Inn bar and share stories of the day and discuss tactics and how someone can be better.  This year I think there was one protest actually heard, maybe... we have gotten to the point where doing penalty turns is easier, and then discussing it afterwards over a beer...

I look forward to the Interfleet Challenge and to the warmer weather, but frostbiting is so fun. (and I HATE the cold)

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Five Points To Rise Up in the Fleet

Lee Montes


Here are some notes and points I would like to get across.  There are many things to do and this is in no way a comprehensive seminar for starting. In short course racing, these points are really key.

Point 1.  FRONT ROW IS FAST: Start on the front row. PERIOD. No exceptions.
Doug Wefer (L), Brett Doty (78682), Brian McGinnis (3481) and Andrew Kinsey (13276) all have front row.
Cinco De Mayo Frostbite Regatta, 2014 Sea Cliff YC Photos Carol Heber

Point 2. FEEL YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT: You MUST FEEL like you are AHEAD (looks like your bow is actually two to three feet ahead while close hauled)  of the boat to YOUR Right, just to BE EVEN with them.  Ill explain this on land. CLINIC
Lee Montes (2) controlling the Windward fleet for now.  Andrew Kinsey (13276) starting to truck away.

Point 3.  WATER to LEEWARD and BOAT to WINDWARD: Line up next to her LEFT and keep her close to your right.  Meaning keep a boat on your starboard side a few inches away. And AS much water as you can on your left (with out a boat next to your left side)--- this is the space where you will accelerate into.

Point 4.  VISUALIZE and ANTICIPATE: Pick a spot, picture yourself there, then do what is necessary to put your boat there. Sometimes sailing slow is necessary, sometimes stopping the boat is needed. Sometimes tacking away and coming back is better than just staying there.

Point 5.  PULL THE TRIGGER to SHOOT OUT: You must start Sailing to get to speed, This take a few seconds.  If You trim your sails AT the gun, you are done, late, second row, spit out the back, etc....  START TRIMMING (Pulling the Trigger) 5-7 seconds (depending on your position to the line and wind speed). Hit right before the line (a Few inches) at full speed AND DEFINITELY AHEAD OF THE BOAT YOU KEPT TO STARBOARD.

2 was late to pull the trigger, gotten run over by 3481, and Conrad Volle 80518 was very late to the party

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Seven Things To Know About Sailboat Racing

     When I first took lessons at the Town Of Islip one day I saw a regatta, and said to my instructor, "I want to that."  What I saw was a bunch of Sunfish sailing around a race course…  well, after i looked into that- it led me to the Dinghy Shop, then to Wet Pants SA, then to getting my boat and eventually seeing all sorts of Ports and waters in different countries from the vantage point of a sailboat.  It all started with the thought, "I want to do that." As maybe a beginner or someone who may not know where to start ...
Here are Seven things to know about Sailboat Racing.  Don't want to race?  Well you can take these things and learn to apply them to cruising too.!

1. Levels of Racing- Just like pro sports- sailing can be fun on all levels.  At WPSA, we are a breeding ground for entry level racers.  Many of these beginners are now working in the sailing field, that's the path that they chose. But most racers just end up loving to race or cruise on the water!  

2. NOR- "Notice of Race"-This is an INVITATION.  read it and it will give you details like a birthday party invite…  the who, what, where and when.  It is sent out or posted by the Club organizing the race.

3. There are many different types of Racing- Just like Track and Field.  Some people like Marathons, while others like to sprint.  Also some like cross country, while others like to run on a track.  However, to figure out what you like, don't be afraid to ask and hop on a boat to get experience. The NOR will give you insight on the type of racing. 

4. Sailboating (Yachting) does not have to be Expensive-  Yes the Americas Cup is all About Billionaires measuring the size of their wallets, but on the mortal levels- you can start racing for less than the cost of a new iPhone. There is a Sunfish For sale for $500 right now.

5.  You can race WITHOUT OWNING a boat-  By being a crew member- it is EASY to spread the word around you are willing to crew.  Gerry Hesse heard I was available to crew on his Celebrity, at my first meeting at WPSA, and that started my variety of experiences on different boats.  Also  there is a Loaner Sunfish available to those who show they can sail without breaking the boat. (let me know if you want to borrow it)

6.  Racing Makes you better the fastest-  Sailing is a skill.  It takes practice-  here at WPSA we have three scheduled weeknights of different types of sailing.  With all this opportunity to sail and maneuver and launch and dock, it is impossible not to get better. Also there is a wealth of knowledge right there to help.  We are all friendly and are willing to help the new people get up to speed…  some will even offer you a drink… :)

7. You DON'T Have to KNOW the RULES completely-  there are two rules to know- as a beginner-  1. Help someone in danger and 2. TRY not to hit anyone.
Yes there are rules, and there are rules that are advanced, BUT unless you are a very fast, gifted naturally born racer who can keep up with the experienced people, the rules won't be in effect very often, because you may not be near anyone for them to be in effect. :) IF YOU ARE NEAR SOMEONE remember my #2 rule above. :) I say this with a friendly tone, because it takes time to get up to speed with other boats.  and rules are meant to keep boats from hitting each other.  AS a Newbie, a more experienced sailor probably will be too fast to keep up with.  After one day on the water, you can learn the FOUR BASIC** Rules in a few minutes.
I can go on about the benefits of Racing, but I wanted to share things that may have widened your sailing Vocabulary.  So Students!  Go out on a racing night and watch, ask questions, talk to people…  you can do it!  but watch out, you may eventually be on a sailboat in the Caribbean, Mediterranean or just next your favorite waterside restaurant eating a lobster roll, all because you started sailboat racing…
Getting Ready for the 2014 Longest Sunfish Race Around Shelter Island

** The Rules can be broken down into FOUR BASIC RULES: 1. Starboard Tack vs. PORT Tack

2. Windward V. Leeward (boats on same tack)
3. Clear Ahead vs. Clear Astern (Boats on same Tack)
4. While Tacking or Jibing

Friday, May 8, 2015

11 Things to Remember for your FIrst Sail

It was a brutal winter and finally the weather took a turn and that means breaking out your Sunfish/Sailboat (what ever boat you may have)  So our club will be officially starting its season with fun sailing and racing Tuesday.  Which brings me to this blogs topic:  11 things to Remember for your first sail.

1.  Your Boat.  Duh.  with out your boat you can't sail…  for the Sunfish it's easy.  This obviously include Sail on their spars, halyard, Rudder/tiller combo and Daggerboard.  If you have other items to go along with the rigging, like bungee cord for the daggerboard, wind indicators, don't forget those things...

West Hampton YS Fall Series 2014- Peter's, Vito's and my cars ready to sail
2. Personal Floatation Device (PFD)-  you should never sail without a PFD.  The boat capsizes easily and you can expect to get wet…   if you get hit in the head with the boom and get separated from the boat, you may not have time to get your PFD on.  So always wear it sailing.

3. Shoes/boots what ever you wear on your feet when you sail make sure you don't forget them, as they may have been packed away from the off season. I don't sail barefoot, but many people do… so this is a preference thing.

Clean Up of the Sailing Mobile- among other things includes tire pump, spare tires for trailers, WD-40 and beer
4.  SPONGE-  I like to have a sponge to sponge out water in the cockpit.  This is especially useful if the wind isn't strong enough for you to reach and let the bailer work.

5.  Dolly- This should be one in the same as the boat…  because getting the boat into the water is so much easier with a Dolly.  Seitech or Dynamic makes the best ones..

6.  Mainsheet- Terrible when you are next to the water and then you forgot your mainsheet.  Hopefully it was in your blade bag next to your sponge.

After a busy season-I can sail on any size boat with all this stuff, keep my beer cold AND split a log.
A new Sailing Mobile has forced me to Reorganize for this year.
7.  Sailing clothes-  Depending what kind of sailing and conditions, you may want special hiking pants, shorts, spray top, gloves, hat…  the bottom line is- it's easy to forget if it was packed away for the winter….

8.  Drinks-  water, gatorade or whatever you hydrate yourself with--- if you want food too  don't forget that… the little Sunfish Cubby Hole in the cockpit is the best for carrying stuff like that.

 9.  Sunscreen-  Face it-  you haven't thought of Sunscreen for months…  so don't forget it.

10.  Change of Clothes/towel/flip flops-  Sunfish sailing is usually a wet activity…  it's nice to be able to change into a dry set of clothes after a good sail…

11. Float Plan-  ok, most people don't file a float plan when they sail sunfish-  however someone should know where you will be and when you are coming back…  Usually my float plan is- "Im sailing at Wet Pants tuesday night at 6pm…"  for the most part We are in front of the building and come back by sunset…  however if I goto Fire Island, I'll let someone know---  a broken spar can set you adrift for a while.  Hope this helps…

Thursday, May 7, 2015

Five Things To Take Away From My First Time

We, as experienced as we are, can look back on our first time.  Scared, awkward, unsure of ourselves… then you decide to go for it…  you find yourself all wet, clumsily climbing on top, and next thing you know, you are banging against the wall, can't get yourself off…  it is the worst feeling.

That was my first time launching my Sunfish in the prevailing southwest wind at Wet Pants Sailing Association.  It was 1998, and I watched people launch their Sunfish with ease.  They slide the boat in the water off their dolly, step in, and sail away.  Now for those of you who do not know WPSA, there is a beach about 15 feet wide that opens up to a small canal about 40 feet wide.  There are two poles sticking out on the right where a ferry used to dock.  The prevailing winds in the spring and early summer are a sea breeze about 15 mph, and the South facing canal can have breakers from the Fire Island ferries that leave Browns River every now and then… to the left and right (west and east) is bulk heading with supporting pylons.  For a beginner, it IS a very intimidating site, and I have seen EVERYONE hit the bulk head if they are not experienced.

So there I am, I watch Erik Tjersland, an excellent Junior back then hop in his boat and sail away…  Erik's parents, Steve and Mary, were there encouraging me that I could do it…  just do what Eric did…. well, as everyone who knows what to do makes it so easy looking I just slid my boat in…  hopped in and sailed away about 14 feet….  the southwest wind, pushed me left, RIGHT INTO THE bulkhead…  no problem…  i would just tack away…  however, since the bulkhead had pylons that your bow just loves to wedge itself in, the boat was going no where except pounding into the bulkhead.  The more I trimmed the more I get wedged.  HINT, you can't tack when you are stuck, not going anywhere, and your boat is being held hostage by a wall and telephone pole.  My sail was pushed against the wall, and I was embarrassed…  Ken Boyle, saw this and calmly walked along the shore, grabbed my spars and finally got me loose.  I then trimmed in, and WHAM!  right back into the bulkhead…  I wasn't able to tack with no forward momentum…  and DUH, my daggerboard wasn't in the slot…  so after what seemed like forever, I got myself out of the boat, pulled myself off the wall, the water was armpit deep so it wasn't TOO bad…  I walked over all the way to the right, listened to someone who yelled at me to put my board in at least part way…  i finally got out and raced…  THAT is for another story….

So here are my five take aways to learn from MY First Time.

1. Line up as close to the left or right as possible (Windward)  If the wind is from the SW (line up ALL the way to the right)  NOT 4 feet away from the bulkhead, i mean 8 inches.  the wind will push you left- quickly. Walk the boat waist deep and put your board in at least half way.  (hop in your boat as quickly as possible, firm and steer out…   AS you start to move into deeper water push your board down.  Once you get to the first pylon on the right (Sticking out of the water) you can put the board down almost all the way.

2.  BAIL OUT EARLY.  If you are going to hit the bulkhead, either tack or go into irons, and hop out of the boat, if the water is shallow…  and pull the boat back to the windward side of the canal.

3.  MAKE SURE YOUR BOARD IS DOWN ENOUGH-  when you decide to tack…  if you are just launching your board cannot go down all the way in shallow water, so if you tack the boom will get caught on the board and you will then capsize in the canal…  happened to me and many others…

4.  In a direct southerly (hardest time to launch)  you will need to tack a couple times to  get out…  leave yourself more room to tack, before hitting the bulk head.  Also since the canal is a whole "NO GO ZONE"  you will have to Zig zag your way out…  this was pointed out to me by Rick Braille...

5.  When in doubt, watch and learn.  Also watch the people who did wrong.  They slide there boat in the middle of the beach, they don't slide their board half way in, they take too much time getting in the boat and not trimming, they don't tack early enough…  but the last thing is ONCE YOU DO IT ONCE, you Want to do it over and over again…

#6 Have fun!  Join the Sunfish Class!
little ripples breaking on shore

After morning lessons, moderate 11 mph breeze

Sailing classes coming in from a SW breeze

Before the Junior Regatta

Christine coming back from Fire Island

High tide and at pylon has enough depth to drop board all the way down

The opti will be in good shape with a SW wind

Time your launch, wait for ferry wakes to subside and don't get between the boat and shore!

To launch in these conditions, hug the right side

Typical calm conditions for an early evening

Gerry getting caught on the bulkhead… at least it was dead calm

Ryan shows how its done 

Low tide, calm water to launch needs to be walked out further 

Kids coming in from Fire Island, you would not launch from this position

Monday, May 4, 2015

Sea Cliff Cinco de Mayo Regatta 2015

The End of the Frostbiting season is marked with the Second Annual Cinco De Mayo Regatta, hosted by the Frostbite Fleet of Sea Cliff Yacht Club.  17 boats came out to enjoy a Southerly that filled in perfectly, where the temps reached 76 degrees and the winds built from a nice 6 mph to hiking conditions of about 11 mph.  Matt Wefer took a brief time off from his Olympic 470 campaign to hop in the Sunfish and edge out his dad, Doug, in a tie breaker.  Over the years, this fleet has gotten really fun because the sailors from the bottom, have been gaining on the top sailors.  The starts are always interesting as 30-80 degree shifts can come out of no where.  There was one time I was going backwards at the start because I didn't read the coming shift correctly.  Sea cliff YC, in my opinion, sails like a North Jersey Lake (SANJL) with more chop, current and saltwater and is always a challenge.

see you on the water!  - lee j montes

here is Doug Wefer's email:

Hello everyone- Congratulations to everyone on a terrific day and a great season. Specifically, Congratulations to Bob Canovan and Matt Wefer for being the 2015 Cinco de Mayo Champions! Thank you Carol Hoeber and John Dawson for always being there to run the races and thank you GM Charlie Walsh for always taking care of us with food and drink!

Have a great summer. See you all in November!  (Doug Wefer)

2015 Cinco de Mayo Regatta Sea Cliff YC Six races Scored

Division: Laser (5 boats) (top)
14984Bob Canovan2[4]11127.001
2695Dan Rapelje113[4]2310.002
343Greg Hayes33[6/DNF]33113.003
45464Dave Rapelje[4]2224414.004
5174293William Ciniski554[6/DNF]6/DNC6/DNC26.005

Division: Sunfish
 (12 boats) (top)
155464Matthew Wefer1212[3]17.001
216Douglas Wefer[2]121127.002
32Lee Montes344[5]2316.003
428David Lawson[7]3644522.004
578784Bill Niebling5[8]836426.005
74040Harry Ehrlich8[11]987638.007
879438Keith Maler107[11]68839.008
988Rob Ehrlich653[13/DNF]13/DNC13/DNC40.009
104139Steve Feinsilver9[10]79101045.0010
113455Carlo Zaskorski[11]9101011949.0011
126Jim Carballal[13/DNC]13/DNC13/DNC13/DNC91159.0012
(1)Scoring System is ISAF Low Point 2013-2016
(2)Finishes in [brackets] denote throwouts

Friday, May 1, 2015

Five Things To Know When Sailing At WPSA

Traveling to other places to sail is some of the best experiences I have had in my life.  You see knew things, meet new people and experience different conditions.  Many things you learn at Wet Pants you can translate to the new venues.  The more you travel the more situations you encounter and then you can use that knowledge to become a better racer and cruiser.  Here are five things every Wet Pants Sailor should know about sailing at WPSA.  I just woke up and thought about this topic, so it is NOT all inclusive, it also is not the very best top local knowledge things you should know…  it is just five things that came off the top of my head as I woke up from a deep sleep.

1.  Never Put yourself between the beach and your boat while launching your boat.  This should be a universal rule, but especially when the SW breeze is up AND the ferry wakes come by.  I have seen four foot waves suddenly slam into the narrow basin, bouncing from left and right tossing boats to the shore.  If you happen to be in between your thrashed boat and the shore there is a good possibility you will be hurt.

2. Never Forget the CHOP.  In our part of the bay, the distance from Fire Island to the Main land is pretty much the longest.  This gives the wind plenty of time to push water to our club.  Then you have the bulkhead.  I met a Sailor probably ten years ago in Canandaigua YC upstate New York, I saw his sailboat tattoo and asked him about it.  Dan Rhode, from Georgia said "oh that is a South Bay Scooter, Bellport's symbol is a SB Scooter."   I was like, wow why do you have that?  And he said he grew up in Bellport.  Cool, I told him I was sailing out of Wet Pants SA…  His eyes lit up and asked, "I used to sail there as a kid, (his kids were then about 15) Do they still have that God Awful Chop bouncing off the bulkhead?"  I replied "absolutely!"

Our Daily SeaBreeze, Right is the Great South Bay
3.  USE The Chop to your advantage.  Some sailors that come from places that sail in flat water need time to get used to the chop.  If you are racing this is when you need to shine.  Use your body weight aggressively to keep the bow of the boat from digging into the wave.  Once you are over the wave, move your weight forward to help surf down the wave.  This movement is more from leaning your shoulders back and forth.  It is not ooching, where you would slam or push your body into your boat or have a sudden stopping motion to translate that into forward motion, this would be illegal for racing. Going on a reach or downwind, it is fastest to surf those waves.  And keep on each wave for as long as possible, because it is much faster to surf water than to just let the wind push you around.

4. It's all about Boat Speed at WPSA-  During MOST conditions at WP get a good start and sail your boat like you stole it.  Once you are in front expend your lead.  If you are not in front, go for clear air and go fast pointing to the mark (sail the tack which points you closest to the mark).  The current is almost non-existent at WP, and the shifts are gradual and not as pronounced. This is especially true in a SW Seabreeze which come every summer day between 11:30 and 2pm and lasts until the sunsets.  The summer seas breeze from June until early August is like clockwork.

5.  It's all About sailing to the Beach and Foster Avenue in a Northerly. In the occasion when the wind comes from the north, we get a treat.  The wind gets really shifty due to being deflected by the land, tress and buildings.  Also the water is FLAT!  These conditions resemble where most other people sail.  Looking upwind to the North, you can see the Flag pole to the left of the Club house, this is at Foster Avenue.  Foster avenue becomes a funnel for wind. Continually watch this flag and you can see the velocity of the wind and direction.  USe this to predict your course.  John Zambriski, long time sailor at WP and coach, said when you see the Northerly you sail to the beach.  In my experience this is true 95 percent of the time.  The other five percent of the time is get to Foster avenue side of the race course as quickly as possible to get the better breeze.

So I hope you have fun sailing at WP…  see you on the water!

I shot Lucas Volle having a good time at a WPSA Junior Regatta