Sailboat Racing?… Yeah Right!

By Steve Harris

Over the past 15 years, I have enjoyed a lot of great opportunities on the water – I have served on Race Committees for National, World, and International Championships; I have been the Principal Race Officer for National Championships in several classes; I have been PRO for some of the most recognized “big regattas” on Lake Erie – The Mills Trophy Race, Cleveland Race Week, I-LYA’s “Bay Week” Regattas; I have chaired Junior Bay twice; I have been fortunate.

However, as we look to bring more new people into the sport this summer at Buckeye Lake, I find myself reflecting on how I got my start – quite honestly, in a sport in which I didn’t necessarily have an interest.  In the early 90’s, I returned home for a weekend visit to find a 20′ Hunter sailboat parked in my parents’ driveway.  I inquired of Mom, “What’s with the mid-life crisis in the driveway?”  We had sailed recreationally at Buckeye Lake when I was younger (incidentally, it was Mom who was the original sailor in the family, but that’s another story) but we had gotten away from it as my sisters and I grew into our teens and found other interests.  I had done some sailing – not racing – through my work running high adventure programs for the Boy Scouts in the summer.  But sailing was not a passion for me.  Mom’s reply was something along the lines of “Your father bought that at an auction the other day.  And… I guess now we’re also joining the yacht club!”  How little did I know then the opportunities ahead of me.

Well, Dad joined BLYC and started to sail on Sundays with other Club members and “raced” his Hunter 20.  One weekend while I was home visiting, he invited me to come along.  I was apprehensive about racing – yes, I knew how to sail, but racing?  Sounded like more than I was willing to take on – not knowing anything about the rules was enough to scare me off!  But, Dad assured me that it was very casual and “we’d figure it out as we go.”  Well, indeed we did.  It was a good day on the water and, quite frankly, I was instantly hooked.  Me being me, however, I just had to know all about the rules!  It was the early days of the internet and, upon returning home to Dayton, I spent hours searching out the rules, interpretations of the rules, racing tactics, anything associated with the sport.  Granted, Sunday racing at BLYC has never been at the level of intensity as the America’s Cup, but the more I dug in, the more I was, in my mind, preparing for that level of competition.  After all, anyone who knows me will tell you, I don’t like to be wrong – even when I am.  I wanted to know everything I could so as not to embarrass myself.  All in all, we had a good season at the Lake that summer.  I didn’t need (or even try to use) most the information I had amassed.  I found our Sunday racing to be enjoyable and I made a lot of new friends at BLYC.  I, in turn, joined the Club in mid-1997.

In 1998, I took a teaching job in Millersport and moved to Buckeye Lake full time.  Then incoming Commodore Tim Maite immediately started working on me to run for the board.  I was flattered, but I wasn’t initially all that interested.  I enjoyed the Club.  I enjoyed sailing on Buckeye Lake.  But, I really didn’t want to get involved in the running of the Club.  I just wanted to enjoy it.  Well, Tim and others had their motivation in recruiting me.  They needed someone to take the position of “Race, Regatta, & Junior Sailing” on the board.  I was a sailor.  I was a teacher.  I guess I fit the bill.  I ran and was elected to the Board at the “ripe old age” of 29 – the spouses of the other board members at the time referred to me as “Baby Guv.”  Initially, my prime motivation was to increase participation in our Sunday racing.  However, as we got into the season, I found myself spending more and more time focused on the Juniors – particularly the race team.  Over the next three years in that position, and with the invaluable help of many others at the Club, our junior program grew from a team of only two to nearly a dozen.  We purchased new boats for training and racing.  The program was going well.

Running our junior program meant getting involved on the I-LYA Junior Activities Committee as BLYC’s rep.  This opened up more doors and, before I knew it, I was chairing Junior Bay Week in 2006 and was elected to chair the Junior Activities Committee that fall.  That, in turn, led to my election to the I-LYA Board of Trustees in 2007, serving as President in 2011, and then moving up through the bridge to serve as I-LYA Commodore in 2014.  WOW!  All I set out to do was run our “little” program at BLYC.

In this same time period, I was still running our Sunday races at the Club.  In April of 2003, US Sailing held their spring meeting in Cincinnati.  Concurrent with that meeting was a new training course for getting certified as a Race Officer.  Being a bit of an amateur “rules geek” already, I though it a good opportunity to find out what I didn’t know and hopefully improve our level of race management at the Club.  I’ll admit, that day sitting in class, I felt horribly overwhelmed.  I discovered that there was FAR more that I didn’t know than that which I did.  It was eye opening to say the least.  Somehow I passed the test and became certified.  Having that credential led to more opportunities.  In the beginning, I just ran races here at Buckeye.  In that time, we’d host 3-4 regattas each year – a “Shakedown” regatta for the Thistle class in the early spring, an I-LYA Junior Travelers Series Regatta, the Thistle class Lake Erie District “Fall Finale,” and, of course the Snowball.  Somewhere along the line, our friends over at Hoover decided that they needed an “inland guy” to be PRO for Interlake Nationals at their venue in 2006.  It was a great experience and, I’ll be honest, it was really cool to be the PRO for a National Championship.  I then went on to take US Sailing’s Advanced Race Management Seminar that winter and the doors have opened up wide from there – I serve on US Sailing’s Race Officer Training & Certification Committee; I am the administrative Area Race Officer for Area E (Great Lakes); and, I am also the Area E Coordinator, serving as the primary liaison between sailors in our region and US Sailing.  Yea, I’m busy.

So, what’s the point of this long story?  Most of my leisure time today is now spent in the sport of sailing.  It has opened up amazing opportunities for me.  Not everyone who gets involved in the sport will – or will even want to – become a champion sailor, get involved in the management side of the sport as I have, or necessarily even spend that much time.  But, had I not tried racing at BLYC back in the mid-1990’s, my life would be very different today.

Give sailing and sailboat racing a try!  You never know where it may lead…

Cleveland Race Week – 2018

Cleveland Race Week (CRW) is the largest sailing regatta on Lake Erie and has become one of the largest in the country. The annual event, now celebrating its 38th year, attracts over 300 boats from across the U.S., Canada and internationally. Nationally, Cleveland Race Week ranks as one of the largest sailing events based on number of sailing classes and attendance at the event.

Founded in 1980, CRW has developed into 10 days of racing and special events. Edgewater Yacht Club, which recently celebrated it’s Centennial and underwent a clubhouse renovation, will be the host club for this event, scheduled to take place June 15 – 24th. CRW annually draws over 2,000 national and international participants and offers significant marketing exposure to a premiere demographic of sailing professionals, nationally ranked amateurs, junior sailors and female competitors.

One design fleets that participate include J/22, J/70, J/24, J/105, Melges 24, Melges 32, Tartan 10, Thistle, Highlander, Dragon, Ensign, Jet-14, VX, Interlake, and Star classes. The Handicap (PHRF) Class is represented with nine racing divisions and three JAM divisions.

CRW continues to be the premier sailing regatta on Lake Erie, and has consistently maintained or increased participation year after year. Our strong sponsorship network provides continuous support placing Cleveland Race Week in the upper echelon of US sailing events and further enhancing CRW’s status as a major national regatta.

The Racing Rules of Sailing…

When getting started in the sport, many people find themselves a bit overwhelmed by the apparent complexity of the racing rules.  After all, there are 92 rules, many with sub-sections and sub-sub-sections, and the book is nearly 200 pages long!  That said, however, the basic rules that you really need to get started are few and relatively easy to understand.

CLICK HERE for a brief primer from Ken Quant with the Milwaukee Area Sail & Trail association that will help you get started.  Feel free to download, print, and distribute at will.

CLICK HERE for an animated version of US Sailing’s “Handy Guide” to the Racing Rules.  (It’s a few years behind, based on the 2009-2012 rulebook, but the changes since that time aren’t really applicable to this basic primer so it’s still a very good introductory resource)

We hope to see you on the water for our first Sail on Sundays race on May 27th!

2018 Interlake Regatta Schedule Announced

The Interlake Sailing Class has announced their 2018 Regatta Schedule and BLYC is honored to be hosting the final event of the season this year. The dam remediation project has kept us off the water in recent years, but we are confident that we’ll have enough water this year and the class agrees with us.
All Interlakes are invited to join us at the 2018 Snowball Regatta on Saturday, October 13. It will great to
welcome all of our Interlake friends back to BLYC and we’re looking forward to a great day on the water!
CLICK HERE for more information on the Interlake class.

2018 Regatta Schedule

Date Location Event
May 5-6 Leatherlips YC Chief’s
June 2 Jolly Roger SC Cattail
June 9-10 Sandusky SC One-Design Regatta
June 16-17 Edgewater YC Cleveland Race Week
June 23-24 Hoover SC George Fisher Memorial
July 7-8 Indian Lake One Design Regatta
July 14 Lorain SYC One Design Regatta
July 25-28 Edgewater YC National Championship **
August 25-26 Grand Traverse YC Great White Regatta
September 15 Portage YC Hot to Trot
September 22 Mohican SC Haphazard
October 6 North Cape YC Fall Blowout
October 6-7 Indianapolis SC Poltergeist
October 13 Buckeye Lake YC Snowball

US Sailing launches new website…

In an effort to better serve sailors, US Sailing, the national governing body for the sport launched a new, improved website on May 1, 2018.  The new site is more streamlined, user-friendly, and easier to navigate.  Check it out!

Learn more about what US Sailing does and the advantages of membership in the following video:

Mills Trophy Race – June 7-9, 2018

The Mills Trophy Race is the premier sailing race on Lake Erie and is sponsored by the Toledo Yacht Club. It began in 1907 as a test of navigational skills on Lake Erie. The race has been held nearly every year since then and is unique in that it is raced at night. Although the race was originally configured as a triangle beginning and ending at the Toledo Yacht Club, since 1981 the race has begun at the harbor light and ended here at Put-in-Bay. That makes it a 35+ year tradition for the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club being involved. Come visit the island this weekend and see hundreds of sailing ships lining the docks in downtown Put-in-Bay.

The weekend kicks off with the Mills Party (open to the public) at Toledo Yacht Club on the evening of Thursday, June 7th.  The races start the afternoon of Friday, June 8 and the racers continue on one of three long distance courses overnight, ending at Put-in-Bay.  Saturday afternoon brings the Sailors Party at Put-in-Bay Yacht Club and plenty of fun on the docks and around South Bass Island.  The weekend culminates with the Awards Ceremony on Sunday morning and the racers depart for home.  Once again this year, BLYC’s Steve Harris will serve as the Principal Race Officer for the event.  If you’re thinking of coming up and enjoying a fun time on the island with fellow sailors, let him know!

For more information on the Mills, click on the image above.

2018 I-LYA Regattas

The 2018 I-LYA Regattas will be held again this summer at Put-in-Bay, hosted by the Put-in-Bay Yacht Club.  BLYC has a long history of participation in these events and this summer will be no exception:

I-LYA Junior Championships
“Junior Bay Week”
July 15-19

I-LYA Sail Regatta
August 2-5

I-LYA Powerboat Week
August 8-12

Once again, BLYC will be well-represented at Junior Bay Week with several of our youth sailors already committed to race again this year.  Steve Harris will be the Overall Principal Race Officer (PRO) for the event, Matt & Tracey Davis will be assisting the Commodore as Fleet Captains with logistics, and many other BLYC members will assist.  This year’s chairs are Matt & Lisa Fisher from Hoover Sailing Club.  Matt, the son of P/C George & Marty Fisher and brother of P/C Gayle Fisher-Mulvey, grew up sailing at BLYC and has long history with our Club.  His parents, George and Marty, chaired the event in 1975 – making him only the 2nd second-generation chair for the 60+ year old event. Many BLYC members will make the trip up to support our team and enjoy a few days on South Bass Island again this year.

The Sail Regatta begins just one week following Junior Bay and features racing in PHRF, JAM, and a variety of One-Design classes.  Don Harris is planning to race Tan-Tar-A again this year.  Steve Harris will be the PRO on the Centerboard Course.  Matt & Tracey Davis will again be assisting the Commodore in their Fleet Captain roles. CLICK HERE to visit the Sail Regatta page and download the NOR.

The Powerboat Week is perhaps the one event that our Club has been under-represented in recent years.  It is a great week of fun on the island and includes activities such as docking and maneuverability contests and the ever-popular cardboard boat race in addition to social events like miniature golf.

To learn more about I-LYA and this year’s events, please visit the I-LYA website at or feel free to ask Matt, Tracey, or Steve for more details.

How I was Shamed into Learning the Rules of Sailing

by David Paligo

When I first started racing with Core Four, I only had one job on the J/30 and that was to trim the main sail and adjust the traveler as required. As a rookie, All my focus was on those four tell-tails streaming off the leach of the main sail; so I hardly paid any attention to anything else on the boat except my job. A couple of years later I decided it was time to sell our 18 foot power boat and buy a sailboat. Within two weeks all that came to be, soon both Jane and I were learning how to step the mast and rig our new Ranger 20. Of course, as any new and proud owner of any sailboat, we needed to take our new pride and joy out on an adventure all by ourselves. We knew how to rig the boat, we knew how to launch and retrieve it (remember, we were power boaters once), and my racing had taught me how to trim sails; so we figured we should get out and see just how well we could do by ourselves.

For our adventure we decided to pull the boat up to Yale Reservoir as it was only one hour away from our home and we could practice raising and lowering the mast, launching and retrieving, and still be able to have the boat back home for sailing on the Columbia River for the following week.

Things could not have been more perfect: the winds were 5 to 7 knots and we almost had the lake to ourselves so we could practice our tacking and gybing. Jane was driving the boat and I was in heaven trimming the jib and the main. All of a sudden we look up to see another sailboat on a collision course with us. Jane looks at me and asks, “What do we do?” and I said, “I don’t know.” She asked, “What would Doug do in this situation? (my mentor) and I said he’d yell “STARBOARD!” so I yell in my most seaman-like voice, “STARBOARD!” and the boat immediately tacks out of our way. Jane looks at me and says, “Uh, I think we’re on port and he was on starboard.” We humbly yelled, “We’re sorry!” and vowed to each other that we would learn and understand “The Racing Rules of Sailing.”

How about you, do you know and understand the basic rules of sailing?  Do you get out on the water and have questions like, “Are we on a collision course?” “Who is on starboard; who is on port?” “Who has rights or who is the give-way boat?” and so forth?

Jane and I have been sailing together for many years after our little starboard experience and to this day, we still challenge each other to the Basic Rules of Sailing and who has the right of way or who has to give way. Do you?

David recently joined BLYC after relocating from Portland, Oregon.  He has years of sailing and racing experience on the Columbia River where he primarily sailed Merit 25’s and Ranger 20’s.  He and his wife Jane reside in Heron Bay.