Some people live the good life, especially when it comes to sailing. From Oct. 24 to 30, the Bitter End Yacht Club, Virgin Gorda, BVI, held its 29th Annual Pro-Am Regatta. This event is special because it matches up amateur sailors (do not read: inexperienced sailors) who get a chance to crew with professional skippers that were invited to participate in the championship. Part of the event is devoted to the Scuttlebutt Sailing Club Championship. Racing was in Hobie Waves, Hobie Getaways and Lasers for the qualification series, with IC24s the boat of choice for the Championship. The finalists: George Huntington, Manhasset, Marylou Scott, New York, Ron Boehm, Santa Barbara, CA, Gordon LeGrande, Raleigh, NC, Chris Smith, Tucson, AZ, and Peter Schoen, Corte Madera, CA. Before the championship these six racers and the other guests (the “Am” part of Pro-Am) made up the crew pool for the 21st Annual Defiance Day Race, which took the fleet down the island of Virgin Gorda to The Baths, with a return race later in the day. The race is in honor of Sir Francis Drake’s visit to North Sound in 1595 (his flagship that year was the Defiance). This year’s pro skippers for the Defiance Day Race, aka, Mount Gay Rum Day, were Sally Barkow, Taylor Canfield, JJ Fetter and Annie Haeger, Anthony Kotoun and Dave Ullman. Both Taylor Canfield and Sally Barkow are known in our area for competing in the Knickerbocker Cup Match Race.
George Huntington from Manhasset, a longtime member of Manhasset Bay YC who races in Sonars here in Manhasset Bay and an Express 37 across the Sound, is a seven-time participant in the event. He had this to say, “As you know, I am a huge fan of the Bitter End Pro-Am. I got to sail with all the Pros, Sally Barkow, JJ Fetter, Annie Haeger, Anthony Kotoun, Dave Ullman and Taylor Canfield. Taylor let me skipper part of his first day race. It’s not often one gets the number one-rated match race skipper in the world crewing for you. As Bill said, Dave Ullman and Annie Haeger fought it out for third for the week. The student, Annie, won. I was on Dave’s boat that day so I saw the give and take between the teacher and the student. All the pros were great to sail with and their stories were fascinating. Annie, who is one of our Olympic hopefuls, was a pleasure to sail with. These kids need our help to get to the Olympics. Going back every year and seeing old friends from around the country is the best part of the trip. Only 50 weeks until we return.”
What Huntington didn’t say was that four years ago he won the Pro-Am and was given a lot of rewards, including three free days at the Bitter End for the following year. Interested readers can go to the Bitter End Pro-Am Facebook page, scroll down and see the video of Scuttlebutt’s Tom Leweck interviewing Huntington. Check it out, it is very exciting to see a local racer highlighted on the national sailing scene.
The story of the Bitter End Pro-Am ties to our area continues. Bill Simon, race program director, Oakcliff Sailing Center in Oyster Bay was the Chief PRO (Principal Race Officer) for the event. That has to be one great place to be on race committee. Simon said this about his experience at the Bitter End, “I am honored to have represented Oakcliff Sailing as the Chief Umpire at the 29th Pro-Am at the Bitter End YC. There is no more perfect place for sailors. The guests have the experience of a lifetime sailing with Olympians and World Champions both young and more experienced. This year was a thrill to see Olympic hopeful Annie Haeger match race against her coach and Olympian Dave Ullman in the Petit Finals and win. I was honored to umpire the finals between Olympian Sally Barkow and World Match Race Champion Taylor Canfield. They certainly kept the umpire team on their toes. I can only image how competitive the racing will be for next year’s 30th Anniversary Pro-Am when past-year multiple winners are invited back.”
In addition to the racing and the post-racing parties, one evening was scheduled for a “State of the Sport” panel discussion, sponsored by the Better Chip and was quite well attended. The discussions ranged from junior sailing, to the Olympics, to world-class match racing, to the Volvo Ocean Race, to “foiling for all,” to the rigors of the pro circuit. Questions from the audience included a healthy discourse on diversity in the sport of sailing. All six Pro-Am skippers participated, and Dave Reed, the editor of Sailing World Magazine and top pro sailor Terry Hutchinson, who were in the area for the NOOD Regattas, graciously joined in. Tom Leweck, Scuttlebutt Sailing News curmudgeon, was the moderator. Source: John Glynn on the Pro-Am Facebook page.
In other local news: Port Sailing School has announced a new sailing location in New Rochelle Marina. Port Sailing will be taking over the office and classroom that was previously used by New York Sailing School. With the opening of the new location, they hope to better serve our customers on the other side of the Long Island Sound. They will move some staff from Port Washington as well as hire local talent. New Rochelle Marina also has a restaurant with indoor and outdoor dining overlooking the harbor. Port Sailing will be offering lessons and rentals with a fleet of five Sonars and a Cal 25 sailboat at the new location. Their “Gull” launch will move to the new location and provide launch service. All memberships from our original location will be honored at our second location. Port Sailing School will continue to maintain its Port Washington location to serve our community.