After enjoying a little break over the holidays, we are gearing back up for winter racing season. Our race team enjoyed a fun sail in early January and resumed practice mid-January.
While the continued lull in available regattas is less than ideal, it does allow our race team sailors more freedom in taking turns sailing different boats. Without the pressure to prepare for a weekend regatta, they are freed up to try something new at practice. It’s turning into our own version of musical boats, with some sailors moving from an Opti, to a Laser, to a Sunfish, or a 420.
We would like to give a shout out to Mason Sullivan, one of our summer coaches, who has been helping at our race team practices. Mason has an encouraging attitude and lots of experience, and our sailors enjoy learning with him.
We look forward to resuming our Sunday recreational sailing program in March. Keep an eye on our website for the spring schedule.
It’s also the time of year to start thinking about summer camp. Online registration will open in early March, so start spreading the word!
Happy New Year from the Manatee River Pram Fleet! Our fall racing and recreational seasons wrapped up last month, with both finishing on a high note.
The race team took our 420 down to Sarasota Bay for the final inter-club race of the fall series. The day brought light and shifty air, so James and Cooper got plenty of practice tacking on the shifts. While this can make for a long day of racing, it was incredible to watch them compete in only their 2nd regatta together. They took 5th place in two races! They also had a couple moments of leading the entire fleet of 14 boats, and after a grueling 7 races, they posted an overall 7th place finish. That’s a stellar showing and we look forward to these two young sailors developing as teammates and competitors in 2021.
Sunday recreational sailing ended in beautiful fashion, with a journey to the mouth of the river on one of the best sailing days 2020 offered. There is something special about watching our fleet cruise with the BYC big boats racing in the background. Even the dolphins and manatees joined in the fun. Our sailors continue to enjoy learning to sail different boats, with the Sunfish being a popular choice for recreational sailing as they grow out of their Opti’s.
We look forward to resuming race team practice this month, with recreational sailing resuming in March. Here’s to a new year full of perfect sailing weather!
In typical December fashion, I have been pondering what a year 2020 has been and would like to focus on what we are thankful for over here at the Bishop Sailing Center.
First, we are full of gratitude for the donation of a Rhodes 19 from Dan Howland (Yacht Broker with Galati Yacht Sales, father of two former MRPF sailors/coaches, and grandfather of a current MRPF sailor). This boat has beautiful lines, is a dream to sail, and can accommodate more crew than our dinghy’s can. We look forward to teaching our sailors on the Rhodes, and hopefully allowing them to show off their skills with their families in the future.
Another positive for our program in 2020 was the increased availability of Coach Mike Crotty. Mike brings with him a lifetime (literally, his first sail was at age 2) of sailing and racing experience, along with a passion for coaching that is hard to find. He learned to sail at Erie Yacht Club in Pennsylvania, racing Flying Junior’s in high school and went on to post several wins and top five finishes while attending college at the United States Merchant Marine Academy. He graduated with an engineering degree, a commission in the Naval Reserve, and 3rd engineer’s unlimited horsepower license from USCG. Mike went on to sail in the merchant marine on steamships all over the world, eventually working up to chief engineer. After having two daughters with his wife, Emily, he made the switch to working ashore, becoming the engineering manager over cranes, equipment and facilities at the 209 berth at Port Tampa Bay. Mike met Coach Lisa in 2018 and was invited to help out when he could with the race team. This year he was able to start making the 45-minute drive three days a week for practices and regattas - we could not be more grateful! We look forward to Mike and his family moving closer so that they can be more involved with the program.
Our sailors are learning so much with each practice, including boat handling skills and race-course tactics. At most youth sailing programs, team coaches are tasked with one class at a time –for example, a green fleet Opti coach, a RWB fleet Opti Coach, a Laser coach, and a 420 coach. What we ask of our coaches is far more complex – Coach Mike and Coach Lisa must design practice to accommodate each fleet simultaneously, coach sailors with a wide range of experience, and also manage the boat transport and on-the-water coaching for multiple courses at each regatta.
Additionally, we are excited to see an increase in interest from both the race team and recreational sailors in sailing a Sunfish. As sailors age, they eventually grow out of the Opti, and while the usual progression for high school racing is to a Laser or 420, another ideal single-handed boat to step into is the Sunfish. We have one classic (near antique) boat in our fleet and Coach Caroline has given the program use of hers – they are both being used multiple times a week. It is our hope to grow this fleet in the coming years, as the Sunfish is a boat that you can sail for leisure or competition throughout your life and has active fleets worldwide. If you know anyone who may be interested in donating a boat to our youth sailing program, please email Pam Blalock at [email protected].
With summer officially behind us, and fall well underway, our sailors have enjoyed the change in weather. Fall breezes have offered our race team some great practice opportunities. As tends to happen, some of our sailors grew quite a bit in the offseason. This provides us a great opportunity to encourage them to try their hand at a new boat. This season, Cooper Duquette is moving up from the optimist class to race in the 420 class with James Freund. Brodie Hausmann plans to improve upon the strong showings he posted last spring in the laser fleet, while Isaiah Thomas and Regina Rettig continue to hone their skills in the optimist fleet.
2020 has been a strange year, which means many of our sailors have not had a chance to compete in a regatta in many months. Turns out, there was quite a bit of trepidation leading into our first inter-club regatta last month! Coach Mike and Coach Lisa have done an incredible job in preparing this team and in getting them excited to sail. They journeyed down to Sarasota Bay to compete against other regional clubs for a one-day regatta.
It was medium to light air all day with very competitive fleets all around. Regina and Isaiah faced some stiff competition in the RWB Opti fleet. After grinding out five races, they both managed to land in the top of the fleet with Isaiah in 10th and Regina in 12th. Watching these two progress over the past couple of years has been fun – they are now consistently competing at regattas and learning more about tactics and maneuvering their boat with each race.
This was the first regatta for James and Cooper in the 420 fleet together. While James has 420 racing experience, Cooper just made the switch from sailing solo in the Optimist fleet. For them to walk away with a 4th place out of 14 boats is outstanding! They had some shining moments of being in the top five, but mostly posted consistent finishes which served them well in the end.
Overall, it was a new challenge for our sailors to compete in a regatta without an actual protest committee. No protests or penalties are allowed in this modified format, which can be frustrating for the honest competitor - which of course, describes our sailors.
Congrats to the MRPF race team! We are so proud of this group, the way they show up eager to practice and to compete while respecting each other and the environment, reminds us why we do what we do.
And we are back! After a brutally hot tail end of summer, we are thrilled to be sailing in more enjoyable conditions. Both our racing team and recreational program kicked off in September.
The MRPF racing team is joining some local clubs in an inter-club regatta series on Sarasota Bay this fall. Many precautions and adjustments have been taken in order to hold these modified events. We are grateful for the opportunity to participate. Our team will be competing in the optimist, laser, and 420 fleets once a month this fall. Otherwise, you can find them practicing on the Manatee River a couple times a week. It’s been great to see our sailors back at the Bishop Sailing Center after such a long break.
Fall recreational “Sunday Fundays” are back! These sails are intended for those who have already completed a learn to sail program and just want to keep sailing. We try to build on skills already learned, but our main focus is having fun on the water. To view our schedule or contact information, please visit our website at www.manateeriverpramfleet.org. All sailors must RSVP before attending.
If you missed out on summer camp this year, we are offering individual or small group lessons for sailors ages 8-12, during October and November. Availability is limited, so please email [email protected] if you are interested.
MRPF would like to take a moment and honor the life of a local legend. George Luzier, 96, passed away on August 24, 2020. He was known by many as one of the finest boat builders around, designing beautiful boats with an emphasis on strength and simplicity. It’s even rumored that George had a hand in helping Clark Mills build some of the first wooden optimists in our area. We are grateful for all that George did to assist the program over the years and to promote the sport of sailing.
Greetings from the Manatee River Pram Fleet. It is hard to express how much we missed holding summer camp this year. We would like to thank everyone for their patience and understanding as we continue to navigate this pandemic.
We are pleased to announce we are beginning to dip our toes back in the water and are gearing up for a modified racing and recreational season. Our racing team is looking forward to some upcoming regattas with other local sailing clubs. These regattas will look different in every way except for the actual sailing aspect, with skipper’s meetings on zoom and no onshore activities. It’s amazing how quickly it can all be forgotten once you get on the water!
In addition to the racing team, we will be holding limited class size recreational sailing on some Sundays this fall. Our recreational program is designed for sailors who have completed a learn to sail program and want to continue developing their skills. These Sunday Funday sails provide an opportunity for sailors to try different boats and just have fun on the water. Please check our website for the schedule and email [email protected] if you have any questions about getting involved.
Lastly, we are also offering individual or family (sibling) lessons by appointment. With many students learning on modified schedules this fall, we have an opportunity to provide sailing during the week for some. Please email us if you are interested.
As far as precautions go, we are implementing the recommended social distancing and face covering guidelines while onshore. We are still limiting any group sailing to no more than 8 sailors, so reserve your spot today!
We hope to see you out on the water.
Spring season at the Manatee River Pram Fleet is well underway. As I write this, Coach Lisa and a couple of sailors from our racing team are heading home from the Buccaneer Blast Regatta hosted by the Upper Keys Sailing Club. Regina Rettig sailed in the Opti fleet with 62 boats while Brodie competed in the Laser fleet with 10 boats. The weekend started slow, with light air and a shifty breeze. The opti course was overcrowded, but Regina held her own. Over on the Laser course, Brodie was grinding it out in a tactical battle. By Sunday, conditions had changed dramatically. The wind was 15-17 knots with waves and some cold temperatures early on. Brodie capitalized on the breeze and moved up in the fleet, finishing 4th overall! We are so proud of Regina and Brodie for competing at this great regatta. What a weekend!
Our recreational sailing program kicked off the spring season in March with Sunday Funday sailing. This program offers a chance for our sailors to brush up on their skills, try helming a variety of boats, and most importantly, to have some fun while sailing! If you know a sailor that has already completed a learn to sail program and would like to get back on the water, let them know about this great opportunity. Cost is $200 per semester or $35 per session. For more information, email [email protected].
Spring always makes me think of summer – and with that in mind, I must mention that online registration for summer camp is now open! At MRPF, we are honored to have the opportunity to introduce the youth of Manatee County to the joys and challenges of sailing. Summer camp is the perfect place to learn to sail. Besides meeting new sailors, we look forward to seeing some familiar faces who want to build on the skills they learned in prior years. Registration for early sessions fills up quickly, so get your spot while you can by visiting www.manateeriverpramfleet.org.
We look forward to seeing you out on the water.
While many Floridians have been bundled up and hunkered down thanks to the repeated cold fronts, our sailors at MRPF have been making the most of the breeze!
The recreational sailing program enjoyed the final Sunday Funday of the winter in late January. Eight sailors, in a variety of boats, set a course for the floating dock at Emerson Point Preserve. We had a lot of fun exploring the trails for a few minutes before sailing back up the river. We are looking forward to resuming our recreational sailing program this month for the spring season.
In addition to joining in the Sunday rec sails, our 420 sailors have been busy representing MRPF around the state at regattas. James Freund and Brodie Hausman, both 14 years old, have been hard at work learning the ins and outs of their boat. They have tackled adversity at each regatta with creativity and endurance. Starting with a broken halyard at the Jenson Beach Crossroads Regatta – these sailors figured out they could compensate by using the trapeze upwind to keep the boat flat. Factor in the strong breeze all weekend and the cold weather, they overcame the obstacles and finished in the middle of the fleet, in spite of it all. Considering this was their first official 420 regatta, this is a huge accomplishment!
After Jenson Beach, they ventured north to the Clearwater 420 Open for some big wave and heavy air racing. This was their first regatta in the spinnaker class and they were competing against 16 & 17 year old sailors. Day one was what we like to call “survival mode” – with winds gusting over 15 knots, waves breaking in the Gulf, and cold temperatures. James & Brodie endured the conditions and gave it their all. During the 3rd race of the day, they experienced a broken spinnaker sheet and were allowed to race in the non-spinnaker class for the 4th and final race of the day, where they landed a first place.
Coach Lisa helped the guys with repairs afterwards, and they were back in the spinnaker class Sunday morning. Thankfully, the breeze decided to lay down to a much more manageable 10-12 knots. Their top finish of the day in this highly competitive fleet was a 5th place! This really boosted their confidence, considering it was only their second 420 regatta. We are so proud of these two for enthusiastically rising to the challenges. They are pumped for future regattas and have a lot to work on at practice in the meantime.
Sail fast and watch the boom!
The new year is off to a cool and breezy start for the Manatee River Pram Fleet. 2020 arrived with lower water temps and heavy air – and while these conditions would keep most from venturing out in a dinghy sailboat, our racing team has been loving it. In spite of their consistent desire to get on the water, we have had a couple onshore practice days due to cold fronts. We enjoyed undertaking a little creative project with the guidance of our Director of Sailing, Lisa Fath. She led the team in carving and shaping cleats out of teak wood. The finished projects were impressive.
While the racing team has enjoyed some heavy air practice days, it was even better to get out and compete at the Gasparilla Regatta in Tampa, FL. With some of our team out of town and others with last minute conflicts, Regina Rettig was our lone competitor. The forecast for the weekend was intimidating – with winds over 15 knots, rain, and dropping temperatures. Yet, Regina did not flinch at wanting to compete. Saturday began with a race postponement, during which Regina made the wise decision to adjust her rigging so as to depower her Opti. This paid off later when they commenced racing in spite of rain and heavy winds. It was an intense afternoon on the water (see photos!) with sideways rain and white caps. These are conditions that would deter most adults, so to say we are proud of Regina for her unflappable desire to keep sailing, is an understatement.
Day 2 of racing brought clear skies and calmer seas, but the wind was still cranking. It was challenging and cold, yet a lot of fun. The course was a windward, leeward, twice around with a down-wind finish, which always keeps things interesting. Each race took about 35 minutes and they completed 9 races over the weekend. By the final race on Sunday, the breeze had finally started to die off and the sailors (and their coaches) were exhausted. It was a good way to end a thrilling weekend on the water.
Meanwhile, our recreational sailing group is still trying to get in one more sail before taking an official “winter” break. While those on our racing team tend to have proper clothing and gear for cold-water sailing, our recreational sailors do not, which prevents us from sailing year-round. We will be gearing up for our spring recreational program to begin on March 8. If you have completed our learn to sail summer camp and are interested in either recreational sailing or our racing program, please email us at [email protected].
It’s been a busy month at the Manatee River Pram Fleet! Our race team travelled to Lake Eustis and made a splash at the Inland Lakes Championship Regatta. Day one brought some heavy air, and our sailors loved it. Regina Rettig and Isaiah Jones raced in the Opti RWB fleet and both placed consistently in the top 10 all day, with Isaiah taking 2nd on the first race of the day. The wind died down for day two, and while Regina took the lead for a bit, the crowded course and lack of a steady breeze made for a frustrating day. Isaiah and Regina finished 7th and 12th, respectively. Brodie Hausman dominated the Laser Radial fleet, taking 1st in nine out ten races over the weekend and securing a commanding win.
While the race team was enjoying the lake life, our recreational team took to the good old Manatee River. This month we added a little distance to our excursions. One week we ventured west to the floating dock at Emerson State Preserve. This gave our sailors another opportunity to practice docking and approaching in shallow water – and even more importantly, a chance to get out of their boats for a swim break! While the warmer water is nice, it sure has been hot out here. After some patient and challenging light air drifting, the wind filled in and made for a much more enjoyable downwind sail back to the Club.
Recreational sailing is intended to be just that, recreational. But we all know, it’s hard to have fun unless you know what you are doing. While summer camp is a great intro into sailing, it can be hard to fully grasp the concept of tacking upwind in such a short time. We have been starting our rec days with mini chalk talks, mostly focused on upwind sailing and the results are starting to show! At our last rec sail, we purposefully challenged them with a longer upwind sail, and they all tackled it successfully. We are averaging 9 sailors at each rec sail, and it has been a joy to watch them all steadily improve.
The MRPF racing team also participated in the 39th Annual Sarasota Yacht Club Invitational last month. This was a one-day regatta on Sarasota Bay, and while it started off glass calm with no breeze in sight, conditions improved as the day progressed. James Freund and Brodie Hausman enjoyed using the new 420, finishing 6th in their fleet! Regina Rettig and Cooper Duquette represented MRPF on the Opti RWB course. They made the most of a small starting line, with Regina taking 8th and Cooper securing 1st place. Congratulations to our team on a day full of top ten finishes!
If you know a sailor that completed one of our summer learn to sail programs, or an equivalent, and would like to get involved in one of our year-round sailing programs, please contact us via email at [email protected].