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].
Thanks to a reprieve in afternoon thunderstorms, our racing team has enjoyed ample time on the water the past few weeks. They are developing tactical sailing skills and learning how to make their boats work for them in varying conditions. We were able to get our 420 sailors into a proper race boat, and they have been spending a lot of time getting comfortable sailing it together, while learning how the new boat responds to the wind.
In fact, our race team has been having so much fun, they keep showing up to sail with our recreational group every other Sunday! This gives them a chance to just enjoy sailing without having to focus too hard on “practicing.” Some even decided to try their hand at different boats like a Sunfish or Open Bic.
Speaking of recreational sailing - we had another great turnout on our last Sunday in September. The afternoon brought us a decent 10 Knot breeze out of the ENE, with minimal clouds. Our crew ranged from beginners to experienced racers. An important part of any of our sailing programs is learning how to properly rig, de-rig, and care for your sailboat and gear. And a perk of our recreational program is that our sailors have the opportunity to learn to rig a variety of boats. After rigging four Opti’s, three Open Bic’s, a Sunfish, and a 420, we set out to cross the river.
The group sailed toward the beach just east of the 59th street boat ramp. Each boat cruised at their own pace, but they all met up at the beach for a bit of a reprieve. This also provided an opportunity to practice how to slow and stop your boat in shallow waters without damaging your hull, rudder, or centerboard. From there, they set off toward a mark with the aim of rounding it, then tacked upwind in order to get back to the dock. Each boat persisted, in spite of the dying breeze, and successfully navigated their way home.
We would like to thank Cindy Fuentes, who has been volunteering on our recreational sailing days – we are so grateful to have an eager and hard-working volunteer on shore.
Also, we are beginning to utilize our new beach launch – which is still a work in progress, yet shows great promise for one day being an effective, safe, and less-prohibitive way of launching some of our larger dinghy sailboats that will not fit down our dock.
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 mrpf.sailingd[email protected].
The MRPF racing team kicked off the season at Sarasota Sailing Squadron’s 72nd Annual Labor Day Regatta. With a solid 12-15 knot breeze on Saturday, and thunderstorms rolling in during the 4th race, it was a thrilling day. Sunday brought lighter air and the challenge of adjusting sails and trim to compensate. The MRPF fleet was led by Isaiah Jones, Regina Rettig, and Brodie Hausman. This was Isaiah’s first race with the Blue fleet since moving up from Green fleet, and Brodie’s first regatta with the Radial Laser class. Making the switch to racing a new boat, or with a new fleet, can be daunting, so we are proud of these guys to say the least.
Isaiah and Regina raced on the same course, in separate fleets, with Isaiah finishing 10th in Blue Fleet, and Regina 5th in White Fleet. Brodie managed a 6th place finish during the regatta and landed 9th overall in the Radial Laser Fleet. All in all, a strong start to the racing season for MRPF. These sailors are putting the practice time in on the river and we look forward to seeing it continue to pay off at our next few regattas.
Additionally, we are gearing up for the kickoff of our recreational sailing season. We have a handful of returning summer camp sailors who plan to join us every other Sunday for some casual sailing. We will have a chance to sail a variety of boats, including the Opti, Laser, Sunfish, and maybe even a Windmill or 420! It is our hope to keep your sailors engaged and on the water as much as possible.
If you are interested in either our racing or recreational programs, please email [email protected] for more information.
It’s been an incredible summer here at the Manatee River Pram Fleet. Over 75 kids had the opportunity to learn to sail or improve upon their sailing skills. These sailors ranged from ages 8 to 14 and tackled everything from capsize and recovery, boat rigging and care, tying complicated knots, to sailing in light and heavy air.
The progression that takes place from learning to scull and steer the boat during the first week, to taking a parent sailing by the end of the second week is inspiring to witness. Many young skippers approach their first experience with a great deal of trepidation. Once they’ve learned how to flip and then right their boat, the confidence seems to grow by the hour. It was also a joy to see some returning sailors take their skills to the next level this summer.
Whether it was playing with jellyfish, creating knot boards on a rainy day, cooling down at the pool, or sailing and exploring the shores of the Manatee River, these kids had an unforgettable and rich experience.
While we are looking forward to next summer, in the meantime we plan to keep sailing. For those who have completed the learn to sail summer program, we will be offering both racing and recreational sailing opportunities during the fall and spring school semesters. Please email [email protected] if you are interested in getting your young sailor involved in either of these programs.
We look forward to seeing you back on the water!