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].