Stardate 11540.5

Captain's Log: Stardate 11540.5
Yesterday morning started out like every other Wednesday morning -- got to my desk with my Pepsi Max, a quick check of email and a short browse of YouTube, Apple Trailers and Sailing Anarchy before digging in to work, while partially daydreaming about the evening's upcoming EBYRA race on the Enterprise.

Lt. Kurt wasn't going to be able to make it, still in some pain after taking an Ensign Ceaser to the knee last week (see previous log entry,) but all was still OK -- that is, if the severe thunderstorm watch wasn't going to be a problem.

And then came the phone call. Eben, EBYRA's Principal Race Officer, wanted to check in to see if he had race committee tonight.


You see, usually long before this time of the season, EBYRA publishes a Race Committee Duty Roster where competitors are assigned a date to perform race committee duty. But, as Eben explained it, the SYC rep, Bob Berent, who had volunteered to make the list, had not done so. And, of course, there was no effort by the Commodore (John Esposito) or the other "active" reps to do it instead. None.

Seriously, how long does it take to make a list of 18 races of RC duty? 2 minutes? 5 minutes? And none of the EBYRA Brain Trust can do that by Race 4? I know that Commodore John is into biking now, Baby Daddy Nanni is now based in Connecticut pissing off a whole new group of racers, and Richie Coar is busy sucking on electronic vape cigarettes, but c'mon guys! I know racing is down, but do a little effort for those of us who are still signed up!

So, Eben was in panic-mode (or as we say on board, "Red Alert") because there was nobody scheduled to do RC duty and he was hoping that I'd volunteer and save the day.

And then there was a moment like in every low-budget television commercial: But, wait! There's more!

At almost 25% into the season, EBYRA still has not registered, insured, or even launched its new (4th) committee boat.

Are you fucking kidding me? Really?

It's like the EBYRA Board are playing a game with each other to see which of them could do the least amount of work and still be exalted as volunteers. Maybe I am mistaking, but on this planet, volunteering to do a job means nothing unless you ACTUALLY DO THE JOB YOU VOLUNTEERED TO DO.

And in the end, who suffers? Those of us who signed up and paid good money to race in this event.

So, fine. As much as I can't stand the process of getting Eastchester Bay sludge and slime off my anchor, I contacted the team for them to arrive earlier and agreed to use the Enterprise as the day's RC boat.

The first to drop out was Foredeck Captain Dave Beaver and his son, who opted to instead study for next week's Regents Exam. Funny, I don't remember my father skipping a race when I had to take that exam. But, hey, times have changed.

The rest of us arrived at the dock, ready to go, but the weather gods had different plans in mind. The winds were 25-33 and the club's launch was shutting down to wait out the high winds. And, to be honest, I was OK with that, knowing how hard it is to anchor in such a breeze, as well as how hard it can be to retrieve the anchor in such a breeze.

I called Eben and he instructed us to stay at the dock for now -- there were some some severe thunderstorms on the radar that looked to make a bad situation worse and he was considering canceling the race from on shore.

And, in a few minutes, he did just that. To be honest, the winds dropped to 18-23 and we never saw anything severe hit the bay for the next hour or two, but it was still a good call. You never know. And I certainly felt better about not putting the Enterprise in the middle of it.

So, next week we'll be back to racing. The Regents will be over, Kurt's knee will mend and all will be good again.

Maybe by then EBYRA will get their act together, publish a RC duty list, and launch their committee boat.

Stardate 11538.6

Captain's Log: Stardate 11538.6
Last night marked our first Wednesday Night race of the 2015 season and with SailFlow showing anywhere between 12 and 30 in northerly breeze from Kings Point, I knew we were in for an exciting night. The only downside was it was cold. Really cold. Layers of fleece jackets and foul weather gear cold. It was so cold that....

Wait for it....

Dave wore pants.

We had a total of four boats in our division show up, including the Enterprise. And, after looking at the scratch sheet, this level of participation would seem to be normal now. But, once we unfurled the genoa and accelerated to Warp 6.8, none of that mattered. The crew were back in their positions and the Enterprise was humming with life! We were back, baby!

The course was C-L-C-L, which would provide us with three upwind legs and two downwind legs, along with several maneuvers, but the marks were so close that it felt like the bow was reaching C while the stern was still rounding L.

Our start went well -- right on time at the line, but we had trouble obtaining acceleration. I had wondered if the winches were lubricated well enough, but apparently Lt. Kurt was not. Ceaser maybe could of been faster. Maybe.

"C'mon Kurt! Get that sail in. You had all winter to bulk up!"
"I did. On donuts."

The wind shifted a bit around the first mark, so I thought winging the sails would not be necessary, but when we sailed out of that puff, we should have changed the sails. We thought about it, but we were so close to L, that it wouldn't matter all that much. But it did. We could have gained some more ground.

We rounded the second mark behind the Romulan Battlecruiser Wuestwind and worked our way back upwind again. A few of our tacks were good, but the donuts were beating us.

After the third mark, we wasted no time winging out the sails, thanks to the quick work of Lt. Ellen and Foredeck Captain Dave. The Enterprise accelerated to Warp 7.1 and all was good on board.

Until the jibe.

As we approached the fourth and final mark before the finish leg, the plan was to jibe the main and harden up around the mark. Commander Richard was having trouble pulling the Enterprise's main over and asked for help. So, Ceaser grabbed the boom and gave it a tug as I turned the Enterprise further to the left. The main jibed, and even though that was the plan all along, it somehow took Ceaser by surprise, resulting in what could only be explained as a human catapult situation.

For a moment, Ceaser's body was ignoring gravity. Just for a moment though.

Seeing Ceaser's feet soar above my line of sight and hearing the aerodynamic "whoosh" of a body moving swiftly through the air, it reminded me of the 1978 advertising campaign for Superman: The Movie where they simply stated "You will believe a man can fly."

Except this was the end result:

Most able-bodied, experienced crew persons would come out of this situation doing a reverse tuck and flip, landing on both feet in a crouched position, followed by grabbing a winch handle and grinding in a sail. But Ceaser's un-cat-like reflexes left him on his back and immobile, almost to the point where the rest of the crew considered to chip in and buy him a LifeAlert System.

We eventually got the sails in and Ceaser back to his feet. But, it looked like any chance of catching Wuestwind was now gone and we were destined to finish second across the line. We made our last tack and headed for the finish, with Wuestwind to windward.

And then, amazingly enough, either Wuestwind thought we had to go back to C again or the helmsman was not looking at the committee boat, Wuestwind went windward of the committee boat, completely missing the line! They realized their mistake and turned down to go around, but by then, we were way ahead and the Enterprise crossed the finish line first!

They would correct on us anyway, but it was enormously gratifying to cross first on our first race. Sweet.

As we got the 'gun', we yelled out "Thank you Race Committee!.... And thank you, Wuestwind!"

Stardate 11533.2

Captain's Log: Stardate 11533.2
Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Almost two decades ago, the Eastchester Bay Yacht Racing Association (EBYRA) had over 100 boats registered for its Wednesday Night Race Series, with full divisions numbered 6, 5A, 5B, 4, 3A, 3B, 2 and 1. Because of the number of entries, the EBYRA Board grouped boats by type and had what many considered to be the most competitive evening race event in the Northeast, perhaps even the world. The board was strong, full of active club volunteers - two from each club and a Commodore to make a total of nine individuals who worked together and were passionate about what they were doing. I was on that board as a representative for several years before taking on the role of Commodore for 13 years. At the end of 2012, I chose to EBYRetire.

Last night, I attended the 2015 EBYRA Skippers Meeting. In the front of the room were two representatives, one from my club and the other from City Island Yacht Club. No alternates. No reps from HYC or SYC. No Commodore present either. The room had more empty chairs than full ones. 27 boats registered in what looks like will be a three-division series (two spinnaker and one non-spinnaker.) Maybe they'll stretch it to four, but I doubt it.

Out of the 27 entries, 13 are from City Island Yacht Club, two are from my club, the Morris Yacht and Beach Club, and none from Harlem Yacht Club or Stuyvesant Yacht Club.

I understand Stuyvesant Yacht Club has around ten members left, is in severe tax debt, has shuttered its doors, and is looking to sell the building and waterfront land. They're done.

Harlem Yacht Club hosts a competing J/24 event on the same night and their own Friday night series.

The Morris Yacht and Beach Club, with only two boats competing on Wednesday Nights, including the Enterprise, has no boats that compete in YRA events and will, most likely, terminate their membership in the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound.

EBYRA now functions by working outside of its bylaws, conducting business without a quorum. They are trying, but the Corporation is failing and is, or will be very soon, in need of restructuring and asset redistribution -- and I doubt anyone will want to spend the time to do it.

Remember that scene in Star Trek VI where the Federation's Commander in Chief says, "I'll break this information down succinctly. The Klingon Empire has roughly fifty years of life left to it"?

I know all too well about the finances and needed volunteers to keep racing going -- So, I'll break this information down succinctly. EBYRA has roughly one to two years of life left to it.

The only way I see Wednesday Night Racing continuing is if CIYC runs it alone - they have the manpower and the finances to do it, but even that is a band-aid on what seems like a gushing wound.

As for racing on the Enterprise, I suppose there is always Thursday nights by Can One or Manhasset Bay in 2016 or 2017, or perhaps it will be time to transition to day sailing and cruising like so many others have already done. Nevertheless, after 20 years of racing in this area, it's sad to see this decline and probable death knell.