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Celebrating the arrival of summer sailing and the calendar's longest days

by David Schmidt 18 Jun 08:00 PDT June 18, 2019
Yachts assemble off of Seattle Shilshole Bay Marina for the start of a distance race under clear skies, with the Olympic Mountains to the west © Coreen Schmidt

There's something about the arrival of the summer solstice that's conducive to being thankful for the gloriously long days ahead, while also being conscious of the fact that, starting on Saturday, the first official full day of summer for anyone living in the northern hemisphere, days will be getting slightly shorter. As a junior sailor I always found it slightly ironic that daylight had already started to erode, if ever so slightly, come the first day of sailing lessons, and now, as an adult living at almost 48 degrees north latitude, that irony has only amplified, especially as I'm well-familiar with the corresponding darkness that falls with the arrival of winter's solstice.

If this sounds like a rallying cry to get out on the water as much as possible while the temperatures are warm, the days are long, and the summer breezes are just beginning to flow, you've nailed the rumbline.

Fortunately, based on everything that I see on my local waters off of Seattle's Shilshole Bay Marina, and that I read about on sailing media at regattas and events coast-to-coast, plenty of sailors are hearing this same siren song to sail, and sail hard, while the sun remains high and steady on the western sky.

Here locally, last weekend marked the Father's Day/Blakely Rocks Low Tide Cruise, an event that saw vessels with one, two and three hulls casually competing under blue skies and light breezes. While this event was far more orientated towards family fun than cut-throat competition, I can assure you that the sight of so many boats, backdropped against the majestic Olympic Mountains, wasn't hard on the eyes. And while I didn't participate in this fun-sounding event, the fact that it included the chance to anchor out in Blakely Harbor Saturday night and to enjoy a beachside pot-luck dinner with friends new and old serves as a great example of sailors celebrating summer's longest days in fine style.

Jumping coasts, last weekend was the New York Yacht Club's 165th Annual Regatta, an event that included an Around the Island Race that saw boats lap nearby Jamestown Island, and a Two Day Series that placed emphasis on round-the-buoy racing on the beautiful and historic waters of Narragansett Bay.

"What better way to way to spend Father's Day than racing offshore with your two sons and getting the opportunity to walk across the stage at the New York Yacht Club," says Robin Team, skipper of the J/122 Teamwork and the winner of the event's IRC 4 division. Teamwork's great results started in Friday's Around the Island Race and continued through the weekend's two-day regatta.

"We were in a J3 [jib] all day long and we ended up running three different spinnakers based on the conditions," continues Team. "We just changed gears based on the wind intensity. All of that made it really, really fun. Toward the end of the regatta we got a little bit conservative because we did have a lead and we didn't want to break anything. So we ran a [smaller high-wind spinnaker] on one leg and ran a [reaching spinnaker] on the final leg to the finish."

While New York Yacht Club's 165th Annual Regatta saw focused racing in all classes and divisions, plenty of eyes were on the Melges IC37 fleet, which featured 17 boats on the starting line. After four races, the Member's Only team, lead by Jay Cross, Hannah Swett, and Ben Kinney, took top honors.

"It's a big change [going] from Optis and dinghies [to IC37s]," said Owen Bischoff, Member's Only's youngest member who was tasked with handling the team's runners. "Sailing with my dad was interesting... to say the least, but it was fun, especially on Father's Day."

Meanwhile, from the U.S. Virgin Islands, comes word that Griggs Diemar of Miami, Florida, won the 27th International Optimist Regatta, which was hosted by the beautiful St. Thomas Yacht Club from June 14 to 16. Hats off to this talented young sailor for the first of what will hopefully be many great regatta results.

And finally, irrespective of whether your sailing agenda is more geared towards casual events like the Blakely Rocks Low Tide Cruise or considerably higher-octane events like the New York Yacht Club's Annual Regatta, our bumper crop of daylight won't be here forever, so be sure to get out on the water and get racing as much as possible. Trust me, if you live anywhere near 48 degrees north latitude, you'll be very glad you did, come late December.

May the four winds blow you safely home.

David Schmidt North American Editor

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