Tuesday Night Sailboat Racing off Stamford CT.
Every summer since 1967!
On May 17, 2016, we had the first race of our 50th summer. (Don’t worry, if you missed it, because our trophy rules provide for dropping low scores.) Two hours before the race, the sky was dark with clouds and the wind was howling. Sure, we race under those conditions, but it’s a tough way to begin the season. The 12 hardy crews who showed up were rewarded with improving conditions throughout, even a beautiful sunset. We raced W-L, to 32A and back. A brand new member was first in fleet and the rest of us scored close together. In fact, the two boats in Class 5 tied for first place. As we’ve said so many times before, “we’re glad we didn’t miss that Tuesday race.” And we’re glad that the summer has only just begun. Fifteen more race nights. Join us this week!
For registration and fee payment, go to Yachtscoring.com. To obtain or renew your boat’s PHRF (the handicap that is used throughout Long Island Sound racing), go to YRALIS.org and sign up as a PHRF Member.
Registration for 2016 is well underway, with 23 boats signed up as of May 15. (Some of the most regular Irregulars are not signed up because their boats have not yet been launched. Come on, guys. Summer is short enough; don’t make it shorter.) Note that registration for the Spring Series automatically includes registration for the Summer Series; no need to register twice.
Want quick access to our Yachtscoring pages on your smart phone? Go to www.yachtscoring.com/mobile/, select “List of Events – Long Series,” and search for Breakwaters. Once on our menu page, the procedure varies by phone type. On iPhone, select the upload icon and then Add to Home Screen. On Android, press the settings button (3 vertical dots), then the star. Create a bookmark and then go back to settings to place it on your home screen. [Android instructions obtained on-line; corrections welcome.]
Every Breakwaters season ends with a great party on the Saturday before Thanksgiving. Last year’s had 150 enthusiastic guests. Thanks to our volunteers for putting it together and to the SYC staff for carrying it out. Obviously, our 50th Party in November 2016 has to be something even more special.
But, more important than having a big party is having a BIGGER FLEET. Let’s recruit every sailboat and sailor we can find, for this last chance to be part of BI’s first half century. Remind them that we have a growing non-spinnaker division, serving new racers, experienced racers with new boats, and racers who, for any number of reasons, prefer to compete without spinnakers. Class 6, as it’s known, is our best response to those sailboat owners who say that lack of crew and/or equipment prevents them from coming out on Tuesday nights. And it’s okay to join after the season starts; our trophy rules allow some throwouts. Let’s get the word out and help the fleet grow!
Having racers serve as or assist the Race Committee is a longstanding BI tradition, dating back to 1967, when founder Dick Sockol officiated every race from his boat and, despite being last to leave the starting line, often won. Before our Race Committee enjoyed the use of Stamford Yacht Club’s On The Line, our sailboats took turns in that role. Although our Race Committee now has a permanent and very able core group, our racing crews still take turns assisting (and feeding) those valued volunteers. Participants often remark that it makes them better racers to watch an occasional race from On The Line. If your crew did not serve in 2015, please plan to sign up early for 2016. We have about twice as many boats as races, so every crew should serve at least once every two years. It’s your chance to win the coveted Gourmet Award.
“Radio Check!” No need for this on VHF-5. Tell your friends. For several years, SeaTow has provided a free automated radio check service on four VHF channels. The channel for Western LI Sound is 27. So, please, no more radio checks on VHF-5, especially during our starting sequence. (You know who you are.)
The “Irregulars” in our name means the fleet includes a broad range of sailboats and sailors. Today’s faster divisions include some impressive “racing machines,” and we thank them for being with us, but the Breakwaters’ backbone has always been the cruiser, with its galley, head, and bunks, sometimes even a washer, dryer, nursery and netting on the lifelines. It’s friendly competition that gives us a weekday opportunity to enjoy our boats and the Sound. That’s why it just kills us to see any sailboat growing barnacles at its mooring while we leave nearby harbors on Tuesday evenings for every week’s best time on the water. Almost any mono-hull sailboat can be your platform for fun on Tuesday nights, so gather a few friends; come out and join us! Just starting* out or can’t find a full crew every Tuesday or simply prefer sailing without a spinnaker? Try our non-spinnaker division.
What about “Breakwater”? Well, 50 years ago, races began and ended at the Stamford Breakwater (which was only about 25 years old when BI began). For several good reasons, we now start at the Cows Buoy (32) off Shippan Point, but the name is not changing…because we rarely change anything.
Special thanks to our Class 1 boats: High Noon, Carbonado, Pterodactyl. The biggest and fastest boats in any fleet can easily choose to race elsewhere, or just stay home. We know these great boats are with us because they support what BI is trying to do for our sport. We appreciate their participation.
What exactly happens on the typical Tuesday night? The Race Committee reads the wind, posts** a course, and sets a starting line with Buoy 32 as the pin. We race around one or more other buoys. The course is as windward-leeward as possible (sometimes L-W), but we don’t use support boats and inflatable marks, so we make the best of the buoys. The format is designed to get us racing a little after 7 PM and have us off the Sound before dark (or soon after dark in August). Results are usually posted before we head home from our post-race meals/rehydrations.
We race on sixteen Tuesday nights every summer and, once your team gets a taste of it, they’ll be asking you to sign up for some weekend races in Stamford and nearby areas. Examples: The [Stamford] Mayor’s Cup Race is hosted by Halloween YC on the second Sunday of June. Stamford YC welcomes us to its Weekend Series (7 race days ending with burgers and beers, all free, May through September), the Stamford Overnight in August, the Vineyard Race on Labor Day Weekend, the Valeur Jensen Stamford-Denmark Race in early September, and the Cows Trophy Race in October. All are–or soon will be–on www.yachtscoring.com.
If you like sailing and want to share the fun with your friends and/or family, well, that’s exactly what Breakwater Irregulars is all about. Everyone who sails on Tuesday evening feels like a winner and definitely improves as a sailor.
Friends and family? It’s amazing how long some of us have been sailing together. We have crews that started in their 20s and 30s several decades ago. They move about their boats more carefully now, but they make up for that with an intimate knowledge of the racing area, their boats, and each other.
No matter how you finish, there is no better way to learn how to sail your boat than to race it against similar boats. The larger the fleet, the more similar the boats in each class.
Sailing breeds great memories. Our favorite way to end a Tuesday night is by de-briefing over some food and refreshments. It’s an opportunity to meet the people you beat around the buoys, or who beat you. Racing is even more fun when we all know each other.
This very informal but enduring association of sailors was founded in 1967 by Dick Sockol to race one evening a week on Long Island Sound near Stamford. (For more history go HERE.) It’s an important part of our lives, so it’s no small thing that we invite you to become a part of it.
Registration for 2016 is available on-line at YachtScoring.com, where you can also find the scratch sheet, sailing instructions, and weekly racing results. You can see some photos and read about the club’s history, our recognition of outstanding sportsmanship, and other topics by simply clicking on the tabs above. Any of our Officers will be happy to talk with you.
Don’t have a boat? Have a boat but don’t have crew? We have a “Crew Needed / Boat Needed” page on the Yachtscoring site. If you try it and it doesn’t work, please contact us. We’ll make it work for you.
Do you need a PHRF (handicap rating) for your boat? You can obtain one on-line through the Yacht Racing Association of Long Island Sound at www.yralis.org. BUT, if you want to try racing with us some Tuesday before getting a PHRF, go to our Officers page and contact one of us for instructions. We’re sure you and your crew will love it, just as we did the first time we tried it.
WELCOME to the fleet!
Oh, we forgot to mention the sunsets! Please visit our Photos page.
*The most common reason for sailboat owners NOT to race is the fear of causing a collision in all that fast traffic. Despite the appearance of disorder, racers follow a simple set of collision avoidance rules, most of which are based on common sense, e.g., a sailboat behind you on the same tack has no right to run you over, no matter how big and fast it is. You can find the rules in Parts 1 and 2 of Racing Rules of Sailing. Once you know what the rules say, think about what they mean, how they apply. There are some other sites that provide animated examples…very helpful. Of course, a real understanding of the rules requires experience. While learning, you can stay out of traffic or try a race or two with one of our experienced skippers. You can do that on your boat or join someone else’s crew for a couple of weeks. Once you see how it works, you will be much more confident.
**In the old days, the course was posted with signal flags, and many a fast boat lost a race for failure to understand those flags. Now, in an effort to focus the competition on sailing rather than flag-reading, the RC displays the course marks (de-coded in our on-line Sailing Instructions document) in neon lettering on a board and reinforces this information with “courtesy announcements” on the radio. So, for example, if the board shows the course as “L,” we all know we have to sail to the green buoy off Lloyd’s Neck and back. Free hint for those that have read this far down: Watch out for the current near that buoy!