Tuesday Night Sailboat Racing off Stamford CT.
Every summer since 1967!
The first 50 years are now a closed chapter and the Breakwater Irregulars enters its second half century. For those who want to look back, here’s the Yachtscoring link for the second half of 2016: http://www.yachtscoring.com/emenu.cfm?eID=1571.
Registration for 2017 will open before our November 19 awards banquet. That is unusually early, we know, but the idea is to generate and display enthusiasm, perhaps to create an attractive momentum, so PLEASE put aside all the sensible reasons for waiting until mid-May and sign up ASAP.
2016 is not dead yet. Everyone is invited to the Fall half of SYC’s “Spring/Fall Series,” which has its last race on SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25. Multiple short races on each race day, weather permitting. Lots of fun and a great way to train your team. Afterwards, come to SYC for a complimentary BBQ. NO FEE, open to all, but please sign up for scoring purposes and to see the NOR/SI at SYC Weekend Series. For free dock space during BBQ, call on VHF-72 as you approach. Also note: SYC’s Cows Race is on Saturday, October 15. You definitely need to see the Sailing Instructions for this one!
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.
Stay tuned for registration for 2017. We’re pretty enthusiastic, so it usually becomes available at yachtscoring.com in November.
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. A chance to finally meet that guy who has been yelling “Barging” (which had a meaning under the old rules) at you every Tuesday. Last year’s had 150 enthusiastic guests, and that was only our 49th Anniversary.
Even more important than having a big party is having a BIGGER FLEET. Our recruiting campaign runs all year long. Let’s include every sailboat and sailor we can find, to ensure that our second half century is as good as our first. Remind prospects 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. It worked this year. Congratulations to Class 6! A bigger fleet makes racing more fun for all of us!
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 (THANK YOU, RC!), 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 2016, volunteer for a Tuesday in 2017 as soon as you register. We have about twice as many boats as races, so every crew should serve at least once every two years. Besides, it’s the only way you can 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,” but our irregularity runs from there to the typical cruiser, with its galley, head, and bunks, sometimes even a washer, dryer, nursery and child retention 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 nurturing 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.
“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 usual Class 1 boats: Carbonado, High Noon and Pterodactyl. The biggest and fastest boats in any fleet can easily choose to race elsewhere, or just save their sails for the major regattas. These boats sail with us, when their schedules permit, 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. Boats start gathering and checking in around 6:30 and the starting sequence starts with an attention horn at 7:00. Unless there is a postponement, one or more classes will start at 7:10, followed by other classes at five-minute intervals. 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 take what the wind and the buoys give us. The format is designed to provide a worthwhile race and have us off the Sound before dark (or soon after dark in August). Most crews go out for some food and refreshments afterwards. We are well represented at The Colony Gill and other local restaurants. Thanks to our vigilant RC volunteers, results are usually posted on Yachtscoring well before we finish dinner.
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 races (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 the Breakwater Irregulars is all about. There’s a ton of fun available. 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 casual, all-inclusive, and 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.
I know I’m repeating myself, but registration opens months before each season at YachtScoring.com, where you can also find the scratch sheet, sailing instructions, and weekly racing results. On our own site, Breakwaters.org (YOU ARE HERE), you can see 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 help make it work for you. We’ve had some great success in this area!
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! A great consolation when you just can’t get the boat moving. Please visit our Photos page. More photos coming soon.
And the rocks. If you are not familiar with the racing area, check your charts. The buoys we round are there for a reason. We have not had any accidents of this kind in recent memory; let’s keep it that way.
*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. (However, he does have the right to pass you to windward and bring you to a complete stop, so be mindful of that.) 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 comes with 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!
Any questions? We’d love to hear from you.