Changing the Way People View Sailing

Published on March 20th, 2017

A series of four stadium-style regattas have been organized this summer on the Great Lakes to generate interest in a new style of sailing. Hosted by Grosse Pointe Yacht Club (Detroit, MI) on Lake St Clair, the plan is to maximize fun within a half-day schedule.

Three of the events, scheduled May 20, June 23 and September 16, will be free, open to the public, and designed to capitalize on fast-paced sailing in close quarters that is thrilling for both competitors and spectators.

Additionally, the club will also host a challenge event, Premiere Sailing League USA’s Freshwater Cup/Great Lakes Challenge on August 12. All four events will be sailed in one-design J/70s.

The plan is that within a timeframe of four hours, 18 races will be sailed. Each race will have four legs and last between two and three minutes. Skippers and crews ‘sail nine, watch nine’, giving them an opportunity to interact with the shore-side crowds.

“It’s based on the concept introduced by Premier Sailing League USA and tested with great success last fall here at this club,” said Grosse Pointe Yacht Club Sailing Director Wally Cross. “Because of the fun factor, word has already spread and people are excited to get involved.”

There are approximately 20 J/70s that regularly sail in the Michigan area, and Cross says the club’s three-race series is open to anyone who owns or can get their hands on a J/70. Points will be cumulative, with the series winner determined at the final event in September.

The Premier Sailing League USA event will be separately scored and is a yacht club challenge open to all clubs on the Great Lakes, and each club (as many as 30 are expected) will be allowed to sail one J/70 in the one-day event. It also guarantees exciting action close to shore, with as many as 20 short windward/leeward races

“When the action is literally right out in front of the dock, where the dock is part of the course (meaning you tack to avoid it), people standing there really get a feel for it,” said Cross. “The J/70 is the perfect boat; it’s sporty but manageable and really fun to sail.”

According to Premiere Sailing League USA’s Director and Founder Benjamin Klatzka: “The PSL concept, by nature, is a competition between districts and regions in J/70s and then ultimately between national finalists in J/88s. We are excited that Grosse Pointe Yacht Club has taken the initiative to host its own series to prep the sailors and fans for our August 12 event.”

Because of the need for three marks to be constantly moving due to changing wind direction and length of course desired, Grosse Pointe Yacht Club and the Premiere Sailing League USA plan to test a new remote-controlled buoy system for the races.

“There are so many elements that make all this truly exciting, but the key thing is that it starts at one time and finishes at another, just like a basketball game,” said Cross. “Life today is all about justifying your free time, and if you can clearly say that from beginning to end something will last four hours, that our families can join in, and we’re going to have a lot of fun, it’s going to change the way people view the sport of sailing.”

• Grosse Point Yacht Club: www.gpyc.org
• Premiere Sailing League USA: www.premieresailingleague.com

Source: Media Pro Intl.

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