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Recognition: Keeping It Real

Published on January 3rd, 2017

The 86th Annual New York’s Frostbite Regatta was hosted on December 31 and January 1 by the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club of Port Washington, New York. We reviewed the Notice of Race for any mention of air or water temperature parameters that might limit racing. There were none, which can only mean that if you have to ask, than perhaps frostbiting isn’t for you. The name of the event should be sufficient.

Wining the Interclub class was Simon Straus with crew Anne Patin, followed by Paul-Jon Patin with Felicity Ryan with Steve Benjamin with Daley Brooks in third. In the Ideal-18 class, Peter Beardsley with crews Rachel Beardsley and Simon Karstoft finished first. In second was Stephanie Baas with George Huntington and third was Pam Washington with Matt Temares.

After the conclusion of racing, the 85th annual meeting of the Frostbite Yacht Club was held. If you were getting worried that our society had lost its sense of humor, or our sport had been fully taken over by hyper-competitive pickle-dish hounds, then Special Awards Chairman Peter Beardsley is your savior. Here is his report:

For those not familiar with our work, the Committee for Special Awards is tasked with highlighting the feats of frostbiters who distinguished themselves with particular style during the previous calendar year. We do our best to limit these distinctions to events occurring on the water during the winter months, since otherwise our reach would be too vast, nor do we want to duplicate the efforts of our colleagues at other clubs.

For instance, it would almost seem cruel to give a second award to our beloved measurer, John Browning, for being aboard the last vessel to cross the line in the 2016 Bermuda Race, for among other reasons, our friends at the Cruising Club of America already awarded Measurer Browning the prestigious “Galley Slave” award for being the chef aboard said vessel – an accomplishment made slightly less noteworthy since we understand he was racing doublehanded.

It should be noted, however, that Measurer Browning brought a mix of shame and acclaim to our Club by accepting the award wearing an apron monogrammed with the Frostbite YC burgee with his Bermuda socks and shorts.

Nor is it necessary to recognize events that occur off the water when frostbiting, whether they be bar fights or past commodores napping in cars between races, waiting for the fleet to return. While there may be a story, the glory is to be reserved for the sailors, not the sleepers.

Besides, even without said alleged incident of which I am told all video has been deleted, the events on the water during the 2016 New Year’s Regatta provided a year’s worth of material for the committee. These awards, as always, involve the most precise recollections and diligent notetaking from 365 days ago, with any gaps having been filled in as necessary…

It is almost beyond the Committee’s comprehension that this sailor has not been recognized for his many prior efforts. Interclub theft. Numerous capsizes. Damage to borrowed Interclubs at this very event. A wake of unpaid bar tabs. If nothing else, this is inconvertible evidence of the corruptibility of this Committee via bribery in the form of boat moving assistance and being the beneficiary of said unpaid bar tabs. However, the events of the 2016 New Year’s Regatta were too egregious for this sailor to avoid recognition.

To be certain, a northwesterly breeze provides a sporty challenge to those hoping to launch an Interclub from Manhasset Bay Yacht Club’s cozy boat basin. Many tacks are required in rapid succession to avoid sand bars, docks and pilings, and in some years, sailors have ended regattas before they’ve even begun in these treacherous confines. We all wish that perhaps there was one less dock to dodge, but only engineers might wonder if there was a shortcut to Kraus’s Kastle through the south pier.

Alas, this sailor learned that Interclub Dinghies cannot be heeled enough to leeward to sail safely under the pier even at the lowest of tides, that the space under and around the pier frequently lacks sailable breeze and that late recognition of this fact will put you on a sand bar that cannot be sculled off of without the assistance of a safety boat.

This pre-race sculling became so frantic that although it occurred outside the racecourse, we have no choice but to award an Order of the Diamond Sculls, with flag officer clusters, to Secretary Paul Zinger on this 1st day of January, 2017.


A winter dinghy capsize is a breathtaking experience for all involved. For other competitors, it is a chance to be a hero to pluck friends from the water, or sail into the lead. For crashboat drivers, it is an opportunity to gun the engine without fear of being scolded. For crews, it is a moment to reflect on why exactly they chose this particular leisure activity.

For less experienced skippers, time moves quickly and when asked at the bar post racing how they found themselves in such circumstances, they frequently cannot answer. But for veteran dinghy sailors, time slows to a crawl during a capsize, as the entirety of the race and sometimes the regatta flashes before their eyes in an instant as the boat yawns to weather one final time, boom pointed skyward, cold water rushing into the cockpit.

Other than those fortunate very few who can count themselves among the Masses of the Great Unwashed (or as my predecessors called it, the Order of the Unbathed), most of us have capsized a dinghy at least once in our winter sailing career. And even the most talented, most decorated among us has done the deed enough times to recognize what is happening in that moment. Thankfully, on New Year’s Day 2016, the Committee was blessed with two incidents from past champions in quick succession.

In most years, Past Commodore Ted Toombs executing a graceful dinghy pirouette into a leeward flip would cause this Committee to consult figure skating books to find a name for such a maneuver. But no, Ted is off the hook this year, as this capsize, too beautiful for words, was too elegant for a year like 2016. Instead, in the spirit of this past calendar year, we choose to recognize a more vulgar, primitive swim, which summoned another sailor’s baser instincts.

When this dinghy sailor, after having won two races to end the day and eyeing a third consecutive win in the final race of the 2016 New Years Regatta rolled to weather, his significant experience signaled to him what was about to happen and what it meant. Drawing on his years of dinghy sailing, he was heard to exclaim, slowly and calmly (but loudly) before his feet touched the water, and I quote, “I am so mad right now.”

This eloquence and succinct expression of id can only come from experience. Another Order of the Bath is too demeaning for such a perfect capsize. In recognition of this sailor’s many capsizes over close to 40 years of dinghy sailing, we choose to resurrect a classic Frostbite Yacht Club award, the title of Grand Chief Dinghy Bailer, with mylar clusters, to be awarded to Past Commodore Steve Benjamin, on this 1st day of January, 2017.


The Committee would like to thank its primary co-conspirator over the past 86 years, the Race Committee, for structuring racecourses in such a manner that it is nearly impossible for sailors to avoid distinguishing themselves. One of the Committee’s favorite schemes is that contraption invented by former Knickerbocker YC member Rube Goldberg known as the No Gybe Course.

The No Gybe Course has vexed generations of sailors and Race Committee, all under the ruse of being kinder to competitors. What are the marks? Where is the butterfly? Wait, I thought you said we wouldn’t have to gybe? And did someone really just yell “mast abeam”?

The best conspiracies are those where fault is difficult to determine, and on the first day of Fall Frostbiting in 2016 at Manhasset Bay, such a scenario arose. The Committee’s heart went aflutter when the infamous “Course 2” was signaled, knowing full well that Mark 2 was impossibly close to Mark 3.

The Committee began salivating as Sails 007 and 707 sailed down the reach, arguing about why their sail numbers were so similar in a fleet with plenty of other number options. As the argument pivoted to one of mark room, 707 stripped off his drysuit, revealing his true identity, that of classic Bond Villain, Dr. No. As 707 chased 007 around the marks in hot pursuit, 707 skillfully flipped Double-Oh-Seven over, using his boom as a lever, allowing him to move up one place in the race.

So, whose fault was this? The Race Committee’s? Surely not. For starters, the Race Committee has the accountability of Spectre (which for those who don’t know, is The Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge and Extortion, which is loosely affiliated with both the International Society for the Perpetuation of Cruelty to Yachtsmen, as well as the Committee of Special Awards).

Furthermore, attentive members of the Frostbite YC may recall that the peace established by the Treaty of Manorhaven remains undisturbed. 707? He stayed dry, and in frostbiting, that is the name of the game. But as an occasional spy on the Committee’s behalf, the skipper of Dinghy 007 should have been able to see this setup around a corner.

For emerging from the icy waters of Manhasset Bay shaken, but not stirred, we award this Order of the Bath, with saboteur clusters, to Frostbite YC Past Commodore and Manhasset Bay YC Vice Commodore John Silbersack.


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