Keeping it real in Shelter Island

Published on July 13th, 2020

Smaller towns tend to have an easy-going stride that gets lost in the big city, and this folksy report by Bob Harris in the Shelter Island Reporter captures the essence of competitive sailing in Shelter Island, NY:

The Menantic Yacht Club (MYC) held its first official series of Sunfish races this past Sunday in near perfect conditions.

Similar to last week, it was hot and humid and the wind was blowing in puffs between 8 and 12 knots. There was only one flip, a minor crash, a broken boat and loads of fun, with a number of new sailors participating. Remember, I am reporting from New Mexico, so the following is all hearsay from semi-reliable resources.

Twenty-two sailors on 21 boats participated on Sunday. Billy Sulahian sailed with Dave Olsen. Billy is normally our chase boat captain, but currently without a boat. He has always wanted to actually sail, and Sunday was his chance.

Newcomers to the club included Adam Koller, Kyle Hdidsten and Melissa Humphrey. Melissa was one of the top sailors of the day. During the fifth race, she rounded the pin at the finish and was able to get between brothers John and Charlie Modica, and place ahead of John in the race.

She was heard shouting in jest, “I gotcha.” That maneuver placed her fourth overall with a total of 36 points, the same number of points as John, who placed fifth. Charlie placed third overall with 35 total points. You have some catching up to do, John.

Charlie’s son, Jonathan, also sailed with the club for the first time. After the fourth race and a broken hiking strap, he beached his boat, took out his Hydrofoil board and entertained the other sailors with some fancy fast boarding. He placed 11th despite missing two races. Not bad.

Peter Saladino, who sailed with the club in last week’s practice race, placed second overall on Sunday. During racing he gave Linda a short lesson on the rules of sailing. I won’t ask the reason. However, I understand that there was some shouting taking place at other times involving other sailors. Please refrain. We sail by Corinthian rules of good sportsmanship.

Jody Sisly, who has sailed with the MYC in the past, was the only sailor who accidentally went swimming. Bill Martens did not repeat last week’s misadventure of a broken boat, but Stuart Homer had to perform minor surgery on his wife Cindy’s new boat that he was using, causing him to miss a couple of races.

Overall, Paul Zinger sailed away with the day, taking home five first place finishes. He must have been tired by the last race, placing only fourth, a position that I would always be happy with. Congrats, Paul, on winning the Windel’s Trophy for placing first in the first race of the season.

A number of sailors were seen doing penalty turns on Sunday. All sailors should be aware that the MYC rule is that only one 360 is required per infraction, a change from the more common rule requiring one 720 per infraction.

Tom McMahon ran the Committee, along with Betsy Colby and Judy Hole. They ran a total of six races. At the end of the fifth race Tom overheard Charlie comment, “I’m hungry, let’s go home.” I’m sure Charlie is happy he stayed since he ended up placing third overall. Thanks to all on the Committee Boat for a superb job.

Remember sailors, come up alongside the Committee Boat prior to racing and give them your sail number and full name, and bring your life preserver, face mask, and be sure to maintain proper distancing and follow the MYC’s COVID-19 protocols on the water as well as on land.

With Captain Billy busy sailing, Cindy Homer along with two of her kids, Harrison and Jordan, manned the chase boat. Cindy cracked me up when she called me in Albuquerque at the start of racing and asked, “What am I supposed to do?” I answered, “Smile and help someone if they ask for assistance”. Thanks, guys. I hope you had fun.

Last week I inadvertently omitted the fact that Rachel Beardsley sailed her best race ever, placing first in the fourth race. Way to go, Rachel, look out Linda Gibbs. Rachel came within two points of beating Linda on Sunday.

We are a very congenial club, open to all, with no dues, no fees and no clubhouse. The sailing is great, the camaraderie is superb, and we just have tremendous fun.

Normally, all sailors, novice to expert, are welcome, but, due to COVID-19, for the time being the club is only allowing experienced Sunfishers who are physically capable of righting their own boats so as to avoid unnecessary contact with the chase boat crew.

Peter Beardsley, a member of the MYC, but outside of the auspices of the MYC, is offering to hold sailing classes for sailors who have some experience and their own boat. Call him for information at 917-696-8229, or email at

Peter is also the person to call if you want to reserve a loaner boat for the Sunday races, on a first to reserve basis. Unfortunately, this season reservations are available for experienced Sunfishers only. If a sailor plans on joining the fleet every Sunday, we will try and reserve a boat for you for the season.

See you on the water.

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