Commodore Cesar's Incoming Remarks
Firstly, AJ, thanks on behalf of your fellow Flags, the Governing Committee, Committee Chairs and Members for your leadership, time and talent, these past four years.
Thanks in advance to you - Ray, Andrew, Rick and to all Club leaders and Members for the work we’ll do together in the next two years.
We’ll have some fun and try and make a difference.
Fellow Members – thank you for the opportunity to serve the Club and to serve the sport that has meant so much to me. It is truly a pleasure to give back, as so many of our Members do.
I’ve been a Member since 1993, proposed by my friend Shelman Brown. As some of you may remember Shelman owned a cat ketch Freedom 40, appropriately named LONG REACH. She was the version with the deep center cockpit and high stern / stern cabin / ”poop deck”. Interestingly, she had two-ply - thick section - wrap around main and mizzen sails just like an Americas Cup 75! I remember one extremely dark night on the Annapolis to Bermuda Race in the midst of a squall with I don’t know how much wind when it SEEMED as though we were going just as fast as an AC 75. The bow wave was back to the helm position in the lee of the “poop deck”. We were probably going 11 knots. Another thing a remember about sailing with Shelman was the numerous deliveries we did down the Hudson from LONG REACH’s home port of Hyde Park to either Annapolis for that Bermuda Race or Marblehead for either a Halifax race or a Jefferies Ledge race.
I think the Seconder for my application was Storm Trysail Club Founding Member - Ed Raymond. I feel very luck to have known and sailed with Ed. Perhaps not so lucky the Sunday morning of the 50th Vineyard Race when we were becalmed in CHANTYMAN - looking NORTH at Montauk light, having been flushed out of Block Island Sound by the ebb. And perhaps not so lucky that late afternoon during Block Island Race week when, after a BIG squall came through, we were becalmed 10 miles from Great Salt Pond with no gas for CHANTYMAN’s Westerbeke. Fay was worried sick and REALLY mad when we finally made it back to Payne’s Dock.
I’ve been very fortunate to do a lot of miles since then on my own boat, the Class 40, and particularly with a lot of different programs some highly competitive and some not so much so. At the risk of being completely self-indulgent I can’t fail to mention my luck and privilege to have sailed with Larry Huntington in SNOW LION including for three Trans Atlantic’s.
What all those miles have in common is the bond you make with your shipmates. And we all know there is nothing quite like that bond. I cannot think of a higher complement to be made about a sailor than she or he is “a good shipmate”.
And that’s what we are as Members of the Storm Trysail Club – shipmates. One of the things AJ and I both recognized as we joined the Flag together in 2016 was that people were asking, “why should I be a member of this Club”?
Well – the essential answer is: to be with shipmates. That proposition is simple to articulate but impossible to appreciate unless you’ve really done significant offshore miles, particularly in the ocean and particularly on a snotty day – or night. That paradox is what makes the Club special. And, it forms the backbone of our value proposition. The opportunity for rich social interaction with folks of common experience born from significant time spent in small sailboats at sea.
This social experience has been particularly hard to deliver in 2020 and we all eagerly look forward to 2021 or at least the second half of it. I know I have missed our once-a-month Long Island Sound Station gams at Ponus Yacht Club.
That said, the value proposition of the Club has diversified as it has grown. Articulated by our Long Range Planning Committee as :
Access to the rich social experiences I just talked about. But also access to your fellow Members and the ability to reach out to them and exchange knowledge and ideas. And, maybe get a ride for the next Caribbean 600!
Access via the Club’s portfolio of races and educational events to enriching volunteer opportunities that are fun and contribute to the sport
And – importantly
Influence on the direction of the sport through the quality of Storm Trysail Membership and the prominent role that the Club and its Members play in the world of ocean racing.
The Club, the sport, and the world have changed a lot since I sailed with Shelman and Ed and my shipmates aboard LONG REACH and CHANTEYMAN. On the one hand it does seem like the number of people and boats out there is smaller than it was. At the same time the boats are certainly faster. We’re almost all of us home on Labor Day weekend Sunday now and it only takes 70 days to get around the world in an IMOCA 60. The technical development of our sport has been nothing less than astounding and the benefits of that are clear.
There seems to be a resurgence of interest in being offshore among young sailors. And, if you look at fleet sizes in 2020, COVID has been good for coastal sailing. The pandemic has accelerated a lot of trends, including a nascent but distinct upward trend in our sport that started before 2020. Storm Trysail is in a great position to foster these positive trends
To do that, we’ve got to embrace the changes in the sport and in the world. I don’t mean accept, I mean embrace. We’ve got to continue to attract and seek out more young sailors, more sailors who are women and we’ve got to bring the sport to non-traditional audiences and make access easier. This is the way forward to more boats, more crucially important offshore life lessons learned with more shipmates, and more fun.
I’m looking forward to the next two years, which are after all the last two years of a six- year job. I promise you that the fundamental question I’ll keep asking myself is, “is this good for the Club and good for my shipmates.”
Photo Credit: On The Fly Photography, Rick Bannerot
Commodore AJ Evans Farewell Report
For me, this is like the joyous letdown of crossing a finishing line. (Thanks to RJ Rubadeau for the phrase). But maybe you’ve experienced the same bittersweetness: joy in reaching the destination (especially when it’s Bermuda) and nostalgia for the recent past because the voyage is over. The watches conclude without ceremony, the boat is put away, the party begins. But the voyage ends.
Tonight, as I look astern on this two year voyage as your Commodore, I have similar feelings. As any rear commodore knows, Past Commodore is the most coveted title, but the opportunities of the Office of Commodore have been short-lived.
The two year voyage I’m reflecting on now had two very different legs—
the first, a downwind blast, and the second, an upwind slog. To borrow a phrase and plug a sponsor: “Some of it magic, some of it tragic, but I had a good [watch] all the way.”
2019 began with a record turn-out for our Annual Meeting at Beach Point, followed by strong attendance at numerous safety at sea seminars, the Block Island Race, Ted Hood Regatta, the IOR and an unforgettable Block Island Race Week under the wise leadership of our soon-to-be commodore, Ed Cesare, with a surprise performance by Jimmy Buffett.
- saw tremendous member growth, particularly in the Western Great Lakes (which we divided from the Eastern Great Lakes);
- We delivered a long range plan that remains our guide today, thanks to a committee chaired by Gary Jobson;
- We instituted weekly meetings among the flag officers;
- We launched and sponsored team race trophies in the Transpac and Chicago-Mac Races; and
- We completed a major rewrite of the By-Laws, in part jettisoning gender specific language for gender neutral.
2020 began with the biggest Annual Meeting we ever had in Annapolis, but storm clouds gathered and the pandemic soon hit:
- Hands On Safety at sea seminars, cancelled;
- Block Island Race, not held;
- Nearly all in-person socials, cancelled;
- Regatta at Riverside, cancelled;
- IOR, cancelled;
I have to ask: Is that what I get for not postponing the 2016 Bermuda Race? But we didn’t become members of this club by sailing on sunny days . We took in a reef, pressed on and have been rewarded:
The pandemic thrusted us from a paper club to a digital one overnight.
In 2020, we:
- launched new websites for the Club, Foundation, and Block Island Race Week, incorporating online methods to:
- Pay dues;
- Propose new members; and
- Find a ride or crew.
- Meanwhile, we streamlined and improved our social media presence across multiple platforms;
- We launched a shared drive to allow committees and officers access to club documents and to collaborate more easily;
- We Launched a corresponding heritage preservation effort to digitize what we have in paper and oral history;
- We Delivered physical membership cards to all members;
- We Greatly improved sponsorship development and activation;
- We Created the Seamanship Committee to manage safety at sea seminars, doctrine, and symposiums like Leadership - Thanks to Seamanship Committee Chair Jack Cummiskey.
- We held a very successful Ted Hood Regatta thanks to the hard work of our Marblehead Station Captain, Clarke Smith;
- We also, of course, entered the world of zoom with: lunch hour chats with notable members courtesy of the Young Members Committee, chaired by Erik Storck, who brought the membership together like never before;
- Board meetings -- permitting better representation for stations outside the Larchmont area;
- A virtual tent party raising funds for the Foundation; and
- A full-day symposium on offshore leadership, which you heard about earlier.
This doesn’t include the numerous back-office improvements we made to make the club operate more efficiently and professionally, including improvements to communication and cooperation between the Club and Foundation, which has its own recent successes. Since time is limited, there are three initiatives during my watch that I’d like to highlight:
- Geography. When I began my term as commodore, my primary goal was to expand the geographic reach of the club by increasing awareness of our mission and activities and encouraging member growth at stations away from the Northeast. My first event as commodore was not around Larchmont, as you’d expect, but at Chicago Yacht Club. I later visited other stations, including Southern California and the Southern Station in Miami. Shortly thereafter, I announced our intention to hold the 2022 Annual Meeting in South Florida. As luck would have it though, it would be the Pandemic that would set the best conditions to expand the club’s geographic reach with the advent of Zoom in daily life and for the foreseeable future. Since I became Commodore, we have added 160 new members, thanks in large part to our Membership Committee, chaired by Butch Ulmer, and -- most importantly -- the many proposers and letter writers. (Ed -- there’s a handle of Mt Gay in it for you if more members are added during your term). If you were wondering why a certain demographic, region or specific person is under represented in our club, you should start by looking at yourself and who you have proposed.
- Dues Collections. It’s always a shock to new members of the Governing Committee how many people are on the arrears list. This motivated the flags to take a hard look at the value of membership and we have since followed a value proposition coined by Ed Cesare: Access and Influence, which you will hear about from Ed later. This proposition in conjunction with organized communication efforts under a new dues collection policy has resulted in record compliance. At the last annual meeting we had 119 members in arrears. Today, by comparison, there are virtually none.
- Leadership. In early 2019, I heard Rich du Moulin speak about the impact of leadership (or lack thereof) on casualties in the ‘79 Fastnet Race. That resonated with me because Leadership in offshore sailing is, after all, a key qualification for membership in this club, unlike most others. A few dozen zoom meetings and hundreds of emails later, Storm Trysail hosted the first of its kind Offshore Sailing Leadership Symposium moderated by Rich du Moulin with keynote speaker Sir Robin Knox-Johnston along with panels of influential people both inside and outside sailing. The 90 attendees participated in what I believe is our most significant contribution to safety at sea since the development of our hands on seminars. Notably, that contribution didn’t come in the form of a check, but in the hard work and hard-earned experience of our members. I’m confident that not only will safety at sea training improve as a result of that effort, but that Storm Trysail’s position of Influence in the sailing community has been highlighted -- and your member value increased -- as a result.
None of these accomplishments, however, are my own -- like sail changes, they happened because of those forward of the helm. I owe a tremendous thanks to those who went forward and took a few waves on the bow -- especially our vice commodore, Ed Cesare, rear commodore, Ray Redniss, officers, governors and committee chairs. I must also thank our Executive Director, Whitney Kneisley, and all of our volunteers and members. Of course, I must also thank my wife, Toni for her patience and support, and my proposer, past commodore Lenny Sitar, for the offshore sailing opportunities as watch captain, navigator and even sometimes skipper that gave me the experience to qualify for membership in this club.
Finally, Mr. Vice Commodore -- I must also report that when the pandemic hit, we took in a reef. My sincerest hope for your watch, this club and our country is that you may soon shake the reef. In any event, I turn over this watch knowing that it is in good hands and as a result, I stand relieved.
Respectfully submitted to the club,
Photo of Commodore Evans: Maureen Koeppel
Photo of Jimmy Buffett: Margaritaville
Rear Commodore’s Report - Ray Redniss
The good news is that as I write this report there are 73 entries for Block Island Race Week, as compared to 46 on this date in both 2017 and 2019! The current entries include 5- J88s, 12 - J105s, and 10 – J109s for their one-design championships, 4-J44s, 7 in ORC, 19 in PHRF, and 11 in Performance Cruising! The additional entries include other one-designs and PHRF Plus 1!
As a quick FYI, with the aim of providing additional member and participant value, we are creating the North Light Society to honor those that have participated in 5, 10, or 15+ BIRWs! Kate Somers of Rising T, our Web and social media guru, has created a clever logo and we are looking into having pins prepared. More soon!
The planning, sponsorship and communications efforts have been in full gear for several months with intensification already in play. As previously reported, and further obviated by the current COVID situation, we are assuming we will not be able to have social gatherings, and therefore no tent or parties. Sponsorship is proving somewhat difficult as entities are still unsure of their projected business levels. As of this writing, we have signed agreements with Margaritaville, North Sails, NE Ropes, Helly Hansen, and Safe Harbors/NEB for Race Week, and Harbor Point and Regatta Craft Mixers for the 75th Block Island Race. We also have verbal commitment from Mt. Gay for both events, and The Berteau Group, our sponsorship consultants, are expecting full commitment imminently.
The not so good news is that available funds are quite constrained. In addition to the ongoing sponsorship efforts, and further to reducing overall costs, we have decided to publish only a digital Race Week Program in lieu of hard copy and are reviewing social media impacts v hard copy ads. We will likely have a controlled combination. Without the tent and all its necessary controls, the shoreside personnel need is much reduced. On the water we will be minimizing personnel and support craft needs by the use of GPS controlled drone marks putting us in the forefront of developing race management practices. Those efforts necessitated the difficult task of having to inform our long-time volunteers that we could not invite them all.
Race Management Chair Dick Neville has been hard at work streamlining the on-water process, as well as securing the necessary support boats. At this time we are planning on 2 set-mark circles and 1 Performance Cruising/Pursuit course. Should numbers of entries and types of boats necessitate, we will be prepared to provide an additional circle. Our thoughts are that it is easier to add things than take them away. At the very least, we are, as always, committed to providing the best race management possible. That will not change.
Meanwhile, a few weeks before Race Week is the re-scheduled 75th running of the Block Island Race. With several events under our belts in the latter half of the 2020 season, we are confident that we will at least be able to conduct the racing. Of course it would be preferable to be able to socially celebrate 75 years of a great tradition, and if we can, we will! As we saw in participation levels in the Fall events, what people want most is the opportunity to sail! We are planning to post the NoR and open entries by month’s end.
I remain cautiously optimistic and thankful for the excellent work of the team of Vice Commodore Ed Cesare, Treasurer Bud Heerde, RC Chair Dick Neville, Sarah and Scott of The Berteau Group, Kate Somers of Rising T, Communications Chair Ron Weiss, and Executive Director Whitney Kneisley!
All that said, I would be remiss if I didn’t thank AJ for his outstanding leadership under difficult conditions. I found that I looked forward to our weekly Zoom meetings which always proved productive, and almost invariably contained a little bit of humor! A tradition we intend to continue!
Raymond L. Redniss, Rear Commodore
Photo Credit: On The Fly Photography, Rick Bannerot
Fleet Captain's Report - Rick Royce
The past year was both a blessing and disappointment. The blessing was that there was little activity which allowed me to ease into the position of Fleet Captain. I had plenty of help from the Flags getting me up to speed on the expectations for this position. Rear Commodore, Ray Redniss, was particularly helpful having occupied this position for several years. Thanks to all that helped me transition.
This year was also a disappointment because there was little activity (refer to blessing above). COVID-19 presented challenges for sailing and life in general. Most of the regattas were cancelled or substantially downsized to accommodate various state social distancing protocols. A bright spot out of the year is that many of us got the opportunity to try our hands at short-handed or double-handed racing. Most of the events in my area, Long Island Sound, catered to this type of racing for the 2020 season. This type of racing is both challenging and fun. I think that many of us will continue to participate in these types of events.
During 2020 most of the Station Captains had little to report due to reduced schedules. I was able to get reports from most of the stations during the year. In the coming year I hope to initiate regular meetings with the Station Captains and the Flags in order to provide a more direct line of communication relative to the operations of the club and resources available to all members.
Even though most events were cancelled there are a couple of items worth noting for the 2020 sailing season. The follow is a brief list of the more notable happenings for 2020.
Maine Station: Bob Scott
- Most events were canceled.
- The Maine Station is looking forward to 2021 with Maine’s 200 Statehood Anniversary with windjammers sailing up the coast with juniors on board.
Marblehead Station: Clarke Smith
- Ted Hood Regatta (sans shoreside events) was a success. 45 boats participated. Kudos to Clarke for his efforts to make this event happen!
- The Station has a robust list of candidates to propose for new membership.
Newport Station: Paul Lombardi
- Many events were cancelled including the 2020 Newport with the Newport Bermuda race.
- The Ida Lewis and NYYC Annual Regatta were successes had a number of STC participants.
- The Newport Station is committed to youth sailing and plans to have a fundraiser to support that effort.
Long Island Sound Station: Doug Lynn
- Unfortunately, the Block Island Race and the IOR were canceled for 2020.
- Long Island Station members have been competing in a variety of local distance races including: the Vineyard Race, Kudos to Rear Commodore Ray Redniss for his efforts. STC fielded four teams for this event.
- EDLU Race
- Long Island Sound Championships co-hosted with the Riverside YC
- Long Island was able to carry out limited Jr SAS in August. Thanks to Kelly Robinson for his efforts to modify the program to incorporate a home-study component. Also thanks to Rich du Moulin for his perseverance to make it happen this year.
New Jersey/Sandy Hook Station: Ann Myer
- Most of the events were cancelled for 2020.
- Station Captain Ann Myer worked with co-chair Doug Lynn (LIS) on the IOR event, but it was eventually cancelled due to the schools’ COVID protocols.
Chesapeake: Jeff Goldring
- Jr. SAS co-chairs Dobbs Davis and David Shaeffer scheduled for September 12th was cancelled due to COVID concerns.
- The Chesapeake Station was able to hold a number of Social-Distancing raft-ups.
- Mill Creek: May 31st – 5 boats, and
- Weems Creek: June 7th – 8 boats.
- Rules of engagement: 1. Everyone stays on the boat they came on. 2. No sharing of food or beverages between boats. 3. Wear a mask when handling lines.
Southern: Bill Moriarty
- There is little to report from the Southern Station other than cancellation of various Regattas: o December and January Etchells Biscayne Bay Series
- Wirth Munroe Race
- Coral Reef Yacht Club Annual Regatta
- There is a possibility of Etchells racing in April, dependent on COVID situation.
Western Great Lakes: Michael Hettel
- The 2020 Chicago Yacht Club Race to Mackinac was cancelled2020 due to COVID
- Many of the local races and series were improvised versions of local favorite events, with social distancing and distance races included in the schedule.
- Plans are moving forward with GLIOR 2021 (Great Lakes Inter-Collegiate Offshore Regatta). STC will co-sponsor the event with CASRA (Chicago Area Sail Racing Association).
Eastern Great Lakes: Luiz Kahl
- 2020 Bayview Mackinac Race was a success with over 80 boats competing.
- Many Eastern Great Lakes members sailed on Chuck Bayer’s Arctos in the Nassau Cup Ocean Race
- Little else to report from Detroit at this time.
Southern California: Ian Vickers
- Nothing new to report for this period
This wraps up my report for 2020. I hope that we all get the chance to get out on the water and enjoy sailing in 2021.
Photo Credit: Brad Givens
Storm Trysail Foundation President's Report - Rich Du Moulin
With the support of the Foundation Board, the Storm Trysail Club Board, Executive Director Whitney Kneisley, Accountant Sharon Berndt, and many old and new volunteers, the Storm Trysail Foundation had a surprisingly successful year in 2020.
Our big Adult Hands-on SAS Seminar at SUNY was cancelled. As one of our largest fund-raising events, this put a hole in our budget. The later cancellation of the Intercollegiate Regatta was quite sad after the wonderful hard work by Ann Myer and her team. Finally a large in-person fund raising dinner was impossible.
However, our Junior SAS program had some success. Our big Larchmont seminar was cancelled, but in its place we took the show “on the road” and ran five smaller events on Long Island Sound and one in New Jersey. With the advice of Dr. Carl Olsson, we structured junior seminars to provide a safe method of coaching- from coach boats rather than onboard the sailboat. Kelly Robinson and his team also created an On-line Junior SAS offering that has great future value.
Our biggest and most innovative event was our Offshore Sailing Leadership Symposium that featured 12 guest panelists including Sir Robin Knox-Johnston. Over 90 of America’s leading offshore sailors, race organizers, and safety experts attended by zoom. A video of the morning panel sessions has been completed with the help of Gary Jobson, and a written report is in progress. Storm Trysail with the support of other leading organizations will be implementing leadership education as a core part of offshore training and certification. Special thanks to our sponsors: Safe Harbors/Rives Potts, CCA’s Bonnell Cove Foundation, Kings Point MMA Sailing Foundation, Gifted of Larchmont and the Gowrie Group. The Symposium organizing committee did an amazing job, especially our Chief of Staff Bob Reichart.
2020 was the first year of community sailing awards in honor of Edward du Moulin and funded by member Bo (and Edie) Lycke (STC member Texas/California). This will be an annual commitment.
The Foundation continued its commitment to assisting member Rich Wilson and the Collegiate Offshore Sailing Circuit. The fleet is now up to 11 Figaros. COSC now has a 501c3 foundation; primary fund raising in the future will be done by COSC. Storm Trysail continues to contribute to the development of COSC’s post-COVID operating models. We expect volunteer opportunities for Members in 2021.
Our Annual Fund Committee headed by Steve Minninger and ably assisted by Joey Moffitt and many volunteers successfully ran our first Storm Trysail Zoomathon. The year ended with a well-conducted Annual Appeal. Throughout the year, your Chairman quietly worked on major gifts and at this point members are afraid to return his calls! Without the benefit of in-person “Carina”-style dinners or adult hands-on seminars, the Foundation finished the year with an adequate net funds balance of $134,000.
Very importantly, the Foundation added two excellent new Board members, David Askew and Mike Toppa. Plans for 2021 are well underway, and we are confident that the Foundation is headed in the right direction.
Richard du Moulin