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Sailing: an unusual mountain pastime

Click photo to enlargeAn unlikely sport is winning converts in our high-elevation mountain town. Sailing, a popular East Coast, West Coast and Great Lakes pastime has made its way into the summer sports scene of more and Parkites. Park City Sailing is responsible for a rapidly growing junior sailing program that will teach a newbie how to skipper a sailboat.

“In less than a week, a seven year old can sail that boat by themselves,” said Ken Block, vice president of Park City Sailing.

The program is young but growing quickly. Park City Sailing was founded just five years ago by two neighbors who discovered that they owned the same type of sailboat, a Laser. They started off by organizing informal races at the Jordanelle Reservoir. The activity attracted people like Block who had given up sailing to live in the mountains.

“It was like magic,” Block said. Within two years there were twenty or more Lasers racing on Tuesday nights.

As the popularity of sailing grew, Park City Sailing was born. In 2010 they started a junior sailing program designed for beginners. In 2010, 68 kids enrolled in the program. The summer of 2011 brought over double the participants. This year, Block estimates, more than 175 kids will participate throughout the summer.

Park City Sailing has radically changed the teaching model for sailing by offering one-week programs. In a traditional program, sailing is a summer-long commitment. To accommodate the many other summer activities available in Park City, the junior program is organized into one-week sessions available to sailors ages seven and up. Special programs are even customized to fit into other youth summer camps. This summer Park City Sailing has hosted members of Utah Olympic Park, Basin Recreation and Park City Adventure camps.

“The feedback that we’re getting from the camp directors is the kids are loving it,” Block said.

By the end of the week, students are proficient in sailing a small, one-man sailboat called an Optimist, or as it is affectionately called, an “Opti.”

“An Opti is quite literally a bathtub with a sail,” instructor Karsten Gillwald said.

Gillwald went on to explain that Optis are ideal for beginners to learn the basics of sail maneuvering and steering because they are very simple and easy to set up.

The club currently owns 11 Optis and four 420s — which are larger boats that are used for more experienced sailors. Optis are raced around the world, and a big Opti regatta can attract up to 400 competitors. College-level races frequently use 420s.

The typical one-week program is taught by instructors certified by U.S. Sailing and trained in first aid and CPR. The first day begins with learning basic boat skills like steering. Since steering is reversed in a sailboat (when you push the tiller one way, the boat goes the opposite way), it can be tricky for a beginner.

“For a seven year old, that’s kind of a hard concept to grasp,” said Gillwald.

The instructors will set a course that is easy to sail. Each student skippers his or her own boat while the instructors follow alongside in a power boat, giving directions. As the week progresses, routes get more tactical and advanced. By Thursday or Friday, students will be exposed to the concept of racing and even attempt a practice course or two.

“[Racing] takes strategy, to a degree, like chess. Except everything’s moving around and it’s wet and windy,” Block said.

Despite the club’s short history, Park City Sailing has generated quite a buzz in the sailing world. Buster Pike, the Junior Sailing Committee’s co-chair, was awarded Outstanding Director of a New Sailing Program by U.S. Sailing in 2010. Its junior sailing program is already in the middle of the national pack in terms of size.

“We’re raising the game of our kids,” said Block.

Just this past week, several members of the program traveled to Dillon, Colo., to compete in the Junior Sailing Olympics.

Some of the program’s most promising racers only recently took up sailing. Sammy and Alix Wilkinson, ages 10 and 11, began sailing last summer. Both are also avid ski racers and figure skaters who took up sailing as their summer activity.

“These are two sisters who have blossomed,” Block said.

The sisters explained that they started sailing by spending a few weeks in the program last summer. Junior racing on Monday nights seemed like a natural step after learning the basics. The competitiveness and athleticism of the girls has made them rising stars in Park City’s program.

“My favorite part is when you get going fast on a really windy day, and you’re about to capsize but then you hike out,” said Alix Wilkinson.

The Wilkinsons, like many other students in the program, are first-generation sailors. In other words, their parents have no sailing experience.

“The kids are having such a good time that the parents are saying, ‘I want to give it a try,'” said Block. Park City Sailing will be launching its new adult sailing program early this week.

The next steps for Park City Sailing include a combination of continued growth and fundraising to create a community sailing program.

“Sailing is not inexpensive, and we want to make it affordable to all,” said Block.

Check out the website at to register your child for the junior sailing program. Week-long camps are offered through August 17. Contact Ken Block at 435-655-2890 for more information about the adult sailing program.

A Sailor’s Dictionary

Impress your friends with nautical jargon

  • Tack to turn upwind

  • Jibe to turn downwind

  • Fall off to angle the boat so the sail fills with wind

  • No go zone When the sail is flopping around (also known as “luffing”) because it is angled too close to the direction of the winds.

    Adult sailing program

    This week Park City Sailing is launching its first adult sailing program, which will run through the end of the summer season. Lessons will take place on larger 22-foot keelboats called J22s. The program is open to beginners and intermediate sailors throughout the week (see schedule below). Group lessons and private lessons are available. Group lessons (up to four students) will be held Mondays 5-8 p.m. and Wednesdays 1-4 p.m. ($60 per person). Private lessons can be scheduled Monday through Friday for $70 per hour. Contact Chad Miller for scheduling, (802) 373-5663.

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    Nautic Global Group welcomes enthusiastic worldwide dealer network

    Press Release

    Elkhart, IN, July 30, 2012 — Nautic Global Group is pleased to announce an incredibly successful first day of its annual dealer meeting, which has welcomed over 600 attendees from more than 400 worldwide dealerships. An exceptionally high level of enthusiasm at the meeting has been attributed to the fact that virtually all the dealers had a successful first half of the year.

    With more than 70 boats on display at the company’s headquarters in Elkhart, Indiana, dealers for one or more of four primary product lines have gotten an up-close look at the extensive offerings for model year 2013, including eight all-new models and dozens of other boats with significant enhancements. Nautic Global Group manufactures Rinker Express Cruisers and Captiva Sport Boats, Hurricane Deck Boats, Polar Kraft Aluminum Fishing Boats, and Godfrey Pontoons including Sanpan, Aqua Patio and Sweetwater.

    The meeting’s theme, “Unite to Ignite,” has resonated among attendees, many of whom say their partnership with Nautic Global Group is stronger than ever. In front of a packed business meeting, keynote speaker and Pittsburgh Steeler legend Rocky Bleier exhilarated the crowd with a message about seizing opportunities and growing their businesses by developing a positive vision and leading their own teams to success.

    Bleier, who won a college football national championship in 1966 while attending the University of Notre Dame, went on to join the Pittsburgh Steelers before being drafted into the U.S. Army and sent to Vietnam following his rookie season. After being seriously wounded in the leg while on a mission, doctors gave him no chance of ever being able to play again in the National Football League. However, hard work and determination enabled him to beat the odds, and he went on to make the team and eventually win four Super Bowls with the Steelers.

    “We are proud to have our dealer partners from all over the world joining us for a few days of education, fellowship and recommitment. They are the cornerstone of our business, and this meeting is a great opportunity to say thank you,” said Doug Sexton, Nautic Global Senior Vice President of Sales Marketing. “It’s a sincere honor to also be joined by a true American hero in Rocky Bleier. His message of overcoming adversity through perseverance and dedication is a perfect fit for our dealers — and the boating industry in general.”

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    Sailing: Annalise Murphy still unbeaten


  • Olympics
  • Sailing
  • Updated: Tuesday, 31 Jul 2012 17:22

    Annalise Murphy has won the opening four races of the Laser Radial class

    Ireland’s Annalise Murphy is tonight the clear front runner for Olympic gold in the Laser Radial sailing class at London 2012, dominating the competition with a clean sweep of the first four races.

    The young Dubliner reached every mark today in pole position, and enjoys a best-possible score of four points from four races.

    Her nearest rival, Evi Van Acker of Belgium, is 12 points off the pace, with 16 points.

    Racing started in the Laser Radial class at 12 noon, and Murphy again made the perfect start, rounding all six marks of race three in top position.

    She followed that with another flawless performance in race four, winning by a clear 30 seconds over Britain’s Alison Young, with the Chinese boat of Xu Lijia coming in third.

    Murphy is now very much in the driving seat, and with six races still to go, she has certainly secured her place in the medal race at the end of the week, which will feature only the top ten boats.

    Belgium’s Van Acker and Marit Bouwmeester of the Netherlands are in the other medal positions, with Team GB’s Young in fourth.

    In race four, Murphy made another good start, rounding the first mark in the lead position, having moved up through the field from fifth halfway through the first leg.

    She then consolidated that lead, staying ahead of the fleet mark after mark. And, more importantly, she’s drawing further ahead in the overall standings, as the Belgian and Dutch boats finished further down the field.

    In race three, Murphy passed the finish line with a winning time of 52:08, eight seconds ahead of her nearest rival.

    “I’d say Annalise can do some real damage today,” predicted her Irish team-mate Scott Flanigan, at the start of the day.

    “It’s windy out there, 15-22 knots, and that will suit her. She’s tall, and that gives her a big advantage in leverage.”

    In the men’s Laser Class James Espey finished 39th in the third race. Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus won the race in 1:01:59. Espey was 4:34 off this time.

    The Irishman is 41st overall. He races again at 3.30pm.

    49er Class

    The Irish 49er crew of Ryan Seaton and Matt McGovern have consolidated their sixth position overall – finishing the day on the harbour course with a flourish, taking a stunning second place in race four.

    Australia, New Zealand and Denmark are the boats in medal positions in the 49er class.

    But the young Irish duo, who finished 15th in race three, are now only three points off a medal position.

    Seaton and McGovern pronounced themselves “delighted” with their progress, but they weren’t getting too excited.

    “A good race and a bad race gives us an average score for the day, so not too bad,” said McGovern.

    “The quality of the fleet is so high that there’s little to choose between the top 20 boats.

    “In race three we had one extra tack off the start line to get clean wind, and that put us on the back foot.”

    They had changed their rig for the second race, he said, because the wind picked up, and that helped them increase speed.

    Seaton said: “The conditions were very familiar – wind and drizzle.

    “It seemed a bit like back in Belfast Lough.”

    Star class

    In the Star Class, Peter O’Leary and David Burrows finished 11th in the fifth race. Britain’s Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson won the race in 1:07:34. O’Leary and Burrows were 2:56 adrift.

    In the sixth race, O’Leary and Burrows came home 12th. Brazil’s Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada won the race in 1:15:07. O’Leary and Burrows finished 1:15 behind them.

    The Irish boat lies ninth overall.

    Laser class

    James Espey finished 39th in the third Laser class race. Pavlos Kontides of Cyprus won the race in 1:01:59. Espey was 4:34 off this time.

    Espey finished 36th in the second race of the day, which was also won by Kontides in a time of 1:02:23. Espey came home 4:26 off the lead.

    The Irishman lies 40th overall.

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    Co-founder of Schock boat-building company dies

    The matriarch of one of Newport Harbor’s legendary maritime families has died.

    Lido Isle resident Betty Schock, who started the Schock boat-building and sales company with her husband, W.D. “Bill” Schock, in 1946 died July 23. She was 91.

    On any given afternoon, sailors young and old take to the Newport’s calm waters in a Schock-built boat. From the Lido 14, which debuted in 1958, to today’s popular Harbor 20s, the company’s boats have played a key role in many sailors’ lives in Newport and around the U.S.

    Bill designed and built the boats, while Betty ran the boat-builder’s office and its marketing department.

    “She just liked people, liked to be around them,” son Tom Schock said Monday.

    Betty and Bill started their business in his parents’ Balboa Peninsula home, just up the street from the Rendezvous Ballroom, where the two met in high school.

    The couple built boats in Newport until 1959, when the city phased out fiberglass production and its smelly resin, Tom said.

    The Newport-Mesa area used to teem with maritime businesses. At that time, the Schocks moved their boat-building division to Santa Ana, while the sales division stayed in Newport, where it remains today.

    Tom and his wife, Jane, continued the boat-building company, W.D. Schock Corp., assuming similar roles as his parents — Tom as designer and Jane as chief marketer. Another of Betty’s sons, Scott, took over the sales arm and her third son, Steve, is a maritime architect who helped design some of their most successful models.

    Last year, Tom and Jane sold their company after running it for 40 years.

    Over the decades, Schock Corp. had many hit boat designs, and a few duds, said Lido Isle Yacht Club Commodore Carter Ford.

    “They just kept landing on their feet,” Ford said.

    It was Betty’s job to keep the company in the news.

    “When the guys did well in the races, she would get it in all the magazines and the newspapers,” Tom said.

    One of the company’s biggest hits was the Lido 14, a family dinghy that was more comfortable and less athletic than similar sized boats from that era.

    “They were responsive in designing boats that fulfilled a need that existed, and they did it time and again,” Ford said.

    Some of Betty’s business savvy came from her experience during the Great Depression, when her mother’s farm in Selma, Calif., survived when others did not.

    “It gave her a great love for family and it gave her a great understanding of the value of the dollar,” Tom said.

    Twitter: @mreicher

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    Team NZ takes AC72 sailing

    Emirates Team New Zealand took its AC72 sailing for the first time today – on a cold, wet Auckland winter’s day.

    As a very watery dawn glow started to light Auckland, the AC72 was wheeled from the shed, mated to the wingsail and lifted into the Viaduct Basin.

    There it sat while a few last-minute adjustments were made and the crew waited for some breeze.

    Sailing time was delayed several times as team meteorologist Roger Badham monitored weather radar and computer models and kept the sailing crew, impatient to leave the dock, informed.

    Finally at 1pm the big cat was towed out in the Auckland Harbour and did not return to base until after dark. The breeze was still very light and rain was threatening.

    Three chase boats containing designers, engineers, systems experts, boat builders and specialists accompanied the cat, intently watching its every move

    The breeze in the outer harbour varied from zero to 8-10 knots and the sea was flat. Rain came in the squalls.

    “It is good to get the first sail under our belt,” Grant Dalton said. “Overall the weather could have been better but the wind was ideal for a first sail. It’s what we had waited for.

    Dalton said the day, while unspectacular, was productive. “We know more about the boat than we did this morning and that’s why we go testing.”

    Up to the end of next January, teams are permitted only 30 sailing days in the AC72. Emirates Team New Zealand intends to make every sailing day count.

    A sailing say is defined as the yacht releasing the tow for only five minute. The team plans to sail from dawn to dusk when conditions are favourable.

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    Chinese fishing boats leave Pagasa Island


    The last of the Chinese flotilla of some 20 fishing boats have left the disputed waters off Pagasa Island in the West Philippine Sea, the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) said Monday.

    Lieutenant Colonel Neil Estrella, spokesperson of the AFP Western Command, said all the Chinese vessels which had anchored some five nautical miles off Pagasa last week sailed away Monday.

    “That’s the latest report we got. Those (Chinese boats) which were sighted there have already moved out,” Estrella said in a phone interview with reporters in Camp Aguinaldo.

    “As of now, we do not see any foreign vessels in the vicinity of Pagasa Island,” he said.

    The Chinese boats “voluntarily” left the area even before the Philippine Navy could send its vessels because of the rough seas.

    “That’s normal. They arrived there and just left,” he said.

    Estrella said they could not confirm reports that the Chinese fishermen had gathered corals and different species of fish from the waters where they anchored for several days.

    A Philippine Daily Inquirer source said a fleet of some 20 Chinese fishing vessels purportedly escorted by at least two naval frigates of the People’s Liberation Army were seen a few kilometers from Pagasa on July 24.

    The Chinese boats were reportedly seen fishing and collecting corals from the area, which the military said was known for its coral reef formations.

    The Western Command confirmed the Inquirer report, but said the Chinese fishermen were merely taking shelter from the huge waves stirred by a weather disturbance.

    Commodore Rustom Peña, commander of Naval Forces West, said at least 20 fishing vessels were anchored nine kilometers off Pagasa Island, the seat of government of the Kalayaan municipality in Palawan province.

    But he said there were no sightings of the reported military escort of the fishing fleet. “There are no other vessels there,” he said.

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    Sailing: Australia's Slingsby sets early Laser pace

    WEYMOUTH, England (Reuters) – Australia’s Tom Slingsby dominated in the Laser on Monday, putting himself 30 points clear of gold medal holder Paul Goodison after two races.

    Slingsby, who had a disappointing Olympics at Qingdao in 2008, is on top form this year and defeated Britain’s Goodison at a warm-up regatta in Weymouth in June.

    The Briton finished a disappointing 10th and 23rd, leaving himself with plenty of work to do. The event will be won by the helmsman with the least points after 10 races and a final medals race among the top 10 finishers in which points count double.

    Slingsby told Reuters he is expecting to see more of Goodison, who he predicts “will come back strong”.

    Slingsby was “really happy” with his start, despite a second place in the first race after a slip let in Juan Ignacio Maegli from Guatemala who finished with a first and a 10th.

    Colin Cheng of Singapore enjoyed early success with fourth place in the first race. Cheng, who is based in Sydney, has been in Weymouth every year for the past four years and “likes the strong winds” the waters off the English south coast resort offer the Olympic sailors.

    In the women’s Laser Radial class, a smaller sailed version of the hugely popular Laser dinghy, Ireland’s Annalise Murphy came home first in both races.

    And in the hotly contested Finn class, where Britain’s Ben Ainslie is vying for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold, his Danish rival Jonas Hogh-Christensen maintained his overnight lead.

    The Dane overcame a disastrous start after he collided with a committee boat on the line to finish seventh and lead the class after four races with just 11 points.

    “Ben is one of many. I can’t focus too much on him,” he said when asked about being chased by Ainslie.

    Ainslie said he was “not happy at all” after his sixth and 12th positions left him third equal with three others.

    “I need to go away and get it right for the rest of the week,” the 35-year-old Briton added.

    British favorites in the men’s keelboat Star class Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, gold medalists in Beijing, had a good day with a third and a second putting them in joint first after four races.

    Only two points separate the first four boats, which include the Swedish pair of Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen and the Brazilian duo Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada.

    The turbo-charged 49er skiff class saw more Danish success, with Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang coming out of the first two races with just six points. The Danes led the field early on in the first race, held on the spectator-friendly Nothe course.

    But they failed to hold off the French crew who came through on the fourth leg and finished first at the line.

    Danish skipper Norregaard calculated there was a 30 degree shift in the wind at one stage in the first race and suffered a bad start in the second. But from the rear of the 20-strong fleet they recovered to gain fourth position.

    (Editing by Alexander Smith)

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