Archive for » August 8th, 2013«

Curtis joins Marblehead legends in Sailing Hall of Fame

Curtis will have some hometown company: Among this year’s 10 inductees are a pair of Marblehead’s sailing forefathers, the late naval architects William Starling Burgess and John Gale Alden, two of the most widely respected American yacht designers of the 20th century.

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Rec Boat Holdings showcases new jet boats

By Antonio Coleman

CADILLAC — Boat dealers from across the world came to Cadillac to be the first to experience Rec Boat Holdings’ new line of jet boats.

Rec Boat Holdings presented the lineup of their new 2014 model-year products at their North American Leadership Conference and International Conference. About 26 dealers from about 26 different countries were present at the International Conference last week with North American and Canadian dealers attending the North American conference earlier this week.

The company introduced eight new boats between the Glastron and Four Winns brands to dealers.There were also a few brand new boats presented that previously had not been seen by dealers; the Glastron GT 245 and the Four Winns Horizon 290. Julie Johnson, director of marketing for Rec Boat Holdings, said the presentation of the jet boats were one of the most popular features with dealers at the expo. Although dealers were aware of the new jet boats, she said most were surprised the boats were ready to take out on the water.

“The conferences are our one opportunity to present our new product and share our vision for the next model year,” Johnson said. “It was good to be able to have the boat ready and in the water, since we announced it last May.”

Christian Brown, sales representative for S.S. Marine in North Salt Lake, Utah, said the company came to the expo to order their new Glastron and Four Winns boats. Brown said the Glastron GT 245 has gained much interest among company representatives and potential consumers.

“These are gravitating the new market like crazy,” Brown said. “We had one of our sales women say that she’s had three clients who thought this was a Mastercraft boat. Glastron has completely stepped it up.”

The company produces Four Winns, Glastron, Scarab and Wellcraft brands.

Rec Boat Holdings previously secured a long-term supply agreement with BRP’s Marine Propulsion Division for its Rotax jet propulsion system to power two new jet boats from the Glastron line and a new line of Scarab jet-powered runabouts.

Johnson  said by analyzing market trends and studying the design features of popular water sport activities, the company has been able to develop new boats to appeal to the expanding boating market. Johnson said the company is starting to see interesting changes in their consumer market, such as a trend of older age groups of boat owners and the popularity of jet boats with younger consumers.

“The kids of the baby boomers and the younger generation are gravitating toward the new jet boats,” Johnson said. “We are seeing different age groups falling into different market trends.”

Johnson said the handling experience of jet boats, the ability to make aggressive turns and drive on shallow water have boosted the popularity of the boats.

Brown said he has noticed activities such as jet boating and surfing becoming increasingly popular among  families. He said parents are becoming more family-oriented and the increasing popularity of jet boating is helping drive the dealer’s sales.

“More people are wanting to get out and enjoy some true family time,” Brown said. “I think the only way to utilize your family time is to get them out on a boat, put the phone away and have fun.”

 Brown said the conference helps get dealers more invested in each product and motivates dealer sales.

“This expo puts wind in the sails to get sales going,” Brown said. “I’ve learned more in the past day-and-a-half than I learned in the past year.”

Johnson said the conferences not only bring dealers from all across the world to Cadillac to enjoy the  community, but also shows dealers the influence the company has in the local area.

The previously expo was held last August. Johnson said the new Scarab boat is expected to launch in September.


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Willard volunteers at America's Cup in San Francisco

Karen Willard


One local woman is experiencing a sailing enthusiast’s dream this summer.

Karen Willard, a Patterson resident, is spending some time hanging out and watching extreme performance boats and world class sailors race at unprecedented speeds, volunteering at the 2013 America’s Cup, around the waterfront of San Francisco Bay.

“It is quite the experience, and it takes a lot of people all working together to put on an event of this size,” Willard said. “Everyone should find something they are passionate about and volunteer. It is very personally rewarding.”

Chosen from among 1,400 applicants, Willard is part of an army of 850 volunteers doing their best to make sure fans have a worthwhile experience at the $120 million America’s Cup Park that commands Piers 27 and 29.

She’s been a fixture of the Cup proceedings since she was enlisted to help in July.

“I assist the commercial team with sponsor and partner services and administration,” said Willard, who has logged more than 30 hours of volunteer service. “I enjoy being behind the scenes at America’s Cup Park, and not being tied down to just one spot.”

Willard also recently worked at the event’s Youth Day, which welcomed children of all ages to explore all that the event in San Francisco has to offer. Activities included a high school sailing demonstration, as well as the Kid’s Zone, where spectators were able to race mini AC45 boats, create posters to cheer on their favorite teams and partake in activities that teach about the environment.

“We escorted more than 225 kids from the YMCA and Boys and Girls Club through several of the exhibits,” Willard said. “They learned about healthy eating, exercise, and of course, the America’s Cup.”

The job may not pay, but it does come with benefits.

“It was fun to see the wonder in their eyes as they learned about sailing.”

Part of history

America’s Cup, dating to 1851, 45 years before the modern Olympics, might be the oldest trophy competition in international sports. The U.S. yacht America won the inaugural event, giving the international sailing competition its name.

“I became involved because I like to volunteer, I love sailing, and I get to be a part of history through the America’s Cup,” Willard said.

A second venue, the America’s Cup Village, at Marina Green, is active on race days.

“That is where most of the racing action is — the starting line and most of the course,” Willard said.

The winner of the trophy gets to set the parameters for the next competition — when, where and what kind of boats. There is no governing body to guide regularity. Each event starts from scratch.

Oracle Team USA won in Valencia, Spain, in 2010, on the team’s third attempt. The defending champion, owned by the billionaire Larry Ellison, proposed bringing the next competition to the natural amphitheater of San Francisco Bay.

“The winner gets to change the rules — no other international sport allows that,” Willard said. “The event is truly unique and filled with history.”

The 34th America’s Cup is the first in the 162-year history of the event that will be sailed in a bay rather than miles offshore. San Francisco was selected as a host in part because the geography and race course allow people to view the contests from land.

“Most of the volunteers are as excited as I am to be a part of history in the making,” Willard said.

Now through August, four countries are set to compete in the Louis Vuitton Cup for the right to challenge Ellison’s Oracle Team USA, the defending Cup titlists. Those races will feature 72-foot-long sailboats — wing-sail catamarans, the so-called flying boats — for the first time.

“The tourists are in awe of what is taking place. A lot of them just happened to be (visiting San Francisco) and have no idea what’s going on, and have stumbled across this event,” Willard said.

On September 7, the America’s Cup defender, Oracle Team USA, is scheduled to line up for Race 1, the first of 17 possible races, against one of three challenging teams: Artemis Racing, Emirates Team New Zealand, or Luna Rossa Challenge 2013.

All in all, the event stands to offer exhilarating racing and shoreside activities to excite visitors of all ages, Willard said.

“There are several exhibits that give great detail about the history of the race and the evolution of the boats,” Willard said. “And if you’re lucky, and it’s race day, you get to se the boats as they fly by.”

Contact Marc Aceves at 892-6187, ext. 28, or

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Community Sailing School looks to add offerings

JOHNSBURG –Its first season complete, the Community Sailing School @ Pistakee is looking to raise money to expand its programming.

The century-old Pistakee Yacht Club rebranded and opened up its sailing school this summer. A founding committee invested in new boats, brought in three paid staff members and successfully put 60-plus students through its classes.

Programs are available for children 6 years old to adults, and scholarships are offered to economically disadvantaged kids.

The next step is coordinating an accredited STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) class and setting up a competitive sailing team that could draw students from different high schools in the area.

“If we can raise enough money to buy the boats, we can get [the club] going this fall,” said Tom Kartheiser, the committee’s chairman. “It’s a bit of a stretch, but we’re not giving up. We have 80 people coming this weekend.”

A fundraiser – a formal dinner that will showcase what the school’s students have learned– is planned for Saturday at the club, 3300 Rocky Beach Lane. Proceeds will go toward the new programming. Organizers hope the 1920s-themed Gatsby Gala will be an annual event.

Tickets are no longer for sale, but donations can be made at the school’s website,

The school hopes to raise $100,000 over three years.

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