Weather doesn’t change these sailors.
They are competitive, unwilling to give away an inch, especially if they are on a starboard tack and have rights and they’re on the water to have fun.
But there are differences between summer and winter Sunfish racing at Edgewood Yacht Club.
Apart from not having to shovel snow off the dock and dealing with lines that harden with ice, the apparel between frostbiting and the Sunday summer evening races is most pronounced. Winter attire includes waterproof gloves, a dry suit, earmuffs, boots and a wool cap or the equivalent. Now it’s bathing suits and sun shirts. Life jackets are the rule, whether the temperature is in the 20s or the 80s like it was Sunday.
Another marked difference is the absence of a chase boat. Boats capsize, but in the summer it’s not a matter of being turned into a block of ice. If someone is in serious trouble, the yacht club launch is at the ready, as well as at least one or two members puttering about in their inflatables.
The winter scene is bleak by comparison. There are no boats on moorings and maybe a couple at the dock. The frostbiters are the only ones on the water. On Sunday boaters were returning from a day or weekend on the water.
Race committee members Donna Fraser and Stephanie Shuster were ensconced at the end of the dock. An orange flag affixed to a piling was one end of the starting line and a red float barely 80 feet away marked the other end. Stephanie started the races with blasts on a whistle providing a countdown from three minutes. Donna kept score as the boats crossed the finish line, frequently just inches from each other. There will be awards at the end of the year.
There’s some family rivalry, too. Donna’s husband, Jim, races, as does her daughter, MacKenzie. MacKenzie was giving her dad a tough time Sunday. Phoebe Lee was no gentler on her father, Chris, and George Shuster found himself in contention with daughters Greta and Georgia. Georgia retired after a gust sent her boat over. She quickly righted the craft but figured it was best to dry out.
Summer Sunday Sunfish races can be fast. The winds can be unpredictable, especially close to shore where leads can evaporate and fates are determined.
Races start at 5 p.m. and usually end by 7. Donna said wind, or the lack of it, can be cause for cancellation as we imagine a thunderstorm might be, too.
But freezing temperatures, well, forget that along with the woolen cap and gloves.