Annual Green Fleet Regatta Teaches Sportsmanship, Safety

Aug 09, 2017
Photo by: Ryan Morrill

On a sunless and windy Tuesday morning in early August, while most vacationers slept in, a group of novice sailors assembled at the Surf City Yacht Club to prepare for the club’s annual No Fear Green Fleet Regatta.

“We don’t place an emphasis on winning,” Andy Temme, director of junior sailing at the yacht club, said as novice sailors, coaches and others moved around the main level, prepping for the race. “It’s about sportsmanship, participation and finishing the race in a safe, friendly event.”

With the wind at 11 mph out of the northwest, the conditions were perfect for the race, the longest running green fleet regatta on Long Beach Island, he said. It was started by Sue Warren more than 20 years ago and is meant to encourage the young sailors to attend their first Optimist regatta, allowing them to evolve into competitive sailors once they’ve mastered basic sailing skills.

Temme, a lifelong sailor who grew up at the Surf City Yacht Club, said the ultimate goal of the sailing lessons at the club is to teach the young sailors about racing, and to make sure they are self-reliant. The No Fear Green Fleet Regatta is comprised of three races meant to challenge the young sailors, who compete in a modified triangular course using the skills they’ve learned from their coaches throughout the season, he said.

“Every coach teaches you something different,” Peter Mazzagatti, 7, of Surf City and Westchester, Pa., said, noting he comes from a fishing, surfing and sailing family. “My family is all about summer.”

Mazzagatti, whose family calls the Surf City Yacht Club its home club, was feeling confident about the race ahead of its official start. The best part of the summer, he said, was making new friends at the yacht club.

The two-day regatta at the Brant Beach Yacht Club was Finn O’Brien’s favorite part of summer, to date, he said.

“It was my fourth race of the year and I took fifth,” the Barnegat Light Yacht Club participant said, noting he was excited for the No Fear regatta. He prepped racing the course, and getting a good night’s sleep.

Katelynn Kelley, another Barnegat Light Yacht Club participant, didn’t do anything special to prepare for the No Fear Green Fleet Regatta and just wanted to have fun. Still, she was feeling a little nervous during registration.

“But not as nervous as the Powder Puff regatta,” she said, remembering how a storm blew in during the July race at the Metedeconk River Yacht Club in Brick. “It started out calm, but then the wind picked up.”

“It was a tough one,” her mother, Vanessa, who grew up as a recreational sailor at the Barnegat Light Yacht Club, agreed.

Jack O’Neill, 8, who grew up around sailing like most of his family, said he was feeling confident about the race, and arrived early after a good night’s sleep. Alex Brown, 11, a Surf City Yacht Club sailor, was feeling a mix of nerves and confidence.

“I am more confident than last week,” he said of another green fleet regatta he competed in on the Island with his Opti boat.

Most of the young racers are sailing Opti sailboats, small, square-shaped vessels, Temme said. The boats are recognized as a good, safe boat for young sailors. The race is open to any novice sailor, ages 7 to 15, who have not competed before. The average age, Temme said, for the No Fear regatta is 9 or 10, but occasionally they do get someone younger.

About 30 minutes before race time, the loud din in the downstairs rooms of the Ninth Street yacht club quieted to a whisper as skippers rallied their team of participants for a pep talk that included a review of the safety checklist all sailors must comply with to be eligible to compete.

“It’s an education event as much as it is racing," Temme said, adding the checklist must be signed by a coach prior to the start of the race.

Sailors from all of the Island’s yacht clubs participated in the event, sponsored by the Magaziner family, which supplied lunch; John Gofus of the Big Dipper; and Moorhouse MacCausland Sailing, which donated life jackets and other sailing equipment for a raffle.

Gina G. Scala

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