SANJL History
It’s been twenty years since Bob Boyd and Lee Nascimbene started SANJL. Many of us still remember that first year. One hundred Sunfish sailors participated in at least one of four regattas. The conclusion was sailed in a 20-30 knot southwesterly wind on Green Pond. The waves were breaking over the docks. Just launching the boat was an ordeal. I remember Dave Elliott (that year’s North American Championship runner-up) looking out at the water on that October morning and simply saying “scary stuff”. The racing was total mania. Four races of bedlam. By the end of that day we were all hooked and SANJL was here to stay!

We’ve had many great races in twenty years. The one I will always remember was on Greenwood Lake. It was just after lunch. A major cold front exploded through with a 15 degree temperature drop and wildly shifting winds screaming in from the Northwest. At 1:00 the race committee decided to give it a try. Nine of the forty three registered sailors ventured out. The more sensible competitors took the extra time to pack their boats. Not being very sensible, I put my old sails on the spars and ventured out on the lake. The wind was strong enough to tip the boat with sail my luffing. As I nursed the boat back and forth downwind to the starting line I couldn’t help wondering how I would get back up the lake when the time came. They only pre-race strategy I could muster was to stay under the lee of the shore as long as I could before the race to avoid capsizing. With one minute to go before the starting gun, I drifted down to the starting area. At 15 seconds, I sheeted in. At 10 seconds, my boom hit the water. At 5 seconds, I found myself examining my center board, and when the gun fired I was swimming. As I swam around to right the boat, I got a very nice view of Doug Brown blasting to windward uncontested. The next 10 minutes were spent under the watchful eye of the crash boat, trying to get the mast dislodged from the bottom to the lake. Finally I got the boat upright and I had just one thought...go home now. Somehow I limped upwind toward the club house. 100% concentration on just staying upright. It seemed to take forever. The wind was howling. Exhausted, I made it to the club. Twenty yards from the dock I realized that almost everyone else had also capsized...I was in second place!! Instantly my competitive spirit returned. The rest of the ordeal is a blur. The reaches were terrifying. I do remember Bob Griswold’s boat cart wheeling bow over stern down the course without him. I also remember “catching air” on a reach (the spectators later testified that the only part of the boat in the water was the rudder.) Finally even Doug Brown’s mast went “drilling for oil” and the rest of us caught up. The amazing thing about the race is that after all the carnage and capsizes, the race was decided in the last 25 yards when Doug Brown worked a starboard tack advantage on the survivors and pinned us to the left where we couldn’t tack in the heavy air until he did. How anybody could formulate that tactical move in those extreme conditions is still beyond me, but he did and he won what for me is the most memorable race in SANJL history.

Over time, the value of SANJL has been measured in the many friendships it has fostered. For me, the spirit of Randal Deleeuw, George Anderson, Dave Weeks, Rich Campbell, Lyman Wilson, Matt Brennan, Ed Syracuse, Jeff Smith and many others live on every time we gather to race. Those people gave us all so much. I now know that it is the many great people in our organization that have made the experience worthwhile. And there is promise for the future with strong junior sailors on the horizon like Kevin Buruchian and Bill Betts.

I want to thank Bob Boyd, Paul and Lee Nascimbene, Doug Brown, Ken Geiman, Tom Allyne, George Jackson, Malcolm Dickinson, Bob Griswold, Mark Bruchian, and many others who have contributed their time and service to make SANJL a reality. Also thanks to all the local clubs who have done a terrific job over the years. And, of course a huge thank you to Derek Jackson for his time and organizational skills.


SANJL pages by Stephen Manson 2006 All Rights Reserved
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