BTS: March 2014

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 Sail Chicago is a not-for-profit community sailing program. 
Its mission is to offer quality instruction in sailing and boating safety, and to provide affordable sailing opportunities to its members and others in the Chicago area.
Issue #3
March, 2014

By Steve VanderVoort


Steve VanderVoort

Sail Chicago is beginning to emerge from what many of us felt to be a long winter of hibernation. Still, some of our members have been hard at work readying some preliminary items.


One of our biggest winter tasks is the complete re-design and overhaul of our Sail Chicago website. It's got a new sleek look, and should be much easier to navigate than our old one. Webmaster Alfred Chan is still putting the final touches on it, and Michael Swisher, our Instruction Coordinator is working hard to get our course registration pages up and running. Watch for an announcement in mid-March to find out how you can register for a course. Our membership registration page has been functional for a couple of weeks now. And while you're  exploring the website, don't forget to check out the calendar. It will help to keep you up to date on everything that's happening with Sail Chicago.  If you're alreday a 2014 member or would like to become a member, you can log-in here.


Sail Chicago depends entirely on the good will and hard work of its volunteers. Recently several members have stepped forward to fill key vacant positions. Michael Swisher is our new Instruction Coordinator, and Matt Stuczynski has assumed the role of Lead Instructor. John Lemon, a Sail Chicago stalwart, is filling the role of Safety Director. Last year at the annual meeting, John received the "Sail Chicago Lifetime Achievement" for the dedication and inspiration he has provided over his many years of service to the organization. And this year at the annual meeting, members elected three new members and one returning member to the Sail Chicago Board (see article below).


While a great deal of maintenance was done on the boats in our fleet this past fall, there will still be much to do in the next few weeks once the snow and ice melt. Helping our various Boat managers keep our fleet in tip-top shape is a great way to fulfill your service requirement, to learn more details regarding the boats in our fleet, and to fulfill your annual service requirement. To see what positions are open on our various boat teams, click here.


I look forward to seeing you on the water soon!



US Sailing Logo


The U.S. Sailing Leadership Forum Held February 6 - 8 in San Diego was a resounding success, according to two Sail Chicago members who attending the event. Sail Chicago Board Chairman Chris Schuler and Board member Matt Stuczynski were among the crowd of attendees who gathered to learn more about how various sailing organizations around the country organize and manage their programs, marketing and communications, and administration. There was also some "hands on" experience for those who wanted to get out on the water. Matt said he was happy to see that Community Sailing groups like ours were well represented, and that the larger sailing community is increasingly supportive and interested in what we do since they recognize our vital role in bringing new sailors into the sport.  


To get a better sense of what the presentations offered, click here.  To view many of the actual presentations, click here.



Sail Chicago has a new website.  It's cleaner, easier to navigate, and takes advantage of some of the latest technological developments. While it's still a work in progress, it already has many of the features that Sail Chicago members know and love.  New features include an events calendar that can help you to keep track of what's happening in Sail Chicago.  Check back often to see what other new features have been added.


Our thanks go to member Alfred Chan for spearheading this new improvement.

From the editor...
2014 Sailing Leadership Forum
Sail Chicago's New Website
Dates to Note
Who to Contact
Membership Registration
The Prudent Sailor
Weather Seminar
Racing Seminar
Colgate Racing
Annual Meeting Highlights Successes
March 13 - Board Meeting
April 26 - Move Rhodes and Ideals to Montrose Harobr
May 3 - Move Colgates, Rhodes, and ideals to Monroe Harbor, Move curising boat to Belmont Harbor.
Announcements - Gary Thrane
Bookkeeper - Jay Owens
BTS Editor  - Steve VanderVoort
Chairman - Chris Schuler
Colgate 26 Racing - Bob Cohen 
Cruising Program - Nick Petrovits
Instruction  - Michael Swisher
Lead Instructor - Matt Stuczynski
Member Cruise Outings - Mehmet Tasci
Membership - Faith Hillis
Purchasing Agent - Dana Smith
Reservations - Peter Dudak
Safety Director - John Lemon
Share-a-Sail - David Shayne
Social - Pat Webster
Tender & Parking Passes - Bill Prindle
Tiller Time - Anke Heinrich
Treasurer - Steve VanderVoort
Webmaster - Alfred Chan

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Maintenance Hotline

312-409-9000 or

Chris Schuler 
Steve VanderVoort
Vice Chairman
 Rob Wakerly
Fiona Ray 

Alfred Chan

Dan Flavin

Chris Garvey

Bob Lapin

Matt Stuczynski
Michael Swisher
Pat Webster


Sail Chicago has a new, fast, and easy way to register online as a 2014 member. Just click here to begin the process. If you'd prefer to use a paper form, click here.



By John Lemon, Safety Coordinator


John Lemon

I attended a great seminar at the recent Strictly Sail show. The topic was "How Boats and Sailors Get into Trouble" presented by John Rousmaniere. John is one of the top experts on safety at sea and has written extensively on the subject. He is the author of the Annapolis Book of Seamanship, now in its fourth edition. I'd like to recap the key points of his talk as we prepare ourselves for another summer of safe sailing.


For any sail, short or long, the key is preparation and planning. The skipper and crew must "organize, plan, think, and talk" so that everyone is on the same page. Rousmaniere urged sailors to banish complacency. He reminded everyone to be prepared for "the voyage you get, not the one you want." Checklists of crew duties are as essential as checklists of equipment and systems on the boat. Interestingly, Rousmaniere noted that sailors tend to exaggerate the unlikely risks like dismasting and underestimate the realistic risks like cuts and falls.


Reviewing his vast experience in reviewing sailing incidents, Rousmaniere listed factors that, by themselves and in combination, can constitute a "formula for disaster":


ROUTE: a rushed, ill-considered departure without a fully thought out plan; an inherently dangerous route; a route with no refuge along the way to rest and regroup.

RESOURCES: an unprepared boat due to design, construction, or neglected inspection or maintenance; an unprepared crew, whether that is skill, experience, or coordination.

RESPONSE: crew panic-an inappropriate response to a situation; poor leadership due to lack of organization, communication, and experience; obsession with electronic navigation and lack of knowledge and use of paper charts.


I suspect that all experienced sailors have had a problem on a sail that was exacerbated by one or more of the above factors. We can't always avoid trouble on our sails. But planning, communication, and preparation can allow us "to take an emergency leisurely".


Suggestions for future articles on safety should be sent here.



By Paul Demmel, Seminar Coordinator


Weather for sailors was a popular seminar last season, and we are pleased to announce that we will

once again be presenting this topic on Tuesday, March 19, 7:00 pm in the REI Lincoln Park Community Room.   John Lemon, a self-professed weather geek, is past lead instructor of Sail Chicago with a wealth of sailing experience.   He will be building on material developed by Erik Schneider, a U.S. Sailing certified Regional Race Officer, Club Judge and Powerboat Instructor with over 10 years of experience running regattas.

Topics to include:
  • Introduction to meteorology
  • Global and local weather patterns
  • How to read weather maps
  • General Chicago wind patterns
  • Predicting weather for your sail
We hope to see you there! A social hour will follow. To register, click here.

By Emma Lynch


Introduction to Racing, the second session in the Sail Chicago winter seminar series, was held at the

Nick Petrovits shares racing experiences.

Lincoln Park REI on February 11. Around 35 sailors, a mix of veteran racers and novices looking to refine their skills, attended the seminar to learn more about what is in store for Sail Chicago racing in 2014.


To kick off the seminar, Instruction Coordinator, Michael Swisher, provided background on the origins of the racing program, and Racing Coordinator, Bob Cohen, introduced different types of racing, including team, match, and fleet racing. Bob highlighted the Beer Can racing series that is hosted by Columbia Yacht Club on Wednesday evenings and provides a fun, casual environment in which Sail Chicago members can meet other Chicago-area racers. These connections can potentially lead to great crewing opportunities, including the oldest annual freshwater distance race in the world - the Chicago Yacht Club race to Mackinac.  The racing series not only helps sailors learn nuanced racing techniques, but also encourages seasoned racers to expand beyond their specialized crew position to discover how each role enhances overall sailing performance. This approach upholds the dual purpose of the racing program - "teaching sailors how to race and racers how to sail."


Colgate 26 Racing
Colgates rounding the mark.

Nick Petrovits and Adam Collins, two members of Sail Chicago racing, also shared some of the knowledge and experience that has drawn them back each season. Nick gave an overview of select racing signals and rules, and demonstrated how different tactics, such as "blanketing" and "pinching," must be carefully executed in order to gain an advantage. Adam discussed his involvement in Colgate 26 racing and praised how it builds team camaraderie and facilitates a dynamic progression of skills, week over week, as each crew member steps into a new role. Adam also described his experience in the  Verve Cup Inshore Regatta One Design races last year, and mentioned that Sail Chicago is planning on taking out a couple more boats this August, for an exciting (and hopefully windier) second showing at the race. Following the seminar and Q&A session, attendees shared stories and honored another fine racing tradition with a social hour at a nearby bar.


If you would like to participate in Colgate 26 racing this year, registration is now open!   For those interested in learning more, here are a few recommended reads:  Performance Sailing and Racing by Steve Colgate;  North U Racing Trim by Bill Gladstone; and Performance Racing Tactics by Bill Gladstone.  



By Robert Cohen, Colgate Racing Coordinator


Sail Chicago's popular Wednesday night Colgate 26 racing program will be back for 2014. The program is educational, competitive, and fun, giving new and experienced sailors and racers alike the opportunity to sharpen their skills. As we like to say, we teach sailors to race, and racers to sail.


Three five-week racing series are being offered between June and September (see key dates below). With a crew of three to four, plus a coach, racers will learn each position on the boat (helmsman, foredeck, jib and spinnaker trimmer, main trimmer, and pit). Additionally, you'll learn about racing tactics - such as starts, rounding a mark, and finishes - and you'll learn to read the competition and adjust accordingly.


What many racers found particularly rewarding last year were new skills that can be applied to recreational sailing. Haven't flown a spinnaker in a while? This is a chance to get a great refresher. Racing also encourages exceptional boat handling skills.


Sail Chicago's Colgate 26 fleet starts with another group of sailors, but we are scored as a one-design fleet (only against other Colgate 26s). We meet at the tender dock at 5:15 p.m. and are on the water by 5:45 to scope out the start, the evening's wind, and practice a few maneuvers. We sail by the committee boat at 6:30 and finish by 8:30.


Afterwards, all participants are invited to join us and fellow racers from other clubs for drinks and discussion at the Columbia Yacht Club, just a stone's throw from the tender dock.


Based on the excitement the program generated last year, seats are already filling up fast, so sign up today!  

  • Pre-Sail Orientation: Monday, April 28
  • Practice Sessions: May 14 and 21
  • Series 1 (almost sold out already): May 28, June 4, 11, 18, and 25.  Click here to register.
  • Series 2: July 2, 9, 16, 30, and August 6.  Click here to register.
  • Series 3: August 13, 20, 27, September 3, and 10.  Click here to register.




On February 27, more than sixty Sail Chicago members and students gathered at the St. Vincent DePaul Center in Chicago to review the prior year's activities and to learn of new plans and programs for the coming sailing season.


After Chairman Chris Schuler called the meeting to order, Treasurer Steve VanderVoort reported that

The annual meeting

Sail Chicago ended a successful financial year with a strong balance sheet and a healthy net income.  Michael Swisher, our Instruction Coordinator detailed plans for the upcoming sailing season. He also paid tribute to John Lemon, who for several years ran our instruction program and made some truly significant improvements. Bob Cohen discussed the Colgate Racing now in its second year. He reported that the first session is already completely sold out. Finally, Pat Webster summarized the activities in the many other programs that Sail Chicago will be offering this summer.


Four Directors were elected to fill vacancies created by expiring terms: Bob Lapin, Chris Schuler, Matt Stuczynski, and Michael Swisher. Finally, Board member Rob Wakerly fielded questions from the membership to the Board, after which many of the attendees continued an informal meeting across the street at the Halsted Harp.


If you'd like to review the slideshow presented at the Annual Meeting, please click here

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