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2008 Mass Bay Junior Olympic Festival

Press Releases

Gloucester Daily Times - Rockport pulls off a sailing coup
Fishtown Local
Gordon Baird

Come up over the rise by the upper parking lot at Granite Pier in Rockport and you will see one of the most fabulous views of the ocean to which the public still has free access.

But if you came up over that rise last week, you would have had your breath taken away by the sight of hundreds of sailors in small boats spread all over the beautiful Rockport bay. What a glorious sight.

This was the the 2008 Junior Olympics event, pictured in last week's paper (The Times, Wednesday, Aug. 13), hosted by Sandy Bay Yacht Club and bringing together the best young sailors in all of eastern Massachusetts, vying for top honors as best Opti, 420 or Laser sailor in the East.

To give you a smidgen of background, kids sailing was kind of clunking along in the slow lane until the early 1990s, when the Opti came along. Before that were the dreaded Turnabouts - slow, heavy and not kid-friendly - that were the entry level vessel of choice. The older kids were in these awful craft called widgeons and CJs, ungainly, clumsy and slow.

But all that changed when the Optimist Pram hit the scene. Experts and older sailors laughed at its flat prow and postage-stamp size, but the kids flocked to the boat. So did the parents, who were delighted that kids showed interest in anything, plus they could throw it upside down on the roof of the family car.

BOOM! went the sport of sailing. Soon the Opti kids aged out and into this exciting rocketship the next size up: the 420. It takes two, as the song says - crew, that is. Complete with spinnaker and a jib, too, this sturdy craft revolutionized the sport for the more advanced kids. The rest is history.

While racing in the one-design classes has been declining steadily for adults over the past 10 years, the kids show has been booming. More kids, more entries, more boats every year. In the case of an event like the Junior Olympics, that also means more cars, more parents, more sign-ups, lunches, parking, trailers, more everything.

The event has a real D-Day feel to it. All of the almost 200 boats have to get in and out of the water every day. They have to use dollies to launch, they have to be co-ordinated in line and everyone feels like they're late to the starting line, so "Let's Go, People." It's hard to do it in an orderly fashion, but organizers picked the perfect venue in Granite Pier. It has a triple-wide ramp, parking, trailer storage, room for an events and registration tent and extremely cooperative neighbors who were happy to see the kids have their day. That included the fishermen and sportsmen who continued to do their business around the kids but cut them a wide swath.

And while I occasionally chuckle in print at Rockport doings, here I will bow low to their incredible powers of organization and co-operation to stage this giant event. Charlie Clark was the brain and the brawn behind this endeavor. His capos were Ron Petoff, Jen Doyle and Joann Levin who worked tirelessly to amass a wonderful set of volunteers to check in, process and provide for the immense needs of this army of kid competitors.

That included housing a large portion of the fleet, feeding, entertaining them at night and keeping them safe.

Kudos to Amelia's for doing such an awesome job of providing such varied, nutritious and cost-effective lunches and the delivery chain that got them on site on time to distribute every day before the racers left the dock. Hurrahs also go to every shape and size of volunteer that pitched in, from Visnicks to Saffords to Dunns, young and old. In fact, I saw pretty much everyone in the Sandy Bay sailing community there pitching in to help the kiddies.

Commander Clark did something else that earned a boatload of respect in my book: He sent the kids out to sail. The first two days looked pretty ominous, but with on-site weather monitoring, he could tell where the trouble lay and he elected to not baby the kids and as long as there were no thunder- or lighting storms near, he had 'em sail in the misty rain.

Too many times at these events, they do not sail. They wait around for perfect conditions and end up barely getting any races in. The irony is that the two crappy days saw more racing (three events each) than the beautiful sunny last day when the wind and tides only let them get in one. But the racing was terrific, albeit difficult and demanding, but kids will almost always rise to the occasion when you raise the bar and wimp out if you lower it.

Well, Mr. Clark wasn't going to miss his opportunity after all the preparation. His own kid was racing, so he was organizer and parent, a good safety net for constant weather surveillance.

In the end, the Rockport kids did their mamas proud, registering top five final standings in all three classes. Local Mathew Safford won the Opti division to continue a proud family racing tradition, while hardworking Jared Dunn was just short of winning the whole shooting match in the 420 Championship fleet, the creme de la creme.

Also attending the event was Patty Paige, supporting her own Gloucester/Rockport high school sailing team members competing. Patty has almost single-handedly forged a combined sailing team between the two schools and with Jared Dunn as her elite skipper, built a team out of goodwill, donated boats from Eastern Point Yacht Club, and help from many friends of sailing in Gloucester.

And in the background at this event, it is always such a pleasure to see the Godfather of Kid Racing on Cape Ann, Peter Bent of Brown's. Peter makes any last-second part available inexpensively to the racers, but spends most of his time doing mercy repairs on cracked and broken fiberglass fittings and the boats themselves for those who unfortunately collide. Peter was the director of kid sailing in all of Massachusetts Bay for decades before they suckered me into the job. He is youth sailing's best friend in these parts.

So hats off to the all the racers, the parents, the volunteers, the neighbors, town officials, suppliers (most of them at cost) and even the cops for letting the kiddies have their day, but most of all to Charlie Clark who had the vision, the connections and the patience to pull it all off.

Great job everyone.

Gloucester resident Gordon Baird is founder of Billboard's Musician Magazine and the West End Theater, and is producer of the "Gloucester Chicken Shack" TV show.

Cape Ann Beacon - Wed Aug 13, 2008

Rain can't dampen spirits of Junior Olympic festival sailors

By Jason Brisbois

It might sound strange, but a little too much water threatened to wreak havoc with the schedule for the 200 sailboats lined up to take part in the 2008 Mass Bay Junior Olympic Festival earlier this week.

A fleet of Optimist class sailing vessels prepare to race during the 2008 Mass Bay Junior Olympic Festival in Rockport. Photo by Nicole Goodhue Boyd

It was the water coming down from the sky (as it has done quite often this summer) in the form of rain on Monday that seemed determined to ruin the first of three days of sailing. Thankfully, the rains held off just enough to allow for three races during day one of the three-day regatta, and four races a day later.

"We've had to make judgment calls that so far have panned out,” explained Regatta Chairman Charlie Clark. "[On Monday], we had three races. The weather forecast from the day before made it look like it would be a total washout, so we felt it was a gift that we got that. [On Tuesday] we had good wind, but heavy seas. We held back some of the novice sailors from going out, but the 420's, Laser and Optimist champions went out and had three or four races.”

While Wednesday's forecast wasn't exactly looking bone dry either, it appeared that the young sailors taking part in the event would make it through relatively unscathed. Wednesday's schedule called for at least two races for each of the different watercraft classes participating in the regatta – including the aforementioned 420's, Lasers and Optimists – followed by an awards ceremony (with prizes handed out for first- through fifth place in each class) and a barbecue.

While rainy, windy weather led to choppy seas on Tuesday, the more experienced sailors were able to continue on competing in the 2008 Mass Bay Junior Olympic Festival, held off of Rockport’s Granite Pier. Photo by Nicole Goodhue Boyd

Over 250 sailors between the ages of 10 and 18 gathered at Rockport's Granite Pier to take part in the Junior Olympic festival, which was hosted by Sandy Bay Yacht Club this year. Held in Rockport for the first time in almost a decade, participants traveled from as far away as Michigan, Missouri and the Virgin Islands to be part of the regatta.

"The turnout for the races has been terrific,” said Clark. "This is the largest regatta held in Rockport, with close to 200 sailors. We had spectators watching it on Granite Pier and Bearskin Neck, as well as dozen's of parents.”

Eastern Point Yacht Club in Gloucester, the Manchester Sailing Association and the Eastern Yacht Club of Marblehead worked in conjunction with Sandy Bay to put together the event, which seemed to run smoothly despite potential difficulties with the weather.

"I think the event was successful, in large part, due to the dozens of experienced and qualified volunteers who were brought in to work the regatta,” said Clark. "Their experience and enthusiasm helped to make this an exceptional event.”

Gloucester Daily Times - August 08, 2008

Junior Olympic Festival Sailing to Rockport
By Richard Slate
Staff Writer

Next Monday through Wednesday, the waters around Sandy Bay in Rockport will be much more crowded than usual, but with good reason.

For the first time in nine years, the Mass Bay Junior Olympic Festival will be held in Rockport, with the races specifically emanating from Granite Pier. The Sandy Bay Sailing Program will be hosting the event, one of several such festivals held nationwide to introduce young sailors to the Olympic tradition and to compete in a regatta of sailboat races over a three-day period. The sailors will compete in three separate divisions: Optimists, 420s and Lasers.

Sponsored by the Sandy Bay Yacht Club in Rockport, over 250 sailors ages 10-18 will be competing in the event. The participants will be coming from the North and South Shores of Boston, Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Michigan, Virginia and St. Thomas (Virgin Islands). In addition, U.S. Sailing, the national governing body of sailing in the U.S., also supports the Junior Olympics.

The last time the Mass Bay Junior Olympic Festival was held in Rockport was 1999 and this year's edition is particularly special since it directly coincides with the Beijing Summer Games where sailing is one of the sports in the Olympics. It should come as no surprise then that countless Olympians started their sailing careers by honing their skills at events like the Junior Olympics every summer.

In addition to the Sandy Bay Yacht Club, the Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, the Eastern Point Yacht Club of Gloucester and the Manchester Sailing Association will be helping with some aspects of the festivities. Over 50 sailors will be lodged in private homes generously opened up by local residents for the event and many others have booked rooms in local inns and motels.

Prizes and Olympic medals will be awarded for the top-five finishers in each class. Lunch and dinner will be served every day while a video of the 2008 Olympic Sailing Team competing in China will be shown. Finally, there will be a youth dance with a DJ.

Material from a press release was used in this report.

Cape Ann Beacon - Wed Aug 06, 2008

Mass Bay Junior Olympic Festival comes to Rockport's Sandy Bay

By Jason Brisbois

Even though the 2008 Olympic Games will begin this weekend thousands of miles away in China, it appears the Cape Ann sports community will be able to witness Olympic-style events much closer to home.

The 2008 Mass Bay Junior Olympic Festival will take place at Sandy Bay Yacht Club in Rockport starting on Monday. The festival will feature sailing events in three different classes over three days for over 250 sailors ages 10-18, with sailing beginning just before noon on each day. Drawing sailors from as far away as Pennsylvania, Missouri, Michigan, Virginia and even the Virgin Islands – in addition to sailors from all over New England – the event is the biggest in Sandy Bay's history. The event was last held in Rockport almost 10 years ago, in 1999.

"For sailors, it's a terrific event to sail,” says Regatta Chairman Charlie Clark. "Hundreds of sailors from around New England, and many other states, will develop an enjoyment for the sport. Some will go on to race in college, while others will go even further, Olympic or professional. Many current people in college started in Optimists and 420's in events like this.”

Sponsored by Sandy Bay Yacht Club and supported by the national governing body of the sport of sailing, US Sailing, the three-day regatta will be run from Granite Pier in Rockport, with optimum viewing areas from land being Granite Pier and Bearskin Neck. The event will feature three different classes of boats, including Optimists, Lasers and Club 420s, with cumulative scoring taken from each day's races and totaled at the end to determine the winners

"There are three different race areas, and three different starting lines,” explains Clark. "We have prizes for first through fifth in each class, and US Sailing has provided medals for gold, silver and bronze in keeping with Olympic tradition.”

The Olympic spirit doesn't end on the water, however. Other local yacht clubs, including Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead, Eastern Point Yacht Club in Gloucester and the Manchester Sailing Association will chip in to help with different aspects of the event. Local residents will also house over 50 out-of-town sailors in their own homes.

"For the community, it's an opportunity to host young people at an event that really is an opportunity to develop sportsmanship and training,' says Clark. "For the community, it gives opportunities for parents and sailors to visit our community and enjoy staying and eating and shopping here.”






Sandy Bay Yacht Club, P.O. Box 37, 5 T Wharf, Rockport, MA 01966 USA
(978)546-9433 Clubhouse, (978)546-6240 Office

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