From our National Secretary…
My father, for whom I am named, and I had been sailing for 2 years when over the winter of 1950-51 he purchased a Snipe for me to race the following summer. The price was a princely $500. Snipe number 4578, the Walter Mitty, then and now, the prettiest Snipe I have ever seen – smooth beige hull with a mahogany plywood deck, slender wooden mast. No fiberglass in those days, but I recall closely looking at the hull and being unable to find the slightest trace of a seam between planks. The Walter Mitty could have passed for drawing room furniture, and I was completely smitten. And, yes, that mahogany deck was hot under the Tennessee summer sun, but I was not yet 16 and couldn’t have cared less.
And I learned some lessons sailing that summer that have stayed with me. First, while rigging up for my first-ever sailboat race, the Privateer Yacht Club fleet champion came down the dock and tossed me one of his mainsails and told me to use it because it was a better light wind sail than the one that came with the boat. Over the ensuing 60 odd years I’ve witnessed that same Snipe spirit dozens of times, most recently in San Diego at the District 6 Championship with Snipe sailors in the boat yard freely sharing knowledge between themselves, just as they’ve always done.
Another lesson in that very first race came on the reaching leg after the first mark. My crew and I were sailing quite a bit faster than a boat we were overtaking, and as we sailed over him about a boat length or a little less to windward, he threw a very strong luff at me. While I managed to avoid the collision, I learned that you’ve got to prepare for eventualities and be light on your feet.
One eventuality I did NOT prepare for, is the one that has led to the writing of this piece for SCIRA USA as your (not-so) new National Secretary. My plan, after serving on the SCIRA Rules Committee, the Board of Governors, and as Rules Committee Chairman and International Commodore over 10 years ago, was to gradually slide away into retirement. Somehow, it didn’t work out that way.
So, here as we enter our sailing year, we find SCIRA USA with promising signs all over for our future. Talk about positives – as of today our membership numbers are greater than they were in the middle of summer last year. In the last three months, more of your hard earned dollars have been committed to our Perpetual Fund, after years of benign neglect, than we could have imagined. And our new administration, along with new resources, has brought fresh ideas and energy to us as we enter our 81st year. No jokes, please, about it being MY 81st year; it is NOT – well, not yet, at least!
We’d be foolish not to recognize that there are challenges before us, within and without, but as of today things are on an up-tick. The membership activity cited above is certainly encouraging. After all, SCIRA USA cannot be operated by wishes and dreams, and a healthy response to our membership renewals (and that includes premium memberships) is the answer to much that confronts us. One cannot stress the importance of the Perpetual Fund to our continued success. The fund was established to help fund advertising promotional activities, and as it grows we are enabled to do more to promote our Class, our events, and our sailors.
I would hope that all of us sailing our great boat this summer look forward with as much enthusiasm as I and the members of our Board of Directors do. Yes it is “Serious Sailing;” it always has been. And heaven knows, it’s “Serious Fun;” it’s always been that, too.
See you on the water – BC