Vineyard Race Kick Off Party and Buzzards Society Initiation Event

On March 4, 2017 the Stamford Yacht Club hosted the Vineyard Race Kick Off Party and Buzzards Society Initiation Event. Over 110 sailors converged on the club to toast the Vineyard Race and welcome 14 new Buzzards into the Buzzards Society. The 2017 class of buzzards brings the membership in the society to 217. The Buzzard Society is in its 9th year and was established to recognize those sailors who have participated in the Vineyard Race 10 or more times. If you feel you qualify, contact the buzzard keeper at buzzards@stamfordyc.com

The $25 entrance fee included beverages from four of the races sponsors, Mount Gay Rum, Tito’s Handmade Vodka, Regatta Ginger Beer and Half Full Brewery. The Stamford Yacht Club’s chef supplied the group with a make your own taco salad and chili station.

Put March 3, 2018 on your calendar so you don’t miss out on this fun event.

The countdown continues

The Buzzards Society at the 2014 gathering at Stamford YC.

The Buzzards Society at the 2014 gathering at Stamford YC.

We’re a bit over a week away from the start of the 80th running of the Vineyard Race. Seems like a good time to mention (and thank) all those who have gotten us this far — the Vineyard Buzzards. This group is comprised of those who have competed in 10 or more Vineyards and have the stories to prove it. If you have qualified to be part of this group please let us know. New Buzzards are welcome with open arms. Click here for details.

Join us for some Vineyard memories

Members of the Buzzards Society at our 2012 dinner. (Photo by Rick Bannerot)

Members of the Buzzards Society at our 2012 dinner. (Photo by Rick Bannerot)

Few races have as storied a history as the Vineyard Race. Part of that is due to the incredible number of people who have been involved over the years and keep coming back.

That’s why the Buzzards Society was formed. It’s a group of very special people, all of whom have completed 10 or more Vineyard races. This year the group will be gathering March 23 at Stamford Yacht Club for our fifth annual installation dinner. All are welcome to join as we induct the following sailors into the Buzzards Society. (Number of races in parenthesis.)

Geoffrey Beringer (10)

Stuart Caplan (22)

Robert Fischer (10)

Drew Freides (23)

Ken Hubbard (16)

Glen Neylon )15)

Jason Ricter (10)

Drew Stetler (18)

Peter Zendt (10)

For a complete list of Buzzard members, click here.

Cocktails start at 1800 followed by dinner and festivities at 1900. Cost is $55 per person. Questions/reservations: buzzards@stamfordyc.com.

Vineyard memories: Dr. Kim Zeh

Vineyard Race memories… hmmm…. those naive years…

In the 1980’s, as an all knowing medical student and Martha’s Vineyard aficionado, I was very disappointed to learn that my first Vineyard Race was not, in fact, around ‘The Vineyard’… or to ‘The Vineyard’, or much at all, really about ‘The Vineyard’.

 Then, too, in those early years, I was a more humble, sleep deprived surgical resident, able to sleep at any given moment, once given the ‘nod’… and especially considering what I had to do to get an entire weekend off from work!  A fan of lighthouses, I was again off watch and missed the rounding of what I thought I knew was the Vineyard Tower… you know, it’s what the Vineyard Trophy looks like in the photo to the left.

Imagine my disappointment, once again, when I finally learned that the ‘VineyardTower’ is not the previously sunk ‘Vineyard Lightship’.

Oh yes, the next millennium, I recall the year when the fleet was gathering before the start and the Cap’n got a call asking our location and offered a ‘heads up’… the fleet was then strafed at the start!  Certainly fun racing with those in the world of aviation, eh?

This brings me to my most heartfelt Vineyard Race memory…. 2005.  As a non-resident transfer member, I would fly in early and stay at the Club a few days to get acclimated to being a ‘day person’ from working nights and to enjoy the Club and friendships that I never really left behind when I moved toTexas.

I was packing to leave and I got an email from my medical staffing company that help was urgently needed to staff our Emergency Departments in the greaterNew Orleans area, as some of our colleagues were either missing or desperately needed relief from duty while tending to the hurricane Katrina ravished parishes ofLouisiana.  I knew I had to go.  I contacted my company and learned more about the rotations they were setting up.

I needed to contact Randy Green, owner and Skipper of KODIAK, the stunning 66′ custom Frers Concordia, which I was always honored for the privilege to crew on.  I am not a ‘quitter’, I love blue water racing and this particular crew and event, and I absolutely despised the thought of having to bail a few days before the race, yet I knew where my priorities had to be.

Randy, a man with my genuine respect for his calm leadership in adverse racing conditions, not only understood my predicament as an emergency physician, but he offered to fly me toNew Orleanson a private flight, to help ship supplies and to help in any other way he could.  I cannot begin to tell you how his generous offer made me feel… to this very day.  I contacted my company.  They had filled the first rotation, but were now in need of physicians for the following week.  I signed up for that vacancy and I was now able to race, once again.

On board, before the start of the race, we were led by Don, our navigator, in a moment of silence followed by a prayer for all those afflicted by the ravishes of Mother Nature.

The Vineyard Race has taught me a lot, yes, about sailing, racing, weather, safety, and urgent do-it-yourself repairs, but much more important to me, it is not about the boats, it is about the people, the friendships, the camaraderie, the pulling together in adverse situations that strengthens what is the very essence of the ‘human condition’.  I am forever grateful to be a part of the Stamford Yacht Club family.

Buzzards Society welcomes 23 new members

Twelve of the 23 new Buzzards members were on hand March 10 for their induction into the Buzzards Society. From left: Joe Dockery, Randy Tankoos, Peter Kelly, Kim Zeh, Michael Mahan, Peter Gould, Peter Boyd, Dave White, David Otterbein, Ed Tiano, Lawrence McGrath and Chris Malloy.

Twenty three Vineyard veterans were honored Saturday night by joining the Buzzards Society, the group formed to recognize those who have sailed 10 or more Vineyard races.

Over 100 people attended the March 10 dinner at Stamford Yacht Club, the host of the Vineyard Race which will be held for the 78th time this coming Labor Day weekend.

The Buzzards Society, formed four years ago, is now 165 members strong and meets once a year as well as honors those who excel in the Vineyard Race each summer.

“We created the Buzzards Society to build the tradition of the Vineyard Race,” said Diane McKeever, chairman of the 2012 race and founder of the society. “This is a fun and easy way for all Vineyard veterans to connect as well as build awareness of the race.”

If you’re interested in joining the Buzzards Society or want more information: buzzards@stamfordyc.com.

Click here for a full collection of photos from the evening.

The 2012 inductees are:

Peter Boyd (10)

Stuart Caplan (22)

Fred Cosandey (11)

James Cummiskey (12)

Joe Dockery (10)

Larry Fox (15)

Peter Gould (10)

Wayne Hubbard (11)

Peter Kelly (12)

Ed Lenihan (25)

Michael Mahan (11)

Chris Malloy (16)

LawrenceMcGrath (10)

Mike  Millard (12)

David Otterbein (12)

Randy Tankoos (20)

Ed Tiano (11)

Jon Turner (10)

Andrew Weiss (12)

Tom Whidden (10)

Dave White (10)

John  Winder (18)

Kim Zeh

Vineyard memories: Wayne Hubbard

My most memorable Vineyard race was in the early 1990’s when I was in running Commodore Bob Lawson’s NAIAD, an Ericson 39,which was moored at the yacht club. I assembled a crew which included one of Bob’s teenage sons who also invited one of his friends.

I brought the Naiad to the dock early on the day of the race, loaded it with food and ice and brought it back to the mooring. The weather was a humid southwesterly with fog and there was a severe thunderstorm watch for the Sound. The plan was to assemble on the boat and leave the mooring a couple of hours prior to the start. The entire crew did not make it to the boat on time, we were missing the teenagers. Instead of waiting at the mooring, I brought the boat back to the dock to save the time of waiting for launch service. The two teenagers came rolling down the dock on skateboards with back packs on. They jumped on the boat stowed their skateboards in the cockpit locker, looked at the weather then reclaimed their skateboards, said they are not going and skated off down the dock.

We decided to go without the extra crew as the wind conditions were light and we had sufficient crew. We had a good start and stayed close to the Connecticut shore. A few hours into the race the clouds darkened then took on a greenish tint. Everyone put on their foul weather gear, it looked like a downpour would hit us. We were located off Fairfield, in fairly good visibility when a wind noise started, then the wind hit us and the temperature seemed to drop from the eighties to the fifties in seconds.  The broadside blast of cold air that hit us may have been more than 50 knots continuous for less than a minute. It was very localized, occurring over what appeared to be a mile radius on the water. We had a #2 genoa up when the gust hit us. The winch holding the jib was under water and the jib trimmer was climbing vertically to the opposite side of the boat. The boat stayed on its side and scooped water into the cockpit then into the cabin for a few seconds until we released the jib. The wind stopped a few seconds later and the air temperature warmed. We dropped and folded our sails. Enough water made its way into the cabin to float the floorboards and half submerge the engine. Our only damage was a broken upper mast spreader. We were relieved that the half submerged engine started, we bailed the cabin with a bucket and the electric bilge pump was on. The mast was loose, moving side to side due to the broken spreader, therefore we headed back to the yacht club with tightened halyards supporting our mast due to the unsupported port rigging. The electric bilge pump required a long time to remove water from the boat interior.

 We believe we were hit by a microburst which is a small column of fast sinking air from a high based thunderstorm cloud. Once the air hits water or ground it rushes horizontally producing strong straight-line winds. Microbursts are reported to occur over small areas, quick to dissipate and are accompanied by large temperature drops. The visibility during the incident was a few miles in haze. The wind appeared to begin within half a mile of the boat unlike a storm front which visibly approaches from a distance. Fortunately we had easily repairable damage and no one was injured.

Vineyard memories: Steve Moore

The Buzzards Society, formed to honor those who have sailed 10 or more Vineyards, gathers March 10 for its fourth annual dinner. For the next few weeks we will be posting memories of the Vineyard from Buzzards members. This was originally posted in August of 2011. For more information on the March 10 dinner email: buzzards@stamfordyc.com.

My first Vineyard was 1964 on a Bermuda 40 yawl “Dixie”, Peter Rugg, who was my crew on my Blue Jay and my Lightning got me the berth. “Dixie” was owned by Mac Sykes, who was Jimmy Sykes’s father, the owner of Bombardino.

Mac was a product of the Bayside Yacht Club, which also produced Arthur Knapp and his sister Allegra Knapp Mertz. Also, my father, Jim Moore, grew up in Bayside. Dad won more one-design fleet championships at the Manhasset Bay Yacht Club than anyone else. For this reason he would often get offers to sail on big boats. He was a regular on “Running Tide” and “Good News” with Jacob Isbrantsen. Dad told me once that he asked Jacob, “Why do you want an old fart like me on your boat?”

Jacob’s reply was, “You can still steer, Can’t you?” Dad would navigate when they were on soundings

Tom Young with “Shearwater” was our great rival on “Dixie” I remember the long reach down the Sound that night after the start with the big spinnaker and the mizzen staysail pushing ”Dixie” with the southwester. It was our weather.

I remember coming back from the tower and going through Point Judith Harbor of Refuge. This race was before the course was changed to leave Block Island to starboard on the way home.

The Vineyard is my favorite distance Race. Many of them were with Richard duMoulin my friend, shipmate, and fellow competitor going back to Blue Jays, Lightnings , InterClubs and Etchells days.

Ed duMoulin, Richard’s father was a partner in a Carter 39 named BLAZE. We did pretty well with her. We won the Everett B. Morris Trophy for the best performance at Block Island Race Week.
But, my favorite memory of a Vineyard Race on Blaze was when we were flying down the Sound one evening heading for the Race with a brisk Southerly on our starboard quarter. The spinnaker was up and we were trucking east fast with a strong ebb.  Richard was on the helm, when he decided to go right over the top of Valiant Rock. He said it was worth three boat lengths.

However, Richard forgot to mention his plan to the watch below, snug in their bunks.
When we went up and over the standing wave above the rock, she came crashing into the trough of the standing wave beyond the rock. We hit the trough so hard that the deck was under water.

It sure got the crew’s attention .They were wondering what we hit or what hit us. John Browing came firing up the ladder with his life jacket on. The off watch woke up very fast. But, we did get our 3 boat lengths on another boat near us.

The year we won the race on Lora Ann.

I don’t remember which year, “You could look it up” as Casey Stengel used to say. We had quite a seasoned brain trust onboard, mostly Storm Trysail Club members, Richard, me, Richard’s college roommate, Lee Reichart , Chris Reyling, a great bowman, and a very talented naval architect. Horacio Marquez our resident gaucho and an excellent sailor from Argentina with lots of offshore experience, Brenda Lewis who does a great job in the pit and she can trim the spinnaker, too . Also aboard was Richard’s daughter Lora for the race.

There was a brisk easterly wind that year (not the stormy year).

When we finally got to the Race after a long upwind beat, dawn had broken. I had been listening to the weather radio in the cockpit. NOAA suggested that the wind would shift to the right. We tacked to port at the Race to dig into the shift, and we headed to Southwest Point. For some strange reason the majority of the fleet chose to keep closer to the rhumb line which passes by 1BI at the northern end of North Reef.

There were several boats that were with us. Many of them decided to bail out to the north. For a while, it got very lonely in Block Island Sound. I kept asking John Browning, my great friend and excellent shipmate and a good friend since Jr. sailing days, “Why are all these boats going north?”

We actually brought out the sailing instructions, which we all read, just to double check if we had missed something before we went around Southwest Point.

After we tacked on to starboard to clear the south end of Block Island and Southeast Point the tower, I held our course all the way to the tower.

When we finally tacked to go around the tower we were maybe 400 or 500yds from it. However, the crew of Lora Ann is bunch of merciless, demanding bastards. They all chided me for missing the layline all the way from Southeast Point by those few yards. We were in a great position. The boats to the north were dog meat. They had gotten close to the Rhode Island Shore and were miles behind us and in another galaxy far, far away to the north. We rounded the tower in great shape and set the kite to go back to Southeast Point.

We had the chute up for a long time going back up the Sound. It was so much fun to surf down the big rolling waves that were being kicked up by the strong easterly on our stern. It’s not a condition we get in the Sound too often, but it sure was a blast. When dawn broke in Long Island Sound, we could see Bombardino’s big spinnaker up ahead.

To be up with a Santa Cruz 50 aboard an Express 37 was wonderful. We had it made.

Soon Richard came on deck and uttered the four most feared words from Bill Koch on America Cubed, “I’ll take her now!” Richard took the helm. I had kept track of my fastest surf which was about 12kts. or 13kts. Of course, Richard topped my best surf. Then I asked him if he would let me try to beat his best speed

Richard said, “NO!”

At the time, we were past Middle Ground and closing on the Cows buoy. However, “Pride goeth before the fall”

Richard started sculling down the waves to break the stern loose. He gave a particularly hard yank on the tiller and spun us into a jibe broach that put the leeward spreaders in the water.

When the rig came up it kept going to the other side, putting the other spreaders in the water, too. It’s a good thing that the rigs are strong on the Express37s. Adam Loory had told me after a very windy day of racing at the American Spring Series in40+kts, where we had a rookie in the pit and was way too slow on the spinnaker halyard.

When the chute filled the head was way too far from the masthead, and we did a magnificent broach Adam told me he could see the underside of our keel when he went around the mark.
He called it doing a “duMoulin”. After Richard’s acrobatics in the Sound. We dubbed Richard’s Jibe broaches a “Double duMoulin”. I suggested to Richard that he might want to put some bottom paint on his spreaders. Incidentally, Lora slept through the double duMoulin.

One of my best memories of a previous race on Lora Ann was when an Atlantic hurricane had churned up some really big waves. As we were sailing back from the tower and neared the New Harbor breakwater where the ferries come in, we could watch the boats ahead of us off South East Point as they disappeared out of sight behind the crests of the waves.

That was a Kodak moment.

I was a helmsman on Randy Burwell’s Tripp37 “Breakaway” .When we won the race, the wind was Northwest for the whole race. If I remember we had a good leg to the tower. We won it on the return trip through Block Island Sound by going across to Montauk Point from South West Point with the flood sweeping us towards the Race. We tacked to port when we could lay Race Rock. When we reached the Race, We tacked to starboard in order to take all the advantage of the flood current now on our port side, pushing us to windward.

There were a couple of 50+ big boats which crossed tacks with us in Block Island Sound. They had chosen to head for the Gut. When we got out of The Race we crossed them far to windward towards Connecticut as they emerged from the Gut.

From there to the finish was a close reach. I think I remember seeing Carina in sight ahead, when she finished.

Also, I did a race on Lora Anne when we had a great race against PAX from Little Gull and north of Long Sand Shoal .Going down the Sound back to Stamford. We hugged close to Connecticut and found some new wind coming off the shore around Milford and Stratford, while Pax had chosen to chase the dying breeze that was receding out into the Sound. We won our class.

I have done several other races but they don’t come to mind.

Another memory.  We had done the Block Island Race on Lora Anne the previous spring. The Block Island Race rounds Block Island leaving it to starboard. In earlier years the skipper had the option to round in either direction. Now it’s left to starboard.

The reason for the course change occurred during a race in a year that Block Island Race was particularly foggy. The next year they decided to have some traffic control due to the fact that the Commodore of Storm Trysail was beating upwind off the east side of the island when he looked up to see Thunderhead’s spinnaker pole go over his head. Thus traffic control was imposed.

The Montauk Ploy:

The race I am describing has a very funny story.

Years ago when I was crewing on Dixie with Mac Sykes, he told me about a condition where it was faster to get to Plum Gut from South West Point by sailing over to Montauk point instead of on the rhumb line to the Gut and he told me about a race where he had watched a boat make good use of the Ploy.

When the current is ebbing from Long Island Sound one would think that it would be faster to sail the rhumb line to the Gut. Instead, depending, on the wind direction, go to Montauk. Stay inside of Shagwong Reef. Go across the entrance to Lake Montauk, stay close to Fort Pond Bay. Pass close to Culloden Point. Then aim at Gardners Island. Go close to Gardners and the ruins on the north tip of Gardeners Island (beware of the rocks at the ruins). Head for the reef out to Orient Point Lighthouse with some of the reef in the way of the ebb current. When you go to round Orient lighthouse, don’t worry you can jump on to the light from your boat without any depth issues. However, there are 2 rocks off to the northwest of the lighthouse. Many an errant sailor has discovered them with the keel, including me.

Now the funny story,

In the Block Island Race one Spring We had tried the Montauk Ploy. However, the wind died at sunset in Block Island Sound.

We got to Montauk Point and anchored for most of the night with the knot meter reading 5 knots. We spent a lot of time looking at Montauk Point that night. Richard was not happy.

Since I had suggested our course, instead of heading for the Gut.

He turned to me and asked, “What do you think our competition is doing now ?” Implying that they were sailing off to the Gut. My answer was” They are out there anchored in 200 feet of water. We are anchored here in 30 feet of water.”

In the Vineyard Race we got across the south end of Block Island, and once again I headed for Montauk Point.

Richard had gone below to heat up some chow for the crew. At some point Richard looked at the GPS track and came on deck.

He asked me, “Steve, Where are we going?”

I answered,” We‘re going to Montauk. Richard told me to head for Plum Gut. I said, “OK” just to get rid of him

Richard’s thinking about the BI Race where the wind died at sunset in Block Island Sound. He went below and I aim for Montauk.

Several minutes later, Richard came on deck again and ask once again “Steve. Where are we going?”

I answered , “Were going to Montauk”

Then he asked the famous question,”What’s going to happen when the sun goes down?”

My answer was,  ”It’s going to get dark.”

Richard Said, ”Come on down below. “

We had a short pow-wow at the chart table and Richard agreed to go to Montauk.

And, we won our class.

One of my best memories of a race on Lora Ann was when an Atlantic hurricane had churned up some really big waves. As we were sailing back from the tower to Southeast Point off ame the New Harbor breakwater where the ferries come in We could watch the bigger boats ahead of us as they disappeared out of sight behind the crests of the waves.

I was a helmsman on Randy Burwell’s Tripp37 Breakaway when we won the race. If I remember we had a good leg to the tower. The wind was North West. We won it in Block Island Sound by going across to Montauk Point with the flood sweeping us towards the Race. We tacked to port when we could lay Race Rock. When we reached the Race, we took advantage of the strong flood, and tacked to starboard in order to take all the advantage of the flood current on our port quarter, pushing us ahead and to windward. There were a couple of 50+ big boats which we crossed tacks with in Block Island Sound when they had chosen to head for the Gut. We were most of the way to the Connecticut side of the Sound when we crossed one of them when they emerged from Plum Gut

From there to the finish was a close reach. I think I remember seeing Carina in sight ahead when she finished.