Niantic Bay Fleets

Atlantic Fleet

Fleet Captain: Jeff Shay

NBYC’s Atlantic fleet returned to a somewhat normal season with eight boats actively competing from Memorial Day through Labor Day on weekends and Wednesday nights. Unfortunately, schedule conflicts and ongoing pandemic concerns resulted in only two NBYC boats competing in the National Championship regatta.

Norm Peck III captured the fleet’s regular season series, with Bill Healy and Jeff Shay finishing 2nd and 3rd respectively. Norm Peck III also won the Memorial Day, July 4th, and Labor Day Series, and finished 2nd in the Wednesday Night Series. Bill Healy finish 3rd in both the July 4th Series and Wednesday Night Series and won the annual Walter Rice Trophy race. Jeff Shay won the Wednesday Night Series, placed 2nd in the Labor Day Series, and finished 3rd in the Memorial Day Series. Dave Peck/Tom Peck placed 3rd in the Labor Day Series and won the annual Larry Shay Match Racing Cup with five consecutive wins (Norm Peck III was runner-up). Dick Morris finished 2nd in the Memorial Day Series and Hal Peatfield placed 2nd in the 4th of July Series.

The Atlantic Nationals were co-hosted by Cold Spring Harbor and Seawanhaka Yacht Club, with 13 boats competing due to the ongoing pandemic environment. Steve Benjamin won the regatta. NBYC’s George Attwood placed 6th and Dick Morris finished in 10th. NBYC is scheduled to host the Nationals August 10-13, 2022.

With continued pandemic concerns and rapidly rising gas prices, I know we’re all looking forward to driving less, parking our cars at NBYC a lot more, and getting out on the water for some great sailing on Niantic Bay. Finish those spring projects on your boat, launch early, and we’ll see you on the water!

Lightning Fleet

Fleet Captain: James Gardner

2021 was a good year in the Lightning fleet with the Sunday races typically seeing five to six boats on the line. Generally, the racing was very tight with crew work being the deciding factor! It takes three to sail these boats well and when asked, in every case, the skippers will tell you that the crew and their efforts are really responsible for success on the race course. A big thanks to all crews!

The year started off in early June with NBYC hosting the CT/RI District Championships on June 26th and 27th. Sixteen boats competed including the Lightning Grant Boat team. (The ILCA grant program awards at least two young teams a competitive boat plus substantial regatta expenses for one season of racing. There is mentoring provided and the goal is to expose more youth racers to the ILCA circuit.) A fog greeted sailors as the boats were rigging. As if on cue, the weather cleared during the competitors meeting and the regatta started on time. A memorial start was conducted to honor those who had passed. It was special to NBYC members given the 2020 loss of Martin O’Meara for whom the district trophy is named and who was instrumental in the class achieving international status.

There was enough breeze to get six races in over the two days. The top three positions were won by boats from Cedar Point Yacht Club. One point separated 3rd from 4th and 5th place. The top local boat was Dave Peck. A big thanks goes out to all the club members that helped make the event a success!

The three NBYC holiday series was again dominated by Dave and Nina Peck, finishing first all three weekends with James Gardner finishing second for the three series. Chris and Lenny Vann finished third on the Memorial Day weekend, Grant Ehrlich and Bob Stack picked up the threes on July 4th and Labor Day respectively. Finally, for the Season, Dave and Nina finished first, followed by Grant and then the Vann Brothers.

The Gardner boat attended the Districts, a very blustery ACCs in Wickford RI, and a “it’s never like this” NAs in Cleveland. The Gardner and Peck boats attended very tight racing at the end of the season Fountelieu Regatta at Cedar Point YC with the Peck boat finishing third.

2022 will bring more sailing. The Districts and North Americans will be in June and September respectively at the Sayville YC, in Blue Point, NY. Metedeconk River Yacht Club (Barnegat Bay) in Brick Township, NJ will host the ACCs in mid-July and Cedar Point YC will host the Womens, Juniors and Masters North American Championships in early August.

Ensign Fleet 73

Fleet Captain: Robin Durrschmidt

Niantic Bay had another successful season on the water. This year the full slate of weekend and Wednesday night races were scheduled. While there were COVID 19 protocols in place to protect members, the season was one of getting back to normal which meant the decision to race was more about if the weather conditions were good enough to go out and enjoy some on the water, competition and camaraderie ashore afterwards. Unfortunately, no racing was able to be held on the Memorial Day weekend due to 50-degree temps, rain and relatively high winds.

The following weekend, the Ensigns started their racing season with the Early Bird. Gary Woodruff and team won in Tail Gunner with a 2 and 1, Robin Durrschmidt was 2nd in Magic and Rick Conley was 3rd in Friendly Spirit. For July 4th and Labor Day, Magic came out on top winning these Holiday Series.

The Season Trophy came down to the final racing and after the scoring was done just 2 points separated the top 3 boats with 26 points for the leader and 24 points for both 2nd and 3rd place boats. Very close racing over the course of the summer. Magic had the edge at the end with Gary Woodruff in Tail Gunner needing the tie break to edge out Rick Conley in Friendly Spirit for 2nd and 3rd respectively.

The Wednesday Night series was held with many very nice nights and enough wind to get around comfortably most of the time. Ken Shluger in Summer Breeze, very nice name!, raced the most and accumulated the most points winning the season. Congrats to Ken and team. Magic was 2nd, just 3 points behind and the Niantic Bay Sailing Academy Club boat a respectable 3rd with multiple skippers and crews enjoying nights out on the water, racing, camaraderie and dinner afterward.

The Niantic Bay Fleet was well represented at the Ensign Region II and III Regional Championships held next door at the Thames Yacht Club in New London CT. The Moulthrops’ raced Sea Foam, Niantic’s club boat, and Gary Woodruff, Rick Conley and Robin Durrschmidt also represented. The first day’s racing was held just south of Harkness Park and Ocean beach in waters at the southwestern entrance to the Thames River. The seas were wilder than they looked with extra rain flowing south out of the browner than usual Thames River combining with westerly 15 – 20 knot winds opposed by a strong easterly tidal current over an ocean bottom with variations in depth made for exceptionally lumpy conditions. We all may have travelled as far going up and down as we did forward during the days racing. After three races on Day 1 Team Rick Conley was in the lead having mastered the conditions the fastest. 2 additional races were held on day 2 off Vixens Ledge to the east southeast of the river entrance in much calmer conditions. Robin Durrschmidt in Team Magic won both races and came from behind to win the Regional II and III Championship.

The Last Chance Regatta was held in late September and has become the traditional ending racing series for the year. 5 boats participated in light winds. There was a delay on the water while the race committee waited for some wind to fill in. The RC did a masterful job in keeping the courses short and getting racing in in very light and variable conditions.

Looking forward to 2022 and being out on the water again!

J/24 Fleet

Fleet Captain: Alan Coykendall

Another year of sailing at Niantic Bay Yacht Club is in the record books. For the J/24s, whose major movements are on Wednesday Nights, it was the 34th season of this mid-week competition and the second year under Covid conditions. With the club’s infection controls reinforced by vaccinations, the larger concern became the weather, like 2020.

Except: In 2020, impediments such as fog and calm often arrived before the start, and the fickle weather allowed only six races in that eleven-week season. Last year, conditions allowed thirteen consecutive starts before the fourteenth and last contest was dissolved by rain. Unfortunately, threatening clouds or dying breezes caused eight races to be shortened; some severely, to as few as two, or in one case, one leg.

But we did sail, and compete. At the second race, Steve DeGraff in Sapphire began a four-week streak of firsts with Ezequiel Menendez in Civil War close behind. This hot competition was chilled at race six when Colin Stamm in Fantasy and Rory Scully and Steve Bosco in 10-Speed took first and second place.

The tide turned in week seven when Ezequiel ignited his own series of four firsts, with DeGraff usually second. This chapter ended when Dan Diachenko in Miss Sea Jay came in first in the shortened contest of 11 August, then first again the next week when Sapphire and Civil War finished last and next to last. In the zephyrs of the short final engagement, Ezequiel earned his fifth win while Steve settled for third.

After scorer Tom Peck’s arithmetic and reckoning the best ten results out of the thirteen Wednesdays, Ezequiel and Steve were tied. With five firsts versus four for Sapphire to break the tie, Ezequiel Menendez got top honors for the season, with Steve DeGraff second. Helped by their three seconds and four thirds, Scully/Bosco in 10-Speed took third place.

Although Dan Diachenko navigated only eight Wednesdays, his two firsts and a second contributed to his tie with Alan Coykendall in Aiolos, and his firsts (2 versus 1) put him in fourth.

Similarly, Colin Stamm and Fantasy joined only eight contests, but his two thirds and a pair of seconds along with a first earned him a respectable 23 points, one less than Alan and Dan, and sixth place.

The Wednesday Night Series rewards participation, so winning 23 or 24 points in just eight appearances in a thirteen-week season means that that yacht is as much a threat as any other on any one night.

Without crews there would not be much competition. They need to be nimble and they do most of the work. They make the boat go. They are the club’s glue. The fiber in the fiberglass. Thank you all!

We would not be competing at all without the indefatigable Race Committee led by Franz Edson with Lil Diachenko, Trish Dowd, and Tina Bettera. They gauge the wind, set the course, often reset the course, watch the sky for storms, and keep track of twenty or thirty yachts, and endure the same winds, waves, doldrums, heat and humidity as the sailors but without the thrill of moving, then return last to the dock and dinner.

Activities aside from Wednesday Nights are not so easy to document. It seems that no NBYC J/24 entered an off-shore race, at least none appears on the ECSA results site. A more relaxing competition is the Art Carlson Sunday race which is popular with J/24 folk, especially Diane and Rory Scully.

Be assured however, that these balsa wood boats do sail on other days. For example, on most any nice day, 10-Speed might be seen sailing for fun or practicing for the next Wednesday joust. Two generations of Diachenkos are often seen packed into Miss Sea Jay along with others sailing in the bay, with refreshments available.

On an especially fine September day, with several guests, Miss Sea Jay with her numerous passengers toured the bay while Colin Stamm in Fantasy glided close alongside, single handed. The day ended with conviviality aboard Duet, J/24 alumni Cliff and Teri Ashton’s Catalina 34 Mark 2.

So the J/24 is a happy ship, rewarding to race as well as simply enjoying life on the waves. Our little fleet, supported by this serious sailing club, brought enjoyment to skippers and crews in 2021. May 2022 be as good or better.

With thanks to Tom, Rory, Dan, and Art!


Secondary address