Thursday, December 06, 2012

The Harbor Report: A fleet grows in Newport

This last weekend I attend the Harbor 20’s, “H20”, Fleet 1 2012 awards banquet at the Lido Isle Yacht Club. The Harbor 20’s came to life in the late ninety’s when a group of sailors from the Newport Harbor Yacht Club gathered together and brainstormed on what would make the perfect one design fleet for Newport Harbor. Some 15 years later our harbors H 20 Fleet 1had over 90 people at its awards banquet this year.

The fleet had over 196 starts or races in our harbor this year, 126 days of racing, 92 different skippers this last year and 34 boat’s entered in it’s fleet championships.
I have not witnessed numbers like this since the mid eighty’s. You have to ask yourself how can this be? How can a fleet continue to grow after so long?

The answer is simple, the founding fathers, Arthur Strock, Grant Baldwin, Bill Palmer, Phil Ramser, Pete Pallette and builder Tom Schock had participated in many different fleets over the years and watched them come and go. This group then went out and promoted fleet and it began to grow. Then rather than hold onto what they had started this group passed the button off to the next group of people like Peter Haynes, John Whitney, Nik Froehlich and the new builder Alexander Vucelic who purchased the WD Schock Company two years ago. Alex is bringing allot of new energy to the fleet and goes out of his way to make a new member feel welcome.  

This new after guard is taking the fleet onto new hight’s of participation levels that have never been obtained before. They are doing this by rotating the A Fleet, if you do not win a trophy in a high point series race, within a years time, you are bumped down to B Fleet. This keeps B fleet very competitive and now with the introduction to a C fleet everybody has a chance to win a race or two each year.

Another thing that keeps the fleet so active is Peter Haynes and his efforts in rules and racing seminars. Each year Peter puts on these seminars and each year the attendance is growing.The true magic to these boats is how simple they are to maintain and if your crew does not show up or cannot make it to a race, the owner can jump in the boat and sail it single handed.  The owner also can still stay competitive with a complete novice crew or like me with an not to attentive teenager, Priceless. 

Now the best part of sailing H 20’s are the people themselves. It kind of fells more like the days of racing my Hobie 16 and the beach party’s we had. After each race Fleet 1 members will gather after the event and go over what they learned on the race course. For me it brings back memories of the sailing clubs and keeps a big smile on my face.

Speaking of smiles, this years winners for the Grand Masters award for the highest placing skippers over the age of 65 was Tom Schock in A Fleet and Richard Blatterman in B Fleet. Fleet 1 First Mate award given to the highest placing husband and wife team in the championships was Diane & Bill Menninger in A fleet and in B fleet it went to Carlita & Win Fuller. This years Arthur B Strock Service Award for members who have performed outstanding service for Fleet one went to Peter Haynes. Peter also took home Fleet One “Rain or Shine “ for attending the most races this season. This years big winner of the High Point Series was one by Karen and Gary Thorne. Don’t worry Joe I am not going to tell everyone what you won.

I heard that the Newport Harbor Yacht Club did not award the Burgee Of Merit this year which is to bad because I feel that H20 Fleet 1 has brought unusual distinction to the west coast yachting and our harbor and is something we can all be proud of.

Sea ya

LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist

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