|Peter Haynes Chalk Talk at End of Summer Party|
By Len Bose
August 22, 2013 | 9:34 a.m.
As the summer comes to its unwelcome end, the water temperature begins to rise as it always seems to this time of year.
This occurs not because of the sun, but rather the approach of the Harbor 20 Fleet 1 Championships on Sept. 28 and 29 in Newport Harbor. For me to obtain a better reading on this phenomena, I pulled aside class president Peter Haynes for a quick interview during Sunday's Caribbean Beach Party at the Lido Isle Yacht Club.
This is an end-of-summer party for Fleet 1, which is completing its 15th year of existence. Standing at the club, looking down onto the marina and seeing the 36 boats in attendance, one is amazed how this fleet continues to grow.
This is where Peter and his wife Debra Haynes enter the picture to the great fortune of the fleet back in June of 2006. Debra and Peter were considering the purchase of a sailboat and had gone out to view the boat on its mooring. At that same time, a number of Harbor 20s started to appear for an afternoon race.
Peter looked at Debra and said, "That's what we should be doing." One month later, they purchased Spirit, boat number 201. The following year, Peter was asked to join Fleet 1's board of directors for which he subsequently became fleet captain and is now the class president.
In the early years of the fleet, people were into enjoying the boats and weren't paying close attention to the sailing rules. As the fleet grew, it became obvious to Peter that playing "bumper boats," when boats run into each other, was not that much fun and it was expensive to repair the boats.
Peter then came up with an idea to improve the behavior and the skills of the fleet by holding the following seminars: "Understanding the racing rules of sailing," "boat handling and sail trim," and "racing tactics."
"Over the last five years, we have completed 23 seminars with 540 people attending," he said.
At this point, there are 140 Harbor 20s in Newport Harbor with about 45 active racing members. I asked Peter how the fleet has continued to grow.
"The fleet has started C-class for beginning sailors to compete and learn how to race. We have a time-consuming points system, monitored by our web editor Nik Froehlich, that allows members to qualify to race in A fleet."
To stay in A fleet, members must win a trophy in one of the high point series within a year. In my opinion the well-attended B fleet is one of the biggest factors in keeping the class strong. Peter explained the other contributing factors.
"The quality of racing has improved, many A sailors will mentor and ride along with beginning sailors, the continued close attention to the class rules so that boat owners can't outspend each other on improvements to their boats, and that it has become the only one-design class in town that is still racing over 100 races a year."
I then asked Peter what has been his biggest achievement during his tenure as fleet captain and class president. This was not an easy question for him to answer, because he is not the type to pat himself on the back.
"My biggest sense of accomplishment is getting the sense of orderliness on the race course," he said.
I have cornered Peter in the bar after racing at least three times this year for rule definition and interpretation. This has improved my sailing skills and fun factor tremendously this season, even when he has informed me that my interpretation of the rules was incorrect.
Special thanks must always be given to the fleet's founding fathers for coming up with the concept of the perfect boat to race in our harbor. This is a story that I will need to write about in the near future.
I would also like to give a shout out to John Whitney for all the hard work he has done for the fleet over the past few years. Its always refreshing to work and participate with a group of people whose main goal is to improve our sport of sailing.
To join the fleet go to harbor20.org and click on the "join" link. There are a number of different ways to charter a boat, or just start asking people if you can crew for them. I have seen many people get picked up for crew during the day of an event. Another way to meet many of our fleet members is to attend the "Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing" seminar this Sept. 8 at Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club.
LEN BOSE is an experienced boater, yacht broker and boating columnist.