Victor “Pete” Bethge – National One-Design Leadership Award
Posted February 04, 2019
Described as a “Shangri-La” for Sunfish sailors, the Menantic Yacht Club (MYC) on Shelter Island was commissioned in the 1930s. There are no dues, no dock, no clubhouse—in fact, no facilities at all. What the club has is Pete Bethge, the Commodore for the past 52 years and the driving force behind the club’s success.
The MYC Sunday races, consisting mostly of summer vacationers, have peaked and waned through the years. In 2005, the numbers dropped, and that is when Bethge sprang into action to rebuild the fleet and get new people involved.
Photo: US Sailing VP Rich Jepsen (l) awarding National One-design Leadership Award to Pete Bethge
He began by assembling a fleet of Sunfish to lend to people. He bought boats, found abandoned boats and accepted donated boats from people who no longer wanted them. He bought new parts, repaired the boats and built a 13-boat fleet, which he made available to anyone interested in sailboat racing. If they had no experience, he gave them lessons and followed them around the harbor, making sure that they were safe.
Each week, people would call him to reserve a boat for Sunday racing. They would show up at his famous “Red House.” Pete would pull all the parts out of his basement, take the sailor to the beach, help rig the boat and send them off to the races. Within three years, the fleet increased to 10–15 boats nearly every Sunday. In 2018, MYC averaged 18 boats on the starting line weekly. Pete still pays for all the boats, parts, sails and repairs himself.
Without his Herculean efforts, MYC would have struggled to stay in business. Today, it is a vibrant growing fleet consisting of experienced and new sailors alike, all enjoying the best that sailing has to offer—great racing and camaraderie and the joy of being out on the water with family and friends.
His extraordinary legacy of sharing his passions of sailing and family is celebrated by all his admirers and emulated by all his sailors. If ever a person exemplified initiative, enthusiasm, organization and leadership skills in creating an outstanding one-design fleet, it is Pete Bethge.
Also receiving a major award at the 2019 US Sailing National Saling Programs Symposium was the new Sunfish Class Administrator, Ed "Buttons" Padin from Larchmont (NY) Yacht Club. Buttons, with his two American Yacht Club co-chairs Siobhan Reilly and Bill Sandberg, was presented the Gay S. Lynn Memorial Trophy for their decade of running the Robie Pierce regatta for sailors with disabilities.
The Robie Pierce One-Design Regatta was first held in 2008 and named after Robie Pierce, a pioneer in developing and promoting adaptive sailing. The Larchmont Yacht Club (N.Y.) and American Yacht Club (N.Y.) co-host this regatta annually, alternating the location each year. Since its inception, over 250 sailors have raced in the regatta on Western Long Island Sound in the clubs’ specially adapted Ideal 18s.
Photo: Bill Sandberg, Buttons Padin, Siobhan Reilly and Rich Jepsen.
These three chairpersons arrange club and area volunteers for support and establish relationships with several generous sponsors. The event attracts sailors from the United States and Canada who have a broad range of disabilities, both physical and cognitive.
2011 marked the initiation of the Robie Pierce Women’s Invitational. This all-women’s adaptive event is sailed one day before the Robie Pierce Regatta and is the only all-women’s adaptive sailing event in the world.
Full story by Larchmont Yacht Club HERE.
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