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Originally delivered on 12/20/2023 1:02 pm

SUBJECT: ISCA Windward Leg November-December 2023

November - December 2023

Vicki Palmer, Windward Leg Editor

When you finish reading this November-December 2023 Windward Leg issue 
 and prepare for a joyous holiday season, always remember:

You are awesome!  You can do anything!

You are the heart and soul of the Sunfish Class …

May your new year be sprinkled with magic and filled with sailing adventures you can treasure forever.


Letter from ISCA President

52nd World Championship Report

Save the Date - 2024 Worlds in Texas

West Region Sunfish Championship

Barbara Meier's "Sunfish Tour"


Mar. 16-19 Intl Sunfish Masters (WQ) Davis Island YC, FL

Mar. 20 Team Racing, Davis Island YC, FL

Mar. 21-23 US Nationals at Midwinters (WQ) Davis Island YC, FL

April 27-28 Southeast Regional #1 @ Savannah Yacht Club, GA

Jun. 10-15 61st Sunfish North Americans (& Youth NAs) (WQ) Lavallette YC, NJ

Aug. 16-18 US Masters (WQ) Milwaukee YC, WI

Sept. 6-8 Women's North Americans (WQ) Amityville, NY

Oct. 13-19 53rd ISCA World Championship, Rush Creek, TX

More events please check the monthly calendar

Windward Leg - Spanish Version
Letter from the ISCA President

Dear ISCA Members,

With the year 2023 coming to an end, the work during this year has been intense, with many challenges and obstacles along the way. However, I believe that we have come a long way towards the consolidation and future of the class.

ISCA continues to work on the issue of the availability of spare parts so that our members can continue to compete with class-approved parts. In this sense, we managed to get World Sailing (WS) to approve, at the beginning of the year, some Emergency Parts Authorization Requests (sails, masts and booms), which allowed us to have Racing North Sails and Selden Masts and Spars available to sailors. We'll have more news soon and we'll be letting you know.

Likewise, we had an intense year in meetings with WS. In May 2023, the class was put under review of its international status and, for the WS Annual Conference in November, we were informed that WS would be canceling the international status of the Class. Luckily, the Class leadership was able to communicate with the WS authorities and our WS representative, Hector Duval, who was present at the WS annual meeting, was able to get WS to extend the deadline to the 2024 Annual Conference so that the Class can complete the WS requirements, especially a new WS agreement.

The Pan American event in Chile was a great success for ISCA. With 2 fleets (men and women) we were able to count on 18 Sunfish sailors and 13 countries represented. Likewise, the two qualifying events had very good participation of sailors (65 in the Midwinters and 34 in the CSAC) and countries (eight in the Midwinters and 11 in the CSAC). These Pan American years are the ones that give extra value to the Class. We are working with Panam Sailing so that the next Pan American Games 2027, in Barranquilla-Colombia, can maintain the two fleets for the regional boat event.

This year's World Championship was quite a challenge. After LP's refusal to supply the charter boats for Salinas-Ecuador and, not being able to find a viable solution, the decision was made to cancel the World Championship in Ecuador and look for a venue in the USA with a bring-your-own-boat system. We were lucky to find in the Coconut Grove Sailing Club (CGSC) an open willingness to host the world championship in December and, with the support of Chris McLellan and SunfishDirect (SFD), the availability of charter boats to international sailors. Today after the event, we can be happy with the success achieved, having met the 100 competitors. My deep thanks to CGSC and SFD for being able to make the 2023 World Championships such a success.

It only remains for me to thank the members of the ISCA Executive Committee, and the class administrator, for their hard work during 2023, and all the NICA's for their permanent support to be able to meet the objectives of the class.

I hope everyone enjoys the end-of-year holidays, and that we return recharged for a 2024 full of joy and good fortune which will allow us to continue to grow the class.



Willo Cappelleti

ISCA President

Three-Time World Champion, Jean Paul de Trazegnies of Peru, Wins the 2023 ISCA World Championship

Coconut Grove Sailing Club, Coconut Grove, FL – December 3-10, 2023

By Vicki Palmer

Starting this 52nd ISCA World Championship was the traditional Opening Ceremony. With 100 competitors representing 15 different countries marching to the music of their country’s anthem playing with moonlit Biscayne Bay on one side and a large audience on the other side not wanting to miss a second of this inspirational and heart-warming procession.  The pride on each participant’s face is always a special part of every World Championship. A wonderful tradition that carries so much meaning – a cultural blend of camaraderie, sailing with long-time friends and testing one’s sailing skills with the best of the best.

The traditional Opening Ceremony went a bit off-program for a very special presentation – to acknowledge a hero’s award to 15-year old Andre Patin who won the most prestigious US Sailing Arthur B. Hanson Rescue Medal. This award is given to skippers of pleasure boats or race support vessels who affect rescues of victims from the water. The award is made for rescues in U.S. waters or in races that originate or terminate in a U.S. port.

Presenting this special medal to Andre was John Schoendorf, US Sailing’s Treasurer, who reaffirmed that rescuing someone from possible peril requires an act of tremendous bravery while putting oneself in a dangerous situation as well. Not an easy decision for most people but a decision Andre made putting the safety of a fellow competitor above his own.

This rescue happened at the Sunfish North American Championship in Springfield, IL, June 8-11, 2023. The winds in one of the races began gusting to 30+ that found both Andre and Bob Findlay leaving the racecourse due to conditions they were not comfortable sailing in. Bob, who usually conquers heavy air  sailing with skill, had three broken ribs from a previous injury. Despite his doctor recommending that Bob not sail, Bob couldn’t resist and thought he would be OK. But the heavy air changed his mind. On his way back to shore, Bob capsized and couldn’t climb back on the boat with the three broken ribs. Andre was sailing close by and noticed the difficulty Bob was having and stopped to rescue him and do what he could to keep Bob safe until the signaled help from shore came out to help Andre get Bob back on a boat and safely to shore.

At the Coconut Grove Sailing Club for this special presentation were Dad, Paul-Jon-Patin ,who was sailing in this World Championship, and Mom, Anne Patin, who traveled with Andre to attend this momentous occasion. After the award presentation, Andre received a standing ovation from everyone in the audience to honor this special young man who did something so courageous.

L to R … Guillermo "Willo" Cappelleti, Andre Patin, Bob Findlay, John Schoendorf (US Sailing) 

(photo by Kathleen Tocke Sailing & Media)

What follows is the 52nd ISCA World Championship …

What an exciting World Championship that was filled with suspense, light air, heavy air, washing-machine chop, no day off for sightseeing due to no wind on Day One to be made up on the scheduled lay day, surprise finishes, long sails from shore to the start line, multiple top-place finish changes in all 12 races, seven different countries representing the top ten finishers, muggy heat some days, winter jacket weather other days, some unfortunate boat breakdowns that were fixed as quickly as possible and, oh, even a very special romantic surprise at the Award Ceremony! What? Wasn’t this a sailing championship? Hold on. The romantic moment fits perfectly with what happened at the Award Ceremony. Patience …

Race 11 will go down in Sunfish history. The more consistent top three finishers – Jean Paul de Trazegnies (PER), Jonathan Martinetti (ECU) and Conner Blouin (USA)– caused a shake-up in Race 11. Jean Paul (JP) finished 23rd and Conner got the dreaded Black flag which gave him 101 points for Race 11. But Jonathan was still hanging in there with a solid 11th for that race. So who finished where in Race 12 kept everyone in suspense. Who would win the 2023 ISCA World Championship?

There were many champions capable of upsetting who would finish 1, 2, and 3 based on their positions prior to Race 12– Marco Teixidor and Juan Sebastian Martinez (PUR), David Hernandez, Diego Silvestre and Juan Carlos Canizalez (GUA), Simon Gomez (COL), Peter Stanton (ISV), John Birkett (ECU), Sebastian Medina (PUR) and Eugene Schmitt and Amanda Callahan (USA). Champions, champions everywhere!

No one knew the final standings after Race 12 while still on the water making the long sail back to shore. Even Jean Paul didn’t know who was the top #1 winner. Not until his coach told him before Jean Paul reached shore.

According to an interview posted on Facebook that Jean Paul had with Lee Montes after the event, Jean Paul said he decided just to enjoy the sailing and not worry about what would happen in Race 12. What would be, would be.

Well, what would be is that Jean Paul de Trazegnies won the 2023 ISCA World Championship! With only 10 points separating the top three winners – Jean Paul/1st, Jonathan Martinetti/2nd and Conner Blouin/3rd – this was a hard-fought competition with many skilled champions vying for that top spot.

Jean Paul de Trazegnies of Peru wins his third World championship!

(photo by Kathleen Tocke Sailing & Media)

Jonathan Martinetti (2nd overall ECU)

Conner Blouin (3rd overall USA)

Jonathan Martinetti (ECU) 2nd place, Conner Blouin (USA) 3rd  place, Jean Paul de Trazegnies (PER) 1st place (photo by Kathleen Tocke Sailing & Media)

But there was only one competitor vying for a top spot in another category that had nothing to do with competitive sailing on Biscayne Bay. When Jean Paul received the perpetual trophy at the Award Ceremony, his next action, after lifting the trophy for a photo op, was to get down on one knee and propose marriage to his beautiful fiancée, Maria. No mystery in her answer – yes, yes, yes --accompanied by a HUGE smile not only from Jean Paul and his future bride but also Jean Paul’s family who accompanied him on this trip. I wondered why his whole family was seated at a table with Alex and Rosita Zimmerman who were as excited about the proposal as Jean Paul’s family! You’ve heard us refer to the Sunfish Class as a Sunfish “family.” Jean Paul saved this special moment for a very large extended “family,” a special moment we all felt privileged to be a part of. The whole audience erupted with joy and congratulations for this happy couple to enjoy a beautiful future together.

Jean Paul de Trazegnies and his future bride, Maria.

Special congratulations were also shared with the top ten finishers and other special award winners who helped make this a very special ISCA World Championship. For the complete results, go to:  2023 Worlds Results

Top 10 Overall Winners at the 2023 ISCA World Championship:

  1. Jean Paul De Trazegnies Valdez (PER) - 42 pts
  2. Jonathan Martinetti (ECU) - 47 pts
  3. Conner Blouin (USA) - 52 pts
  4. Marco Teixidor (PUR) - 67 pts
  5. David Misael Hernandez (GUA) - 71 pts
  6. Diego Silvestre (GUA) - 74 pts
  7. Simon Gomez Ortiz (COL) - 76 pts
  8. Juan Carlos Canizalez (GUA) - 78 pts
  9. Peter Stanton (ISV) - 127 pts
  10. John Birkett (ECU) - 131 pts
Race Winners

Race 1: Juan Carlos Canizalez Manuel (GUA)

Race 2: Diego Silvestre Perez (GUA)

Race 3: Conner Blouin (USA)

Race 4,9: Jonathan Martinetti (ECU)

Race 5, 7, 12: Jean Paul de Trazegnies (PER)

Race 6: John Birkett (ECU)

Race 8: David Misael Hernandez Guzman (GUA)

Race 10: Marco Teixidor (PUR)

Race 11: Bernardo Fernandez (ECU)

Worlds Special Awards

Top Youth – Bernardo Fernandez (ECU)

Youngest Competitor - Mia Coronel (ECU) and winner of the Nautalytics Compass raffle. 

Top Apprentice Master – Eugene Schmitt (USA)

Top Master - Andy Beechman (USA)

Top Grand Master – Alex Zimmermann (PER)

Top Great Grand Master – Larry Suter (USA)

Top Female – Amanda Callahan (USA)

Oldest Competitor - Steven Schwartz (USA)

Top Youth - Bernardo Fernandez/ECU - (15th overall)

Top Female - Amanda Callahan/USA - (14th overall)

Top Apprentice Master - Eugene Schmitt/USA - (13th overall)

Top Master - Andy Beeckman/USA - (17th overall)

Top Grand Master - Alex Zimmermann/PER - (19th overall)

Top Great Grand MasterLarry Suter/USA - (47th overall)


Special Awards:

A boat for all ages …

Youngest Competitor (age 15) - Mia Coronel (ECU)

Oldest Competitor (age 78)- Steven Schwartz (USA)

Sportsmanship Award - Rod Favela (VEN)

A highly coveted award that represents fair play, respect for the rules and other competitors, integrity and graciousness in victory and defeat. Rod more than met every one of these qualities and more. His infectious smile and encouraging words, both on and off the water, was enjoyed by everyone. An added quality recognized by the Sportsmanship Award Committee was Rod’s generosity to help other competitors be able to compete at this event with registration fee help for a competitor from Venezuela and supplying a boat for a competitor from Chile. It was an honor to present Rod with, what some consider to be, one of the most important awards given at any event. Congratulations, Rod!

A side note … Rod has been helping with the 2024 ISCA World Championship to be held at the Rush Creek Yacht Club in Rockwall, TX. Lake Ray Hubbard is a beautiful place to sail. Everyone will experience the famous “Texas hospitality.” Those who qualified for a berth at this event and those who are fortunate to apply for and get an available berth, we hope to see y’all there!

2023's Lifetime Member Award - Donnie Martinborough (BAH)

The World Council meets every year at a World Championship for their Annual Meeting to discuss Class business and keep this hard-working international committee up-to-date with what has been happening and what is being worked on.  A special part of this annual meeting is to select an Honorary Life Member. This prestigious award is granted to an outstanding individual because of their above and beyond contribution to the Class or through a special relationship to ISCA that was considered meritorious. This honorary status grants them full membership privileges in ISCA without having to pay the annual membership dues. Their voluntary contributions that have benefited ISCA and its members are noteworthy at this special level. 


There’s no one more noteworthy than Donnie who has represented the Bahamas with 50+ years of sailing with us and keeping the annual membership fee paid for the Bahamas to remain a paid Class member even when no one from the Bahamas was able to attend a World Championship every year. Donnie has won three World Championships – 1983 Worlds in San Andres, Colombia; 1985 Worlds in Riccione, Italy and the 1988 Worlds in the Bahamas. A familiar question at every World Championship is “Will Donnie be here?” His presence is greatly missed when he can’t attend. This year we were delighted to see him competing in this 52rd ISCA World Championship. Congratulations, Donnie! 

Donnie Martinborough 2023 Lifetime Member Award

Now what? We celebrated the start of this event with the traditional flag-bearing parade of every country participating. We gave our Sunfish Class hero, Andre Patin, the standing ovation he deserved. We witnessed a marriage proposal! All the sailing awards have been announced, trophies handed out, well-deserved accolades shared, boats have been cleaned and trailered and those who drove are ready to hit the road first thing in the morning. Wait … you mean there’s more?


Of course, there’s more! The Coconut Grove Sailing Club (CGSC) in Coconut Grove, FL, came to our rescue after we had to cancel the 2023 Worlds in Ecuador. Not Ecuador’s fault. Not ISCA’s fault. Just a situation we had to deal with and find a solution. CGSC was that solution! And BYOBs (Bring-Your-Own- Boats) was the other solution. And it all worked perfectly! 


Andi Hoffman, Chairperson for this event did a fantastic job of organizing every detail. The smaller boat storage area for 100 Sunfish on dollies was a masterful puzzle arrangement worthy of an architectural award! From placing them back into their assigned spaces after racing to launching them on only three ramps was an operation worthy of many kudos – a perfectly planned and executed activity by a CGSC committee assigned to this one specific task. Occasional help from the competitors was much appreciated. Precision is the word that comes to mind after watching this well-executed operation.


Andi was also charged with finding a PRO and getting a group of Race Committee volunteers who had just had RC duty for a large Melges competition the week before. A PRO from Texas, Shannon Bush, said yes to Andi’s request. Because of wind direction changes, Shannon had a challenge she met very well. Bob Findlay sailed by the Signal boat one day while shouting, “This is the best Race Committee work we’ve ever had!” Shannon also had an exceptional RC team to help races run as smoothly as they did. It was a great “team” effort.


No World Championship is complete without Jorge “Coco” Barreda serving as the Chief International Judge. Coco’s years of experience and expertise that started with Coco actually being a highly-skilled Sunfish competitor winning many championships, we benefit today from his expertise and passion for the Sunfish Class. Along with Coco was a highly skilled group of judges – Rick Mallinson, Miami; Joe Krolak, Annapolis; Pat Bailey, USVI and Carol Haines, UK. Thank you everyone for sharing your time and expertise for an event that is made possible because you dedicate your personal time to be out on the water every day, for every race.


A World Championship bonus … we had one of the best Signal boats I’ve served on as the Sunfish Rep/Technical Advisor, a position created by Paul-Jon Patin about ten years ago when the RC at another World Championship was more expert with big boat racing than Sunfish racing. So he created this Sunfish Rep position to help make sure the races were set up and run the way a Sunfish World Championship should be set up and run. What made this assigned position so much fun this year was being on Charlie and Caroline Rahn’s 40-foot MainShip motor yacht, “Plan B,” with a group of some of the nicest women who volunteered to help despite being a bit tired after doing RC duty for the Melges Championship the week before.


The whole Signal boat experience was another masterful planning event. Charlie Rahn, a long-time Sunfish Class member, was also racing in this event. Getting “Plan B” out of the harbor required Charlie or his friend Steve (not racing) to coordinate efforts with one driving and the other sailing his Sunfish out to the course and then switching again. Caroline, in the meantime, was learning how to skipper the boat which she did after the boat reached more open water instead of having to steer through a mooring field and narrow “no wake” channel. She was well on her way to earning an “I can do it!” certificate from all of us. After this event, Charlie and Caroline motored “Plan B” to her home port in Key West, a 75-mile trip. The Sunfish Class extends a most-appreciative Thank You to the Rahns!


There were delicious meals served every night – on tables with white table cloths! There was Chris McClellan and his SunfishDirect team being available for any help needed with their charter boats. Many of the competitors who drove also shared spare equipment, if needed. Another “team” effort that is done so well within the Sunfish Class. Sharing boats too by trailering an extra boat or two to be sailed by another competitor – another “operation” worthy of kudos. I


I can’t remember the exact details, but I think you’ll see what Sunfish Class members do for one another. “My car is in NY where I picked up so-and-so’s car and boat with my multi-boat trailer. Now so-and-so is driving his car back to NY with my trailer with his boat and mine where I’ll fly to NY to get my car and trailer after so-and-so removes his boat and drive my car and trailer with my boats back to Illinois.” Confused? Yes, me too. But there were several similar stories equally as confusing but definitely noteworthy to show, again,  that the Sunfish Class is a “friendly” Class with members who go out of their way to accommodate one another if at all possible. 


Not far from the Club was a Starbucks coffee shop in one direction and fresh-baked goods at “Fresh Market” in the other direction with plenty of ocean views and parks along the way. A very lovely community. 


Only one thing happened that didn’t exactly go according to plan. The night of the World Council meeting, there were protests being held in the one available meeting room. So the World Council found an outdoor space under an awning and held a most productive meeting with lots to report and discuss. 


To learn about the events and progress made in 2023, go to to read a copy of the World Council Meeting Minutes. Lots happened in 2023. And we’re expecting a busy 2024 as well.


One exciting piece of news that the World Council approved, at this meeting, was to put Ecuador back on the World Championship schedule for the 2025 ISCA World Championship! Check out this video to see why you might want to add Ecuador to your bucket list --

Here’s what the ISCA World Championship schedule looks like right now:  

  1. 2024, Rush Creek Yacht Club, Rockwall, TX (USA)
  2. 2025, Salinas Yacht Club, Ecuador
  3. 2026, St. Croix, US Virgin islands
  4. 2027, Bonaire
  5. 2028, maybe Italy (Luigi de Luca, World Council representative from Italy, is checking out different sites and will report his recommendation at the next World Council meeting).

From the International Sunfish Class … THANK YOU to everyone at Coconut Grove Sailing Club for making us feel welcome and at home. From Chairperson Andi Hoffman to every CGSC volunteer who gave up their time, please know you are appreciated more than you know.

More photos from the 52nd ISCA World Championship

ISCA World Championship Chairperson – Andi Hoffman, Coconut Grove Sailing Club

Chief International Judge – Jorge “Coco” Barreda (PER)

Larry Mass, Worlds Liaison, and Willo Cappelleti, ISCA President


Signal Boat

The Start

Crowded Mark Rounding

Pin end view

Drone footage

Thank you to Chris McLellan and the whole Sunfish Direct team for sponsoring the Worlds. They charted 100 new North Racing Sails and 49 charter boats with onsite support. No easy task when the event location moves within 6 weeks. Boats and sails can be purchased directly with them. Thank you for being there - 

Wonderful presentation to World Council for Salinas Yacht Club!

2023 World Council Meeting at Coconut Grove Sailing Club

Media from the 2023 ISCA World Championship

Kathleen Tocke Sailing & Media posted many great videos and photos on the Facebook Page: Intl Sunfish Class Assoc. Facebook and on Instragram: @Isca_worlds 

Gallery of photos courtesy of Jennifer Joy Walker:  Jennifer Joy Walker Photo Gallery 

Thank you to both these ladies for the amazing memories captured on video and photos! 

See you in Texas!

West Region Sunfish Championship

Mission Bay Yacht Club, San Diego, CA – November 18-19, 2023

By John Huebner

Meet John Huebner and Cacau

I started sailing a Sunfish 30 years ago at North Shore Yacht Club in Highland Park, IL. The friends I met there helped to fuel my enthusiasm for dinghy racing. We had active club racing and we also traveled to local and national regattas. Our club hosted Sunfish regionals and North Americans. I enjoy the Sunfish because it's the boat that I spend more time sailing and less time rigging and maintaining. I moved to San Diego 20 years ago, bringing my Sunfish and a Laser. I still have the Sunfish. My present fleet also includes a 1958 runabout and a 42' cabin cruiser.  
      Mission Bay in San Diego has two active Sunfish fleets.  Fleet 632 has two racing seasons, Summer and Winter, with races typically held every other Saturday. To learn more about Sunfish Fleet 632, go to:  

Mission Bay Yacht Club has several active dinghy and keel boat fleets, including the Sunfish.  We race throughout the year.  There is always a loaner boat available. Visit to learn more about MBYC. Come sail with us!

By John Huebner

MBYC hosted the Sunfish West Regional Championships in conjunction with the Turkey Regatta on November 18 & 19.  Sixteen Sunfish from as far away as New Jersey participated in a great two-day sailing event.  Participants included seven Sunfish from MBYC, six from Arizona Yacht Club Fleet 749, and two from San Diego Bahia Point Fleet 632.  

The club provided a prefect venue and ran great races for the event.  Thanks go to PRO Andrea Caroe as well as the Thistle and Victory Fleets who provided race committee.  75 boats in 12 fleets participated in the Turkey Regatta, Sail Bay was full of boats.   Windward-leeward courses with windward finishes did a good job of keeping the multiple fleet interferences to a minimum.  Light winds on Saturday were followed by heavier winds on Sunday to give the competitors some good variety.

On shore, the Sunfish enjoyed the camaraderie and great weather that MBYC offers.

On the bay, Les Piehl of MBYC took top honors.  Kate Crowther and Jen Lee, both from AYC, took second and third place.  It was fun racing with close competition and plenty of position changes throughout the fleet.  This event is a Sunfish World’s qualifying regatta with the winner, Les Piehl, getting an invitation to sail in the 2024 ISCA World Championship at the Rush Creek Yacht Club in Rockwall, TX, near Dallas.

Another report for the West Regionals, by Bob Naylor, Arizona Yacht Club

We had a BLAST! Both days had very nice winds, challenging courses, and strong competition! The Mission Bay Yacht Club proved to be an excellent venue, with great parking, easy beach-launching, excellent race support, and welcome food & beverage service, all in a beautiful setting right on Mission Bay. Phoenix Sunfish sailors enjoyed hanging out with each other for the weekend and with our San Diego Sunfish friends - old and new. 


Organizers John Huebner and Les Piehl were beyond accommodating, providing excellent hospitality, including a turkey-leg dinner Saturday evening, and plenty of helpful rehydration beverages at the end of the day. Les successfully defended his “Best in the West” ranking, again claiming first place in the Championship - that dude is FAST! Our own Kate Crowther took second place (and won a turkey!), with Jen Lee claiming third place. Overall, a great showing by Fleet 749 Sunfish sailors - especially the women!

Front row L to R:  Mark Powell, Kate Crowther, Shannon Buruchian, Jen Lee, Les Piehl

Second row L to R: Tom Sinnickson, Scott Picquet, John Wisnewski, John Huebner, Bob Naylor, Lynn Mahoney, Mike Kummer

West Regionals Race Results


Sail #


6 Races




Les Piehl





Kate Crowther





Jen Lee





Paul Viola





Mike Kummer





Larry Schmitz





Lynn Mahoney





Kristen Lauter





Sara Billey





Tom Sinnickson





Shannon Buruchian





John Wisnewski





John Huebner





Mark Powell





Bob Naylor





Scott Picquet



From a Top Facebook Contributor posted on the US Sunfish page …Tom Payne

Looking at these fantastic PanAm Games photos and seeing the foils and kites and all of the modern innovations and thinking how sailing has changed over the years. Yet, there is the simple little Sunfish, just as important to the sport as ever.

Barbara Meier’s “Sunfish Tour”

(Thank you to Lee Parks for introducing Barbara Meier and the exciting Sunfish adventures she plans to sail in every state.)

I walked into Jim Koehler’s The Dinghy Shop just a few years ago and said, "I want to learn how to sail. What do I do?" And Jim took it from there. He and his whole team were so supportive of an older adult who was just beginning to learn to sail. He never sees his customers as just customers. He accepted the challenge and got me off to a great start.  

In 2019, I learned to sail a Sunfish on the Great South Bay, Long Island, NY from the Dinghy Shop.  In 2020 I bought my own Sunfish there.  I jokingly said to Jim Koehler, the shop owner, that I should take my boat and sail her in every state.  He agreed and dubbed this trip my "Sunfish Tour."  But soon after that, I moved to Ft. Myers, FL, and worked there for a year.  As soon as I landed a remote job in September 2022, I began to plan this trip.  I purchased a van-sized RV and started out in April 2023.


My first stop was Ken Thompson Park in Sarasota when my son Steve came to visit.  We had a lot of fun on the bay, and I discovered Sarasota Sailing Squadron.  I've had my eye on this club since then. 


In April, I started out, but had to make a bee line to Massachusetts to help my other son, Joe, when his wife was in the hospital for 4 weeks.  (Baby Jack arrived early, but is healthy and growing well, thank God!) When things returned to normal there, I took a trip to PA to visit a dear friend, Diane, and we sailed on Lake Wallenpaupack.  On my way back to New England, I stopped on Long Island to visit my friends at Dinghy Shop in Amityville, NY.  I sailed with Beverly, my former sailing instructor.  That was a fun day!  It's always more fun sailing with other sailors.  I traveled east and sailed with another friend, Laura, on Peconic Bay.  Laura was a big inspiration for me, she also learned to sail, let's say, well into adulthood!  She bought a Sunfish for the same reason I did:  I needed a boat that I could completely handle by myself. 

Laura Venugopalen who sailed with me on Peconic Bay, NY


I returned to New England to check on the family, and then began sailing there with some friends on small lakes:  Whalom Lake in Lunenburg, MA, Sebago Lake in Maine, Wilson Reservoir in RI, Lower Lake Bolton in CT.  


In August, I traveled down to Maryland to visit Barry, a dear friend I've known since the 6th grade.  We sailed my Sunfish onto the Chesapeake Bay and completely lost the wind!  I mean there was NOTHING happening.  As the afternoon waned, we realized it was time to get back, and we actually broke out the paddles for about 20 minutes before we caught the slightest of breezes and were able to get back to shore.  The next day was a much better day for wind, and we went out on his 30 ft Catalina for the afternoon with his family.


From there I went to Delaware and sailed on Rehoboth Bay.  The Sailing Club there wasn't open to having visitors launch from their site, so they sent me about 0.5 mile down the road to "the sailing beach."  There were lots of kite sailors having a blast.  That was fun to watch.  This is a nice shallow bay, and I actually almost hit a pedestrian in the middle of the bay.  There was a family out digging for clams or something, and as I sailed out this man appeared out of nowhere and stepped out of my way!  I just wasn't expecting to see someone standing out there in the middle of the bay!  


Then I went to NJ, to my childhood hometown of Collingswood.  Again, the sailing club on Cooper River there referred me to the public boat ramp and I took another dear friend, Jan, out on her maiden sailing voyage!  She had never been on a sailboat before, and she loved it!  I also had to go see Barnegat Lighthouse, so I sailed on Barnegat Bay very briefly.  I failed to consider the tides, and had great difficulty getting back to my starting point.  When the big fishing charter boats started coming back past me, I was a bit rattled.  My sailing skills are still a bit mediocre, so that was a wake-up call for me.  

Jan Prodell with me on Cooper River in Collingswood, NJ


Then I got this great idea to sail on all of the Great Lakes.  I was starting to head back to New England, because I had plans with my younger son, Steve, and daughter, Diane, for Labor Day weekend.  But first I drove to Lake Ontario, to Fair Haven Beach.  I sailed on Little Sodus Bay, which is a bay on Lake Ontario.  OK, not EXACTLY Lake Ontario, but I counted it, because the little channel I had to go through to get out to the actual lake was very narrow, and, well, I don't have a motor, so...


From there I went to Lake Champlain, VT.  I took a lesson at Lake Champlain Community Sailing Center.  Peter Duval, the instructor there, took me out in a little Zest, and once again, we found there was very, very little wind.  He showed me how to get a small boat moving by standing at the bow and rocking back and forth.  I sure could have used that knowledge when I was stuck in the Chesapeake Bay!  And then we practiced capsize drills.  I sailed my boat in Mallet's Bay on Lake Champlain.  There was a boat wash there, and my little boat, Annie, got a hot shower afterward!  


Then I met up with my son Steve and his girlfriend, Lani, at Lake Winnepesaukee.  That was a glorious sunny day!  Lots of fun sailing with Lani, then with Steve, then Steve took Lani out for a while without me. My daughter, Diane caught up with us later to go to the Zac Brown concert with us.  The next day, we rented jet skis for some faster fun!  I think that might be my next boat.  Despite the fact that Diane threw me off into the lake, that was still so much fun!  

Then I set off to conquer the rest of the Great Lakes.  I had some RV difficulties in NY and OH, and got stuck in Toledo for a bit.  From there, I went to Marblehead, OH to sail on Lake Erie.  By now, it is mid-September, and it was a little chilly, but I still enjoyed a nice sunny afternoon there.  I sailed a beam reach out and back, no special skill involved.  I think I might have to get into racing, just to force myself to do harder things. 


My next stop was Tawas State Park in Michigan.  This is a beautiful stop.  I would have loved to see it in the summertime.  I sailed on Lake Huron for about 20 minutes.  I got out a little bit and realized that the water was quite cold, and I only had a splash jacket on.  There were no other boats in sight, and it was starting to get a bit rough and wavy.  I decided I had pushed my luck enough and came back in.  


By the time I got to Brimley State Park on the Upper Peninsula, I had a wet suit and boots!  When I arrived, the lake looked like an ocean complete with rolling surf!  Hmmm.  I waited a few days, and it finally got calm and sunny.  The air temp and water temp were both 60 degrees, so I did dress appropriately before venturing out.  I could see Sault Ste. Marie and considered for one brief moment whether I could sail to Canada.  I decided that without my passport, I wouldn't even try.


My next stop was Bayshore Park in WI.  I sailed on Green Bay.  There were a lot of fishing boats there, and I just stayed out of their way.  


My next stop was the most fun on the whole trip so far:  Terry Hinaris, at North Shore Yacht Club in Highland Park, IL welcomed me to sail there.  There were 5 of us Sunfish sailors who tried to sail that day.  There had been big winds for the previous 2 days.  This day the winds weren't too bad, but the waves!  Goodness! The waves were 3-4 feet tall.  I think I saw a few waves even bigger than that.   Lake Michigan  looked like a washing machine!  Two of the sailors could not get out of the cove over the waves.  It took 3 people to launch me, but on my second attempt, I made it out.  So we had 3 Sunfish out on this wild ride for about 3 hours.  We had a lot of fun, and even surfed a few of the waves on the way back in.  I almost capsized twice, but didn't! 

Bill Perley , me and Terry Hinaris at North Shore Yacht Club, IL


 As I was entering the yacht club cove, I had an accidental jybe just as my main sheet stop knot came loose, and I lost control of the sail. Before I could react, I watched it slip completely out of my sail and the sail swung out front to point directly at me.  Fortunately, the waves were pushing me in.  I steered it in and before I knew it, Bill was grabbing the bow of my boat and that ended my wild ride in Illinois!  I really hope to return there someday.  That is a fun group!


I had a conference to attend in Minneapolis, so I headed there for a few days.  I sailed on Lake Harriet.  The boat ramp had a gap just wide enough to trap my trailer wheel.  Before I realized what happened, I totaled my trailer trying to get the boat launched.  The frame was twisted, and the wheel bent, and it couldn't be fixed.  I took this opportunity to upgrade to a Right On Trailer that holds my boat on its beach dolly.  That will open up more opportunities to sail from beaches as I travel around.   I got stuck in Minneapolis an extra 6 days waiting for my new trailer to arrive.  


My next stop was Lake Manawa in Council Bluffs, IA.  Matt at the Lake Manawa Sailing Association welcomed me there, and I sailed on a Sunday afternoon while they had a little regatta going on.  I realized quite last-minute that Council Bluffs is very close to Omaha, NE, where my sister-in-law, Joann, lives. (Who knew?) She gave up her plans to join me for that afternoon and helped me figure out how to get my boat and dolly on and off the trailer with a minimum of fuss.  


From there I went to the Lake of the Ozarks in MO.  I was able to get the boat and dolly on and off the trailer and take it down to the swimming beach because the boat ramp was concrete, surrounded by large rocks.  I feel proud to say I was able to sail her around the little marina there, through a tiny channel with the wind almost directly in front of me.  It was worth it because once I got out to the lake, it was so beautiful.  


Then I went to a little town in southern Missouri to visit my oldest daughter there.  


My next stop took me to Nashville, TN to visit my niece, Andalyn.  I stayed at THE NICEST RV park I've seen to date:  Elm Hill RV Resort is situated on a peninsula on Percy Priest Lake.  This may be the closest I will ever get to waterfront living.   I went for my first sunrise sail there.  After playing tourist in Nashville, I took my niece out sailing on the same lake.  I think this may have been her first time on a sailboat as well.  Hopefully not the last!


My last stop for my first leg of the Sunfish Adventure was Lake Lanier in Buford, GA.  The lake had been lowered by this time, and it was pretty chilly, but I convinced Ranger Dennis at Shoal Creek Campground to take a photo or two of me sailing there.  


And now that I ‘ve found the Sarasota Sailing Squadron, I plan to make this my winter home from now on!  I will start out again at the end of April.  There will be a lot of driving on this next leg.  My youngest is graduating college in MA in May, so I will be in New England first, then back to MO to visit my oldest, then, hopefully, to Alaska.  Geoff at the Alaska Sailing Club has been very welcoming by email.  He advised me to be there from early to mid-July.  I guess the Sunfish sailing season is only a few weeks long there.  Apparently, you can drive on Big Lake through May!  So, if anyone in the Squadron plans to be in the states of AR, OK, NE, SD, ND, MT, ID, WA, OR or AK this summer/fall, please let me know where to sail!  It's always more fun to sail with other sailors.  


Stay tuned for more of Barbara Meier’s “Sunfish Tour” adventures in future Windward Leg issues …

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