The Harbor Report: Rain or shine, Peter sails

I have made it a point to attend at least one of all the different twilight races this year. The only class that participates in every twilight race, Monday through Friday, is the Harbor 20 class, and the only sailor who attends every twilight race is Peter Haynes aboard boat No. 201, the Spirit. He sails with his wife, Debra, in most events

Peter is also the Harbor 20 Fleet captain of Fleet One in Newport Beach. Fleet One has 110 members — boat owners and crews with 140 boats in our harbor. Of those 140 boats, around 35 boats are active in racing. Each year, the class has about 100 days of racing. Peter tries to attend each and every one of them.

That means that Peter gets more than 300 starts per year, and since 2007, Peter has won the "Rain or Shine" award given to the best attendance record for the season. OK now, that just does not seem fair. I want 300 starts every year!

I asked Peter what was his favorite regatta was each year.

"Favorite regatta? One really can't say until after an event, because the fun factor is greatly dependent on the sailing conditions," he replied. "Personally, I like the really windy days. That said, our Championship Regatta in October is a two-day gala event."

The Harbor 20 has been around for some time now, and one of the things I notice is that its participation numbers have never cycled down. In my mind, this activity level is achieved by maintaining a strong B fleet, which is for the novice to intermediate sailors.

So I asked Peter what he does, as fleet captain, to keep B Fleet so active.

He replied, "I believe I was elected fleet captain after demonstrating an ability to improve the behavior and skills of the fleet. When originally invited to join the board of directors in 2007, I suggested that my role could be to put together a continuing-education program."

I have spent a good part of my life teaching sailing — I met my wife on a sailing lesson in 1979 — and am now focused on this fleet. I offer one-day comprehensive classroom seminars, "Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing" and "Boat Handling and Sail Trim."

This past Sunday, there were 40 people in attendance at the "Boat Handling and Sail Trim" seminar at Lido Isle Yacht Club. I am working on a "Strategy and Tactics" seminar, which I plan to have available next spring.

My long-term vision is that the Harbor 20 Fleet be the place where people go to learn about racing sailboats, because the majority of the information presented pertains to any sailboat racing.

The next seminar will be "Understanding the Racing Rules of Sailing" on Aug. 29 at Lido Isle Yacht Club. We do this seminar twice a year, with the second being about a month before the championship. A course description and registration information can be found at Harbor20.org.

Now I need to remember this because I would not be looking to buy a Harbor 20 if I had grasped this concept as the Lido 14 Fleet captain.

I tried to get better information from Peter on how to find a "Fast" Harbor 20 that is for sale. His reply was that they are all very similar and anything can be fixed up.

"Yeah, right," I thought to myself. "I have owned two Schock boats in my life and have sailed many more. Looks like I will need to spend more time researching these boats."

It looks to me that one can find a used boat in the neighborhood of $15,000. I asked Peter, "What puts the biggest smile on his face when you are racing?" He said, "I am most gratified when I see folks who were struggling, but after attending the seminars, start to get in the game."

One of the other features of the Harbor 20 Peter wanted me to point out was the electric trolling motor, which swings out over the side. That way I know he always makes the start of a race, and I will always get home if the wind dies completely.

This week was the end of the Summer Jr. Sailing season. I will report back to you next week with all of the special awards given out from all the different yacht clubs around town.

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