Observations from the Siebel Sailors Program – Washington, D.C.
Demo Day at DC Sail
By Janel Zarkowsky, Siebel Sailors Coach
I can’t imagine a better way to spend my day: near the water, being with friends, buzzing around in a boat. I’m excited that the Siebel Sailors Program is making my joy of sailing a reality all over the Middle Atlantic region.
A glowing example was DC Sail’s RS Feva demo day turned into RS Feva Demo Week! The single day event was a chance to showcase the new fleet of RS Feva XLs that arrived at the site a few weeks prior. The one-day event became three days as DC Sail and US Sailing invited both the resident Green Fleet and JV teams to participate. After collaborating with all the DC Sail coaches, the demo day transformed into an open house and fun regatta for sailors, friends and family to enjoy.
The DC Sail Coaches allowed me to take over their practices to do a rigging demonstration and a land drill for hoisting and retrieving the asymmetrical spinnaker! These are the first boats at DC Sail to have the ability to fly a spinnaker so it was quite a spectacle. Green Fleet and JV students alike stood by in awe of the new boats. It was in part the new dock space set up for the boats, in part the brilliantly colored spinnakers, but I think ultimately it was the arrival of brand new boats. Who doesn’t like playing with a new toy?!
DC Sail is located on a narrow section of the Anacostia River, very close to Hains Point that houses most of D.C.‘s monuments, and right behind Nationals Park (possibly close enough to catch a fly ball). Despite the gusts funneling between and crashing over the buildings onto the river, the flat water of the Anacostia is perfect for small dinghies. The quick wind shifts and dramatic changes in wind velocity make learning to sail at DC Sail not only challenging, but exciting!
After two great practices with the Green Fleet and JV teams sailing the Fevas and using the asymmetrical spinnakers, the sailors were ready for the Open House and Fun Regatta! The Saturday event had a perfect 5 to 10 knot southerly building as participants arrived around noon. Over 20 sailors attended with friends and family in tow. A food spread of snacks and drinks with a bonus pizza delivery kept everyone satiated. The schedule was to run two races in FJ’s, have a lunch break, and two more races in the Fevas. Dock Manager Dylan anchored as the Race Committe; JV Coaches Andrea and Dan set buoys for the course parallel to the docks. Additionally, Green Fleet Coach Steve organized all the students on boats and briefed the parents on the dock about how races are run!
After two races, all the sailors tied up to have a pizza break and spend some time with their fans. The coaches surveyed the sailors to see if they were ready to go back out for two more races. All but one sailor wanted to just spend the next two hours free sailing in the new Fevas. All the Coaches were happy to oblige. The rest of the afternoon was spent showing off to parents sitting on the waterfront, trying out the new Fevas with friends, and learning to fly the spinnakers with me!
All and all a very successful week of practice, ending in a perfect Saturday afternoon near the water, with family and friends, buzzing around in boats.