a star is reborn?
The Star Class is unquesionably the place to be when it comes to elite sailors, so when I was recently invited to participate in a Star clinic hosted by Cottage Park YC in Boston, I jumped at the chance. The Cottage Park fleet is typical of many local Star fleets; passionate sailors who have been in the class for decades, but lacking younger and new members. In an attempt to spark new interest in the class, the CPYC fleet organized an introductory racing clinic, complete with on the water coaching by local ace Jud Smith. The event quickly fillet out, and soon 20 eager sailors were assembled on the docks for an introduction to fleet and the boat.
Before being turned loose on the water, Jud gathered the Star newbies around for a quick walkthrough of the boat. “The Star mast is actually quite durable, unless you do something dumb” joked Jud as the mast was raked forward. Since a Star has no spinnaker, raking of the mast fore and aft is critical to maintaining flow over the huge mainsail downwind. As Snipe world champion Ernesto Rodriguez, our second coach of the day demonstrated, raking the mast to its upwind position, as Jud directed of a litany of “Don’t do this or the mast will come down” notes to us. “Don’t forget to ease the mast puller before going upwind”. Check. “Don’t have the upper check on going downwind or you’ll invert the rig.” Check. “Don’t get the whisker pole in the water to weather or you could break the pole.” Check. Soon, the new Star sailors were all glancing around, partly thinking Jud was being an overprotective parent, partly hoping they wouldn’t be the one to break a mast!
Finally, new sailors were paired with current owners who graciously agreed to let total strangers race their babies. For the owners, it was also a chance to pull on a harness and hang off the side for some crewing practice. Sails went up, and soon Boston Harbor was filled with teams eager to race. Perfect conditions allowed for six races and some practice drills. Racing proved instantly competitive, with four boats all converging on the weather mark at the same time. Over post-race socializing, current fleet members put the hard sell on all of the new Star converts to stay involved with the fleet.
You don’t have to be in Boston to become part of the Star class. Active fleets can be found on both US coasts, and throughout the world. With a generous crew weight maximum, you can be a competitive Star sailor weighing as little as 170 pounds, or as heavy as 250. Fleets are always welcoming to new sailors, and they want YOU. Find a fleet near you at www.starclass.org and go for a sail. Who knows, you may soon be lining up against Jud Smith, Hamish Pepper, Robert Scheidt…or me! More photos here.