829 Southdrive

829 Southdrive

A New Jersey state of mind



Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Chasing Roosters: My Fleeting Blip on the Radar Screen of the BBYRA



'Chasing Roosters' celebrates one hundred years of sailing
in the Barnegat Bay Yacht Racing Association.  Spearheaded
by arguably Barnegat Bay's most celebrated sailor, Gary Jobson,
this project along with an accompanying video was a few years
in the making, and it was well worth the wait.

I think the main focus of the book and video is the close-knit
community of clubs on the Bay, and the uniqueness that each
club brings to the table.  Some clubs have pools, some have 
tennis courts, some have both, some have neither.  Most have
bars, some have snack bars.  Some have lawns, most have 
gravel.  Some have beaches, some have bulkheads. Some 
used Duckboats for their junior programs, some used Diamonds,
some used Prams, some used Sunfish.  What they all have in 
common is a genuine love of sailing boats.  When the BBYRA 
season is in full swing, it is a true fraternity; regardless of which 
club you are a member, you are welcome anywhere, with open 
arms.  Their club grounds are yours.  Your money is good at their 
bars.  Their hoist waits for you.  Their members will patiently
wait for you to get out of their showers.  If you drink too much 
and need to leave your boat....and car in their lot overnight,
then Sunday it is.  We're sailors after all.


You know when people say that you don't appreciate something
until it's gone?  There are few things in my life that I miss more 
than summer Saturdays spent racing on Barnegat Bay.  But as a
child, and then as a teenager, it was more or less expected of me to
 sail down bay on Saturdays.  Whether I was crewing for
someone or sailing my Laser, I knew I'd be gone for the day.
It was something I had unknowingly always taken for granted.



Any given Saturday at Wagners'.  Another photo from this roll made it into the Metedeconk chapter of 'Chasing Roosters'

It's a drag getting up at 6 a.m.  But if you're gonna get to
registration in time you'd better make it there while there
are still donuts available.  That was my carrot on the end of the 
stick. Saturdays were long days when we sailed in morning and 
afternoon classes. My nickname 'Baydog' came from my 
cousin Cahil because I was always down bay. That eventually
 morphed into Bayhog, but that's another story (food-related). 

Usually, for up-bay races, we'd base operations out of 
Mantoloking, due to their decent amount of room at the hoist
 and the lawn for folding sails. For the same reasons, 
Toms River YC was usually our down-bay launch site.  We could 
quickly drive over to Island Heights or Beachwood to register 
and be back with donuts in time to head out to the racecourse.

We would always launch from Seaside on the final Saturday.
They had a long strip of beach along the road with lots of dried
eelgrass upon which you could nestle your Penguin and Laser.
Their parking lot and hoist patio were always jammed, but you
had to be there for the beer and trophy presentations following
the last day of racing.  I along with a lot of kids from Metedeconk
usually ended up on Jim Carson's 'Schnitzelboomer', where any
kid was eligible to drink as much beer as could be found on board.
It probably continues to this day..........

Seaside Saturdays were notoriously 'get home late' days.
Legend has it that my Dad's Mom, Mary 'Nana' Wagner,
the matriarch of South Drive, called the Coast Guard on more
than one BBYRA final Saturday, pissed that the summer squash
that she put on the stove at 3:00 that afternoon was overdone,
and 'where the hell could they be?'



A foggy Sunday down South Drive

Sundays were usually for kicking around 829 South Drive
in Metedeconk...sailing in the MCYC Sunday races, 
hosing off sails on the gravel, crabbing off the dock, floating 
in tire tubes under that same dock, eating...........................




..............and eating.  Dave looks hungry.


Dad won the Seaside race in 1977, but Penguin 7731 won the Bay

When one wins a Bay race, he or she receives the class Rooster
flag to keep for one week.  Write your sail number and race date
on the flag before returning it the next Saturday.  Some sailors like
 to see their name as well. Hmmmm........On the last Saturday of
the summer, the winner keeps the Rooster.  Obviously, it's
more important to bring the flag home as many times as
possible during that season.  


 Penguin 7731







Assorted flags.  Each week, pennants go to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd
place boats, with the host club's initials.  The BBYRA insignia,
the Barnegat Lighthouse, adorns the qualifying banner.  Dad's first
full season appears to be 1953, sailing the family Lightning at 18.



Jim, Dot, Jon, and Bob - MC 1

My parents, Jim and Dot, crewed for Bob Armstrong on the only 
Metedeconk E-scow at the time.  Dad was jibman, Mom on boards,
and Jon Eisberg on backstays.  Mom was black and blue all summer
long; in those days the bilgeboards were not flush on the deck, 
but rather stuck out of their trunks and were great for sitting on.  


Seaside Park, September 1978. No rooster for JW this day, but the championship banner and hardware were his.


My blip on the radar screen occured between the late sixties
through the seventies, with only occasional crewing
appearances in the eighties and early nineties. Those early
years, however, planted a seed for the passion that exists today.
  I follow the race results every Sunday and try to keep abreast
of what's going on.  I participate vicariously through BBYRA.org.
I recognize names in the standings that I knew decades ago,
and many of them are the children, and even some are the
grandchildren of those against whom I raced. 

I didn't spend decades or a lifetime on the Bay racing
like so many of those still involved.  I do, though, feel
a sense of legacy and belonging to this organization.  I never
 did particularly well in my Laser on the Bay.
 I did manage to get to a windward mark ahead of Peter
Commette in my Laser once, for what it's worth.
 In spite of that, I had many good years as a crew, always
 managing to surround myself with (okay, I was lucky
enough to have) talented skippers and mentors. All of that
imparted wisdom has accumulated over the years and made
me the confident sailor I feel I am today.  

In 1978, I got my first restaurant summer job at Jack Baker's
Wharfside in Point Pleasant Beach.  It was a good fit for
me, considering how much I loved cooking food and eating it.
It turned into a lifelong career, and it's been very good to me.
As many people know though, in the restaurant business,
you're normally expected to be at work on weekends.
This alone makes it impossible to sail in the BBYRA.

Who knows, maybe one day I'll put down the knife, and my
 wife and I will join a BBYRA club and resume this wonderful
summer ritual that at one time I didn't realize how
much I truly appreciated.

4 comments:

  1. Baydog,
    You are making me very misty ! Just celebrated your mom's 77th! Will be in the area over the 4th. Let's go sailing,
    Emotion

    ReplyDelete
  2. Baydog, I just love the rich history of sailing that is so firmly entrenched as part of your family history. Great post, my friend.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Great post, Baydog. Kinda mirrors my experiences down the coast a bit with what we used to call the South Jersey Yacht Racing Association (now MAYRA: http://www.mayra.org/). I remember going north to Surf City for the post Labor Day Regattas in Moths back in the '60s--good times! Peter C. is a great racer--tip of the hat that you got to see his bow once in a while. Ever race against Newt Wattis? Another great racer from LBI.

    ReplyDelete