Today's photo from the Tillerman family archives is of the Mountain Lakes Sailing Association Sunfish fleet racing one Sunday morning, apparently in some year before the invention of color photography. Although actually I think it's from the dim, distant days of the early 1990's. It's not clear to me why my family has so many black-and-white photos taken in that era but it might have have had something to do with my sons wanting images that they could manipulate in the high school darkroom. At least, I hope that's what they were doing in the high school darkroom. I didn't ask too many questions.
I have written before about this fleet at Sunfish Fleet 17 and Goose Poop Beach Sailing Club, so I'll try not to repeat too much of what I wrote there, but you will have to excuse me if I ramble on. We old people love to tell stories about the good old days.
Mountain Lakes, by the way, is in New Jersey and was where I used to live from 1988 to 2007.
The photo is taken just after the start of a race on a day when, quite unusually for this lake, the wind appears to exceed 2 knots. The start line was always set across the narrowest part of the lake so the race officer could sight the line from the beach (where the photographer appears to be standing.) The club does not have a race committee boat or a safety boat; indeed motor boats are banned on the lake. Note also that (at least in this epoch) hardly anybody in the fleet seems to be wearing a life-jacket. Them were the days.
Did I mention the lake was narrow at this point? This created the interesting tactical situation that the whole fleet usually set off on starboard tack towards a shore that was only a few hundred feet away and, as a result, those sailors who started at the pin end of the line would be bleating for room to tack only a few seconds after the start. Of course everyone in the fleet was fully cognizant of all the intricacies of Rule 20 (or Rule 43 as we used to call it in those days) and the whole fleet would tack away from the shore in perfect harmony with only a few T-boned Sunfish and hardly any naughty words. It was Sunday, after all.
It looks as if son #1 (the blogger formerly known as Litoralis) is in the lead. That's him on the far right of the picture with the sail number ending in 49. To windward of him in 49732 is one of the experts at sailing on this lake, Jaro Mesicek. I suspect he gave Litoralis a run for his money in this race.
The sailor in 29401 is Jay Eveleth, the godfather of junior sailing in this club for many years. When I retired from real work in 2000 I spent the next three summers on this lake helping Jay run the summer program for juniors.
And there I am in 77275, buried as usual in mid-fleet, eating bad air from at least three other boats. Why I didn't tack away for clear air in that huge gap that appears to be available is a mystery to me. My brain starts functioning in weird ways once the start signal sounds and I don't always remember what Stuart Walker and Ed Baird and Dave Perry wrote in all those books I own.
I don't yet appear to have entered my flowery hat period.
I sailed with this club for about 15 years and never did master the boat or the lake, although I was very intense and committed to improving my skills and finishing as high as I could in the season series. There were only a dozen or so regular racers but I hardly every managed to break into the top five in the overall results.
At nearby Hunterdon Sailing Club they have a Force 5 Regatta called the Millard Fillmore Regatta. Millard Fillmore was (apparently) America's most mediocre president and the prestigious Millard Fillmore trophy is awarded not to the winner of the regatta, but to the sailor who finishes in the exact middle of the fleet. I was the Millard Fillmore of Mountain Lakes.
But it was fun. I feel very nostalgic about all the summer Sundays I spent racing there and hanging out on the beach with all the fine folk in Sunfish Fleet 17. This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the town of Mountain Lakes, and the sailing club is holding a special Centennial Regatta on the July 4th weekend to celebrate. I might just have to go back for that.
This post was sponsored by North Jersey Lakes Goose Management, Egg Addling, Fence Installation and Poop Removal Company. No geese were harmed in the making of this blog.