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Big Fun with Small Boats at the Lake Union Model Boat Park By Peggy Johnson


Winter is upon us and


racing has turned from a sleeveless affair to max- fleece. If you miss racing during these winter months but hiking out on a cold, wet boat, and enduring rain needles in your eyeballs, is not your thing—or if once-a-month racing is just not enough—you might try model boat racing this winter. Even if you have never sailed before and would like to give it a try but not in a big boat away from land, check this out! The Pacific Northwest Model Yacht


T-37 model sailboat


Club (PHMYC) is a group of sailors that enjoy sailing remote-controlled T-37 sailboats. They are raced as a one- design class on lakes in the greater Seattle area. Currently the Frostbite Series is taking place on the Model Boat Pond at Lake Union Park. This is a series of races, about one per month, from October through March. Will Lesh, a trans-Atlantic sailor,


says, “Many of the members of the PNMYC are big boat sailors, as I am myself, and are still sailing actively. Others have retired from active sailing on big boats. The T37 gives everyone a way to continue sailing as they get less agile. It also gives sailors who don’t want the involvement of owning a big boat an easy way to have their own yacht to sail and race whenever they want. For newcomers to sailing and younger sailors, the T37 is an excellent way to learn everything about sailing


and the tactics of winning races, without the stress of handling a full size boat at close quarters on the race course. “Each race is like a simulated


model of the real race course, where everything is spread out and happening right in front of you. You can see and understand exactly what you have done right or where you slipped up— in other words, you get the big picture right away. You “get your head out of the boat” and learn a perspective that is critical to winning in big boats. You learn to watch the whole race course, not just what is happening in your boat. You see every wind shift, and every maneuver by every skipper. And you learn so much from sailing with the top skippers. New skippers progress fast, from trailing the fleet to being truly competitive.” By now, Will has me hooked. “The


racing rules are the same as in big boat racing, with only minor variations.


However, since it is racing on a much smaller scale, situations can develop quickly. Contact between boats can occur, but it is usually overlooked in the interest of continuing the race. So, the rule of thumb is, ‘Don’t take advantage of a situation if the other boat has the right of way.’ This attitude makes for very congenial sailing, where everyone has a great time and enjoys being out there.”


Competition in the


next T-37 season will be at a high with Olympic Gold Medalist skipper Jonathan McKee and his brother, Bates McKee, who coached the University of Washington sailing team for four years, will race, along with Peter Shorett, the 2010 T37 National Champion, who is known for being a top big boat skipper in races all around the Sound as well. A second Olympic Gold Medal winning skipper will be sailing with the fleet as soon as his boat is finished. Come on out and enjoy the fun!


The next races in the Frostbite Series are January 15, February 12, March 12, and March 26, 2011. All Frostbite races take place at the Model Boat Pond at Lake Union Park. If you get hooked, you can build your own boat. If you have any questions about


radio control sailboats, Will Lesh is an expert and enjoys talking about the subject. 1-800-206-0006 or visit: http:// home.comcast.net/~pnmyc/index. html or www.modelsailboat.com/


Remote control model boats are great fun for racers and spectators alike.


48° NORTH, JANUARY 2011 PAGE 78


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