Category Archives: Thoughts

Imprints in Time

I have always been interested in the American Civil War for as long as I can remember.  I’ve read countless books describing lively skirmishes, fierce battles, courageous generals – and of course, the gruesome cruelty of war. So when I had the opportunity as a young man to visit the Gettysburg National Battlefield to experience the site of perhaps the most infamous battle in American history, I was giddy at the prospect of imagining battle formations from atop Seminary Ridge, feeling the adrenaline pouring through the ranks of the 20th Maine on Little Round Top, and walking through the field in the footsteps of Pickett’s men as the battle reached its climax.

But when I arrived and began to tour the field, my excitement was overtaken by an immense sense of sadness and reverence.  This was the place where over 8,000 men lost their lives in three days.  8,000 husbands who did not come home.  Tens of thousands of children who would not see their fathers again.  I knew the stories from the books, but it wasn’t until I was at that place that I could feel Gettysburg.  Gettysburg has an energy that is as real as the love we feel for our own families.  I felt the energy of those who died there.  I feel it at all of the other battlefields that I have visited since.

It may seem ridiculous to compare a battle at a military park with a sailing regatta, but this past weekend I experienced a similarly powerful reaction.  West River Sailing Club hosted the Dave Irey Memorial Regatta and welcomed back the Jet-14s, who have been absent from the club since the fleet was disbanded a few years ago.  It was my first time back at WRSC since my first ever sailing regatta in 2001.  At that time, my girlfriend (now wife Paula) thought it would be a good idea to put my 3 weeks of sailing experience to the test as crew in the WRSC fleet boat, “Betty”.

As I looked around the grounds, imprints of that weekend immediately came forward as if I was back in 2001.  There was Rhett Simmonds helping us rig Betty.  The damn tiller extension that kept popping off unless Paula pushed down on it just right.  The race that turned into a reach to reach that was won handily by some guy from New Jersey named Brent Barbehenn.  Hiking so hard that my legs began to spasm.  Gary Mentesana showing up just for Sunday’s races in a boat held together with duct tape and 564 gallons of epoxy and winning both of them.  I could feel that this was a special place for the Jet class.

This past weekend, 6 Jet-14 skippers, crews and their friends and families created new imprints in time.  We raced, argued a little, had a few drinks, ate plenty of seafood, and promised to see each other again in August for the Nationals.  Our numbers were not large, but the energy was positive and powerful.  We missed those that have moved on but treasured our friends that could be with us.  It was good to be back.

Chris
#483

Welcome to 2016 from President Barbehenn

Welcome to 2016, another promising year for Jet sailing! 2015 ended on a high note with 15 boats enjoying another awesome regatta hosted by Mohican Sailing Club, and there is no reason why more will not attend this coming year. Although there has been a decline in participation in the NJ and Chesapeake areas, North Carolina continues to gain momentum, and Ohio remains strong. Perhaps with West River Sailing Club (Galesville, MD) hosting this year’s Nationals in the beginning of August, there will be a resurgence of activity in the area. Word has it Dirk Schwenk may come out of retirement for the event!

The first event to look forward to will be the Southern Comfort Regatta in beautiful Asheville, NC (April 16-17).  Just visiting Asheville without sailing is fun enough, but when you get to sail as well….doesn’t get better! Even if it’s cold weather, no problem. The 80 degree water (courtesy of the nearby power plant) keeps us warm!  Friday nite darts, hushpuppies, and perhaps a golf lesson from golf pro/ex-prez/webmaster/regatta chairman Chris Hennon (if you get there a day early) are other bonuses for attending this fun event.

Again, THANK YOU Chris for serving as Class President the past 2 years.  I have previously served as President, and it is again an honor to do it. We have a talented Board of Governors, and I look forward to working with everyone to continue the momentum Chris has built. The 2016 schedule is nearly complete – look for it soon.

And I urge everyone to keep in mind that “I” cannot make things happen, rather “WE” can make it happen. Let’s have a great year!

-Brent

Brent Barbehenn Jet-14 #558

Jet-14 Nationals Reflections

It’s hard to adequately describe the overwhelmingly positive experience that I had at Nationals.  Even more surprising since we had to deal with a rogue trailer roller that decided to punch through our hull on the very first day.  Bryan Parker has written up a fantastic recap of the racing and some of the other highlights of the week.  Now that things have calmed down and I’ve had some time to reflect, allow me to highlight some of the awesome things that I saw and experienced during the week at Mayfield.  I’m sure that many of you had similar experiences.

1. Dean and Kelly Whalen

Can’t justify with words the job that was done to make this a successful event.  Kelly was everywhere all week, taking pictures, helping with food, helping the weary skippers and crew get out of the water, and just solving any problem that came along.  As far as I could tell, Dean took the lead in just about everything for the event, including gathering race committee, arranging housing (thank you for our lovely boat!), food, finding crew, t-shirts, auction, and everything else required to pull off a Nationals.  Thank you!  And Chris Whalen, you are getting good – keep sailing!

2. Mayfield Yacht Club and their generous members

MYC is not a one-design club.  In fact, the Jet-14s as far as I can tell are the only non-cruising/power boat fleet in the whole club.  So I was gratified to see that their membership took it to another level to welcome us back, whether it be helping out on race committee, taking pictures, helping with food, donating their boats for housing (or rescue!), letting us park and mess up their grounds, and just making us feel welcome.  I know I speak for everyone when I say that we will look forward to coming back!

3. Dave Japikse the boat finder

I thought our Nationals was over at the end of Day 1 when #483 jumped off the trailer pulling up the ramp and crashed down through the trailer (completely my fault I should add).  Next I think I know, Dave is pulling out of the club with an empty trailer (the Parker’s – thank you!) on his way to pick up a mysterious Jet-14 out in the woods somewhere.  He brought us a rock solid boat that we were able to race for the final couple of days without one thing breaking.  I hope we were able to help out with the tuning a little bit so that the boat will be a bit quicker.  Thank you! 

4. New faces in the fleet

At the 2013 Nationals at Lake Norman last year we had a number of new skippers and crews, many from the North Carolina area.  This year the trend continued.  I was happy to meet Paul and PJ Blonski (Edgewater), Lee Sackett with crew Emily (Edgewater), and Dennis Foley (Mayfield).  The trick is to keep the new faces coming back.  Signs are that this time they will.  Dennis was indicating his interest at coming out to Ohio this fall for the Halloween Classic.  Speaking of Edgewater, they had the most boats in the entire fleet – keep up the great fleet building work!

5. Quality of the racing was ridiculously good

The first two days we were more concerned with not flipping over than racing.  Watching the top boats compete in winds of 15-20 kt. with gusts into the 20s was mind blowing.  They were consistently keeping the boats flat and fast.  Chutes came out like it was nothing.  It looks like magic to me, and I know its not, but it gives us bottom feeders something to work for in the coming months and years.  

6. The new Iron Man

Tom Grace has raced in every single Jet-14 Nationals since 1975.  1975!!!  But more than that, Tom is just the nicest guy you will ever meet, and he’s incredibly important to Jet sailing at Lake Norman and in North Carolina.  I’m looking forward to many more years of competing with him and Paula Pacheco – someday we will pass them on a run.

7. My wife and crew Paula

Sharing a boat with your spouse in 20 kt is a good way to explosively release all at once those things that you’ve buried deep inside of you.  Paula, thank you for introducing me to sailing, for teaching me all I know, for trying to stay positive after I make yet another bad start (“Say FAST, not F@#!”), for sticking in there when your body says no, for putting up with my whining and complaining, for not telling me where to go, and for being my partner in sailing and in life.  

Racing sailboats is a great classroom for life.  Thank you all for letting me share these experiences with you.  

Chris

Nationals Weather Forecast

You may not know this but I am a professional meteorologist.  Some claim this gives me an inherent advantage to racing sailboats, but my results speak to the truth.  What I do know is that there is some great news for our Nationals participants and some not so great news for the Women and Juniors on Wednesday.

Women/Junior Nationals on Wednesday looks like a good day to own an ark.  Heavy rain is forecast Tuesday night and through the day on Wednesday with 1-2″ accumulations.  Typically this type of rain comes with little wind unless we’re dealing with a tropical storm.  A reschedule of this event to later in the week is likely – stay tuned.

Once we get past Wednesday, the weather looks FANTASTIC.  Partly sunny Thursday, temperatures in the upper 60s, with a strong 12-18 kt westerly.  For those who remember the 2009 event at Mayfield, this is about the opposite of what we had on day 1.  Friday looks like another awesome day, with 6-10 kt. winds, dry conditions, and temperatures in the mid-upper 60s again.  And we’ll finish things off Saturday in 8-12 kt. conditions with warming temperatures into the mid-70s.

I know I will be enjoying the conditions regardless of my finishes (cough cough).  Before I sign off I’d like to thank Marion and the folks at Mohican Sailing Club for letting us get in some pre-Nationals racing on Sunday.  We had 5 Jets out there along with a few Interlakes in a pretty decent Mohican wind.

From a luxurious Red Roof Inn in Utica NY,
Chris

Regatta Moments

I just returned home late last night from an incredible weekend of Jet sailing at Severn Sailing Association.  Fleet Captains Eric Johnson and Cathy Cotell were gracious hosts and worked hard to get the local sailors out.  Weather was almost perfect, with temperatures in the mid-upper 60s and a beautiful (but shifty!) 5-10 kt. northwesterly most of the weekend.

Eric will provide the highlights for the racing but I’d like to share what I thought were the best moments of the weekend.  After racing on Saturday, Eric arranged for a fleet dinner at Cantlers, a legendary local crab shack.  This place was so legendary that you had to wait 20 minutes to park your car before you had to wait 20 minutes for a table.  It was a tribute to the SSA fleet that everyone out sailing that day made the effort to share a table with their out of town guests.  I found out that Ed Lutz has about 232 boats (“I just love boats!” he exclaimed), graduated from the Naval Academy a long time ago and had JFK as his commencement speaker.  I learned that Gary Mentesana‘s father learned to sail by reading a book and that Gary’s college housing was a beachfront house which didn’t encourage studying.  We found out that Cathy Mentesana won’t take shit from Gary in the boat, and that Chris Wood doesn’t know the sail number of his own boat.

The SSA fleet couldn’t be more friendly on the water, even as they are kicking your ass.  Gary and Cathy are always thinking 4 steps ahead of everyone else, and then even try to take the blame when a certain port tacker almost t-boned them.  Eric and Cathy C. somehow make you feel O.K. that they are passing you again on the run.  You couldn’t tell whether Ed and Chris had finished last every race or won the regatta based on their demeanor after racing.  All thanked us profusely for coming out and supporting their event.  Good vibes.

I received an uplifting email this morning from my crew Connie Berchem .  When my regular crew was unable to make the trip I sent out a desperate call for help and Connie unexpectedly said “Hell yes, I’ll go to Annapolis with you!”.  I didn’t know Connie that well from our group in Asheville – she had had an incredibly rough stretch of life the past couple of years and wasn’t around that much.  But we had absolutely the best time in the boat, and she was an incredible source of encouragement and strength even when I was making my typical tactical errors.  She kept thanking me over and over again for the opportunity.  On our trip home, Connie told me that she wants to get a Jet of her own.

Regattas are so much more than winning or losing (yes, winning feels good I heard).  What is important is to show up – you never know nor will realize ahead of time how much good will come out of it.  These are the moments that bind us together and give us the energy to continue forward.  I was worried about how our friends at SSA were going to stick through this challenging period, but after this weekend I know they got this.

Chris