Of the world class sailors that participated in the Around Long Island Regatta, a three-day race that ended in Sea Cliff on July 28, among them was 12-year-old resident Samantha Maynard, a five-year member of Sea Cliff Yacht Club’s junior sailing program. She was the youngest sailor from Sea Cliff Yacht Club that competed in this year’s regatta.
The race is designed for sailors of all skill levels running in as many as 10 divisions, and includes crews of weekend cruisers, blue-water competitors, Academy sailing teams, and even junior sailors like Samantha, sailing along a 205 nautical mile course.
“It’s a big deal to have to sail around Long Island without stopping,” said event co-chair Doug Wefer, of Glen Head.
For Samantha, who’s more accustomed to chartering single-person boats like optis (basic training boats) and lasers (more sophisticated trainers), the regatta was “not that hard.”
“It was easier than I thought it would be, but it was still challenging,” Samantha said, as she adjusted the white sailor’s knot bracelet that was unmistakably present against her tanned skin. “It was an adventure and something new that I enjoyed.”
For this year’s regatta Samantha joined Harvey Bass, a former commodore and member of the yacht club, aboard his ship the No No Nanette, rounding out his six-person crew. In 2007, he assembled the first junior boat of Sea Cliff sailors to compete in ALIR.
“That year all the juniors ran the boat and they wound up with a second place finish,” said Bass, of Sea Cliff. Over the years Bass has selected junior sailors to help man his 37-foot Hunter boat during the regatta in an effort to promote the love of the sport at a young age.
“What few people realize is that sailing is more than just sailing itself, because with young people it really teaches them a lot of other things,” he said. “You teach them how to get along with others because, especially on a larger boat, there’s a lot of cooperation involved.”
The regatta begins in New York Harbor and heads due east past Brooklyn and Long Island’s South Shore, before winding around Montauk, across Gardiner’s Bay, and then into the Long Island Sound before ending in Sea Cliff.
While aboard, Samantha was responsible for tacking, putting the bow through the eye of the wind, jibbing, putting the stern of the boat through the eye of the wind, and trimming, or adjusting the sails. Once the boat reared into the Sound she took charge of the some of the steering. She said the last leg of the course, a 30-mile stretch to the yacht club, was the most challenging, taking 17 and a half hours.
Samantha first learned that there might be a delay on Saturday morning. Emerging from below deck she was told that the Nanette had been stuck in the same spot since 2 a.m. “The wind was just dead the entire day,” she recalled. “It was so frustrating just not moving anywhere.” After sitting in no wind for 24 hours, the anticipation of crossing the finish line in Hempstead Harbor was something Samantha would never forget.
“Since I’ve never done the regatta, I never had this feeling,” she said. “The accomplishment was just great.”
Although this was her first year competing in ALIR, Samantha has raced in events sponsored by the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island Sound, which supports its member sailing programs through leadership, training, and programming. She admitted she finds greater difficulty sailing in the shorter races, which take place over the course of a few hours rather than a few days.
“With the races I do on my laser, I’m thinking every single second, like ‘where are the puffs of wind?,’ ‘where exactly can I go?,’ ‘how am I going to get around this mark?’” she said. “I’m constantly thinking about what I’m going to do on the course. The ALIR was shocking to me because you’re still always thinking, but it’s a slower process.”
Fostering an appreciation for the sport is part of Bass’s mission, and getting young sailors like Samantha out on the water “delivers on that mission all the way around,” he said.
For Samantha, sailing is her first love, and the yacht club is her “second home.” “Every single summer since I was seven I’ve been waking up, going to swim practice and then sailing all day long,” she said. “It’s been so nice. They teach us very well here.”
“It makes me a little more confident about what I can do in the future,” she added. Samantha hopes to pursue a dual career as a naval engineer and a patent lawyer so she can create unique inventions for boats and help the sailing community.