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This Article Last Updated: Oct 14th, 2010 - 15:13:49 

First Time Star Sailing
By Barbara Beigel Vosbury, Executive Director
Jun 29, 2009, 20:41

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First time Star sailing……..

What a great weekend it was---pouring down rain, not much wind, a current that will take you straight to Philadelphia and back again if you are not careful. How can that be great, you ask?

Well you see, I was crewing for an 18 year old for his first time in a Star, my Star. My niece, also 18, was skippering another Star—her first time also. This all adds up to one of those American Express “PRICELESS” commercials. And priceless it was.

The smiles on their faces the first time the boat heeled a little bit and went forward, the first puff that hit and the boat loaded up and went even faster forward, the first tack when their 420/Opti experience had them with the hiking stick forward and all tangled up in the main sheet, the OMG moment during the first gybe in a puff—“I can’t believe how long that boom is”—and the final “when can we do this again?”.

We took off or Lippincottville more commonly known as Riverton NJ this past weekend for some Star sailing and training for the Junior Western Hemispheres. Schedules made it impossible for practice so we chose a low key fun event to break the kids in.

The kids:

Bobby Lippincott, 18, Oxford, Maryland. Prefers Bob to Bobby. Son of Richard and Pucky Lippincott, grandson of Bob “Pear” Lippincott. This poor young man has a heritage live up to that would scare the bejesus out of most people, but he bucks up perfectly with it.

Laura Beigel, 18, Severna Park, Maryland. Daughter of Read and Shelley Beigel, niece of Barbara Beigel Vosbury. Not as much heritage going on here (although she’ll swear that between her father and her aunt there is no one out there they do not know!) but she comes from a grounded full out sailing family and lives to sail.

Riverton NJ. Just two and one half hours from Annapolis (depending on how you get there—more on that later) and I call it “Lippincottville”. You know when you’re driving to a regatta and you go through a small town and think to yourself “wow, I’ll bet everyone here is related”? Well they are in Riverton. Bob has 61 first cousins—yes I wrote the number correctly 61. He says that every time he comes to Riverton he meets a new cousin. Most all of the Lippincott relatives live in or around Riverton—some have ventured out, but they all come back to visit and catch up. Aunt Barbara Lippincott Martin seems to be the matriarch of the family anymore and somehow manages to keep them mostly straight. I think she told me last Fourth of July (her annual family party) there were over 100 relatives in attendance.

There is not one Lippincott relative that can’t tell a story! Oh my goodness are there stories, generations of stories!! For those of you who know a Lippincott or two, this is nothing new. Sometimes you will hear the same story told over and over by the various Lipps in attendance—who I promise you have ‘very’ different perspectives—and it will be just as funny as the first time you ever heard it.

Now that the stage is set, I’ll get back to the regatta.

Kris Wilson and I are off to crew for Laura and Bob in the <a href="http://http://starcham.nextmp.net/classic/search.cgi?Action=view&Event_id=1836" riverton yacht club governor. Kris picks up Laura and the Star and they are off! I grab my Star and over the Bay Bridge to pick up Bob and we’re off!

After the requisite “How was school?”, “How are your grades?”, “Where do you want to go to college?”, questions the conversation turns to Star sailing—that is what we’re here for, after all! You know the drill—900 lb bulb on the keel, big main, little jib, low boom, very bendy rig, don’t move the tiller too much, this is not like a 420, no you cannot hike it down! Bob and I get into some ‘stories’ about Stars and Lipps. He, of course, asks what it was like to sail with Uncle Trapper. Well I’ve got some stories of my own with that guy!!! I had the privilege (and sometimes horror) of sailing with Trapper for 5 seasons. We had some great times and went to some great regattas. I shared some with Bob, mostly the good stories, all of which seemed to start out with “I’ve been sailing Stars for 40 years…..”. With that, Bob is doubled over in the passenger seat!! Apparently he’s heard this phrase before—you think?! We have great laughs comparing the “40 year” stories.

Bob’s dad still has his Star #6208. He keeps it for……well, we’re really not sure why he keeps it, but we think it is because it was the last one he built, one of the last ones that Lippincott Boat works built and he just can’t let go of that part of his life—and that is okay (but it is fun to tease him about it!). Uncle Trapper, before he passed away, asked Bob if his mother had a hitch on her car. Bob lights up and says “yes”. Uncle Trapper says “Well, Bob, you should have your mom hook that Star up to the back of her car” and Bob interjects “And will you help me fix it up to sail it Uncle Trap?” to which Uncle Trapper finishes his statement “and have her take it to the dump, it’s falling apart and isn’t competitive anymore.” I don’t think Bob knew whether to laugh or cry….his whole life he’s heard about this Star sailing and the many, many adventures and his dream has now been crushed. On the other hand Bob has a wicked sense of humor (even as a young child) and once he got past the dream crushing he saw the great humor (and the always present competition between the Lipps) in the comment!

Another of the Uncle Trap stories I tell Bob is about going to Connecticut to sail. We HAD to go the George Washington Bridge. Why, says I? I’ve been trailering J24’s up and down this coast and the Garden State is a much easier drive. But there’s all those tolls. Yes, but the traffic is less. I’ve been sailing Stars for 40 years and this is the way we go to Connecticut!!! OK. OK. Well we get to the bridge and sit in park for 1 hour!!! I look at Trap and say “And which route will we take home?” to which he replies “The Garden State”!

Bob and I took a little side trip through Mount Holly, NJ to get to Riverton! No one can figure how we got there—including us—but it was an adventure and we weren’t letting the little side trip ruin the weekend. We just laughed it off and, with help from Ryan not my brother Lippincott, we managed to get to the club on Friday night. Meeting us at the gate were Kris and Laura and a large box of Twizzlers, Ryan not my brother Lippincott (son of Beth and grandson of the infamous Howard) and Joe Pro. We push the boat out onto the dock, under the club house to the spot Kris has reserved for us. Ah, we can crash now—we’ve got a big day tomorrow. Aunt Barbara is waiting up and shows us all to our rooms for some much needed shut eye.

Barbara’s house is the first house off the dock at the club. She has a beautiful old home on the water where she and her husband raised five children. It is a wonderful place and the view is to die for. We are very fortunate and thankful that we get to stay here. Oh and yes, Barbara has her own set of stories and don’t think she didn’t let some out!!!

We are all up early to get to the club and start setting up. Good thing, as the rain hasn’t quite started yet. Kris and I are busy putting masts together, sharing tools and teaching Laura and Bob about the spreader sweep and tensions (not that we understand this the way the Olympians do, but we can give them the basics!!). Mark Oberg arrives with his boat and Kris and I are quick to jump on his height and youth and muscle to help us put up the spars. Laura and Bob are kind of watching with amazement as what appears to be a straight section of aluminum tubing is wiggling around like a noodle as it is being raised and set in place. We get both boats rigged up, sails on and we’re ready to go.

Now, did I mention the current?

OMG this is just amazing here. We watched a tree go up the river passed the club house early in the morning. It had a big nest on it and branches that stuck up and made it look like Nessie the sea monster. About the time of the first race it came back down river. The tide here has a seven foot drop. The current races in for six hours, literally stops (in the channel it stops, on the sides—the Pennsylvania side and the Jersey side—it changes before the stop) for about 15 to 20 minutes and then races back out for seven hours. If you get your timing on it right you can make some big gains. In Riverton racing is all about the shores and the current sweeps—Uncle Trap used to call it the Delaware River Slide!

We get dressed and launch. There are 3 races scheduled for today—good luck Race Committee.

Riverton YC is on a pier that is directly at the end of Main Street in Riverton. If you run the stop sign you’ll end up on the pier! It is a very large club and the main part is up stairs. Downstairs are heads, storage and a kitchen. There is a passage under the building so that you can roll your boat out onto the launching area. The Race Committee stand up on the deck on the second floor and calls the races like sports casters! Yep, he’s on a loud hailer and instead of flags they use lights like traffic lights. It’s all very strange to me, but hey, I’m just visiting!

Racing is around fixed yacht club marks and government marks. YC marks are yellow and lettered, government marks are whatever color they are and numbered how they are on the river. Oh, yes and there are ships and tugs that go up and down this river—and they don’t like the sailboats in the way! Actually neither do the Pennsylvanians! One of the tricks on the river is to sneak up the sides to avoid the current. Sometimes this takes you into anchorages. Quaker City anchorage is on the Pennsylvania side of the river and someone (power, sail, man, woman, fast or slow—no one really knows) at sometime (day, night, rain or shine) went through the anchorage and damaged a boat, so now that anchorage is off limits. In fact, the Philadelphia police boat will chase you down if you go in there!!

Race one is getting underway. The course is ED1lapP. What the heck? Out comes the little chart that they provide. A person must be very young to be able to read this thing, so poor Bob has to drive and read because I don’t have my glasses out here. I can find the marks if you tell me which direction, but read that chart? I don’t think so.

E is up the river just past the old Lippincott Boat Works and D is down river near the stacks, only once around and back to finish, marks to port. The current is coming up the river so we need to be careful on the line. Bob does a nice job on the start a little late but not too bad and we’re off. Mark Oberg is leading and Bob does a good job of catching up. We round just behind Mark, but then he knows the river better and takes off. Bye, bye! Mark is tied up and mainsail down well before we get to the finish line!

On the leg from E to D there is a HUGE line of debris in the water. At some point we need to cross the debris to get into slower moving water—we’re sailing up current now. Bob looks ahead—Is that a beach? What? Is that a beach ahead? No, it’s just debris. No Way! Way! No, but that’s a good name for the boat tomorrow!! Trying to choose a spot with breeze and less debris is challenging. Bob and I are discussing this when Bob has his first AHA moment! All those hours listening to his dad about sailing here for 40 years were going to pay off! What time is it? The current is changing. It will stop for 20 minutes and roar the other way! It’s that time. We opt to stay on the channel side of the debris instead of crossing. Mark D is smack in the middle of the debris so we do have to gybe in there to round. We were way ahead of Keith and so on for everyone else. We cross the line and the RC guy says Star 7986 over, second place—I told you it’s like a sports casters box!!! Bobs first Star race-2nd!! Good job. We go to the dock tie up, main down and wait until every last boat has finished.

Race 2. The breeze and current have now switched and so has the course. AD1lapP. Bob asks me what the yellow light means. What yellow light? I’m just listening to the horns. Out comes the chart—navigating on a very short race, whodathunkit? I don’t remember all the details about this race. Bob and I spend some time working on the pointing and trimming of sails. I tell some Uncle Trap stories about “keeping it on the edge”—which will mainly come into play later on. We end up 4th in that race, crossing the line with “Star 7986, over, fourth place”. You gotta love it!

There is supposed to be a storm coming through tonight. Mark has taken his sails off because apparently when the storms come through they are nasty. We whip out the covers for the boats, tie them on tight and start making our way to Aunt Barbara’s to get ready for the party. We are all pretty tired and taking a nap seems to be everyone’s priority. Laura is off first for the shower and we assume a nap. Kris, Bob and I are socializing on the dock with beer and chips (soda for Bob—don’t worry Pucky!). Back at Aunt Barbara’s we all get showered and are relaxing for the party. Aunt Barbara’s friend Mary Jane Holland comes by. Her husband Bob used to crew in Stars way back when. She seemed quite happy to meet Pear’s grandson and his crazy friends from Maryland. Aunt Barbara was just happy to have a house full of sailors. She wanted to know the details of the race. We’re sitting on her front porch—inside, it’s still raining!!

The Party is good, Ribs cooked two ways and chicken all done professionally in a smoker—yummy! Salads, wine, margaritas, beer and a Band to boot! The only place in the tent to sit when we arrive is by the band—bad call, no conversation during dinner for sure, although Bob and Laura are having a great time watching and cutting up about the shaggy dog looking guy in the band.

Joe and Bogna Pro invite the Star sailors over to their home for some after dinner drinks and conversation. Reports are it was a fun time for all who attended…..this girl hit the pillow and that was that!

Sunday morning we’re all a little slower out of the beds but we wake up to darks skies, yet again and there is much more breeze than Saturday. The forecast is for the front to come through and the breeze to build throughout the day. The breeze is coming from across the river straight at the club. Now this may sound okay, but I’m a little confused. Remember we start between the flagpole on the porch on the clubhouse and a mark in the river—now how are they going to do this starting line? And there’s really no weather leg! Hmmmmmmm.

Meanwhile it’s gusty—about 14-18 in the gusts. It may be a little much for Day two in a Star sailing career…..we have some time…..let’s just see how this plays out. Mark Oberg is not sailing. His crew from Saturday could not make it and his wife begrudgingly said she would sail with him, after all it is Father’s Day! With the gray day and forecast Mark pulls the plug. He is quite busy telling all of us the forecast—like I said it’s just day two for Bob and Laura and I don’t want them to be nervous about this boat, I want them to always come back to this class!

Kris and Laura opt out of the first race. Bob is really itching to go, but will sit ashore if I say so “It’s your boat.” I did notice that the gusts were fewer and farther between and Richard is being the voice of reason (Lippincott-voice of reason-doesn’t seem to fit together!) saying “Hey, just try it, you can always come in!” So Bob and I dress quickly, launch and go! We get out in time to start the race (the RC waited for us—I hate that! If we’re late that’s our fault, but don’t hold everyone up because we’re indecisive! But they did wait.).

Of course, we didn’t really get the course, we got the first mark and then the rest was kind of a blur. Up, then down, then across and something, something to the finish. No problem we’ll just deal with it. Well, that’s all well and good until find yourself leading the race—Oh Sh*&! Now what? We’re sailing down river in to mark D in first place and Richard is on the pier at the club. I say to Bob “Your dad must be having a baby right now. “ Bob chuckles and agrees! Well, Keith made it easy after one mark, nicely adding “aren’t we supposed to go to D again?” Then we get closer to D and Bob and I look at each other—now what again? So I just yell over and ask. Back to A and then the finish. “Thank you, Keith!” Bob went on to win his first Star race. The smile on his face was almost as big as proud papa’s on the dock!!!

Race two the girls come out. Bob is very excited about this because it is a ton of fun sailing these boats when the breeze is up some!! We get the course this time FADA1lapP! Okay, we’re set. We’re in sequence and our timing is off a little (the current is more than we’re anticipating) and we get to the pin too early. Laura is all over us, no up , no down, Darn! She nails the start and we’re spinning to get back to the proper side of the line. We play catch up the rest of the race, passing Nic Pro and then losing him again on the last leg. Bob’s comment “I think the baby died!” The breeze is up and down and shifty. The poles are up, they’re down, the rig is forward, it’s back—a lot of changing gears! 4th-ugh! No, I’m sorry it’s 7986, over, 4th place! The best news we get after the race, Laura and Kris won!! Sadly, we had to admit we were too far back to notice!

In between races I remind Bob that he has just finished high school team racing Nationals and that Laura’s start was all about that, keeping us out! Another AHA moment!

Race three is the same course—yes we’re really good about checking now! But a good start was yet again out of our reach! Kris is helping Laura with her starts but Laura finally says to her “Thanks for playing Kris, but I’ve got it” a gybe a tack and she was off to nail another start! Dang, wish I was that good!

Bob and I play catch up again, but we never pass Nic. Oh well, his pickle is popped! I’m sure that he’s never had so much fun getting last in a race before! We were never really out of it but we never did catch up. Bob learned that concentration is key and OMG this is fun! A good day all in all.

Back to the dock to haul, pack up and trophies. We’re busy taking the boats apart and Bob is eager to be a part of the whole thing. He’s up in the boat scrubbing away, finding things that are left over from the winter in Florida—“oh yes, that was Michael’s!” You know, Bob, you can sail my boat anytime if you keep that up!!! He just smiles, but I see those wheels turning in his head.

We’re almost finished and Richard comes by and says to wrap it up for trophies. I’m thinking we blew it (I’ve never been able to keep that math in my head when racing) and we’re just going up to cheer everyone else on. No—we’re second!! WOO HOO! Keith is first—he certainly deserved it, Bob second and Laura third!!! Wow! How great is that—first weekend in a Star and they both come home with trophies!! I think they might be hooked!

We get in the cars to leave and are debating on which way home. Kris wants to take the Turnpike and Richard is insistent on 95—less traffic, etc. We do the caravan out and are on our way home. Bob driving Richard home, Kris and Laura and me! We come into a rolling back up around Philadelphia that lasts for a LONG time. I’m sitting in my car reminding myself that I’ve done this before—listening to a Lippincott tell me which way to go and then being stuck. Why I think that Richard knows the best way I’m not sure—he’s been coming here for 40 years?! You think?

It was a fabulous weekend and I can’t wait to do it again!

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