Like Water Off a Duck’s Back

IMG_1873-cr2At first glance, I didn’t connect with Highlander 874’s stern graphic – something lost in translation.  Then two ducks flew into the picture.  Two ducks? Visions of Jimmy Spithill showed up on the finish line of race seven.



Last week I crewed for Bruce Busbey in the 2015 edition of the Highlander Nationals.  Bruce is the son of my college swimming coach, life coach and sailing mentor Bob Busbey, the “Skipper” in Skipper’s Gift. Joining Bruce and his son Justin was a real trip –  east to Hartwell Lake at Western Carolina Sailing Club then down a 50 year old memory lane.

As the Highlander Nationals progressed, interesting stories and life lessons emerged, along with action-capturing pictures courtesy of Gayle Kaufholz.

A great reminder on how to deal with snags, headers and glitches – whether sailing or not – flew in courtesy of “The Duck”. Simple explanation: Jen Kafsky always encourages her kids to shake off problems, not let them build up. “Let ’em go, just like water running off a duck’s back”.  Hence their boat name – “The Duck”. DSC_0071

All sailors (well, most of us !)  know skippering & crewing together makes for great family sport. Family geometries became more evident as the Nationals played out around the buoys.

Many boats, including the winner of the Championship Division and third place in the President’s Division, were all-family.DSCb_1002-crDSC_0393-bob

There’s more. The Bauer family had sailors on three different boats.DSC_0500 DSC_0017


The Kafsky’s, including one of their daughters, skippered and crewed on two.DSC_0910 DSC_0099

DSC_0967Not to mention on-the-water husband/wife teams plus grandparents and parents on shore duty with future sailors.

Family sailing doesn’t get any better than in the Highlander class! Back to life lessons.

DSC_0250Lake Hartwell and Mother Nature served up a variety of wind conditions over the course of the seven-race / one-throw-out series. The lead changed five times. Thanks to a “Class A” WCSC race committee the sailing was impartial to the 24 competitors throughout the entire series – not easy, but fair to all.

An important life lesson we’ve discussed in the past, never give up (Jimmy to Kids: “Never Give UP”), was clearly in play .  The winning boat tanked in race six then came back with a bullet in the last race.

DSC_0818-crHats off to Tanner Shultz along with his father and teenage son & daughter.  They sailed a solid series and didn’t let a catastrophic race 6 get them down.  They made like a duck, cleared their minds and picked up a well-earned bullet in race 7 to win the Highlander Nationals in what turned out to be the closest finish in recent memory.

Going into the last race four boats were tied for third, a mere few points behind the first and second boats.  After the final gun only five points separated the top six boats. Did someone say competitive Highlander fleet?

So the 2015 Highlander Nationals are history – and will be remembered for challenging races, close finishes, a nearly-clairvoyant race committee and outstanding shore-side southern hospitality.

If you’re interested in getting a big dose of life lessons, teamwork, and a super family sport check out any of the Highlander Fleets back east.  If you’re here in the Bay Area and you want to get your kids into sailing – or learn how to keep up with them on the water – check out the treasure chest of classes available at Treasure Island Sailing Center.

Regards from On the Cove, Dave G

In the wake:

Here’s a link to more of Gayle’s photographs from the 2015 Highlander Nationals:

Here’s the 2015 schedule of classes at TISC:

Little Angels, Thundering Angels and Big Cats

My wife Jane and I had the good fortune to be On The Bay Friday last Friday.  Doesn’t get much better than Fleet Week Air Show and AC World Series on SF Bay on the same day. Or does it?

Turns out, it does! 

I had the pleasure of spending time with Stephanie Martin and others on her PG&E Community Relations team – first at their Beale Street Headquarters then on the breakwall at Marina Green.  They filled me in on the previous day’s activities: providing 80 excited kids from Western Addition Beacon Center plus 15 PG&E volunteer chaperones an opportunity to see the big 45′ America’s Cup catamarans and learn about the science and technology behind them.  And experience the thundering roar of the Blue Angels practicing for their weekend performance.

Thursday’s activities were made possible by the generous support of PG&E in partnership with our Treasure Island Sailing Center team (two Fridays ago we took 25 kids from Mission Beacon Center for a sail on the bay).  Representatives of the National Energy Education Development (NEED) also pitched in, teaching the kids about wind power and making anemometers to measure it (as I tell new sailors “you can’t see the wind but you can see its effects”).

Ezra Garrett, PG&E VP of Community Relations, shares a few smiles before heading off to watch the AC World Cup Races.

Here’s a few pictures from the fun day on the bay Thursday with the Western Addition Beacon Center kids – courtesy of Heather Wiley / Drew Altizer Photography.



Western Addition Beacon Center Initiative kids getting a quick lesson on how AC45 catamarans start races and sail up wind.






Moving hoops across a trampoline is not that easy (and it’s not even charging over the water at 20 knots with spay flying ! ).






Bob Hodash, a Bakersfield school teacher with NEED, explaining wind power to kids from Western Addition Beacon Initiative during America’s Cup Kids Day in partnership with PG&E and TISC.





 You can read more about Thursday’s Event here: PG&E Hosts Children to Watch America’s Cup Racing

From On The Cove (at Marina Green), Dave G

 In the wake: Here’s a few pictures from our Friday on the Bay including a replica of the America up from San Diego, a pictures of the “Auld Mug”, thundering Angels and Jimmy Spithills team on Oracle 4.