Families, Mutineer Championship and Tampa Sailing Squadron
by Don Miller
Competitors and families from Alabama, Florida, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nebraska, Ohio and Texas raced in the Mutineer National Championship and enjoyed newly upgraded Tampa Sailing Squadron (TSS) facilities at Apollo Beach, FL on October 19-23, 2015.
This is the story of those teams and families.
Mutineers, first produced in 1971 by Chrysler Corporation, are essentially a two person sailboat 15 feet long, with 150 square feet of sail plus optional spinnaker. It is raced by all ages. The youngest skipper was 12 and the oldest 73 years in this year's Nationals
TSS Youth Sailing was formed more than 20 years ago. This summer more than 160 sailors ages 7 to 17 participated in the “Learn to Sail” program. Youth Sailing launched an “Adopt a Mutt” program in 2013. Grandfathers, husbands, wives and children have worked on the 1970’s vintage boats in exchange for sailing privileges.
Three of the adopted Mutts finished in the top six Gold Fleet racers and another was second in Silver Fleet.
2015 Mutineer Nationals was remarkable for the involvement of families. After 13 races, husband-wife team, Ernie and Carol French from Nebraska, won for the 10th time. Silver Fleet winners, Jim Davis and wife, Margaret, must now sail in Gold Fleet.
The Tonkins, with twelve-year-old Zachary at the helm and dad, Dave, as crew finished in fifth in the YS Mutt “The Force”, a boat they painted and rigged in three weeks. Zachary could only work on the boat when his homework was done. He also serves as a YS volunteer during the summer classes.
A father-son team from Texas, Randy and Daniel Polson (age 13) placed 6th in the Silver fleet. Youngest of seven children and a fierce competitor, Daniel is known for helping even younger sailors.
And there was family competition. Youth Sailing assistant, Katie Kresge was at the helm of one boat and her father, Dan, crewed on another. Her dad wished that Katie and her crew Jeremiah Meck, also a YS assistant, would win, but he did not intend to make it easy. Although Katie and Jeremiah were able to keep up with Champions on some parts of the race course they placed 10th while her dad came in 3rd.
The Ernie and Carol French are wonderful teachers and came to Apollo Beach several days early to share knowledge. While receiving their Championship trophy, the Frenches gave special tribute to the young racers.
Willingness to share knowledge and help others are key characteristics of each of these sailing families and points to a great future for sailing