It truly has taken a village to put together the Junior Olympic Sailing Festival at the Annisquam Yacht Club in Gloucester this week.
Members from all over the community, especially the yacht club’s neighbors in Annisquam Village, have come together to make sure the three-day event, which concludes this afternoon at 3 with an awards ceremony at the Annisquam Yacht Club, runs smoothly.
“For every sailor we have about one volunteer, and there are 246 sailors,” said Lauren Norton, commodore at Annisquam Yacht Club and co-chairwoman of the Junior Olympic Sailing Festival. “You name it, we have had someone in the community volunteer to help with it.”
Parents and family members of sailors, as well as community members, have had an easy time finding ways to help out. Neighbors have helped direct traffic along River Street, where the Annisquam Yacht Club is, and where most of the boats dock after the races. In addition, the regatta had 17 safety boats on the courses powered by volunteers, and even the youngest members of the community helped by passing fliers around the neighborhood.
“The community support has been great,” Norton said. “We needed all of the boats docked in the area to be moved onto temporary moorings and we had a lot of help getting the word out to the neighborhood. Everybody has been very cooperative and we couldn’t have done it without them.”
The City of Gloucester has even lent a helping hand as the city’s CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) boat has been patrolling Ipswich Bay in case of an emergency situation. The CERT boat even towed one young sailor who was having trouble navigating his way back to the yacht club in to the docks.
As they do for every sailing event, residents of the Annisquam area have hosted some of visiting sailors while the regatta is taking place. This is how some of the young sailors, ranging in age from 8 to 18, have developed a sense of community amongst each other.
“We all know each other for the most part through all the sailing events in the area,” said Grace Papp, 15, who is sailing in the Club 420 champions division along with partner Peter Thibodeau. “I was just talking to the family that hosted me in Hingham and just raced against the kid who we are hosting this week.”
Because the sailors stay with host families during each regatta, they have grown to know their competitors. Rivalries have become friendly and there is no shortage of sportsmanship at the sailing events all over the area. According to the sailors and their parents, the sailors from Annisquam Yacht Club have developed a friendly rivalry with Marblehead, as the kids aren’t afraid to race for the win on the course, but they are friends in between races and at the docks.
It also helps them size up the competition.
“We still see the kids who we raced against in (Optimists),” said Ben McShane, a sailor in the Club 420s. “We know and get along with all of our competitors from Hingham, Marblehead, Manchester, Ipswich, all of them.”
The sailors’ parents also love the camaraderie because it projects sportsmanship.
“These races teach the kids sportsmanship and it teaches them how to win and lose gracefully,” said Daphne Papp, mother of sailor Grace Papp and the Annisquam’s club photographer. “The kids have a lot of camaraderie, they race hard against each other but they are happy for each other win or lose.”
Nick Curcuru may be contacted at 978-283-7000 x3444 or email@example.com.