With “safety, fun and learning” as their motto and “interaction with the kids” as the focal point of their mission, the staff at Community Boating Center in New Bedford is gearing up for today’s start of the summer season for youth ages 5 to 18.
“We want to make sure they have a safe environment,” said CBC director Andy Herlihy, “one that is safe both socially and physically.”
To that end, last week Rev. David Lima of Acushnet held a half-day leadership training session at the CBC headquarters at 1641 Padanaram Ave. in New Bedford, to train both junior and senior instructors and staff in the ways to address the needs of the CBC youth population.
Herlihy says he and his staff have worked year-round with students in Dartmouth, New Bedford and Acushnet in designing and building skiffs, windmill blades and underwater ROV’s (remotely-operated vehicles) in classes that help middle and elementary school aged children participate in real-world STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) exercises.
“For many of these kids,” said Herlihy, “the first time ever they’ve been on the water is in a boat they’ve built.”
The CBC skiffs are known as Bevins skiffs, and smaller models are built to give as prizes.
“We’re different from the yacht club programs,” Herlihy noted. “We have a mix of paying and scholarship students.”
About 80 to 85 percent of attendees at CBC programs attend on scholarship, with the other 15 to 20 percent paying full tuition.
Summer CBC attendees have the option of signing up for one week or additional weeks in programs that run from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. for youth ages 7 and above and from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m. for youngsters ages 5 and 6. Buses run from throughout New Bedford to pick up and drop off area youth (children ages 5 and 6 must be dropped off and picked up by parents or responsible adults), and breakfast and lunch are provided.
For two weeks, one in July (July 17-21) and one in August (Aug. 14-18), CBC will run STEM-specific programming, called Science and Sailing, from their facility at 1641 Padanaram Avenue, on the border of New Bedford and Dartmouth.
One of the STEM programs the CBC taught last winter included training middle schoolers in Dartmouth and New Bedford to measure the amount of electricity their self-designed windmill blades drew, and then had the middle-schoolers teach the elementary school children how to design, build and measure their own windmill blades.
In addition, interested young sailors can sign up for a separate afternoon 420 racing program (Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons) to learn racing skills and possibly compete in the Buzzards Bay 420 Championship, held this year Aug. 4-6 and managed by the CBC staff.
“We wanted to capitalize on the excitement that happened after the Boston 2024 (Olympics) effort,” said Herlihy. So, the CBC has turned to figuring out if it can manage regattas in addition to its youth-oriented educational mission.
Herlihy said he hopes to draw around 175 Club 420’s to the 2017 Buzzards Bay Championship races, but “there is no limit.” Boats from Texas, Maryland, Illinois, Florida and California have registered already for the Aug. 4-6 event, with area clubs from Cape Cod and the islands as well as Maine, Massachusetts and Rhode Island expected to begin registering soon.
The 420 championships have grown exponentially since he was young, noted Herlihy.
“It was a smaller, regional event back then,” he said. “It’s awesome to push 200 boats, but it’s also scary.”
Last year was the first year the CBC ran the 420 championships as a separate event from the Buzzards Bay Regatta, which also takes place the same weekend.
“We’re working now with the (BBR) committee to design the (racing) circles in the bay,” said Herlihy, so that the 420’s, manned by one skipper and one crew, do not cross into the areas in Buzzards Bay where larger, faster boats are racing.
In June, the CBC managed the multi-day International 505 North American championships in the waters off Fort Taber, where the CBC works with the New Bedford Parks and Recreation Deptartment to launch, store and run races. CBC uses the same venue, what they call their “stucco” building and the launch areas on either side of it, for the 420 championships.
“We know we have a great area for running regattas,” said Herlihy. “We want to see if we can do it, and then if we can use these regattas to support our mission” by raising funds through corporate sponsorships.
“We’re taking it one step at a time,” noted Herlihy, adding that the CBC will be assisting the Azorean Maritime Heritage Society in running their international whaleboat regatta in September.
The CBC has also added low key team-building opportunities after working hours for community groups such as the Opening of the Bay Platinum-level sponsors, who participated in a fun race in early June, and another race a couple of weeks ago with the Business Buzz networking group. The CBC uses the eight 23-foot Sonars they own, each carrying four or five people and a CBC staffer, to race against each other in an effort to “get teams working together out on the water,” said Herlihy. Another such event is planned for later this summer with a North End Catholic group.
In addition to the junior and senior instructors, many of whom have come up through CBC programs, Herlihy works with a staff of six or so, including Assistant Director Caroline Comzotti, Development Director Christina Rebello, Education/Coach and Directors Richard Feeney, Program Director Greg Pimental, Director of Training Andy Chin and Operations Manager Taber Russell-Pelsue.
If you are interested in the CBC youth programs, volunteer opportunities, sponsorship, financial aid, racing or team-building activities, visit http://www.communityboating.org or call 508-992-6219.
NBYC Junior Regatta coming up fast
Next Saturday, July 8, the New Bedford Yacht Club Junior Regatta opens a two-day series of races in Apponagansett Bay outside Padanaram Harbor for several boat classes. With more than 200 boats competing, at least 300 to 400 sailors, their families, friends and coaches will descend on Dartmouth and New Bedford to watch the races both Saturday and Sunday, July 9.
In the single-handed dinghy division, Optimists, Laser Radials and Open Bic boats will compete, while in the double-handed division, Club 420’s will race. The Optimist Green group is open to first-time racers only, while other Opti sailors compete in the White, Blue and Red fleets.
While the Opti classes are open to younger sailors, racers in the Club 420, Open Bic and Laser fleets must not have reached their 19th birthday during calendar year 2017. Registrants in any category may register online or on the morning of July 8 from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. Skippers’ meetings are held under the tent both days beginning at 9 a.m.
Alice Root of the NBYC is event chair and Mike Callahan is race committee chair; you can reach them or other organizers at NBJR@nbyc.com.
Fourth of July Bull’s Eye
It has been 70 years since E.L. Goodwin built the first fiberglass Bull's Eye at Cape Cod Shipbuilding in Wareham. Tuesday, Cape Cod Shipbuilding plans to enter a brand new red, white and blue Bull's Eye in the Marion 4th of July parade. If you would like to ride aboard the 15-foot boat, contact Wendy Goodwin at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Bull's Eye will be at Sippican School at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday, July 4.
Barbara Veneri writes about boating and sailing for the Standard Times. Contact her at email@example.com