Markus Bohm and the Cabarete Kid’s Team

Markus Bohm  moved from Germany to Cabarete in the Dominican Republic for windsurfing and to start a sail repair shop. When he arrived on the island his finances ran short and he struggled to make ends meet. He remembered the kindness of the island natives and how they accepted the young stranger with their smiles and open arms. Today, four years later, the 25–year–old Bavarian is paying them back by starting a nonprofit organization called Cabarete Kids’ Team. “There are many kids hanging out at the sailing sites who come from very poor families,” says Bohm who is on a mission to acquire sponsors for the team. “When I started my sail repair loft, a local nine–year–old boy named Mario Medina came around with his father to sell cold drinks from a cooler and to help around the rental shops.” Medina kept coming around, prompting  Bohn and a few other instructors to give him some used equipment and a few lessons. Naturally, the kind act attracted lots of attention from local children and…the Cabarete Kid’s Team was born.

The object of the program is to help local youth find direction and hope, out of their poverty–stricken surroundings, as well as to create an island race team.

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Taking the Cabarete Kid’s Team to more races is Bohm’s goal, but he astutely insists that all team members get jobs that provide concrete skills to fall back on. “It is easy for the kids to get an unreal sense of reality when they come from such poverty, and windsurfing brings them to all these fancy places,” states Bohm. “I don’t want them to think that windsurfing is everything.” To watch the homemade video of these young native talents doing loops every which way, it is hard to believe that windsurfing is not everything to these kids. Bohm not only faces the challenge of bringing resources to the team, but the challenge of guiding them along a well–rounded path.

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Speaking of racing and a well–rounded path, North Sails USA just completed the 1994 season of the One-Hour Classic. American Windsurfer was one of the sponsors of the event and we were there to watch and capture the thrill of this new fun–oriented race format.

The concept is quite simple. A gun goes off and racers take to a figure eight course marked by two buoys. After an hour, whoever has sailed the most laps wins. Though the concept might seem a bit juvenile at first, to witness the final event at Hood River, quickly dispels its simplicity.

On this particular day, two of the best competitors from the Gorge were head-to-head for the entire race. Ken Winner and Bob Camp provided the Event Site audience a memorable sporting hour with a dramatic duel between the tactical mastery of Winner and the better tuned sail of the faster Camp. At the end of the riveting hour, Winner edged Camp out by a mere 20 feet.

It was indeed an interesting and entertaining race format. Competitors were forced to push their limits by competing against the clock and their nearest competitor. This not only provided entertainment value for the audience who could clearly see the drama of the agony and the ecstasy unfold, but the hour-long focus most definitely improved the skills of the racers, many of whom were recreational sailors.

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Brad Duffy (center) picked out of a hat to represent the US at the International One-Hour Classic

The names of the winners of each of the figure eight series conducted across the country this summer were then selected at random from a hat. To the chagrin of North Sails, Brad Duffy’s name was picked to represent the US at the International One-Hour Classic next May in Saint Peter-Ording, Germany. Duffy happens to be the California sales rep for North Sails.

There will be many more events planned for next year including variations on the theme, such as team relays, male–female relays and ProAm team relays. It certainly sounds good to us to bring people together to sail with distinct objectives.

Speaking of sailing together, Michael Stutz of Martha’s Vineyard went windsurfing on Labor Day with his brother–in–law. The two ventured across the Vineyard Sound and sailed to Nashaweena island. On the return trip, the brother–in––law reached his physical limits. He could not make further progress in the increasing wind and six–foot high waves created by the outgoing tide. It became a nightmarish experience for Stutz, whose professional training as a judge provided a certain amount of levelheadedness.

When it became apparent that the tide was going to sweep the brother–in–law past the Gayhead Cliffs and toward Portugal, Stutz decided to attempt a tow. A plan was devised to dump the in-law’s sail. Shortly after removing the doomed rig, a wave came crashing down and broke Stutz’s carbon mast in half.

It was indeed a dire situation off the Vineyard straits. What is our levelheaded Judge to do?

Stay tuned while we shed some light on some other wave–making personalities.

american_windsurfer_2.4_makin-waves_lawrence-meadThe world’s largest sailmaker, Win-Lok LTD has just acquired the ownership of Gaastra International. With this, Laurence Mead becomes the new international president. The three–time Gaastra executive has been in and out of the company ever since its beginning. Each time Mead goes off on some new venture, the company reels him back in with bigger and higher positions. This third time might be a charm. You certainly can’t climb higher than a president. “We plan to be a highly mobile team,” claims the jolly Brit whose background is also from the yachting world. “I will spend most of my time on the road to tackle problems quickly and effectively. And this has been one of the problems of the past, problems don’t get immediate attention.”

Problems seemed to be accumulating with the Olympic/IYRU organizers to the point that the sailors felt compelled to form a union-like coalition to protect their interests. On the forefront of this movement is US Olympian Mike Gebhardt, who has taken the role of leadership.

Whether you call it brilliant leadership or lack of drive, the organization fizzled a little as the powers-to-be with the IYRU and Olympic Committee quickly recognized the threat and made moves to appease the growing dissension. The point was made and well taken. Representatives such as Gebhardt from the not-quite-named Olympic Windsurfers’ Association will sit on advisory boards of the governing organizations.

Not a bad day’s work, Mike!

So you’re wondering what became of Stutz and his brother-in-law? But before we get back to the dire straits, that very same day, Kevin Clark age 25 from Freeport, Maine was declared missing. A few days later the Coast Guard dispatched a message to American Windsurfer and it contained the following message:

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A Coast Guard jet crew located missing windsurfer Kevin Clark on an island off the Maine coast this morning after he was reported missing in stormy seas yesterday. Clark was seen at 7:19 am today adjacent to Ram Island near the entrance to Saco River by the crew of a Cape Cod, Mass.-based Falcon jet searching for him.

The Freeport, Maine 25-year old. will be picked up by the Saco harbormaster and taken by ambulance to Biddeford Hospital to be checked over by medical authorities. His condition is unknown. A Coast Guard helicopter and boat searched the area yesterday but the boat was forced to discontinue the search due to hazardous 16-foot seas near the search area.”

Not knowing the “situation” in the nearby state, Stutz, the mild-mannered judge from Martha’s Vineyard just sat on his board and decided that the situation did not look good. A broken mast; a brother–in–law who had reached his physical limits. They were clad in shorties, it was getting dark and cold, and the Vineyard was receding into the horizon.

“Well,” said Stutz, “there is only one thing to do…Call the Coast Guard!” Yup, Michael Stutz reached into the side pocket of his harness and brought out a $500 waterproof ICOM portable VHF marine transceiver.

“You have to have a license to use these radios,” said Stutz and, “I had applied for a license, but it was denied because the craft I claimed to use it on was a windsurfer. A windsurfer was not considered a vessel, therefore they denied my application.” Stutz wrote back and said he assumed this denial of a license did not prevent him from using the radio if his life was in danger. Surprisingly, a few weeks later he received a license for the radio.

“The scary thing was,” said Stutz “we could see the Coast Guard cutter quite clearly but they couldn’t spot us. I had to vector them with the radio until they were practically on top of us before they could see us.” Needless to say, Stutz was quite sold on the radio and made a special point to tell American Windsurfer the complete story, with hopes that some lives may be saved in the future. Several waterproof marine radios are available and they range from mid $250s to the top-of-the-line that was tested on the Vineyard straits.

It should be noted as a closing thought that the Coast Guard is makin’ waves concerning the definition of a vessel. Changes are being made that could affect windsurfers across the country. The following letter was addressed to USWA by Christopher Haffner from the Kansas City Sailboard Association and included are highlights of the minutes from the Coast Guard meeting.

August 16, 1994
Legal Chairman
USWA
PO Box 978
Hood River, OR

In our endless battle to try to repeal the registration requirements for sailboards I have been informed by the Kansas Wildlife and Parks Department, the bureaucracy in charge of enforcing the registration requirements, that the US Coast Guard has revised the definition of a sailboard. I thought you ought to know because, in my opinion, this opens up the doors to new unneeded, unwanted and dangerous regulation by the states and possibly the Coast Guard (registration and PFD requirements). It may also have an impact on numerous other areas of our sport including the insurance requirements discussed in the September issue of “Windsurfing Magazine” (Page 14). This change occurred in a US Coast Guard meeting on August 4, 1993, and I found out about this change in June 1994 at a meeting with the Commissioners of the Wildlife and Parks Department.

Kansas is one of four states (Arizona, Oklahoma, and New Hampshire are the others) and the District of Columbia that require sailboard registration. The Department requires that two registration stickers be “stuck” to the top of our boards (never mind the non-skid) and a hull identification number be permanently installed in accordance with the format described by the Coast Guard (this destroys the board). Kansas officials are also now, as a result of this definition change, looking at requiring PFDs. We all need to fight this!

Please refer to the attached copy of the definition change recorded in the Federal Registry. All of us, as an industry, have to keep an eye on this development to ensure that it does not go any further. Our local association relies on you to keep us informed and rally the masses concerning national developments. We have enough to do keeping up with local restrictions. Please don’t let us down on this because it may really affect the sport.

I would appreciate a return call on this issue to get your thoughts or if you should need any additional information.

Cordially,
Christopher T. Haffner
Legal/Access Chairman
Kansas City Sailboard Association

The following excerpts are definition changes recorded in the Federal Registry:

Action: Final rule.

Sailboard. Ten comments supported the proposed definition of a sailboard as a vessel. No comments objected to the proposed definition of sailboard as a vessel. The Coast Guard has decided to adopt this definition as proposed.

Vessel. No comments objected to this definition and the Coast Guard has decided to adopt the definition of the term “vessel” as proposed.

Sailboards. Two comments opposed exempting sailboards from Federal PFD carriage requirements. Two other comments addressed a requirement to wear a PFD while operating a sailboard, one in favor and one opposed.

The Coast Guard has adopted this exemption as proposed. Although the Coast Guard is not setting a Federal requirement that a PFD be carried or worn while operating a sailboard, a State should be allowed to do so in consideration of climate and waterway navigation conditions within its boundaries. This rule does not impose any Federal requirements on the States to establish PFD wearing requirements. Operators of sailboards continue to be subject to Federal and State regulations regarding vessel navigation and intoxicated operation of a vessel.

Sailboards. Eight comments supported the exemption as proposed. One additional comment stated that a sailboard is “a pretty good floatation device” in itself. Another suggested requiring that PFDs be worn on sailboards. Three opposed exempting sailboards from carrying PFDs.

The Coast Guard acknowledges that sailboards float, just as do surfboards, inner tubes, and motorboats meeting the level floatation requirements. However, none of these items are US Coast Guard approved PFDs and, despite level floatation, such motorboats are not exempt from PFD carriage requirements. The Coast Guard has decided to formally exempt sailboards from Federal PFD carriage requirements, thus allowing each State to decide whether or not PFDs should be worn and/or carried on sailboards based on climate and navigation conditions within its boundaries.

Part 175–Equipment Requirements

175.3 Definitions

Sailboard means a sail-propelled vessel with no freeboard and equipped with a swivel mounted mast not secured to a hull by guys or stays.

Vessel includes every description of watercraft used or capable of being used as a means of transportation on the water.

(d) Sailboards are exempted from the requirements for carriage of any Type PFD required under 175.15.

Something important to keep our eyes on! ED

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