Sailor Spotlight: Bub and Emma Kovacs
If you don't know who Bub and Emma Kovacs are, you should. These two people have donated more hours, helped to run more regattas, and have done so much to support sailing in our area. Ever sail a regatta at Brant Beach YC before? There's a good chance that Emma helped you with registration and then rode her bike down to the main club house to serve you breakfast. Bub, meanwhile, was likely riding through the boat park with his megaphone making announcements to sailors and getting everything ready for the day. As Executive Directors of the Opti Class for many years, the Kovacs were instrumental in helping to revive the USODA and restore it to arguably the most successfully run one-design class in the country. Now, Bub is the Vice-President of the Club 420 class. The Kovacs love the sport and will do anything to give back and promote sailing. Barnegat Bay is lucky to have such supportive and passionate sailors involved in our sport.
Names: Dr. Ernest "Bub" Kovacs, Emma Davis-Kovacs
Emma: The College of New Jersey
1) Bub and Emma, you guys are incredibly involved with running regattas at Brant Beach Yacht Club. What makes Brant Beach one of the best regatta hosts not only in our area but also the country? What regattas are on the calendar for this year? Location, location, location. Brant Beach is blessed with seven blocks of bay-front property including three blocks of sand beaches for easy launch and recovery. We have had events with 300 boats. The race course is less than a half-mile from the club with little interference from boat traffic and the summer thermal creates great racing. The on-the-water and off-the-water teams are seasoned and used to hosting two or three major events each year. This year we will be doing the Club 420 Nationals early in July and the Laser Master’s Nationals in August. Additionally, we'll be hosting a Junior Olympic festival, our Annual Opti Regatta, and an LBI Interclub.
2) Brant Beach is in the process of building a new sailing facility. Can you give us some details on the project and a timeline? How will this help the club? After Sandy, the Club engaged in a series of listening sessions and a strategic planning process. After the repairs and replacement of docks, coach/committee boats and the club houses, a decision was made to advance a new Sailing Center to increase our hosting capabilities as well as be a center for our instructional programs. Essentially the project will double the size of the existing building, add a snack bar, locker rooms, a multipurpose room and rooms for juries and registration. We’ll have improved space for our Club management team, marine mechanic and maintenance staff. We have gone through an exhaustive review by Long Beach Township, DEP and the Army Corps. We now have permits, construction documents and have almost completed our fundraising efforts. We anticipate a construction starting right after Labor Day. We believe this project will improve services to members as well as our regatta guest.
3) A lot of sailors know you guys as being the Executive Directors of the USODA before Genoa Fedeszyn. There is no doubt that you left the Opti class in a position as one of the best run One Design classes in the country. What was that experience like? What are some improvements to the USODA that happened under your watch? We were glad to help the USODA transition to a 21st century One Design class. We were at the cutting edge of setting up one of the first management systems that integrated membership, event registration and financial management, and we ensured quick payments to hosts while building the financial reserves of the class. During this time we helped with a redesign of Optinews and launching social media elements. The difficulty for all youth class is with turnover of sailors and board members and the need to do a bit of hand-holding with sailors and parents as they transition from local to national competition. We’ve tried to continue to give back to youth sailing by either being the Chairpersons of events, Race Management, and Bub continues to serve as Vice President of the Club 420 Class.
4) Most people don't know this, but your son Kyle Kovacs was a ROCK STAR sailor growing up. Now he's becoming a real life doctor which means he has less time for sailing. Give us a quick summary of Kyle's experiences and how it was being a parent through these experiences. We give back to sailing because it was a central part of our family life for 15 years. Practice were every weekend all year around with Erik Johnson and Terry Kempton using ice flows as marks. Kyle started sailing Optis at Brant Beach and then joined the Toms River team who. at the time, included so many future National Champions and Collegiate Sailors. Kyle was a member of the Opti National team and later campaigned both Lasers and C420’s. In the year he won the US Sailing Double-handed Championship (Bemis) with Eric Reitinger, he was also the national Radial Grand Prix champ. He went on to win the US Sailing Single-handed Championship (Smythe) and later was a two time All-American and Captain of the Harvard Sailing Team. He’s married to Abigail Coplin who was a Yale All American and both a National and World sailing champion. Kyle is in the Bahamas right now for a month doing Retinal Surgery at an eye clinic. Its been difficult to find time to get on the water, but we hope gets out on a legendary Bahamian Sloop!
5) For the last couple of summers, the Brant Beach Sailing Foundation has maintained Raven, one of the famous Barnegat Bay A Cats. Tell me about that project and what is going on with the boat. We’ve always loved the A-Cats. They are a great boat to orient people to sailing, enjoy a leisurely sunset sail and of course for racing. The Raven project is being accomplished through a collaboration between the New Jersey Maritime Museum and the Brant Beach Sailing Foundation. John Coyle and Jim Vogel, who manage Ghost, have been instrumental in providing the groundwork for both the Raven and Ghost. We’ve been able to use Raven for the Wounded Veterans and Callahan Regatta at Bay Head YC. We’ve raced her Downbays and a few of the BBYRA events. We’ve also used Raven as a platform for at risk children and families. As important, we are helping to preserve an important part of Maritime history under the guidance of Tom Beaton and Paul Smith. We are now taking on the restoration of a Duck Boat in collaboration with the Hudson River Community Sailing Program.