Sailor Spotlight: Brian Hull
Brian Hull wears many hats: Opti dad, USODA board member, Donovan Sailing Coach, Director at the Friends of Belmar Harbor. There's no doubt that Brian has a lot on his plate, but at the end of the day, Brian is giving back to the sport he loves, mentoring young sailors, and spending time with his young family. Brian will help in any way if it promotes sailing, and that mentality resonates with his family and with those who he coaches. He's passionate, hard-working, and he loves the sport. His message is clear: spend time with your family, work hard, and have fun!
Name: Brian Hull
School Attended: Old Dominion University
Yacht Club: Toms River Yacht Club
1) Brian, during the summer months, you run the Friends of Belmar Harbor. Can you tell me about that program and what opportunities are available to area sailors?
The Friends of the Belmar Harbor is a non-profit educational organization which promotes waterfront activities in the Shark River area for towns like Belmar. FOBH offers adventure and recreational sailing, kayaking, SUP, and related activities that are accessible, affordable and fun especially to youth and families of limited means, abilities or opportunities. FOBH fills the void for an area without a strong sailing community. In July FOBH ran Recreational sailing program in Optis, 420s, Open Bics, and Hobie Cats for approximately 90 children from the Belmar Recreation Department and next week we will hosting over 150 6th and 7th graders from Robert Treat Academy in Newark. We are also excited about co-hosting our annual Friendship Cup Regatta at the Shark River Beach & Yacht Club on August 17th. Here is the link to register: http://www.regattanetwork.com/event/17106
August 17, 2018 Friends of Belmar Harbor & Shark River Beach & Yacht Club Neptune , NJ
Shameless plug: FOBH will have long sleeve tech shirts with hoods (Opti sailor favorite) and giveaways from Colie Sails for the event.
2) During the school year, you are a history teacher and sailing coach at Donovan Catholic. The Donovan sailing team is having a bit of a resurgence, undoubtedly from your involvement with the program. Tell me a bit about the team and any plans for the next few years.
After coaching sailing at Donovan for many years, I took a 2 year break to spend more time with my young family. This fall season was an eye-opener for the majority of the team who had never sailed beyond the Toms River. For our first away regatta, the team and I traveled to the Christchurch School down in Virginia, sailing with two fleets (Brand new FJs, and 420s) on the water at the same time (which was extremely challenging for the guys both mentally and physically.)
In November, we took to the air and traveled down to New Orleans for the Great Oaks Regatta hosted by the Southern Yacht Club where the Griffins competed against teams from around the country. The entire weekend the team sailed on Lake Pontchartrain Bay in 20 kts plus with 3-4 ft. waves. You typically do not see this on Wednesdays after school in Toms River! The boys definitely learned a lot that weekend. I forgot to mention our lunch in the French Quarter, bread pudding at Southern Yacht Club, and the fact the team’s trip would not have been possible without the financial support from the Sailing Foundation of the Barnegat Bay.
During the spring season, we saw COLD and WINDY conditions and all our hard work paid off with great performance by the entire team at NJ States. Overall a great way to end the year!
This fall we have a couple of new local sailors joining the team and are looking forward to competing at the Larry White Invitational hosted by the US Coast Guard Academy in New London CT in October. Oh yeah, follow us Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @donovancatholicsailing this season
3) On top of all of this, you find time to be an Opti dad and travel to a lot of events. What's your perspective of the Opti fleet from a parent's point of view?
Over the years, I’ve heard tons of great regatta stories about all the good times, friendships made, places visited (YACHT CLUBS), mishaps like boats falling off of trailers and submarines coming up underneath a fleet of Optis and other crazy stories. The one thing they all had in common was their children were all having FUN with family, friends and teammates. I recently read an article shared by US Sailing called “Can Youth Sports be Both Fun and Competitive?“ Fun is working hard. It is being challenged and competing. It is learning a new skill, being with friends, having a coach that cares, getting compliments from coaches, and a coach who respects them. Fun in sports for kids means learning from mistakes, working together as a team for a common goal. Lack of Fun is the number one reason kids quit sports especially sailing. The sport of sailing is much more then that!
4) You're also on the board of the USODA. How's the USODA as an organization? Any new or exciting announcements coming soon? Wow, that’s a good question. First of all, the USODA Board is comprised of some of the most passionate and dedicated parents I have ever met in the sport of sailing. USODA is there to help promote the Optimist class throughout the United States both locally, regionally and nationally. If you have not participated in a USODA regatta, I highly recommend two upcoming events that will be both take place in New Jersey on LBI. NJ States at Surf City Yacht Club next week Aug. 20-21 and the ACCs which will be hosted by Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club on Sept. 21-23. The Communications Committee that includes LEHYC member Kara Ivancich, Carolynn Redmond and I are about to finish our second edition of the reformatted OptiNews which will be mailed out before the end of August. If you have any Opti stories or pictures that you would like to published in OptiNews send it to us: email@example.com You might make the cut! Exciting news…well…Opti Nationals on the Barnegat Bay is just a thought!
5) Sailing has done so much for you and for your family. Why do you stay so involved in this amazing sport of ours?
The first thing that comes to mind is about giving back. My parents (who were non-sailors) put my sister Marybeth, my brother Michael and I into sailing because my dad’s law partner, Joseph Summerill was the past commodore of the Toms River Yacht Club. About 25 years later, I coached his grandson Nick Brady. Second, the ability of my wife Liz (Non-sailor/Now Opti Mom) and I to travel with James, Henry, and Caroline around the country will create memories that will last a lifetime. Whether it’s going to Detroit, Norfolk, Newport, St. Pete or even a little day trip to LBI. Its always about family fun…Tomorrow, I’m off to Kingston, Ontario for our first CORK Opti Regatta. There are about 20 families from NJ headed up across the border. Lastly, one of the most gratifying aspects of the sport is seeing where my former sailors’ lives take them. Brendan Hogan, Shore Acres Yacht Club’s Commodore is one of my former sailors who I coached when he was a greenie at SAYC and then sailed for me at Donovan Catholic. Brendan reflects a true passion for his club especially when he stepped up to lead the rebuilding of the club almost 5 years after Superstorm Sandy. I’m very of proud of that even more than any regatta trophies.