Sailor Spotlight - Paul Coward

September 6, 2018 5:14:29 PM EDT

Sailor Spotlight:  Paul Coward

If you've ever raced at Brant Beach Yacht Club, there's a good chance that Paul Coward was sighting your starting line.  Paul is the PRO at Brant Beach YC, the race manager who sets square lines and bangs off efficient, well-run races.  A sailor at heart, Paul drew the "PRO straw" over 30 years ago and hasn't turned back since.  A member of the Barnegat Bay Sailing Hall of Fame, Paul (and the rest of BBYC) give back numerous times each year by hosting events of all different sizes for our sailors.  How lucky are we that Brant Beach YC routinely hosts local, National, and International events right in our back yard!?

Name:  Paul Coward
Age:  68
School:  Ithaca College
Yacht Club:  Brant Beach Yacht Club
1) Paul, everyone knows you as the PRO from Brant Beach YC; you are run the Race Committee for all of the big events down there.  What draws you to being a PRO?  What do you like about it?  I'm not exactly sure how I got picked to be the PRO at first. But it was a long time ago and it just keeps rolling along. I think this year is the 30th BBYC Annual Opti Regatta that I ran.  I enjoy doing it because of the people I get to do it with, and I really like being able to interact with the sailors on the water. Being a racer, I like to be communicative with the sailors, and what could be better than being out in the middle of a race course?  I have the best vantage point on the course to watch the racing!

2) Most people only see the side of the sport from the sailor's point of view.  Talk to me about some challenges of running races.  How do you prepare for an event?  What are some behind the scenes tasks that people overlook as a PRO?  It is interesting that you ask about the non-sailor parts of running a regatta. I often tell people that I line them up and say go. The rest of the regatta gets run by other people. That is really the hard part. The logistics of a large regatta are staggering, and you're right, most people don't realize how much is involved. From figuring out where to park all the vehicles and trailers, to feeding the sailors, coaches, parents, and most importantly the volunteers. There is so much to do.

One of the big things that the sailors overlook when I'm making a decision is what's going on in the background. We have probably 100 people involved in a major regatta and they are back on shore waiting to feed you when you come in and make other preparations. It all need to be timed so that everything works out. In addition, all the people on the course that are running the race need to be considered. We often have older people volunteering time, and I can only ask so much of them. Many are using their vacation to run a regatta for people they don’t know.  And of course safety for everyone is my prime concern.  All of these things are going through my head while I'm trying to run the best races possible.
3) Speaking of Brant Beach, it seems like Brant Beach runs 2-3 major events each year across many different classes.  You guys are a well-oiled machine, and it's no doubt that everyone enjoys sailing there.  What about Brant Beach makes it so easy to run a good event?  The thing that makes it so easy for us to run big regattas is that we have the same people doing our own niche jobs every time. We've found jobs that we are each good at and enjoy. We all know we can depend on each other too. The same people are on the same mark most every race. Many of the same people are feeding you and parking you and registering, scoring, and all the other details that come with running a regatta.  Everyone chips in, and we are a well-oiled machine at this point.

4) Last week we interviewed Russ Lucas who is involved in the SAFE sailing at Mill Creeek.  You're also involved in the program and have started a handicap learn-to-sail program in the past.  Talk to me about that.  My partner Tono Miakoda and I started a chapter of Sailability over 10 years ago. We use the Access Dinghies to promote universal access to sailing. I moved the program and the boats to Ocean County College, and we became Safe Sailing. It is a program for accessible sailing for everyone. It's possible to sail these boats with severe disabilities. It is also perfect for people who are completely unfamiliar with boating, sailing and the water. It is a life-affirming activity, and a great program for our community.  Last week you interviewed Russ Lucas for your Sailor Spotlight.  He and Rachel Goetting have taken over a lot of the responsibilities from me.

5) I know you're a champion in the Mariner and Sunfish classes.  What kind of sailing did you do growing up?  Do you still have time to sail yourself?  Yes, I still race both a Mariner and a Sunfish. I started sailing in a small boat my father made that resembles an Opti. When I was young we sailed a boat called a Moth which was an 11 foot open design sailboat that started like a sneak box and has now morphed into a foiling machine.  So I do continue to sail, but I also really enjoy running the races myself.

Editor's Note:  Brant Beach Yacht Club makes a point to host a few major regattas each year.  With their core group of volunteers, ample shore-side space, and the fantastic Barnegat Bay conditions, BBYC has hosted the following events.  It's pretty impressive, really!

2000:  Laser Radial Nationals
2001:  Club 420 Atlantic Coast Championships (ACC’s)

2002:  Laser North Americans
2003:  Optimist Atlantic Coast Championships
2004:  Club 420 North Americans

2005:  Lightning States & Laser Districts + LASER (ACC’s)
2006:  Club 420 and Laser Radial Mid Atlantics , Lightning States
2007:  Sunfish Worlds
2008:  Laser and Optimist  ACC’s
2009:  Laser Nationals (All Laser Classes) and Optimist States
2010:  Club 420 North Americans + Optimist NJ States
2011:  Laser North Americans
2012:  Optimist Team Trials, Laser Nationals, Club 420, Radial Mid Atlantics + Laser Radial/4.7 Districts, Opti NJ States
2013:  Sunfish Youth Worlds and Sunfish North Americans + Opti NJ States
2014:  Club 420 North Americans, Opti NJ States, Opti Atlantic Coast
2015:  Laser Nationals, Mariner Nationals, Laser Masters ACC’sS
2016:  Sunfish Mid Atlantics. Junior Olympic Festival, Opti NJ States, C420 Mid Atlantics
2017:  Opti Team Trials, Junior Olympic Festival, Sunfish Worlds
2018:  C420 Nationals, Laser Master Nationals, Junior Olympic Festival


Posted in News By

Colie Sails