Longshore Sailing School

Longshore Club Park Westport, CT

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The Great Bug Adventure

The Great Bug Adventure

His name is Donny O’Day. He is not a king or an emperor, nor a championship quarterback, nor a nuclear physicist, but this makes him no less important. He does not wear a tux, nor gold, nor robes of velvet and fur, but this makes him no less impressive. His words are not always paired with a dashing smile, nor charming glint-of-the-eye, nor warming chuckle, but this makes him no less compelling.

His name is Donny O’Day, and he is the Operations Manager of Longshore Sailing School, and this does make him more important, impressive, and compelling. The man has seen many a triumph and defeat in his days as Operations Manager—some that required wit, some charm, some regal leadership—but never before has he been so tested, so taxed, as with The Great Bug Adventure. This journey (of epic proportions) will stand the test of time and rapidly transitioning staff. He will remain in legend as: The Bug Master.

He was vexed, you see. Troubled. He’d spent nights awake, sitting by candlelight (because that’s what heroes do), letting the dim lighting edge him further toward the answer, as if the flickering light were the pulse of a new idea as he turned it over and over in his mind. He couldn’t sleep because images of small sailors in even smaller boats kept running through his mind. “How?” he thought in frustration, “How can I improve these boats? How can I renovate these boats into ideal vessels of uncharted learning for eager young sailors?” He would often open a window here, and turn his face into the Luffing Arc, searching for the solution. Vexing, indeed.

One morning, he woke up extremely early—early enough to toast his Eggo and chug some Sunny-D, early enough to smooth the wrinkles out of one of his ten red polos, early enough to pack a filling and nutritious lunch. In the night, the answer had come to him. As he walked down the brick walk toward Longshore Sailing School, it was clear that this man was on a mission, and no foe could defeat him. Not this time. And many foes he would find…

As he approached the school, the young hero was affronted by a particularly large gaggle of geese. The Longshore Sailing School grass was filled with landmines left by these most wily adversaries, honking and cackling in all their cunning as if laughing at a defeated foe. But Donny would not be defeated. Not this time. No; the man had reached his limit. As he waved his bagged lunch in the air like a medieval weapon and let out a most gallant cry that rattled in his chest and rung through the battle scenes of Braveheart, he charged toward the malignant gaggle, certain not of victory and only sure of his determination. All but one goose retreated. The remaining goose had all the tell-tale signs of a veteran flyer. His head was held high, his neck stretched long, and around his ankle, proof that he was once a prisoner of war—a plastic yellow ring. This goose took one slow step forward and let out a low hiss filled with spirit to rival that of Donny’s battle cry. After what seemed like an eternity of blustery eye contact, the wizened goose disappeared silently after his gaggle. Donny was left speechless and shaken. He feared that he had escalated the conflict with the geese to a whole new level.

“Alas,” he began as he stood in front of the Bugs, “My poison, my charge…my muse. We shall together face the raging waters and winds of the Long Island Sound. We shall test my new solutions.” With that, he began rigging a Bug with his newly designed, shorter and more adorable sails and new mainsheet design, and launched into the salty brine, knowing not of the journey that awaited him.

All was well. Were Donny not the conditioned and practiced sailor that he is, he might have closed his eyes so as to enjoy the warm sun and breeze better. As he slowly bore off onto a lazy run and smoothly eased out his mainsheet, disaster struck. He could hear it from far away. Anyone could. Honking, cackling and hissing of the most vehement nature. And then, in a flurry of feathers, the large gaggle of geese charged his sail, forcing him to jibe. You must know that the geese intended for this result. They intended for the boom to rip from one side of the boat to the other. They intended for it to rock excessively. They also intended for Donny to be hit by the boom and, with any luck, thrown from the boat or caused to capsize. But this did not happen.

The shorter sail Donny had made was paired with a readjusted boom, set higher on the mast so as to provide more room for the sailors in the cockpit below. He remained unscathed as the boom swung over him. Next, after heading up onto a beat, the geese forced Donny to rapidly bear off from the wind. Facing the perils of improper sail trim, Donny began the sheet out rapidly, heavily aided by the new mainsheet design. Finally every goose charged at the top of the mast, forcing it closer and closer to the water. Despite Donny’s best efforts at hiking out, they were able to capsize his boat. Now in the water, Donny seemed to have lost the battle. The wizened goose peered down at Donny O’day, bobbing in the water in his lifejacket like a red apple. “What will you do now, mere human? You can neither fly nor are you a fish.” But Donny merely laughed and righted his boat, thanks to all of his Longshore training in capsize recovery. Back in his boat, wet, and in high spirits, Donny headed for shore. The goose was waiting for him, standing as tall and rigid as a naval officer.

“You have done well, human. I could find no way to cause you harm while in that boat. I am ready to acknowledge you as a worthy adversary and part as rivals, if not friends. I will call you the Bug Master.” He paused for dramatic effect. “I shall see you tomorrow morning on the grass. You may have won the battle, but not the war.”

 THE END.

The Staff Files: John Kantor, Donny O’Day

John Kantor:

JK has been running Longshore Sailing School since 1965, when it was owned by the town of Westport, and has privately owned it since 1975.

John Kantor

A graduate of Columbia University, JK has written several sailing manuals, many of which are used by US Sailing, the sports governing body. JK founded the association’s Community Sailing Council and served as US Sailing’s Vice President in the late 1990′s. He is known through out the sailing community for his dedication toward improving instruction in sailing, and known in Westport for bringing community sailing to a larger scale.

Donny O’Day:

Donny skippering America IIDonny O’Day has been the Operations Manager of Longshore Sailing School since the summer of 2007 and has worked for the school since the summer of 2001. He is a US Sailing small boats level 1 certified instructor and also has his Masters license from the US Coast Guard. He graduated from UConn in 2007 and will be returning for Law school this fall.

What is your favorite kind of noodle? I’m a tortellini guy…or a ravioli guy. You have to have something in there.

What is your favorite wind direction? Uh…I like a nice Southwest breeze. It’s steady.

What is your favorite thing about LSS? The end of the day at high tide when the sun’s going down and we’ve had a great day. You’re just chilling out.

What is your favorite class to teach? Definitely Basic Sailing. They start knowing nothing and go to being able to sail upwind and stuff.

What is your favorite sailboat at Longshore? Probably a Laser. It depends though. When we’re in the Caribbean in the winter, I like the Waves.

If you could be any fruit, what fruit would you be? A pineapple. I don’t know why.