Experienced racer heads bay sailing association

ON THE WATER

March 19, 2006|By ANNIE LINSKEY

If you compete in serious - or even semiserious - sailboat racing on the Chesapeake Bay, chances are you've been exposed to the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association. The group is in charge of racing and runs regattas, establishes rules and puts on various clinics for Bay racers.

We talked to Angelo Buscemi, 40, of Washington, who recently became the group's new president, about its role:

What is CBYRA, and who belongs?

We're the local governing body for the sport of sailboat racing for the Chesapeake Bay area. The yacht clubs are members - there are about 70 yacht clubs in our region. And we have individual members - it is just under 2,000 members - that includes racers and families. We have junior members, too.

How geographically spread out is the membership?

We have members in Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and Pennsylvania. A lot of the folks in Lancaster keep their boats in Havre de Grace.

I think we even have a few people in southern New Jersey.

Are you following the Volvo Ocean Race? What are your thoughts?

I've been following it. I think it is an exciting race and hope that it continues to grow.

I think that the boats they are using now are really souped up. I had the opportunity to deliver a Volvo 60 once. I had a terrific time delivering that boat. It was the fastest I'd ever been on a sailboat.

I think there are some dangers and challenges with the new technology [in the Volvo 70s that are used now].

What was your take on the legislation that was introduced earlier this session that would have required people to wear lifejackets?

We felt that was unnecessary. There are certainly times when - in an enclosed boat on the inside - it could be less safe to have a lifejacket on. Plus, I think it is somewhat cumbersome to do some of the work on a sailboat with a lifejacket. If you are in a dangerous situation you should wear one.

The racing rules of sailing encourage PFDs [personal flotation devices] but leave it to the discretion of individuals. I think that is best way to handle it. It seems to be a dead issue now, but who knows?

How did you get involved with race management?

Like everyone, I started off racing. I raced in the J/24 and Star classes. I've been racing for about 19 years. And I got into race management through judging [regattas]. I'm also a senior U.S. Sailing judge. I've been judging for about six years.

I started judging because I thought it would make me a better tactician. Which it has because I know a lot of the rules that I hadn't known before.

It's helped me to be a better racer and helped me give back to the sport.

J/24s, eh?

They are tough boats. If you can sail a J/24 well - you are ahead of everyone.

What's your background?

I'm a management consultant, self-employed.

What are you doing to make CBYRA better?

I'm working in four core areas. First is improving race management on the bay. Transmitting knowledge up and down the bay and getting different race managers to talk to each other and learn from each other.

Second, for the first time last year we were able to offer a Web site that takes credit card payments for race entry fees. Now people can renew their membership online. About a third of the memberships are coming in that way.

I'm also going to try to focus on building our funds for Chesapeake racers who are making Olympic campaigns or junior campaigns. There are always travel costs and entry fee costs. And we want to help some of our bright stars on the bay meet those costs.

There was a fourth thing.

Thanks for reminding me.

I think participation in championship races has not been as heavy as in previous years. We're trying to actively solidify a schedule early in the year for the qualifiers so racers know where the qualifiers are and when they are.

We're trying to better communicate and promote the events that are going to lead to the national championship events.

Can you really get all that done in one year?

A lot of it is a work in progress. We're not looking to make revolutionary steps in one year.

annie.linskey@baltsun.com

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