racing legacy isn’t just for thoroughbreds By Kathryn
in Saratoga has officially begun—the horses are off, the hats
are donned, and if you’ve attempted to navigate the Northway
on a weekend, you know the tourists have embarked on their
annual northern migration. From polo matches to the flat track,
the city’s thoroughbred traditions hearken back more than
a century, and those traditions largely define Saratoga. But
not far south, Saratoga Lake offers a much different kind
of getaway. The lake is peaceful and pristine, and while you
may not find occasion to tip your hat to Saratoga’s illustrious
matriarch, you may find the little lake stirring with its
own brand of racing.
Off the highway, back roads wind along the water’s edge, past
flower-strewn fields and horse paddocks. A far cry from the
boutiques of Broadway, here antique stores pepper the countryside,
their shingles swinging from weathered barns and historic
houses. And down a narrow gravel drive, just before you think
you’re headed to the tree-lined recesses of nowhere, the woods
open onto an expanse of lake, and the home of the Saratoga
Lake Sailing Club.
Founded 51 years ago, the Saratoga Lake Sailing Club is a
nonprofit organization created to foster interest in sailing,
and to provide an array of resources for novice and expert
sailors alike. While, as commercial entities, marinas provide
dockage, service and staff for their boater-customers at a
steep fee, the Sailing Club has a distinctly cooperative structure.
There is no staff. The club’s members communally perform the
upkeep of the club’s docks, and grounds, and the three-story
house that serves as headquarters for the club’s events. Regular
work parties find members setting moorings or cleaning the
club’s industrial kitchen. In return, the members have voting
rights—everyone participates in the club’s decision-making
process. And the club is able to offer membership at a markedly
lower rate than commercial marinas.
But what truly sets this cooperative apart from a typical
marina is their extensive programming and singular camaraderie.
Saratoga Lake Sailing Club is not just a place to park your
boat. It is a well-balanced recreational, educational and
social organization—as a weekend afternoon spent there will
The club is home to sailboats, and only sailboats. No “stinkpots”
(as sailors are apt to call their gas-powered counterparts)
allowed. And so it is home only to sailors, and there is a
certain inherent amity between the wind-power loyal. Perhaps
it speaks to their similar love of quiet solitude, or gleeful
activity, or to their respect for harnessing the primal forces
of wind and water. Regardless, even the most introverted sailor
will unfold at the sight of an unfurling main or the mention
of a 25-knot gust. Sailors will give and take advice in equal
measure, and happily pop open a cold beer for a bedraggled
mate. And here they have built themselves a haven.
Each year the club opens its doors and its moorings to 175
voting members—and even more sailors, considering that many
are family memberships. The members range from senior citizens
to tykes who toddle along the shore, nearly swallowed by their
lifejackets. And they hail from nearly 50 communities in more
than half-a-dozen counties, from Saugerties to Queensbury.
Their sailing expertise is equally varied. Some members are
seasoned sailors who cast off their lines and fly smoothly
across the lake, sails trimmed with precise perfection. Others
are novices, learning to sail with the help of other members,
or under the tutelage of the club’s US Sailing-certified instructors.
SLSC offers multiple levels of instruction for children and
adults—whether they don’t know the difference between a sheet
and a line, or they want to polish their start tactics for
the next regatta. Sailing instruction is open to members,
and to the general public, who can get their feet wet, literally,
in the club’s fleet of Flying Scotts or Lasers.
Once sailors have learned the ropes (so to speak), they can
jump into the club’s active racing program; SLSC holds bi-weekly
regattas. There are two types of sailboat races. In multi-class
races, boats of different types are raced against each other,
with each boat assigned a handicap to compensate for differences
in design. In one-design races, sailors compete in boats of
the same make. National and international associations regulate
equipment to avoid arms races, ensuring that the races match
sailor against sailor.
The sailing club and it’s members maintain eight one-design
fleets, from Olympic-competition Lasers to beautiful 22-foot,
full-keel Ensigns, and rocket-fast Hobie-17 catamarans. And,
notably, British-designed 16-foot Kestrels. Notably, because
the Saratoga Lake Sailing Club’s Kestrel fleet is the only
Kestrel fleet in North America. When the Saratoga Lake Kestrel
fleet hold their annual championship regatta, the skippers
and crew are vying for the North American Championship title.
And this past Saturday, in steadily building winds, eight
boats raced a five-race tournament in fierce competition for
that honor. In a standard mark race, boats sail three legs
of an equilateral triangle, testing their skill at three angles
to the wind. They must all cross the same start and finish
lines, and round the marks on the outside, but the skipper
chooses the exact course he or she hopes will be most efficient.
Conflicting tactical choices make race starts and mark roundings
chaotic and exciting. Collision is often barely avoided, and
a tight rounding can shift the lead in seconds.
Saturday’s race was close, and the fights at the mark were
tense. But after the roundings, the eight skillfully-handled
and equally-matched boats would fall into line, their heeling
balanced with the elegant precision, synchronized like dancers.
On shore, the ovens and barbecues were fired up for dinner,
an endless row of baked potatoes stretched across the steel
counter. Picnic benches buzzed with spectators swapping binoculars
between them, doing their best to keep track of the standings.
“Did they just hit? Did they take a knockdown? Who is that
in the lead?” And after the races, a parade of tired, sweaty
sailors took their place at the tables or flopped on the grass,
awaiting dinner—and the eagerly anticipated announcement.
Times from the five races were calculated and re-calculated.
Joe Choi, who held the championship title nearly a dozen times,
had taken a knockdown in the fourth race, but his times were
strong. This year, one of the competing boats was skippered
by his son, and crewed by his daughter. The results came in.
Choi had bested his children, but lost the title.
The proud 2008 North American Kestrel Champion: Walter Smith.
The new champion, and former Tufts University sailor, accepted
his grand trophy on the modest shore of Saratoga Lake. Smith
and his wife Nicole are expecting their first baby in September.
And when that baby learns to sail on Saratoga’s gentle waters,
the proud father can say that in 2008, he was the champion
of a continent.
BALLSTON SPA TOWN GAZEBO (Front Street, Ballston Spa,
885-2772). Thu: Sonny & Perley (6 PM).
PARK (Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 587-3550). Tue: Joan
Crane and Steve Feinbloom.
PERFORMING ARTS CENTER (Saratoga State Park, Saratoga
Springs, tickets: 476-1000). Thu: Sheryl Crow, James
Blunt, Toots and the Maytals. Fri: the Police,
Elvis Costello and the Imposters. Sat: the Jonas
Brothers, Avril Lavigne, Demi Lovato.
ON THE ROOF (Rooftop patio, Tang Teaching Museum and Art
Gallery, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, 580-8080). Fri:
Reggie’s Red Hot Feetwarmers (7 PM).
THE ALLEY BAR (Long Alley Road, Saratoga, 587-9766). Tue:
karaoke with Mark the Shark.
SARATOGA (2839 Route 9, Malta, 587-0048). Thu: Gary
Brooks (6 PM). Sat: karaoke.
LENA (47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs, 583-0022). Thu:
open mic. Fri: Jamcrackers. Sat: Ramblin Jug Stompers.
Sun: the Blue Ribbon Boys with Julia Gottlieb.
SOPHIE (Saratoga Hotel, 534 Broadway, Saratoga Springs,
583-3538). Fri, Tue: Cole Broderick. Sun: Cole Broderick
CAFÉ (392 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 583-1106). Thu:
open mic with Nate Solomon. Sat: A-Man karaoke.
Wed: George Boone Jazz Trio.
CLUB HOUSE (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D.
SOUTH (2128 Doubleday Ave., Route 50, Ballston Spa, 884-2926).
CONFIDENTIAL (38 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 584-0130).
Thu: Jeff Walton (5:30 PM). Fri: Franklin McCare
Trio (5:30 PM); Vivid (9 PM). Sat: King’s English
(5:30 PM); Blue Hand Luke (9 PM).
RISTORANTE (17 Maple Ave., Saratoga Springs, 583-6955).
MOUZON HOUSE (1 York St., Saratoga Springs, 226-0014).
Tue: Masters of Nostalgia.
CAROLINE STREET (1 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 587-2026).
Fri, Mon: Sarah Pedinotti Band.
RESTAURANT (Saratoga National Golf Course, Union Street,
Saratoga Springs). Fri: Happy Daze.
LAKE RESTAURANT AND PUB (Round Lake Road, Round Lake,
899-1060). Thu-Fri: karaoke.
(168 Lincoln Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-4030). Thu-Wed: piano
bar with Roger Morris. Thu: Bobby Dick and the Sundowners
(5:45 PM). Fri: Soul Session (5:45 PM). Sat: the Audiostars
(5:45 PM). Sun: the Lustre Kings (5:45 PM). Mon: the
Swingin Beats (5:45 PM). Wed: the Heaters (5:45
(13 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 581-1316). Fri-Sat:
NIGHT CLUB (30 Caroline St., Saratoga Springs, 580-0686).
Fri-Sat: DJ Daniel Van D.
Cinderella Tales, Steamer No. 10 Theatre, Arts
Center in Saratoga, 320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. Through
8/17, Sat-Sun at 4 PM. $10. 438-5503.
Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga Spa State Park,
Saratoga Springs. 8/6, 8 PM: Philadelphia Orchestra, with
pianist André Watts, will perform works by Kodály, Grieg and
Beethoven. $18-$72.50. 587-3330.
Little Theater, Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Saratoga
Springs. 8/3, 2:30 PM: The Saratoga Choral Festival will present
an all-Mozart program. Also, the Society Hill Chamber Players
will perform Dvorák’s String Quartet. $25. 8/5, 8 PM:
Saratoga Chamber Music Festival opening night with pianist
André Watts, performing works by Barber, Mozart and Franck.
$36.50, $41.50. 587-3330.
Children’s Museum at Saratoga, 69 Caroline St., Saratoga
Springs. Wacky Wednesday After-School Kids Club on Wednesdays,
3:45-5 PM. Ages 6-10. Free with museum admission. 584-5540.
Disney KidZone at Saratoga Polo on 8/3, 8/10, 8/17, 8/24.
Kids can meet the ponies and more. Call for details. 584-8108.
County Arts Council, 320 Broadway, Saratoga S prings.
Around The World Summer Camp! 6 week-long courses.
8/4-8: Mexico; 8/11-8/15: South Africa. Ages 5-7, M-F, 1-4
PM. 584-4132, www.saratoga-arts.org.
No. 10 Theatre at the Saratoga County Arts Center,
320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 8/3, 8/9-10, 8/16-17, 4 PM:
Cinderella Tales. $10. 438-5503.
Saratoga County Arts Council, Member Exhibition Hall,
320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. Adirondack Light
and Adirondack Reflections. 8/1-31. Reception 8/2, 5-8
County Arts Council, Arts Center Gallery, 320 Broadway,
Saratoga Springs. 584-4132. 25 Years of the Travers: Poster
Art by Greg Montgomery. 8/2-31. Reception 8/2, 5-8 PM.
Hospital Medical Library, 211 Church St., Saratoga Springs.
583-8301. Rocky Roads: Coast to Coast View. 8/131.
Springs Amtrak Station, Station Lane, Saratoga Springs.
437-6877. Sen Ba: War Horses. 8/1-31.
Springs Public Library, 49 Henry St., Saratoga Springs.
584-7860. Photographs by Andrew Derk. 8/131.
Springs Visitors Center, 297 Broadway, Saratoga Springs.
587-3241. Saratoga Springs Alive!, oil paintings by
Cynthia Whitman. 8/1-31.
70 Beekman Street Art Gallery, 70 Beekman St., Saratoga
Springs. 542-6688. Sporting Life: A Solo Show by Adriano
Manochia. Through 9/5.
Associates, 140 Broad St., Schuylerville. 695-3440. R.
Jane Bouchard: Assemblage Sculpture. Through 8/13. Paul
Bouchard: Sculpture—Painting. Through 8/13. Reception
8/2, 4-8 PM. Artist talk 8/5, 2 PM.
York State Military Museum, 61 Lake Ave., Saratoga Springs.
581-5100. Worth a Thousand Muskets: Civil War Field Artillery.
Also, Battleground for Freedom: New York during the Revolutionary
War. Also, World War II: United for Victory. Also,
Fiery Trial and Sacrifice: New York and the First World
Studios Fine Art Gallery, 96 Broad St., Schuylerville.
369-3280. Summer Suite. Through 8/30.
Automobile Museum, 110 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Spa
State Park, Saratoga Springs. 587-1935 ext. 20. 8/2, 9 AM-3
PM: The Art of Ferrari, a showcase for the renowned
Teaching Museum and Gallery, Skidmore College, 815 N.
Broadway, Saratoga Springs. 580-8080. Opener 15: Amy Sillman:
Third Person Singular. Through 1/4/09. Opener 14: Dean
Snyder: Almost Blue. Through 8/31. Also, Elevator Music
12: Jessica Rylan. Through 9/20.
Caffe Lena, 47 Phila St., Saratoga Springs. 8/6, 7:30
PM: Poetry reading with Steven Huff. 583-0022.
Ballston Spa Farmers Market, Wiswall Park, Ballston Spa.
Thursdays, 3-6 PM; Saturdays, 9 AM-noon.
Farmers Market, High Rock Park, High Rock Avenue, Saratoga
Springs. Saturdays, 9 AM-1 PM; Wednesdays, 3-6 PM.
Ballston Spa Film Festival, Ballston Spa. 7/31-8/3: Films,
music, parties, experimental-film expos, forums. Visit bspafilm.com
Friday, downtown Ballston Spa. 8/1, 6-9 PM. Performances
and exhibitions. 884-9913, 885-6302 or ballston.org.
Point Parade, Schuylerville. 8/2-3, noon until dusk: A
weekend of activities at Fort Hardy Park, including carnival
rides, food, entertainment, crafters, activities and demonstrations,
and fireworks. 695-3932.
Saratoga County Arts Council will present Ghost Walks
Haunted History Tours of Saratoga Springs at 7 PM every Friday
night through October, and Saturday evenings in August and
October. $10, $5. Call for details. 584-4132.
daily through Sept. 1, except Tuesdays
267 Union Ave., Saratoga Springs, 584-6200.
$3 grandstand, $5 clubhouse; children under 12 free; reserved
seating sold separately. Travers Day $5 grandstand, $10 clubhouse.
$10 per car at the trackside and $5 across the street at the
Oklahoma Training Track. General parking is free.
Nine or 10 races a day; pari-mutuel wagering on every race.
Race Post Time is at 1 PM (except Travers Day, Aug. 23,
when it’s noon; and Aug. 29, when it’s 2:45 PM).
Stakes Races The Alabama Stakes (Aug. 16); The Travers
(Aug. 23); The Woodward (Aug. 30).