Some of Lake Hopatcong’s youngest sailors took their skills on the road last week, taking six of the top ten spots in the gold fleet at a Tom’s River regatta. Dozens then participated in the annual Halsey Island races on Lake Hopatcong, which wrap up on the main lake on Tuesday. Brielle Malanga came in first place in the gold fleet at the Tom’s River “No Tears Regatta” on August 17, followed by fellow Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club youth sailors Michael Flinn in third, Patrick Dill in fourth, Sam Maltby in fifth, Thomas Hussey in eighth, and Cathleen Murphy in ninth. The annual event drew 160 Opti sailors from around the area, and the winds started out light and built to 5-10 miles per hour as the day went on.
“Our kids don’t get very many opportunities to compete against a fleet that large,” said Brian Kitchin, who has been an instructor at the yacht club for a total of eight years. “They did a great job of applying everything they’ve learned in the past couple of years, and it showed in their finishes.”
The racers returned to the yacht club on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday to join their fellow junior sailors in the annual Halsey Island races, which start at the yacht club on Bertrand’s Island, extend down the lake, around the island, and back.
On Wednesday, the pre-team racers competed in light wind, both in Optis and in 420 sailboats. In the Optis, Georgia Waehler finished first, followed by David Sullivan and Sam Maltby. In the 420s, the team of Adam Richards and Meghan Murphy finished first, followed by Daniel Dill and Nicholas Prezioso in second and Matt Litchfield and Ralph Quaranta in third.
Thursday’s morning race for the beginner sailors was postponed to Tuesday because of a lack of wind. The intermediate class, however, was able to get a race off in the afternoon. J.P. Gamba finished first in that competition, followed by Joey Jannicelli in second and Greg Allen in third. All participants sailed in Optis.
On Friday, the most advanced sailors on the Junior Sailing Team raced in breezy conditions, using the 420 sailboats. Emma Restrick and Morgan Maltby finished in first, followed by Hali Gruber and Peter Hefele in second, and George Malanga and Kyra Topor in third.
“The Halsey Island Race is a longstanding tradition at the lake, and it’s a great wrap up to our junior sailing season,” said Kitchin. “The kids get to apply a lot of the things they’ve learned to a much longer race than they’re used to.”
He added that there’s another component to the annual race that draws on the yacht club’s history. “A lot of our parents choose to take the day off to watch their kids participate in the same race that they took part in, maybe 25 years ago.”
The top finishers in the Halsey Island Races will receive awards at the club’s annual Sailors’ Luncheon, which takes place on Labor Day.