Photos by Karen Fucito
Sarah Schindelar and her husband Rich were poking around boxes of stuff at a garage sale recently and came across a ceramic bust of Elvis Presley.
“I said to Rich, ‘Oh my god. This is the perfect sailing trophy!’ So we bought it,” said Schindelar, a 16-year member at the Lake Hopatcong Yacht Club.
Thus was born the idea of the Elvis is on the Lake sailing event, a race where all types of boats would race against each other on the same course. Unfortunately the garage sale Elvis was dropped and was broken beyond repair. A search on the internet turned up another Elvis bust, keeping the race dream alive.
Seventeen boats from the LHYC participated, all the way from an Opti to an A-cat and everything in between. Under sunny skies and a steady wind the small boats headed out first and had about a five minute head start over the large boats. It didn’t take long for the bigger boats to overtake the small boats especially after making the turn and heading toward the finish line. The overall winner of the race, Mike Gruber, was in the A-cat. Dressed as Elvis himself, Gruber had a silhouette of adancing Presley tattooed midway up on his sail.
Mike Gruber as Elvis on the winning boat.
Tom Wiss and his crew in the E Scow painted a profile of Elvis, sideburns and all, on the Mainsail and painted an electric guitar on the Jib. Three other boats had “Elvis” as the skippers. Some of the other families participating in the race were the Murphy family, the Skeels, Andy Burdett, the Hussey family and the Hefele family.
The ‘real’ Elvis, Rich Shindelar, with Elvis wannabees, Thomas Hussey of Morris Plains and Michael Flinn of Jefferson.
Elvis look-a-likes, Mike Stenger, Jackie Darrow, Sylvai Darrow and Shelli Skeels.
At first the Schindelars thought the event would be “just for giggles.” But after talking it over between themselves and a dear friend they decided to use the event to raise money for two local charities, St. Peter’s Orphanage in Denville and Project Self-Sufficiency in Newton. According to Shindelar, the event raised just over $3000. The money will be split evenly between the two charities.
Elvis skipper and first mate.
For a first-time event Schindelar thinks the Elvis-themed race was a success. She is already thinking of ways to improve on it for next year. She’s thinking of making next year a Blues Brother-themed event and adding road rally-like adventures to the race course, using businesses on the lake as destination points for the sailors.
A variety of sailing boats participate in the Elvis on the Lake regatta
“We got a lot of great feedback from the participants,” said Shindelar. “They like the idea of this type of race and they especially like that it’s for charity. Tom Wiss mentioned to me that we (the LHYC) used to host a race like this every year and he’s glad to see it come back. He said making it a charity event gives us a reason to do the race.”
Racers on the lake.