Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Ill winds

And only the Central Park Conservancy can cure what ails the Central Park Model Yachting Club's races;
Only a handful of hobbyists turn out with their Marblehead class vessels—50 inches long with sails limited to 800 square inches—Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. for a series of 1.5-lap races around the pond.
....As spectators look on, the skippers' attention is trained on tree branches, the ripples on the pond's surface and the other subtleties noticed by experienced sailors.
"Wind has a texture," Mr. [Jon] Elmaleh said, guiding his boat back to the pond's starting line, denoted by two small buoys. "And out here you have to constantly be aware of how it can change."
Changing winds also get the blame for the group's shrinking ranks, the skippers said. The London Plane trees, which can grow more than 100 feet in height and have thick, stiff, maple-like leaves, block the natural winds that would otherwise blow across the pond, they say. Without wind, sails are stilled, and boats rendered nearly immobile.
.... Mr. Elmaleh said that three years ago he asked the park to make changes, pledging to replant three or four trees elsewhere in the park for any one that the city might remove. A representative from the Central Park Conservancy declined to comment on the request.
Well, the yachtsmen are mostly in their 70s....

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