He's taught hundreds of kids to sail. Even those who haven't taken his classes praise his fairness and upbeat approach to the sport.
Now the rest of the country knows it too.
Park McRitchie of Port Clinton, was recently named US Sailing's 2003 Volunteer Coach of the Year, a new category award established by sailing's governing body in January.
"Park is 100 per cent in favor of fairness," says former junior sailor Coralee Skoch of Mentor, Ohio. "If a sailor has a bad day then he focuses on improvement and most of all making sure the sailor is having fun."
"He doesn't overly focus on what went wrong, which is what tends to discourage some kids."
McRithchie started coaching sailing 30 years ago.
"I got away from it for a while and did my own sailing, then I had children and got back into it," he said.
His son Thomas, 17, will "age out" of junior sailing this year. His daughter Leah is 13.
"I have a brand new Beneteau 40.7 that hasn't even left the dock," he said.
"I didn't sail the Mills and I'm not sailing the Mackinac. That's not a priority. These children won't be children forever. Someday they may even come back and crew for me."
MacRitchie is convinced that "any kid can learn to sail, period. But all kids learn differently and some have to be taken through it step by step. How well they learn is up to the children and what kinds of goals they set for themselves."
"Some want to be the best racer and others just want to be good sailors," he said. " Putting my goals on top of theirs is not the question. I just want them to enjoy themselves while they're learning. That's why we do what we do."
McRitchie has been a volunteer coach at Port Clinton Yacht Club for about eight years and is the education and training
director for the Inter-Lake Yachting Association..He also coaches in Florida during the winter.
Altogether he spends 600-700 hours a year teaching kids to sail and last year traveled about 8000 miles - a lot of them
"parental miles" he says - to regattas and clinics.
With all that on his plate, he still finds time to run a business. MacRitchie is president of
Quikspray, a Port Clinton company that manufactures concrete pumps and distributes them to 60 countries.
His latest project is being chairman of the USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival, a four-day event scheduled at PCYC this weekend.
A cooperative program of US Sailing and the US Olympic Committee, the event is expected to draw more than 245 competitors.
"Kids are coming from Chicago, northern Michigan and all over. It's a really big deal" he said. "They're going to learn a lot, - even if they're not that competitive - because it's geared to those kids who are still learning."
The Junior Olympics are open to all youths between the ages of 7 and 18. It will include races for nine classes, including four Opt
imist Dinghy classes. The others are for FJs, CFJs, C420s, Lasers, Laser Radials and Thistles.
Participants may register today, from 2- 8 p.m. or tomorrow before 8 a.m. A racing clinic, followed by practice races, is set for tomorrow from 9 a.m.-4 p.m.
Jerry Porter, chairman of North Cape Yacht Club's Commodore Perry Race, can't predict the weather, but he forecasts a fun-filled weekend of racing, live music and fun for participants.
He expects between 40-50 boats to be on the starting line a mile east of the yacht club, at 9 a.m. Saturday (July 11). Performance handicap racing fleet classes will race a 24.6 mile course and jib-and-main boats will race 19.6 miles.
Registration (from 6:30-9 p.m.) and a pre-race party featuring the Uncle Samwitch Band are scheduled Friday evening. The band will return for a post-race pizza party Saturday night
"The race is open to anyone who has a Lake Erie PHRF rating certificate and belongs to an acredited yacht club. The parties are open to everyone,"Porter said.
Several North Cape Yacht Club boats were among the leaders at Cleveland Race Week. In Performance Handicap Racing Fleet Class D, Chip Crawford's Patriot took second and Jeff Mackay's Wizard was third. Foghorn, skippered by Kent Gardam, was runner-up in PHRF Class C.
Toledo Power Squadron's Kids Kardboard Race, originaly slated Saturday at Three Meadows Park, in Perrysburg, has been cancelled due to liability issues, according to chairman Al Hess.
JULY BOATING EVENTS:
9/11 - Reach For the Stars Regatta, Ottawa River Yacht Club
11-Commodore Perry Race, North Cape Yacht Club
9/11 - Elba-Mar Days, Elba Mar Boat Club
11 - Doublehanded Race, Ford Yacht Club
16/18 - Toledo Harbor Light 100th Anniversary Celebration, Maumee Bay State Park.
16/18 - Homecoming and Associated Yacht Club Regatta, River View Yacht Club
17 - Bacardi Bayview Mackinac Race, Port Huron to Mackinac Island, Bayview Yacht Club
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