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Learn to sail this summer with the LWSA - 758 words

GILFORD — "Anyone can sail," said Al Posnack, long-time volunteer with the Lake Winnipesaukee Sailing Association. However, few are born natural sailors, and each year, scores of beginners don life jackets and launch tiny vessels on to Smith Cove for their first solo voyage. The trip usually begins with clumsiness, but ends in triumph.

Cat McLaughlin, one of the instructors for the LWSA Sailing School, said there's a particular instant — where anxiety gives way to accomplishment — that she has learned to look for.

"That moment when you get it, when the wind hits the sail and they start to move, their face lights up ... It's really fun to watch."

McLaughlin knows that moment well, because, before she was an instructor for LWSA, and before she was a junior instructor, she was a student at the LWSA Sailing School.

"My family never had a boat, this was how I got my fix of the lake, this was how I fell in love with sailing," she said. In fact, all of the sailing school's instructors are themselves graduates of the program.

The sailing school has taught more than 2,500 young sailors since beginning in 1988. Thanks to new developments over the past few years, the LWSA is excited for the 2016 sailing school season.

Three years ago, LWSA was able to purchase a a former cove-side home at the end of Davis Road in Gilford, prior to that the association was dependent upon the hospitality of Fay's Boat Yard, which allowed use of a meeting room for its classes. With its own property, LWSA has had the stability to expand and improve upon its programs, which are all aimed at making sailing on Lake Winnipesaukee accessible to all.

At the heart of the sailing school is its children's curriculum, which takes kids as young as seven and teaches them the basics and joy of sailing. At eight years old, children are eligible to enroll is Sailing 101, level one, a week long course where children will spend the lion's share of the 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. daily schedule on the water, piloting their own craft, while instructors in powerboats keep an eye out for safety and offer technical tips.

The courses continue from there, with one week and two week courses for older and more advanced sailors, up to programs for collegiate-level racing sailors.

Posnack said that scholarships are available for interested students who need them.

"Any kid that needs financial aid, we'll get it to them," Posnack said, noting that for many in the region, the sport of sailing seems out of reach. "We're trying to bridge that gap."

The children's sailing school sessions begin on June 20 and run into mid-August; there are still many sessions with space available to those who haven't registered yet.

Drop-off for a day at sailing school is at 9 a.m. The day begins with a brief classroom session, about a half-hour, following which students retrieve their own rigging from the supply shed, and rig up their own small sailboat. They spend the next few hours sailing solo, take a break for lunch, get back on the water and sail some more. The day closes with a short classroom session.

Sailing is an "intellectual sport," said Liam Shanahan, operations director for LWSA.

"Kids understand that the more you pay attention inside, the better you're going to be and the more fun you'll have," he said. "It's very structured and deliberate, but, especially for the younger kids, they don't realize how much they're learning."

While the young sailors learn about sailing, they're also gaining confidence, self-esteem, self-reliance and determination.

To celebrate the end of the week, young sailors join the older classes and leave the safety of Smith Cove for an adventure.

Emily McCabe, instructor, said, "On Fridays, we put all the classes together and we go out for a larger sail." Sometimes the destination is Ragged Island, owned by the Lakes Region Conservation Trust, where they can explore the trails and eat lunch, or they might sail to Weirs Beach for ice cream. McCabe said the voyage lets the younger sailors learn from the returning campers, who in turn act as mentors.

"It's great because the whole camp gets to be together and interact," she said.

Over the winter, the LWSA acquired 10 O'pen Bic sailboats, simple and small vessels ideal for children, which brought the number of boats owned by the organization to 37. The program also has a new director this year, Amy Tripp, taking over from prior director Anthony Sperazzo.

To learn more about the LWSA, visit or call 603-589-1177.

Donated boats help keep Sailing Association above water - 255 words

GILFORD — Ready to part ways with that old boat in the backyard that has seen more pine needles than waves in the past few years? One way to do that is to donate it to the Lake Winnipesaukee Sailing Association, which will shine it up, sell it and keep the proceeds as a tax-deductible operation.

"We're a nonprofit, one of our streams of revenue is from people who donate boats," said Al Posnack, a long-time voluneer with the LWSA.

Rarely, a donated boat will be added to the organization's fleet, used to teach the sport of sailing to both young and old. Most of the time, boats donated to the LWSA are sold.

Boats given to the Sailing Association run the gamut of vessels seen on Lake Winnipesaukee. Small sailboats, even motorboats, are welcome, some are in need of some form of attention prior to the sale. The donation program set a new high-water mark last year, when an anonymous donor gave the LWSA a classic sailboat, an Alberg 30, fully equipped and ready to sail.

Donors receive a tax deduction equal to the boat's full, fair-market value, as well as the knowledge that their gift supports programs and scholarships for the LWSA, which has taught thousands of children to sail at the summer camps it has operated since 1988. Of course, donors also get to shed themselves of the hassle of selling the boat themselves, and of paying to store, insure and repair the boat.

To discuss a possible boat donation, call 603-589-1177 or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Who pays the bill? - LaconiaFest costs mount; promoter disputes expenses

LACONIA — Whatever people say about the first year of LaconiaFest, no matter how it shakes out, it's going to cost some people a lot of money. The real question is whether or not the losers will be the concert promoters, the taxpayers of Laconia or both, as attendance at the concerts fail to meet expectations.

Concert promoter Tyler Glover said Wednesday that he believes he's been overbilled by the city of Laconia for public safety expenses even though he and his business partner had told the city their projected attendance numbers had to be reduced significantly since the planning process began earlier this winter.

“I feel like I'm getting extorted,” Glover said, referring to what he said was a threat by the city to shut the venue down if they didn't pay them what the city said it owed.

In April, Laurie DiGiovanni, LaconiaFest producer, promised a huge event, and the venue was licensed to host 33,000 people at any given time. 

City Manager Scott Myers said yesterday that the city determined staffing requirements based on the number of people Glover said would be in attendance. 

He said the first weekend, which by all accounts was cold and turnout for LaconiaFest was far lower than expected, was the template the city used to project for the rest of the week and since then has it drastically lowered the number of public safety employees needed.

During the first days of LaconiaFest, the city deployed 313 police officer hours, including 148 hours from Nashua PD and 42 hours from Londonderry PD. Day two, Sunday, the police billed for $24,810 for police hours including 56 from Nashua and 60 from Londonderry.

The city billed LaconiaFest 122 firefighter/EMT hours for Saturday's show and 95 hours for Sunday's show. The total bill sent from the city to LaconiaFest for Saturday was $27,645 and $24,810 for Sunday. 

Glover sat down with Myers before Saturday and, in his mind, the two of them agreed that the billing would reflect 5,000 attendees per show, far lower than the estimated 25,000 to 30,000 originally projected. He said he wanted to go with 2,500 to 3,000 people but feared limiting his walk-ins because the number of public safety personnel would limit the number of walk-ins. 

In Glover's opinion, the city required public safety personnel numbers for a crowd at least twice that size.

Myers said that public safety planning for an outdoor event is an “inexact science” and some common sense needs to be applied. For example, he said that the accepted ratio between number of attendees and police is generally about one officer for every 1,000 people. However, with 12 acres of property and an outdoor venue with various other activities, he said it's not realistic to think one police officer could patrol that much space even if there were fewer than 1,000 people.

He said the contract signed by Glover's business partner estimated that up to 25,000 people could attend some of the bigger performances and the city police and fire departments used those figures for their planning.

“We have been rapidly reducing the number of public safety personnel needed,” Myers said, a statement corroborated by the city's fire and police chief. It is also reflected in the bills sent to LaconiaFest for Monday and Tuesday that were $13,985 and $12,085 respectively.

As to Saturday and Sunday, Myers said the operators of LaconiaFest allowed free admission and made it known through social media, leading to the possibility of much larger crowds than expected. Free admission continued through Monday but was ended before Wednesday's shows.

“We are not intentionally overstaffing on the city's part,” Myers said, noting that the city already absorbed a number of soft costs, such as planning, that are not reflected in any costs assessed to LaconiaFest.

According to a contract for LaconiaFest and agreed to by Mike Trainor, who was the original representative of the concert venue to the city, the prepaid fees for police, fire and code inspection services were to total $309,830, which was due from LaconiaFest on May 31 in escrow, but was never paid.

The city decided to allow the venue to go forward anyway, and as of June 15, LaconiaFest has paid $35,000. During the first four days, the city has incurred $78,525 in public safety expenses. These costs do not include Wednesday's Steven Tyler concert, which by all accounts drew about 4,500 to 5,000 people and was a greatly enjoyed by those in attendance.

When asked if the city would shut down LaconiaFest if the incurred expenses weren't paid, Myers said that he has contacted the city's lawyer's and said  he can't let the expenses “fall too far behind” because of the city's responsibility to taxpayers.

“We are really trying to work with LaconiaFest,” Myers said. “We want to make this work.”

“Everyone from the city side wants this to succeed and to continue into future years,” Myers said. “The implication that this is a cash cow is incorrect.”

06-15 Bike Week scene