Thursday, November 15, 2018
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Float yer boat: The Crested Butte Yacht launches

“Got out of town on a boat goin’ to southern islands. Sailing a reach before a followin’ sea. She was makin’ for the trades on the outside, and the downhill run to Papeete Bay…” Crosby, Stills & Nash, Southern Cross
Who doesn’t start dreaming about tropical getaways as the days of lift assisted skiing wane and the mud starts to thaw on the sunnier side of the street? Blue, blue waters and the tide lapping against the hull of a lazily drifting boat? Or the sails screaming as your head grazes the water in a full clip cutting through the water? And you’re thinking, wait… I live in the middle of the mountains at 9,000 feet … and you wouldn’t be alone in your combo love of open water and vertical land. The Crested Butte Yacht Club (CBYC) has officially launched with a plan to meld the best of mountain and ocean life, initiated by experienced salty dog locals Jalene Szuba and Evan Kezsbom.
The inaugural kick off is appropriately at a sailor’s favorite, Montanya Rum Distillery, Thursday, March 14 at 7 p.m. where the group will discuss ideas like summertime Beer Can Races on Blue Mesa, programs for newbies, instructional courses for bareboat, navigation, passage making, seminars for everything from boat maintenance and race tactics, to passage planning, organized flotilla trips to the islands, and the multitude of parties and even fundraisers for the CBYC.
Jalene was living in Chicago when she traveled to Crested Butte for a family reunion in 2008, and a local family plotted to hook her up with Evan, sensing they may have much in common. They were right. “I was living in Chicago racing a crew Beneteau 42 sailboat, and my first reaction was, what sailor would live in Colorado? Then I started visiting Evan more frequently and he introduced me to Blue Mesa and Sail Western Colorado,” she says of the CB based company run by Tim Geisler, who teaches sailing courses on Blue Mesa and has sunset sails on the Mesa. “I got out on the Mesa and as we started talking to people we were amazed at how many love sailing here,” she says of the crew of landlocked sailors.
Jalene and Evan head off for their favorite sailing vacations in Tortolla, BVI every chance they get. “When we were there we saw boats registered as originating in Crested Butte and Gunnison and docked in BVI,” Jalene says she was initially surprised. “We jokingly said we need a yacht club in CB because there are a lot of people who have homes here and have boats elsewhere or go on sailing vacations.” She started keeping a notebook of names and when the list got to about 30 names they decided to ramp it up and organize. “There are real hardcore sailors here and we just really want to bring that community together.” What better way to bring the valley mariners together than with libations, and rum, arrrgh?
“I don’t know why they actually call it a Beer Can Race,” Jalene laughs about a popular activity amongst sailors. No, they don’t race the cans, and since rum is the prize for the winner, it should probably be renamed to the Rum Runner Race. Jalene explains, “It’s usually one night a week, it’s a casual race where a pin is set up and the boats go around the buoys. First one across the line wins the race.” Montanya Rum Distilleries is sponsoring it, of course. “It’s not a regatta, it’s fun,” Jalene explains that there are Ten Commandments of the Beer Can Race and the first is HAVE FUN.
No boat? No worries, they have a plan that works in the islands. “If you don’t have a boat you can hang out on the dock and volunteer for crew.” Aye. Since drinking and sailors seem to go hand in hand, Jalene and Evan also have a plan to make it fun while considering safety first, “Most sailors like their libations so my ultimate goal is to get one of the shuttles and anyone can buy a ticket down to the docks so you can drink and not drive.” A seaworthy plan, indeed matey.
 “We love sailing so much and when we found out there were other sailors we thought, let’s get this together and talk about what we have in common. Our goal is to organize a group then use that group leverage to charter boats, trips, and vacations,” Jalene says. They want to invite anyone interested to cast off, discuss, and discover the Crested Butte Yacht Club at Montanya’s at 7 p.m., Thursday, March 14, or if you can’t make it to that contact them through their website. cbyachtclub.com or email info@cbyachtclub.com. Ahoy!

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