RED BANK – When the frost begins to bite, it’s a sailor’s delight for a few brave members of the Monmouth Boat Club.
Frigid temperatures that chill the Two River area provide the perfect stage for the club’s Frostbite races, a cold weather series that allows local laser boat captains and others from around the Northeast region to navigate a course within the Navesink River.
Though the series is opens to sailors of all ages, no competitor has stood out more during this 2018 season – which runs November through March – than Patrick Modin, a 17-year old Rumson native who attends the Marine Academy of Science & Technology (MAST) on Sandy Hook.
“He’s really beyond his years. He’s very skilled and knowledgeable about the sport for a kid his age…Plus, he only weighs about 130 pounds, which is a major advantage when going up against an old guy like me,” Westfield native, fleet champion and series organizer, Chris Henkel, said in a Dec. 2 interview with The Two River Times.
Modin said golf was his first love upon moving to the area with his family as a child, a sport he was ready to pursue full-time when his family joined the Rumson Country Club.
But it was at the club where he discovered sailing, and a natural feel to being at the helm of a vessel in the local waterways.
“It came to me pretty easily, but I’ve been working at it at for a while now and not just out on the water,” said Modin, who added that he’s put in numerous hours of reading about strategy and tactics and studying the nuances of the sport of sailing. “I love the complexity of it, and I enjoy the work. I’m still getting better.”
Modin said he was attracted to the sport because anyone can do it if they’re driven to put in the time and effort.
“It’s something that I can do all year round and enjoy for a long time,” Modin said. “You don’t have to be super strong or athletic to have fun and be competitive. Unless you want to go to the Olympics or something.”
Modin said an Olympic appearance would be a dream come true, but for now his sights are set on the revered Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta, the largest youth event of its kind in the United States and South America.
The event is scheduled to take place Dec. 26-30, where 650 sailors ages 8 to 18 from 20 countries and 28 states, will race boats like Optimists, Club 420’s and Lasers – like Modin’s – in Miami, Florida.
“It’s my first time competing and will give me a real understanding of where I stand (among national and international competition),” Modin said. “I’m really excited for it because it will allow me to test all of my skills and everything I’ve learned.”
According to Modin, there are currently 99 boats registered to compete in his division. Modin will have a few more weekends of races on the Navesink before heading for warmer climates, though he said the Shrews- bury River, which is more wide open with lower banks, is a more exhilarating ride.
Henkel said an abundance of scenic locations, like the two rivers and the Sandy Hook Bay, are what make the area one of the best in the country to sail.
“It’s just beautiful and peaceful place to sail. I’ve sailed in a lot of places, but there aren’t many that match this. We’re on the Navesink today, on either side of you are these incredible mansions. Where else can you sail and see Bon Jovi’s house,” Henkel said.
The Monmouth Boat Club, located at 31 Union St. in Red Bank, was founded in 1879 and has sailing groups for all ages, genders and experience levels. There are currently 186 members.
For more information about how to join the Monmouth Boat Club visit monmouthboatclub.org.
This article was first published in the Jan. 3-9 2019 print edition of The Two River Times.
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