Changes In Leadership – Leaving the Downtown Sailing Center

December 9, 2011

For Immediate Release
December 9, 2011
Contact: Kristen Berry

The Downtown Sailing Center Board of Directors met on December 7, 2011.  It was announced that Mr. Kristen Berry has resigned as Executive Director, effective no later than April 30, 2012.

“As I step down as the executive director to pursue my personal career goals I look forward to remaining involved in the accessible, outreach and education programs of the Downtown Sailing Center.” Until April 2012, Berry will continue to serve as the executive director, overseeing the daily operations of the Downtown Sailing Center and helping guide the facility and staff through the transition to new leadership. Berry became executive director in April of 2010.

In accepting his resignation, Downtown Sailing Center President Steve Smith said, “Kristen has set the Downtown Sailing Center on the right course for the future. Under his leadership and with his direction, we have made significant improvements to the facility, increased the quality of outreach and accessible sailing programs, and aggressively addressed longstanding administrative challenges.”

“We sincerely thank KB for his unquestioned dedication to the Downtown Sailing Center, which is once again demonstrated in his willingness to assist in the search for a new executive director and to afterward remain involved in our education and outreach programs,” Smith said.

The Downtown Sailing Center provides quality education and life enriching programs that promote self-esteem and teamwork through the joy of sailing. The Downtown Sailing Center is committed to promoting an environment of inclusiveness and accessibility, especially to youth, persons with disabilities, and those with limited opportunity.


The Power of a Good Duck

April 23, 2011

Last week, while sailing in the first BCYA Tuesday Night Series race of the season I was reminded of the power of a good and smart duck.  For those of you who are thinking about feathered quackers, a duck on the race course is when one boat sails behind (astern) of another.  When two boats come together and would collide if one or both didn’t alter course, then the right of way rules kick in and one boat will often “duck” behind the other.

I am fond of saying that when two boats on opposite tacks meet on the race course — one of them is headed the wrong way.  Races are generally won by getting to a strategic advantage on the race course (more wind velocity, better current, advantageous wind shift, etc.) first and taking advantage of it.  Get to the strategic advantage (you’ll often hear me refer to this as the big money) first and you’ll be hard to beat.  Because there is usually only one “big money” for any given segment of the race (i.e. the moment when two boats on opposite tacks are about to cross each other) then one of the boats MUST be headed the wrong way.

Tuesday night was a great example of this.  We were sailing in a light (4-8kts) westerly breeze that was filling into the racing area after the passage of a small storm cell.  Onboard, we had discussed how we felt there were likely right shifts, if not a persistent right shift coming with the new wind.  With that in mind we were pretty sure, the right side of the race course would be “big money.”  But the starting gun went off in less than 5kts of wind (the water was like glass because most of the new wind was still aloft) and we were midway down the line, with two of our competitors on our windward hip.

In the super light stuff – nobody likes to tack.  It costs too much (said in the tone of the “the rents too damn high!” guy.)  Moreover we were headed for pressure and were slightly headed, making the eventual cross that much easier assuming they got the same left hand shift (reminder – consolidate on THEIR loss not yours.)  All the boats in the scenario were eventually headed and the cross would have been easily make able, but after :30 seconds of analysis of pressure vs shift vs staying fast vs getting to the big money the boats inside of us had found the right hand shift, gained back due to being right of us in a right handed shift and now were an issue.  We didn’t have the cross.

This can be one of toughest moments on a race course.  Conceding to the other boats that they are ahead in order to sail towards what you believe is the “big money.”  But the call was made to tack, and upon coming to course and hitting our target boat speed it was clear that we wouldn’t cross in front.  We would need to duck.

There are good ducks and bad ducks from a boathandling standing point.  Good ducks don’t cost much, and often gain, but bad ducks can be deadly.  Setting the boat up for a good duck starts with anticipation.  When sailing upwind, a small alteration of you angle will have you footing to your target rather than needing the bear off significantly – which inevitably slows the boat down and costs boat lengths!  In our case, a quick weight shift to windward, a big ease on the mainsheet and finally a burp on the jib kept the underwater foils working, kept consistent flow across the sails, and allowed us to head down without needing to deflect the brake… er, I mean the rudder, much at all.

So now we are sailing into a header.  The boats that we’ve ducked are looking more and more lifted as we are more and more headed.  After some discussion about leverage (the lateral distance between two boats) we decided to hedge our bet a bit, and tack back to starboard.  Less than a minute later, our competition that had continued to sail to the left on the lifted tack also tacked, and we quietly crossed them by about 15 or 20 boat lengths.  WHEW!

My personal take away from this is something that I’ve been reminded of hundreds of times – almost ALWAYS head towards the strategic advantage – the big money – even if it means ducking a few boats.  Sail to your strategy not to the other boats and you will be more successful.

Big News For Gale Force Sailing – A Very Personal Note

May 24, 2010


I am happy to announce that there are a few changes coming for Gale Force Sailing.  In April I accepted the position of Executive Director with the Downtown Sailing Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

The Downtown sailing center is an incredible organization that is doing some very big things.  The Downtown Sailing Center is a volunteer-driven organization that instills confidence, teamwork and a sense of community through a range of educational and recreational sailing programs.  The DSC is working to provide access to the freedom of sailing to everyone in the greater Baltimore area, especially those with disabilities or limited income.  It is AWESOME!  We do work with at risk kids, people with disabilities and individuals who long for the water, but are challenged by income.  I get to help everyone go sailing!  What could be better than that?

The DSC represents, for me, a culmination of all the things I have been doing professionally for the past 10 years.  There is sailing, educating, advocating, motivating, managing, organizing, fundraising, strategic planning, communicating and a dozen other gerunds to describe what I view as a dream job.  I am loving it.

What the DSC represents to Gale Force Sailing and our clients is opportunity, clarity and stability.  Rather than scrambling to connect all the dots I will be free to pursue the best work and apply my best efforts – and not have to worry nearly as much about keeping the lights on at home.  Whew!

It also means my weekends are shot, from now until forever, but that’s OK – because I love what I am doing.  I know I am going to be busy juggling both responsibilities – but there is synergy between them.  And personally my coaching work is now more important than ever.  At my core I am an educator, and in order to continue developing professionally I must, and will, continue coaching.  In fact, I joked with someone the other day, that I wasn’t jumping ship – I was sailing a catamaran.  That was probably a bit of a stretch, but I think you get the idea.

So give me a call and let’s talk about your next program as well as my new adventure!

Thank you -


ps- Here is what the DSC Board President, Steve Smith, was kind enough to say about me coming onboard with the DSC.

Contact:    Steve Smith                        April 19, 2010
President, Board of Directors
410-667-0800 (w)
410-456-1591 (cell)

The Downtown Sailing Center Appoints Kristen Berry to Serve as Executive Director

April 19, 2010, Baltimore, MD–The Board of Directors of the Downtown Sailing Center announced today the appointment of Kristen A. Berry as its Executive Director.

Mr. Berry is a nationally respected sailor, sailing coach and environmentalist, who facilitates teambuilding through sailing,  and advocates for the protection of marine ecosystems.  Berry has recently been honored as National Sailor of the Week by US Sailing, the national governing body of sailing, and selected by GQ Magazine’s Gentlemen Fund as its 2009 Conservation Pillar Honoree.  Having sailed since childhood in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Berry has always been committed to quality sailing education and environmental awareness, serving as president of BirdPAC, a political action committee dedicated to bird conservation, director of communications and grassroots manager for The National Audubon Society, sailing coach and advisor for the National Maritime Heritage Foundation, and sailing instructor trainer for the United States Naval Academy.  Berry also owns Gale Force Sailing, an Annapolis based organization that provides international coaching, instruction, innovative team building and leadership development programs.  

According to Board President Stephen Smith, “Kristen Berry is held in very high regard by both sailors and environmentalists, is an outstanding educator, team builder and leader, and energizes everyone with whom he  works. We believe that in addition to having the passion and vision to lead our award winning organization, Kristen also has that special quality of great educators to motivate our large volunteer base and to connect with and excite the great number of at-risk youth and persons with disabilities we are so honored to serve.”

The Downtown Sailing Center is a nationally recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit community based sailing organization that provides affordable and accessible sailing and educational programs to all persons across the spectrum, regardless of age, income, ability or disability.  The Center’s 45 boat fleet and recently completed marina, located on the south harbor waterfront at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, provide a platform for a wide range of programs including a summer camp, disabled sailing, adult education, after work racing and sailing instructor training. The Center annually serves over 2,000 individuals from the Baltimore – Washington region and Pennsylvania.



May 17, 2010

Sixteen-year-old Jessica Watson has spent the past seven months in a self-imposed solitary confinement of sorts. For 210 days, the avid sailor skippered her 34-foot yacht, the Pink Lady, around the world, a feat few others, let alone teenagers, have accomplished.

But on Saturday afternoon, her solo trip ended in dramatic fashion as tens of thousands of cheering spectators and hundreds of boats turned out to welcome her home to Australia’s Sydney Harbor. “I haven’t seen a person for almost seven months and suddenly there’s just people everywhere — you know, faces, so much color, so much noise, so much everything,” she told a news conference. “All I’ve seen for so long is empty waves, so it was amazing and very overwhelming. At the same time, I achieved what I set out to.”

That achievement — her team claims she’s the youngest person to sail solo, nonstop and unassisted around the world — is not without controversy. A storm over whether she’d bested Jesse Martin, a fellow Australian recognized in 1999 as the youngest to make the voyage at 18, came to a head on sailing news websites last week, centering not on her age — nor on whether she circumnavigated the globe — but on whether she had sailed far enough.

Sailing websites such as reported last week that Watson’s route wasn’t long enough orthodromically — that is, by measuring the shortest distance from point to point on a route — to hit 21,600 nautical miles, the length of the equator. Watson’s team has said she had sailed about 23,000 nautical miles, though it hasn’t claimed the distance is orthodromic. Critics have said her logged distance includes zig-zags that yachts inevitably make, and those zig-zags do not count for orthodromic distance.

The World Sailing Speed Record Council, which certified in 1999 that Martin was the youngest to make the trip, mandates 21,600 orthodromic nautical miles for round-the-world courses. Watson’s team has responded that it wasn’t aiming for any WSSRC record, because the council has stopped recognizing the “youngest” category. — CNN

Singles on Sailboats (SOS) Spring Training Presentation

March 14, 2010

Today I spoke to two groups of more than 50 folks at the Singles On Sailboats Spring Training.  This is the third year that I have done this program and I really enjoy doing it every spring.  I get to try out some new things and the feedback is great!

Here is a slide show of the material presented.  I will be doing voiced over slide shows of the segments this week, so stay tuned!

Key West Race Week – Part Five

December 29, 2009

You are the green boat.  Where do you tack?  What is your strategic thinking?  What is your tactical thinking?  Is this a good place to “push” a tough maneuver?  What are your rules considerations?  Is there a “safe” option?  Let’s hear your thoughts.  Post them to the comments section or email them to me.



Visualization First Windward Mark


Check Out This Fresh Spinsheet Article

December 29, 2009

Key West Weather – Let the pattern begin

December 29, 2009

December 28, 2009 10:00 pm EST
Location: 24.46N 81.88W
Wind Direction: N (360°)
Wind Speed: 15.9 knots
Wind Gust: 17.1 knots
Atmospheric Pressure: 30.21 in (1022.9 mb)
Pressure Tendency: +0.05 in (+1.6 mb)
Air Temperature: 66.4°F (19.1°C)

[ Observed at Sand Key station. ]

I have started my weather data collection for Key West Race Week, presented by Nautica.  And I was sitting here writing a weather briefing for Key West Race week, and while I was searching the interweeds for some supporting data for my anecdotal diatribe.  Fortunately the good people (they really are) at North Sails have put together a great reference.  Check it out below or go to their website. Here is what they have to say and, for what it is worth; it is pretty close to what I would have written, and interestingly the current conditions are almost EXACTLY the conditions we are using for our visualization.  I love being lucky.

From the big brains at North Sails:

Very consistent sailing conditions are frequently experienced during Key West Race Week. Often nailing subtle wind shifts is the key to success. The typical Key West weather in January follows a relatively simple and predictable cycle lasting between five and seven days. Predicting individual shifts is difficult, but a general understanding of the weather patterns can be a big help in defining what shifts you will experience.

To understand the cycle, let’s say that the first day of racing finds a recently passed cold front stationary or dying south of the racing area. At the same time, a high pressure center would likely be building in the northern Plains and sweeping toward the southeastern U.S. coastline. This weather pattern often brings cool temperatures and a cloudy sky to Key West. Winds would be northerly with gusty and shifty conditions. The wind speed will normally start the day fresh, say 15 to 20 knots and maybe more, but decrease with time.

On the next day of the cycle, the high would move to the southeastern U.S., positioned almost directly north of Florida. The high in this position weakens the northerly wind, veering it to the northeast. The breeze can be gusty and shifty, but there is a clear easing trend. Big directional swings to the right are often possible, especially during the afternoon.

Days 3 and 4 find the high lingering over the Southeastern U.S and spreading east off the Georgia or northeast Florida coast into the Atlantic. The wind continues veering to the east and sometimes southeast with speeds slowly starting to increase, especially on Day 4. These are the most consistent sailing days, with smaller, oscillating shifts. Temperatures are often seasonable and humidity increases with few clouds in the sky.

Toward the end of this period and moving into Day 5, the high moves off the Southeastern U.S. coast. The wind veers further into the southeast bringing warmer and more humid air. Trade wind cumulus clouds containing isolated showers may pass through the course causing larger oscillations and shifts.

By the end of the cycle, the high moves farther away from Florida to the east. The cycle begins to repeat itself with another cold front possibly threatening Key West from the northern Gulf. Ahead of cold fronts, watch for winds veering farther right and increasing in strength. The weather becomes less stable and there is even the possibility of some squalls and thunderstorms in this pattern.

Keep in mind that there are always exceptions to this cycle and the timing can change. However, the accompanying wind rose graphic shows how this weather cycle relates to historic wind conditions. The wind rose shows historic wind speed and direction frequency near the racing areas during the race period. Notice the N/NNE wind often found during days 1-2 of the cycle is more frequently fresh to strong. Winds tend to moderate when veering to the NE on day 2. Increasingly fresh speeds are apparent as the wind frequently veers from the ENE to ESE on days 3-5. The cycle often repeats after day 5 so the moderate to fresh SE/S winds on a cycle that extends to days 6-7 are less frequent.

If you are planning to race in Key West, you better start watching the weather now! You may be able to see this cycle and become more familiar with it before the race. Also, any unusual weather patterns may give you some hints on how things can vary from the typical weather pattern. Monitoring the Key West weather is easy in the North Sails Weather Center – simply visit and navigate to the North Sails Weather Center. Look specifically at the current and forecast surface weather maps in the weather charts section of the North Sails Blue Weather Center. You can use these charts to see the movement of systems around the region and where you are in the cycle outlined above. Also, use the North Sails Blue Weather Center to monitor wind conditions reported near the race course area. Mostly importantly, sign up for complimentary race weather outlooks and race day forecasts issued by the North Sails Blue Weather Center.

Key West Race Week – Part Four – PROTEST!

December 27, 2009

Can you tell I am getting excited?

Now that we’ve checked the SI’s this seems like a good time to bring up the protest conversation.  So here is another visualization to chew on this week (I hope YOU aren’t working).

Visualization Number 4 PROTEST!

On our way up the windward leg we are sailing on starboard tack.  A port tack boat is making an effort to cross.  We are nearing the port tack layline and we are thinking of tacking ourselves (sound familiar).  The boat on port is one that we’ve been battling with all week and it’s close.  They are going to go for it.  We hail “starboard” at 6 boat lengths, they hail “hold your course.”  10 seconds later we are forced to bear away to avoid hitting their starboard stern quarter.  What do we do?  What purpose did the hails serve?  Are either required?  What should they do?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts.

What are you doing on this snowy day?

December 19, 2009

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