We are tied to the ocean. And when we go back to the sea, whether it is to sail or to watch - we are going back from whence we came. – John F. Kennedy
Kathy and the Sarasota Sailing Squadron
Kathy and our family literally grew up with the SSS. In the early 1960's we had a 21 foot wooden sloop, designed and built in St. Petersburg. The SSS didn't have facilities to dock our boat so we keep it at the Holiday Inn on the north trail. Although we would occasionally visit the Squadron we did't join until sometime in the late 1960's. By that time the 21 foot sloop had gone it's way and we were sailing a Cape Dory 10, two adults and two small children.
Kathy's sailing life changed forever when she carpooled with Lilly Kaighan to Church of the Palms preschool. Lilly convinced Kathy to join her and her friends at the SSS to sail and race prams. As they say, the rest is history. The group originally called themselves the Sarasota Sailing and Sinking Society, or something to that effect. They eventually settled on the Luffing Lassies, a nod to Lilly's Scottish heritage.
The Luffing Lassies, Life in the Slow Lane
Kathy loved every minute with the Luffing Lassies and served one term as President. One of her more memorable achievements was to help organize the water ballet. In addition to performing (something memorable from Sarasota High School days), she also provided the mesh tu-tu's. Although she eventually moved up to the Sunfish with “Bigger Tigger” she was always partial to her pram, “Tigger.”
Life was not all fun and games with the Luffing Lassies. At Christmas, the Lassies got down to serious business. As they prepared to sail, the wind freshened and they could hear a “ho, ho..ho” coming from the bay. And who should appear in a tiny yellow boat but old St. Nicholas, no, no it's Kathy Waggener!
The Youth Sailing Program (YSP)
With Kathy's love of her pram and love of children, it was only natural that she should want to create a sailing program for children.
A number of others at the Squadron shared her interest in a youth sailing program and Pat Murphy used his renown Irish charm to talk Kathy (aka Kathleen Connolly) into being one of the founders and first president of the YSP.
Using donated Luzzier prams, Kathy and a group of volunteers started the first program with six lessons, the first being practicing capsizing. Among the first volunteers were Kathy, Dave Bridges, Bill Waggener, Sr , Bill Waggener, Jr, Bob Lindsey and Ben (of Big Ben fame) and Mary. (Sorry if I have left anyone out, I can only remember five or six things at a time)!
Somewhere in the pictures you might recognize another Bridges, Craig as a student in the first group. I wonder what ever happened to him? As Yogi said “it's deja vu all over.”
The YSP was very rewarding to all involved and Kathy watched many of her former students go on the racing at the highest levels. Along the way, Lars Bergstom became a good friend as well as the Branning's and others too numerous to name.
When I look at the first picture, I miss Kathy but I am sure that I will meet her at the other end of that fog bank .
--Bill Waggener, Sr