Nine Storm Lake area ministers risk a dunking for a good cause in the Faster Pastor sailboat races, to be held July 31.
"The pastors are being really good sports, and I think they are having fun with this," said Rick Peterson, commodore of the Hi-Noon Kiwanis Community Sailing program in Storm Lake, which is putting on the event.
Ticket sales have not been as brisk as the
organizers had hoped, and the public is urged to get their tickets for the Faster Pastor meal and racing - with all profits going to the after-school programs at Storm Lake Middle School and St. Mary's middle school. On Sunday the 31st, HyNoon Kiwanians will begin serving a meal at noon in Scout Park, with turkey fillets donated by Sara Lee.
The Faster Pastor race will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the bay behind Methodist Manor. Tickets are $7 for adults, $3 for students, and are available from any of the participating churches, Hy-Noon Kiwanis members, and the Storm Lake Chamber of Commerce office.
Earlier this season, Peterson and the Kiwanis club pitched the idea of a Faster Pastors event to the Storm Lake Ministerial Association. It was the ministers who chose to make the after-school youth programs the recipients of their efforts.
Nine pastors have agreed to take part. They include:
Tom Hinshaw, First Baptist Church; Jack Barber, Church of Christ; Jim Hoffman, Hope Evangelical Free Church; Connie Spitzack, St. Mark Lutheran; Beverlee Bell and Jamie Cutler, United Methodist Church; Loren Carlson, Faith Bible Christian Outreach; Fr. Bruce Lawler, St. Mary's Catholic Church; and Duane Queen, Lakeside Presbyterian.
Rev. Spitzack predicts that the competition will be an experience.
"I'm sure it's going to be entertaining, I'm just not sure it's going to be fast," she laughed.
Like her fellow ministers, she is a fledgling when it comes to the sailboat. "I went out and tried to sail to the Methodist Manor area to get the lay of the water. I told Rick Peterson that if I didn't come back, to come out after me," she said. "Well, I got there fine, but I couldn't get back, and finally a 12-year-old child who happens to be a three-year sailing veteran had to come and save me. It was a little embarrassing, but it sure made a good illustration for a sermon," she said.
She found that she enjoys sailing, and may continue after the race. "It's been fabulous to learn something new, and I've really enjoyed getting to know my colleagues in a new environment as opposed to ministerial meetings," Spitzack said. "I love being out on the water, and I've learned to appreciate the winds a lot more than I ever imagined."
Rev. Hinshaw, on the other hand, says this will be a one-time experience for him. "When I was out practicing, I tipped over, and I was out of it for about three days after that," he said. However, sailing academy instructor Ryan Richardson and Rick Peterson have been helpful and encouraging. "I have really learned to appreciate those folks and what they do. It takes a lot of skill and dedication," Hinshaw said. "It is really pretty fun once you get going across the lake, the boat gets up on its side - it feel like a real adventure."
Rev. Bell admitted that as of last weekend, she had only gone out once. The instructors made the pastors capsize on purpose, to make sure they could get back into the boat if trouble arises. "For me that was the hardest part. It is an interesting challenge, and it should be fun on Sunday."
Rev. Carlson said that sailing is an experience he never expected to have. "This was a fundraiser, a good community-minded opportunity, and a chance to have some good fellowship with the other pastors, so I thought, 'Why not?'"
It has been an interesting experience so far, and there's a bit of bragging rights on the line. "I think we've all got a few competitive juices left - but the main goal for all of us is probably to get out there and back," Carlson said. "It takes time to figure out wind directions, how to use the wind in the sails, the right angles to take."
Barber predicts that "there will be a big splash - probably boats heading to every direction of the compass." Speaking of his experiences on the water to date, Barber noted that right now, "there's a big fish down there wearing my favorite pair of sunglasses."
Peterson said he is pleased with the number of pastors agreeing to take part.
"It's a pretty steep learning curve. We assigned some of the young sailors who have taken our sailing courses in the past to help them out. We will have them competing on a triangular course, and they will be pretty close to the shoreline so people can see and shout encouragement."
If the wind is too aggressive, a sailing assistant will be placed on each boat with the pastor.
Storm Lake's Kiwanis Community Sailing program is unique in the state, according to Peterson. "There isn't a sailing education program anywhere that is so community-oriented," he said.
Not only does the program pass on the art of sailing knowledge, it builds appreciation for the lake and the environment, Peterson said. Kiwanis took over the program three years ago, and to date, perhaps about 100 people have learned to sail - in some cases, children who have been taught in past summers helping to acquaint adults with the pastime. "It's fun to watch them grow with it and learn responsibility," Peterson said.
The program has added youth group experiences, with the well-schooled young volunteers taking out various groups - from a bunch of Brazilian college students working on farms in the area, to church groups, a volleyball team and orchestra students.
The Community Sailing program could always use a hand. Donations are helpful to purchase equipment and make repairs. Unused boats can be donated for lessons or to be sold to help the program. Life jackets and hoists are appreciated, "and one of these days our dock is going to give out," Peterson points out. The program has tax-deductible donation status.
In the meantime, a great way to help out sailing in Storm Lake, and the middle school after school programs that are always in need of funding, is to get a ticket and attend the Faster Pastor races for a great time this weekend.
Spitzack notes that tackling a sailboat on Storm Lake may require more than a little good luck for this hardy fleet of ministers. "I expect that we will be asking for a lot prayers," she smiled.