LAKEWOOD - Dick Turner's home sits along the eastern edge of Sherman Bay, just a few hundred feet from the Chautauqua Lake shoreline. The home, nestled neatly off the road and shaded nicely by trees, is less than a mile from the Chautauqua Lake Yacht Club, a place the 88-year-old has frequented since he first began sailing nearly 70 years ago.
Enter the residence, and Mr. Turner's passion comes quickly into focus. Lining the walls are maps of the lake, photos and paintings of sailboats complete with brilliant white sails and colorful spinnakers outlined against blue, cloudless skies, framed nautical flags, a barometer and, of course, pictures of his family - most of whom are smiling aboard a sailing vessel themselves.
To grow up in a home like that, or to simply spend time there, would make it hard not to catch the sailing bug. And clearly, Turner's passion was adopted by his family.
Sebby Turner, 14, recently competed at the U.S. Optimist Class team trials, where her 13th-place finish earned her a spot on a nine-member U.S. sailing team that will travel to China to take part in the Qingdao International Optimist Regatta in August.
"He's the one that started it all," daughter-in-law Amy Turner said.
But among the many members of the Turner family who have taken up the sport, few have excelled to the extent that his granddaughter, Sebby Turner, has.
Taught both by her father, Marc, who directed the Junior Sailing Program at CLYC for four years, and the CLYC junior program, and honing her skills over the years with multiple sailing teams such as the Lake Ontario Optimist Team (LOOT), the 14-year-old has become one of the nation's top sailors in the Optimist Sailing class, one of the largest classes in the entire world with over 150,000 boats registered for competition.
The boat itself, called "The Optimist," or "Opti" for short, is a small, seven-foot long single-handed sailing dinghy that is affectionately referred to as the "bathtub that breeds the best sailors."
In April, Turner showcased her talents on the water and sailed that "bathtub" in the U.S. Optimist team trials at Barnegat Bay, N.J., where she, competing against 186 of the best "Opti" sailors in the country, battled through winds of as much as 25 knots (roughly 30 miles per hour) on her way to placing 13th amongst her fellow female competitors.
The finish earned her a spot on the nine-member U.S. national team that is headed to compete in Qingdao, China for the Qingdao (China) International Optimist Regatta in August.
The solid finish also made her eligible for the Asian Nationals in Sri Lanka (she couldn't attend, however, due to school exams), and the North American Nationals in Mexico City.
Sebby eventually opted to compete in China and is, understandably, thrilled.
"It's exciting," she said. "It'll be really fun to sail in different conditions and in a different place."
And while to her that travel is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the sport, she already knows a thing or two about sailing in different conditions and different locales.
Over her now seven-year competitive racing career, Sebby has taken part in regattas in Tennessee, North Carolina, Florida, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Canada, Texas, Louisiana, California and last year, by virtue of her finish in the 2011 U.S. Team Trials in San Francisco Bay, Wales, Great Britain for the British Nationals.
"That's what is really kind of fun," Marc Turner said, "going to all these different places and meeting all these people. When we went to the British Nationals last year there were sailors from France, South America, Germany and all over.
Now heading overseas once again, Sebby, who will have to charter her boat so it will be ready and waiting for her when she arrives, will be taking part in one of the biggest regattas of her career. Last year alone, some 450 sailors from more than17 different countries took part in the China Internationals.
The race will be held in the Port of Qingdao, one of the 10 busiest in the world, and is situated some 300 nautical miles west-southwest, across the Yellow Sea, of Incheon, South Korea.
Sebby, who has been training daily from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. to ready herself, and her father will spend two weeks in Qingdao, the first of which will be spent exploring the city and getting ready for the races.
"It's exciting and an opportunity for a great father-daughter experience," Marc Turner said. "It will be neat, actually, because they're having the kids stay in a public school there - I'll be staying there as well - and as part of the leadup to the races they'll be giving a tour of the city."
While Sebby is looking forward to visiting China - the two will spend a day or two in Seoul on the way home - she is mainly focused on the races ahead, though she won't learn much about them until the night before.
"There are different courses (some long, some short) and they'll only tell you about it the night before," she explained. "Then you go out with your team and sail in the different races. I don't know exactly how many people will be there, but I'm hoping to finish in the top 25 percent."
Given her own prowess in the sport, and the wealth of knowledge and experience she can draw upon from her family, it wouldn't be surprising to see her accomplish, or perhaps even exceed, that goal.