PLYC Burgee

Sailing for Akron and Canton, Ohio
Portage Lakes Yacht Club
where we love to sail...

Portage Indian

Slippery Sam...

It is nearly impossible to pay proper respect to his contribution to the sport of sailing son, husband, father, friend, grandfather, teacher, gentleman, businessman, inventor, skipper, engineer, pilot, competitor, student, weatherman, and scientist. These words describe Sam Mollet III, a.k.a. Slippery Sam.

Sam grew up on Turkey foot Lake and learned much of what he knows about the sport watching Carl Zimmerman. Several times while sailing on Turkeyfoot, he pointed out an old family home between the first and second marks. He would then comment about the lack of a safety code while swimming. Parents don't teach their children to have fun without screaming. When Sam was young, screaming was reserved for emergencies! Sam has spent perhaps thousands of hours on the lake not only sailing, but also water skiing. Perhaps you've seen him on his hydrofoil ski.

Sam introduced me to one design racing at the Lake Erie Championship in Lorain. The gun went off in my ear at the end of the first race. At the time, I didn't know what that meant! Sam makes a habit of finishing next to the committee boat when possible. It was a good match. We were both team players and men of few words; introspective. Little did I know that not only would I learn about sailing, but also I would see the world and pick up some life skills along the way. We went on to sail together for more than ten years. Countless times, fellow sailors would pull me out of earshot and tell me to "listen, watch and learn." Sam is respected by champions. He would point to these same competitors and say, "listen, watch, learn".

Much of the time we spent together was on the Snipe regatta circuit. We sailed in many interesting places and met many fascinating people. I enjoyed the mid-winter circuit the most. We would start in St. Petersburg, Florida, and then it was on to Miami. From there the boats would be loaded onto a freighter and sent to Nassau and lastly to Bermuda where "moped road rash" abounded. How about a game of Snooker? Next, it was off to Annapolis where the spring winds blew hard and the water was still quite cold. Thank goodness the skipper provided a wetsuit!

Nothing was left to chance. The body was covered even on the hottest days. Hats were worn. Exposed skin was coated with the best rated sunscreen at the time, "Bull Frog". Our competition wore Vuarnet sun glasses while we wore "Phonet's".Everything was in its place. Food and plenty of water were stowed including bananas and Oreos.. The sails were crisp and the hull always clean. Never was there a marginal sheet. Sam was always thinking; always focused. The weather was checked, including the "big picture". Where is the high? Where is the low? How fast is it moving? The wind will shift to the left in the 2nd or 3rd race. Make sure we bang the right corner! What is the tide doing? Is the centerboard clear of weeds? Let's go for a little more rake on the next upwind leg. It's time to clear the rudder. Sam's diary says we should go left and take advantage of the shore lift with a Northwest wind. We're on the off wind leg. Where will it fill in? Where is Ed Adams?

We are now headed home in his Piper Aztec. Retard the throttle to 23 inches. Reduce the RPM's to 2,300. Lean the mixture. Close the cowl flaps. Synchronize the props. Check and set the autopilot. Set up for the next leg. Now it's time for the important stuff. He would ask, "What could we have done better"? Whether we did well or not, he'd ask that same question.

Not content to accept the design of the best boat builders available, Sam pioneered a floor design, which eliminated the need for a bailer. The flotation was set high so that in the event of a capsize, the boat cleared itself. He was even prepared for lighting with a heavy wire which would drop into the centerboard trunk, grounding the mast. "Mollet Haulers" would pull the jib sheets around the shrouds in the heat of battle. This helped obtain more lift from the jib on a reach. He did his level best to make things easier for his crew. Old 23624 is the only Snipe I'll ever feel comfortable sailing. (As long as I don't have to use that blasted pole-launcher!)

There was one series at the Buffalo Canoe Club in Ridgeway, Ontario which Sam would agree was the most memorable. At the skipper's meeting, the fog was thick. The pilot in us calls this zero-zero. A decision was made to sail, as the course was well mapped. Lost? Just head south to the beach. We were very excited. How badly could two instrument rated pilots do? We had a watch and a compass! With thirty feet of visibility, we timed our tacks upwind. One of the competitors screamed with joy as she hit the windward mark. Apparently being the first to the mark was an infrequent event for her. We were not far behind. I think that was the most fun we ever had in a Snipe! The fog was only 15 feet thick. Those on the shore were able to see the tops of our masts. It was quite a ballet! As two boats approached one another on opposite tacks, both masts would disappear below the fog.

A wake for a millionaire's rusted out car in Bermuda. Ten foot rollers on Lake Ontario. Thirty percent of the fleet was over the line three seconds before the gun. The other seventy percent protested, but the race chairman refused saying "Any sailor worth his salt should be able to make it up on the course". We had the same conversation time and time again. How could things happen so fast when we're only moving along at 8 knots on the fastest plane? Twenty-Six knot winds in Annapolis. Slippery Sam came out of his hiking straps and disappeared under the water as we rounded the windward mark. I couldn't help but think about those centerboards cruising toward him. He somehow popped up on the other (safer) side of boat! PHEW! I hope Marge doesn't find out! We talked about it over banana flavored Oreos which had remained inside the boat in a sealed bag since the last race in Bermuda. (The bananas went over the side). Mosquitoes and doldrums in Indy. One- hundred twenty-five boats in Chautauqua. What a site! The starting line was wide enough for 60! Tee-boned on a fast plane in Miami. He would take it in stride and rarely complained, except for the time in Bermuda when he didn't pronounce the word "schedule" in the King's English properly and lost the protest. He was justifiably indignant.

Some time after marriage, my bride and I paid a visit to Sam and Marge at their Florida home located in a fly-in community near Daytona Beach. Sam escorted our Mooney to the hangar with his golf cart. The first night, we cruised the taxiways. Ah! This is what golf carts are for! What an amazing array of airplanes and celebrities! Next came golf. He said with pride and a tear in his eye, "My grandson beat me on the course yesterday." More significant than his innovative spirit is the example he set for his children and grandchildren. You will not find better people. I had the opportunity to fly with his son Kern. He is a reflection of his father! He demonstrated complete command of the aircraft. Sam would expect nothing less.

I'm now all grown up with my own family. What name should I choose for my son? The choice was obvious! I received a call from him recently, "encouraging" me to introduce my daughter to the Snipe. And, by the way, there is a boat "with her name on it"

With a tear in my eye, I can honestly say my life is better having known Samuel Mollet III, a man of excellence and a big heart. As I conclude my thoughts, I keep wondering, "what could I have done better."

Neil Gerren
Crew 1983-1993
Snipe 23624