PLYC Burgee

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

Portage Indian

Sam Mollet, to date PLYC's only world champion (1994 Snipe Masters World Champion) joined PLYC in 1975. That year he sailed a Snipe, a decision he never reconsidered. Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Sam's early sailing with PLYC is that in only his second year at PLYC (1976) he placed first in the club's season long Snipe standings. That's not an easy feat given that Carl Zimmerman, Henry Young and a wide assortment of other very experienced Snipe sailors were on the starting line and actively traveling to Snipe regattas. After winning the 1976 season series Sam was voted the club's most improved sailor. The awards were just starting. With his son Brian, Sam consistently placed in national level races throughout three decades of competition. From the 1970s through the 1990s, Sam Mollet and crew could be found near the winner's circle in nearly every race they sailed. That included winning at the Bermuda Race week in 1979, a break out year for him. The winning would continue in Annapolis and in New York, on the west coast, on the south coast, in Europe, in Japan -- you get the idea!

Sam at a Coconut Grove Snipe Regatta preparing for battle Since 1976 Sam has won the PLYC Snipe season series championship seven times. He was PLYC commodore (1981) and Snipe district 3 governor. Through these years of racing Sam has had his wife, children, grandchildren, brother, and an assortment of others crew for him while reliably maintaining his boat's position at the front of the fleet -- not an easy feat with changing crews! (For a Neil Gerren retrospective, crew 1983-1993, click here.) Sam Mollet saw his greatest success when his son Brian was crewing for him. But as Brian grew older and heavier Sam was forced to diet, attempting to maintain his boat's overall weight. During this time he would often say to his son, "you have to stop gaining weight, I can't lose any more!" In time their weight fluctuation ended, but unfortunately for their competitors their knack for winning did not.

Over the years many have watched Sam Mollet perform his "magic" on water. Perhaps the most relevant ingredient to his success is his attention to the mechanical details in his boat. Some details would be blatantly copied -- a unique barber haul configuration christened the "Mollet Hauler" and a raised Snipe cockpit floor, with it's self draining "Mollet Slot." Other Mollet design innovations proved to never quite work out, like the "mast port/starboard pusher." Sam's contribution to the Snipe class was not limited to improving on rigging and measurement technology. He championed the elimination of those troublesome hanks on Snipe jibs, an effort that paid off when the Snipe class made them optional. Throughout his many years in and around the Snipe class Sam Mollet graciously shared his knowledge and love of the sport not only by innovating Snipe design but also by contributing articles to the Snipe bulletin.

Sam as a boy on his Comet Sam's love for water sports on the Portage Lakes started early in life. As a boy of 8, he started sailing a canoe with a lateen rig, lee boards and no rudder. Sam also sailed an "icefish", an iceboat which he would later modify to strengthen weak components as they bent and broke. He often walked the lake ice with his father, Sam Mollet II. Once, early on, Sam (14 years old) and his father fell through a thin section of lake ice. Not to worry, Sam was able to crawl out, but his heavier dad was not. Things looked bad. Very bad. 1979 Sam with his ice boat on Turkeyfoot Lake Just as his dad was about to go under, he realized that he was able to stand and walked out of the lake. Sam ran home, turned the cabin pot bellied stove on full, and brought his dad in for a full recovery. Quick, calm thinking for a boy of 14. That refreshing swim did not discourage Sam from later ice activities that included ice boating and other falls through the lake ice. That kind of "stick-to-it, never give up" adventuresome attitude would serve Sam well when he started with his more liquid water sports adventures.

Sam owns one of the first Windsurfers ever built, a model from 1969 - sail #427. He and his family still go out on their hydrofoil ski. And when that wasn't exciting enough, Sam would go bare-footing. Once, while bare-footing, he hit an object with his foot. Ouch. Ever the innovator and never deterred, Sam just continued bare-footing but with heel-less wingtip shoes on!

Sam Mollet used his mechanical expertise to build three Snipes, ordering the deck and hull and then putting the parts together. Unfortunately for the rest of us his boat construction business ended after he completed that third Snipe. Thirty years later, the three Snipes Sam built are still around.

Sam inspecting a sunfish mask in 2006 During the 2007-2008 sailing season Sam sold one of his custom built Snipes to another PLYC club member who had been quite comfortable at the rear of the fleet. Now that member finds himself quite surprisingly at the front of the fleet with a Snipe sporting custom-built advantages. For example, the sheets are marked to exactly how far they should be pulled in on tacks. Brummel hooks are used to attach the sheet to the jib sail. A spring clip exists on the rudder that locks the rudder securely in place. The captain's "old instructions" are taped to the foredeck listing the crew's tasks during a tack. Special cubby holes in the inner hull are used to store packed lunches. Breathing tubes let hot air in the inner hull easily escape out. Sam's boat came complete with an old set of "training" sails with numerous additional wind tell-tails to more clearly display the flow of air. Details, details, details! The magic is in the details, all thoughtfully considered and handled impeccably.

That's just how Sam Mollet sails. That's just how he has won. That's just what he has taught the rest of us who in 2007 watched him perform his sailing magic again and again. But for Sam, this was just another year that found him first in his fleet at PLYC.

Sam sailing a sunfish in 2006 Never to old to sail a Sunfish -- Sam sailing one in 2006