Sailor of the Week
Louisiana native, Karen Reisch, touches all bases when it comes to maximizing her involvement in sailing and the marine industry in general. Karen has made her mark at US SAILING as a former Championships Chair, former U.S. Women’s Sailing Championship Committee Chair and is a trustee for the Adams Cup trophy, the oldest women’s sailing championshi. Currently, she is the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Event Chair. She is a certified race officer and judge, and a proud member of the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. Karen’s service to the boating community has been remarkable.
For years Karen served as the chair for the U.S. Women’s Sailing Championship. The Southern Yacht Club, Karen’s home club, was the first to host both the U.S. Men’s and Women’s Sailing Championships at the same venue and on the same course. The set of guidelines, instructions and expectations used to organize these championships was used as a template by Karen and others to help create the initial US SAILING Championships Manual. Karen refers to the manual as her greatest accomplishment as U.S. Women’s Championships Chair. As Championship Chair, Karen and the committee worked at setting schedules for the Notice of Races to be issued and standardized the conditions for each championship.
Karen is serving as the event chair of the U.S. Women’s Match Racing Championship to be held November 10-13, 2011 at the Southern Yacht Club. The 2011 championship marks the tenth anniversary of the event.
As a certified race officer and judge, Karen enjoys discussing the rules and procedures with junior sailors. Southern Yacht Club has held workshops that take junior sailors through mock protests and let them experience these protest hearings. Karen is part of a team of Southern Yacht Club Race Officers who organize a “Join the Race Committee Team” seminar twice a year, or as requested, for those wanting to assist on race committees for Lake Pontchartrain events.
Karen joined the U.S. Coast Guard Auxiliary to assist her husband Erston, who was already been a long time member. Erston supervised the USCG Reserve port security efforts on the Mississippi River after 9-11. Karen joined him and they were assigned to do security levee patrols along the Mississippi River two days a week from Venice, La. to Donaldsonville, La. They checked on the security of critical infrastructures, which had frontage on the River. They did this from 2002 until Hurricane Katrina in 2005. After Katrina they worked every day out of Station New Orleans, rescuing people, following up on 911 calls, towing flat boats to rescue sites, and whatever the Coast Guard needed for about 10 weeks. They also helped insurance adjustors find specific boats and yachts, and were able to retrieve some small boats, including Optis, Lasers and 420s. They loaded them into their pick-up truck and hauled them home. Karen and Erston traced the serial numbers or any markings on the boats and equipment and tried to get the boats back to the owner.
“I think we had 20 Optis in our back yard at one time,” Karen recalled. “Some of them had been washed more than a mile inland from where they were. It was great to see the kids’ faces when they got their boats back.”
Karen and Erston received awards from the U.S. Coast Guard and from the Southern Yacht Club. They received the “Top Gallant” Award for service to the club. Also, in the USCG Station New Orleans, there is a mural of the Katrina disaster, and the Reisch’s boat is pictured with Karen and Erston onboard. The mural is named – Reisch for the Stars.
They volunteer at the Regional Exam Center New Orleans on Mondays, and are trained as ICE Forensic Document Examiners and Fingerprinters for U.S. Maritime licenses and merchant mariner documents.
In the Coast Guard Auxiliary, they have served as Flotilla Commanders of Flotilla 49 in the 8th Coast Guard District. Karen has also served as Vice Commander, Public Affairs Officer, Secretary, Materials Officer, and is currently the Training Officer. They volunteer at the Regional Exam Center New Orleans on Mondays, and are trained as ICE Forensic Document Examiners and Fingerprinters for U.S. Maritime licenses and merchant mariner documents. They are planning to assist Air Station New Orleans with a helicopter operation exercise as part of the US SAILING Safety at Sea Seminar to be held at Southern Yacht Club on September 17, 2011.
“The post-Katrina sailing climate is getting better in New Orleans and on the Gulf Coast,” commented Karen. “The local sailors are resilient, and our participation is slowly rising. Our sailing schedule is full, year round, and continues to be.”