Carsten Steenberg of Penobscot (left) and Sean Guinness of Blue Hill after the regatta. Steenberg took first place in the 22-boat Grand Masters Class and second in fleet overall. CHRISTINE GUINNESS PHOTO

Penobscot sailor is Grand Master of all he surveys

ELLSWORTH — As a youngster living in his native Denmark more than 30 years ago, Carsten Steenberg was a member of the same sailing club as four-time Olympic champion Paul Elvstrøm and trained often with the gold medalist and other members of Denmark’s championship Olympic dinghy sailing team.

Then in his 20s, Steenberg “did a lot of regatta around Europe, and did well.”

Time passed and Steenberg left racing behind for work (he is the chief executive officer of RainWise Inc. in Trenton) and family. About two years ago, Steenberg began training to race again in highly competitive Laser dinghies, and Olympic class since 1996.

Last weekend at the Palm Beach (Fla.) Sailing Club, Steenberg, 57, beat 21 other senior sailors to win the Grand Master Division in the Florida Laser Masters Championship for the Jack Swenson Memorial Trophy and finished second overall in the 48-boat Laser fleet. The Grand Master division is open to sailors between the ages of 55 and 64.

Rigged and ready to race, nearly four dozen Laser dinghies pack the lawn of the Palm Beach (Fla.) Sailing Club before the start of last weekend’s Masters Championship regatta.

Sailing in conditions that Steenberg called “very difficult,” with a light breeze, “big waves and 1.5 knots of current” running at right angles to the race course, Steenberg’s victory was decisive — he beat the second boat in his division by 16 points — and gratifying.

In 2015, Steenberg did poorly in his return to competitive sailing at the World Championship regatta in Kingston, Ontario. Racing last weekend, he said, “there were at least 30 sailors from the Kingston 2015 worlds” who “all did better than me at that time.”

Steenberg gave much of the credit for his success to fellow Kollegwidgwok Yacht Club members and younger, he noted, practice partners Tom Gutow and Sean Guinness. Gutow coached the George Stevens Academy sailing team for several seasons with regular assistance from the other two sailors.

As much as he enjoys the racing, Steenberg said his real goal is to establish a Laser fleet for the KYC summer youth sailing program “as the next step” when skippers and crew outgrow the 420 dinghy that most teenagers sail.

Currently, young sailors who graduated from the 420 class have nothing to sail except 30-foot Atlantic sloops or Herreshoff 12½ dinghies.

“As the next step, that is not that appealing to 420 sailors,” Steenberg said.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]