Mike Hebert, Captain, Fleet 46 in Hingham, discovered our sport somewhat later in life. He had sailed casually, mostly on Sunfish, fewer than six times, before he joined the crew of an Express 37 in 1993 to compete on Puget Sound. He was serving his “Desert Shield” army reserve officer’s stint after graduating in accounting from Bryant College.
In spite of several negatives, including the rainy October-April sailing season, the boat’s distressing inability to sail to its rating and a screaming skipper who distinguished himself by falling overboard, Mike found himself drawn to sailing, “like a moth to a light.” Maybe it was the freedom from army discipline, or perhaps the competitive spirit of the small crew that attracted him. But for whatever reason, the Class should be glad it happened, as he was there to succeed Ken & Barbara Wilson at Hingham’s helm this year.
During the intervening nine years from Puget Sound to Hingham, Mike spent a lot of time on the water. He had extended his Army active service to five years, and after its completion, moved back to Massachusetts where he finished his education with a Master’s in finance at Bentley, and married his wife Maureen. Their family sailing began when they crewed for Hingham’s Dick Callahan on his J105, Footloose. The highlight of this experience was taking two firsts out of six races at the 1997 PHRF Championship in Marblehead.
It was here that fleet 46 took root. Dick noticed Norm Cressy’s Fat Lady in the EYC parking lot and was so impressed that he decided to sell the J105 and start a Hingham Bay fleet. After doing so well on the J, Mike and Maureen were more than a little distressed at being unhorsed by the shifting paradigm. They were saving for a new house and had no intention of investing in a boat, but Mike’s brother-in-law had a serendipitous experience with aging Rhodes #1553 that was for sale in Padanarum.
Mike and Maureen couldn’t say no to his offer to share the cost with them, so Lemon Zinger was acquired. Within two weeks, it was in the water, rusty fittings, hasty rigging and all. Their first scheduled race was canceled due to recorded gusts of 33 knots, but the boat held together confirming the wisdom of their choice.
Since then, their lives have been busy. They served two years as social chairmen for the new fleet, assisted the Wilsons in fleet administration for two years, made a big contribution to the success of the 2001 Nationals as co-chairs, and competed in the most recent four East Coast Championships. They have found cruising time with Maureen’s parents on their Newport based O’Day 32 as well as some PHRF racing time.
To cap off this dizzying activity, they became parents of Gabrielle last spring and bought a Stuart, #3101, for reduced on water maintenance. Gabby attends most of the Fleet social events and they definitely plan to introduce her to sailing earlier on than her dad was.
Their future plans for the fleet center around maintaining its size by closing the performance gaps between the group’s top sailors and those newer to the sport. They share information on boat rigs and speed, emphasize social events and keep everyone’s hopes alive through a handicap scoring system that rewards improved performance. Mike is planning to sail in New Orleans at the October Nationals.d on for the grit(s).