Foolish Sailors Rule

By Donna K. Drago

    With only 23 "boats" registered by starting time, it was beginning to look as if the Fools' Rules Regatta was going to be a bit of a washout, but within an hour it became obvious that the weather was causing people to move slowly that damp, cool morning, and soon, more than 40 boats with their clever builders were setting out on a windy course for another successful event.
    This year's regatta seemed to embody the theme of "family reunion," as more than a dozen boats were build and raced by extended families who came from as far away as California, Albuquerque, Denver and even Germany to join relatives in Jamestown for the 22nd annual event.
    One group of five boats, including winners Trick Cyclist and Garbage Barge, were built by members of families named Hottinger, Duff and Kirk, who came from Vermont, Marylond, Illinois and South Kingstown to make the regatta part of a family weekend.
    Another reunion was had by Dan Jesse Race from Denver, who visited childhood friends the Pham brothers of Warwick, making the sailing vessel called Monkey Children the mother of the Race brothers, Denver resident Chris, joined Minnesota friend Audrey Anderson in building the craftSunken Living Room that was made of inflatable couches and chairs.  Anderson, in turn, visited sister-in-law Pam Spencer of Jamestown for the race.
    Then there were the boats that had gimmicks and theme songs.
    Mariah Vietri and Anna Miniutti, both 11, blew bubbles as they sailed on their two-crew craft, Bubbles, thinking that a sail full of bubbles would be faster than one without, they said.
    The boat The Good Ship Mr. Zip, Zip, Zip was sailed by members of the All-Guy Choir, who faced the beach and entertained spectators with songs like "Haul Away Joe" and "What do you do with a Drunken Sailor" as they attempted to cross the finish line.  The ship also carried a marquee spinnaker that advertised their upcoming concert on Sept. 3.
    The mega-yacht Fin de Siecle, a multi-hulled vessel built by former University of Rhode Island persident Frank Newman and about 30 others - all wearing matching T-shirts imprinted with computer-generated logos that were made between the time the boat was named on Friday night and start time Saturday morning - also had a song that was sung to this reporter by several of the builders.  The song, called "Fin de Siccle," was sung to the tune of "Frere Jacques" and incorporated several languages and "Spanglish."
    All in all, despite the dreary weather, family, friends and spectators had a great time in what has become a nationally recognized event.

Courtesy of The Jamestown Press, Thursday, August 26, 1999