By Michaela Kennedy
As the famous 19th century Yankee humorist Josh Billings said, "Take all the fools out of this world and there won't be any fun living in it, or profit."
And as the 26th Annual Fools' Rules Regatta proved again last weekend, there's plenty of fun - and community profit - to be had in acknowledging the fool inside us all.
Light southwesterly winds on a sunny Saturday morning Aug. 16 provided the perfect weather for the event. The organizing committee kept the rain date sign covered until the race was over, proudly announcing, "It's never been used in 26 years."
The first cannon went off at 9 a.m., marking the start of construction for 71 foolish sailboats at East Ferry town beach. Sailing engineers, some from as far away as Hawaii, poured sweat for two hours, creating crazy and novel designs, until the first race started at 11 a.m., sharp. Although cannon shots signal the start of each race, the written sailing rules for the event include that "no harpoons or cannons be fired at other vessels or at rowdy spectators on shore."
Most contestants, when asked why they joined in the event, shrugged their shoulders and laughed. "It's a family tradition starting this year," said Steve Meredith, captain of Jamestown Sardines.Amanda Romano of Cinq said she liked the challenge. Captain Clueless and the Tour de Farce, hailing from East Greenwich, noted this was their second year of "ongoing, hard-earned work," which included three crew members from London. The team brought neighbors that happily heckled them during construction.
The five race classes are divided up according to the number of crew on each boat, from the first class allowing only one person on board, up to the unlimited class, which, of course, allows an unlimited crew.
In Class 1, first place went to Sono 2, sailed by Kenny Lush. In second place was The Odie Boat with James Marcotte, and third place went Turtle Boat, Kaile Roos at the helm. For Class 2, Sarah Pease and Amanda Romano on Cinq captured first. Ben Schmidt and Jeremy Page on Yacht Cy came in second, and Justin Galant and Frank Andres on S.S. Ian Hunter Peter won third. Class 3 winners were: The Unsinkable in first place with Case Brown, Andy Jakovitz, and Michael Schnack; "3 Many Lids" with Tim and Billy Hluchan, and Michael Marshall in second place; and The Pink Panther in third place with Paige Andrews, and Keira and Molly Mahoney.
Winners in Class 4 were: placing first, Ali, Gerogia, and Jacqui Glassie, and Stephanie Sallum on Water Bug; placing second, Kaan Kurt, and Jacob and Alicia Gomez on The Three Stooges; and placing third, Andrew and Patrick Bretti with Sam and Leah Baines on Pride of Rosemary Lane.
For the Unlimited Class: F 135, captained by Rich Karas, captured first; second place went to C. P.'s Desire, with John Matson as captain; and third went to The Incredible Hull, captained by Frank Newman.
The Most Ingenious Design was Captain Clueless And The Tour de Farce with Captain Lynn Grandpre. The Worst Example of Naval Architecture ribbon was awarded to Jamestown Sardines, constructed by Steve Meredith and family. The Judges' Award was claimed by The Dragon Rider with Captain Amina Brown.
Chief Fool Chris Powell barked out encouragement to boats tipping over or falling apart, "That's what the Fools' Rules is all about, trial and error," he said.
Powell said that any proceeds collect by the sponsor of the event, the Jamestown Yacht Club, are distributed to local charities, as decided by the club's board of directors. Powell poured out thanks to the many local groups who helped to make the annual event possible, including Shoreby Hill residents who generously offered parking on the green.
Originally published in The Jamestown Press, Thursday, August 21, 2003