By Sam Bari
Trucks, vans and cars pulling trailers of various dimensions jockeyed for parking places shortly after 8 a.m. along the town-owned beach at East Ferry last Saturday morning. They were loaded with building materials, tools, and crews, scurrying about to get ready for the not-too-nautical nonsensical sailing event of 2006, the Jamestown Yacht Club's 29th annual Fools' Rules Regatta.
This year the nationally-famous sailboat race was held in honor of its founder, Karl Smith, who recently passed away two weeks before his 90th birthday.
With hammers raised, screw drivers aligned, and saws poised at the ready, the wannabe shipwrights of the sailing set waited for - BOOM! The first cannon that sounded at 9 a.m. sharp to signal the start of the construction phase of the craziest configurations of comical craft to grace the waters of any of the seven seas.
Chris Powell, chief fool for the past 25 years, marched up and down the beach, bullhorn in hand pontificating, encouraging, and inspecting the handiwork of the foolhardy fabricators of sea-worthless vessels. Those he caught float testing their contrived contraptions before the race were terrorized with threats of walking the plank and unceremonious public scuttling of their calamitous craft.
Dressed in full fool's regalia, Powell donned a straw boater and red bow tie to accessorize his crisp white shirt, hot blue blazer and shorts, accented by stylish socks, one red and one green. Johnny Depp, in all his sartorial splendor as Captain Jack Sparrow of Black Pearl fame, had nothing on Commodore Powell as he oversaw the activities of his fleet of fools.
While Chris fulfilled his duties as chief fool, Chris' wife, First Fool Candy Powell, took command of the registration desk and administrative chores. With the help of Dureen Breyer and Linda Flinton, the comical contest ran smoothly with foolish errors.
Judy Calabretta, Jill Anderson, Larry Buckley and Betty Buckley manned the Fools' Rules T-shirt booth with the expertise of seasoned tailors at a high-end haberdashery. Since there is no entry fee, the proceeds pay for the expenses of hosting the event. The money is deposited into a separate account and at the club's annual meeting, yacht club members vote to decide what charity will benefit from leftover funds.
Formidable competition came from as far away as Ohio, Connecticut, and Boston to compete in the annual sailing extravaganza and media event. Of the 62 entries competing for prizes, 41 were from Jamestown.
Captain Mariah Titlow of Boston took charge of the crew of Charlie's Revenge, the Beantown entry named after the Charles River. When asked if they thought they would win, the crew laughed. Then Titlow added, "That would be a complete accident. We're going for the Worst Example of Naval Architecture award." A noble ambition indeed. Unfortunately, their design was too good for the bad-boat prize.
12-year Fools' Rules veteran and Jamestowner, Captain Cate Brennan, 14, along with her all girl crew consisting of Megan Farley, Devan Moran, and Amanda O'Brien livened up the Class 4 race on Kool Kids Klan.
Bubble-wrapped sonotubes kept Seafare afloat for Jamestown Captain Jeff Hunter, the chief gourmand, and his crew of nonsensical nautical ne'er-do-wells that was suspiciously devoid of women. This was Hunter's fifth foolish regatta. In previous attempts, he sank twice, won a first in class, and placed third. Although they didn't win, place or sink, the Seafare was the recipient of the distinguished Worst Example of Naval Architecture award.
The S.S. Not What It's Quacked Up To Be of Taunton Mass., quacked up spectators and participants alike with Captain Bob Boyer's all -family crew of 10 in the Unlimited Class. For their maiden voyage, they attribute their lack-of-success to their nautical building technique of using Styrofoam, rubber ducks, and a crew dressed in quack T-shirts that they hoped would garner a win. Despite their errant efforts, the boat did live up to its name.
Jamestowner Amina Brown, 10, has four years of foolish competition under her belt, making her well qualified to captain the all-girl crew of eight in the unlimited class on Bridge Go Boom, a floating replica of the old Jamestown Bridge. Although the sheworthy vessel showed her stuff once she got going, her attained speed was a bit too late to capture a win against the big boys on Caddy Shack. However , the girls did place second-in-class and won the Frank Newman Judges Award, as predicted by crewmember Ella Sampou, 11, who said "We'll win something just for looking so cool."
The big winners this year in the Unlimited Class built a golf green on a raft and putted their way to decisive finish. The all-male crew on the Jamestown vessel, Caddy Shack, captained by John Chase, 16, had the ultimate vacation experience by combining sailing, golf, and partying all at the same time. "Not an easy feat that should only be attempted by professionals," so they said. Wooden palettes, foam, elastic, and Astroturf were their construction secrets for winning the foolish flotilla's first-place prize. These boys knew how to "Get 'er done!"
"Everybody was orderly, well-mannered, and enthusiastic," said Jamestown Police Officer Joel Pinocci as he directed traffic to designated parking areas for the event. "Our job couldn't have been easier."
"Business was brisk," said Jennifer Talancy, who runs her organic produce stand on the green overlooking the East Ferry beach every Saturday morning during the summer. "The Fools' Rule Regatta attracts good people. They like their veggies," she added.
Originally published in The Jamestown Press, Thursday, August 24, 2006