Plenty of fools in Jamestown

By Eileen M. Daly

Jamestown has no shortage of fools, if the turnout at this years 31st annual Fools' Regatta is any indication.

The Town Beach provided a beautiful backdrop for a seemingly endless procession of fools. By mid-morning on Saturday, the beach was filled with fools hammering, duct taping, and nailing away on an odd assortment of materials they hoped would eventually turn into seaworthy vessels.  Some of those hopes would soon be dashed.

Some 49 entrants competed in five classes.  Official rules dictated that all vessels were to be constructed on the beach and that no manufactured items such as dinghies, surfboards, masts or sails were to be used.  Vessels were limited to wind propulsion.  Oars, paddles and all forms of mechanical propulsion were prohibited.  All participants were required to wear Coast guard approved life jackets.

Would-be sailors made use of an astonishing array of items from the big silver exercise balls that formed the basis of the "Silver Ball Express," to the New York City traffic barrels used by the ill-fated crew of the "Great Barrier."  Duct tape was in plentiful supply and there were few, if any, competitors who did not find some use for this little known miracle product of nautical construction. 

High hopes reigned supreme on the beach prior to the sound of the cannon-blast that signaled the start of the race.

The "Slowski's," an adorable group with a turtle motif captained by Jackie Boyer, 16, and crewed by Austin Boyer, 11, Morgan Boyer, 13, Kendra Medeiros, 16, and Alyssa Yuen, 12, vowed to beat their parents entry, "The Olympic Birds Nest."   Unfortunately, the "Slowski's" might well have been named the "Sunkski's" as their boat disintegrated at the starting line.  Their parents didn't fare much better: they didn't sink but finished far from the winner's circle.

"Blue Bayou," Captain Jeff Hunter and crew Wendy Samter, Shahin Barzin, Victoria Andreozzi, Laura Hunter and Lisa Hunter-Mason, were hopeful that their new, improved design (increasing the amount of Mylar balloons expected to propel the craft from 100 to 150) would result in a win.  they were right.  The win was not quite what they expected, however.  Instead of first place in their class they were awarded the coveted, "Worst Example of Naval Architecture Award."

The captain and crew of "Draggin' Junk," a beautifully designed entry complete with a dancing dragon, inspired by the Beijing Olympics, were also hopeful that this would be their year.  The hull of the vessel has been used in five previous Fools' Rules Regattas without once securing a gold medal.  It turns out that the sixth time was a charm as "Draggin' Junk," at last brought home the gold.  "Finally," said Captain Amina Brown, 12, as she accepted the blue ribbon for her crew.

Jacob Gomez, 14, Aliza Gomez, 10, Conner Bois, 8, and Matt Demieri, 14, surely understood Amina's sentiments.  Their vessel, the "Buzzy," named after a cherished family pet, also took home the gold after many years of effort.  The new improved design they debuted this year seems to have done the trick.

At the end of the day it is safe to say that "A good time was had by all," entrants and spectators alike.  Those contestants who didn't fare as well as they hoped can take some comfort in the immortal words of Chief Fool Chris Powell: "There is always next year!"

Originally published in The Jamestown Press, Thursday, August 2, 2008