Fools, family and fun
Crowds flock to East Ferry for 32nd annual race

By Adrienne Downing

One hometown team took top bragging rights Saturday at the Fools' Rules Regatta.

A team of young astronauts from Jamestown literally rocketed across the finish line in the Unlimited Class more than a boat length ahead of the nearest competitors.

The rocketship-design boat was skippered to the win by Amina Brown and crew, but was built by mission control parents.

"This has been a group project for many summers as these kids have grown up," said parent Dory Vogel.  "Every year, the parents design and build the boat and the kids sail it.  The planning stage takes up a good part of the summer."

Another parent-child boat collaboration brought a taste of the tropics to the island.  The Flamingo Express II was the brainchild of islanders Hayley Carlisle, Maddy Price, Nellie Tamboe and Allie Baldwin, who have been friends since pre-school.

"We wanted to make fun of ourselves in a 'pink way' so that is how we came up with the theme," Carlisle said.

Lisa Carlisle, Hayley's mother, said the boat was designed by two engineer parents, with a psychologist to balance them out.

Family sailing seemed to be a recurring theme among the fools this year.  Whether it was relatives sailing together on the same team - or engaging in a little rivalry on competing boats - the competition was keen.

Brother and sister team Alyssa, 8, and Matthew Gibbs, 6, put their sibling power to work in an effort to improve their design and finish from last year.

"We kept going into the shore last year because we did not have a center board or really any way to steer last year," Alyssa said.  This year, Matthew was in charge of steering, while Alyssa manned the sail for a great Category 2 race.

Three siblings competed on three different teams in their quest for family dominance.  The youngest from the Dunham family, 8 year old Cole, was determined not to be outdone by his older siblings as he worked on the design of the Purple Platypus with his friend Christian Moffett, age 10.

"We thought a regular boat would have more drag.  So, we decided to take out the middle and make it into a catamaran so it would float better," Moffett said.

The mother of two of the sailors, Colleen Moffett, read about the contest and thought it would be a fun idea.

"I pulled out a bunch of junk are," she said.  "We float tested all of the boats about a week ago, and two sunk and one floated.  So we did some more work and tested them again and all of them floated."

Cole's older sister, Courtney, age 12, teamed up with the middle Dunham brother, Brett, also age 12, to make up the Blue team, while the eldest Dunham sibling, Drew, 13, paired with his cousin Joe Sfreddo for the head-to-head Category 2 sibling battle.

The smash hit of the day in the design category was the ship "Breaking Wind," designed and built by a family from Pittsfield, Mass., who raced for their third straight year.

"We tried to think of the most ridiculous thing we could come up with," said Brian Arseneau.

"We disqualified the idea at first, but then we decided we liked it and it kind of snowballed from there," Arseneau said of the boat, which sported a bathroom design, complete with a toilet, sink and shower with running water that came from a bilge pump hidden in the bathtub.

Arseneau had help sailing the floating bathroom from his sister, Michelle, his step-father, Mark Harris, and his sister's fiancée, Justin Allen.

While the boat did not set any speed records, it was crowd favorite for style.

Chief Fool Chris Powell said the race numbers were not affected even though the Fools' Rules race and the Save the Bay Swim happened on the same day.

"It wasn't a mistake that both things were on the same day.  They approached us and we said it would be fine, as long as it was all right with Jamestown police.  They swim early and we sail late so it worked out well for both of us," he said.

Powell said the committee could not have asked for better weather conditions for the 32nd annual regatta.

Special awards given out for the day included: Karl Smith Most Ingenious Design, "One Small Leak," Amina Brown, Jamestown; Worst Example of Naval Architecture, "Sox Rox," the Mattera family and the Rollins family of Wakefield; and Frank Newman Judges' Award, "Breaking Wind," Brian and Michelle Arseneau, Justin Allen and Christine Dupre of Pittsfield, Mass.

Originally published in The Jamestown Press, Thursday, August 20, 2010