Foolishness abounds at annual event

By Jeff McDonough

As one contestant aptly said of the Fools’ Rules Regatta— with a cordless drill in one hand and duct tape in the other—“Just finishing is winning!”

Beautiful weather was the backdrop for the 33rd annual Fools’ Rules Regatta, sponsored as a benefit fund-raiser by the Jamestown Yacht Club, held on Saturday at the East Ferry town beach.

Organizer Candy Powell said 51 contestants put their naval architecture skills and nautical bravado to the test in this year’s contest. “That’s about the right number of entries,” she said. “One year we had 62 entries. That was almost too many” for the crowded beach where the boats are constructed.

About one-third of the Fools’ entries were from Jamestown this year. However, over the years the Fools’ Rules Regatta has developed a name for itself and entries poured in from around Rhode Island. There were also six teams hailing from Massachusetts and Connecticut and one team from Quebec, Canada.

Chief Fool Chris Powell, wearing a blue blazer, red shorts and one red sock and one green sock, serves as part coach, part referee, part judge and part emcee. He spent the morning walking along the beach with megaphone in hand encouraging teams to work fast as they constructed their vessels from non-nautical items. Teams had approximately two hours to build their vessels on the beach before the racing began.

Some entries were still ducttaping their boats together as they were being floated towards the starting line.

Powell also served as the weatherman and fretted over the lack of a morning breeze that was accented by the crystal blue sky. He hoped that an early sea breeze would save the day. It turned out that the first two races of the day started on the north end of the town beach. The Class 1 entries had to virtually paddle their way to the finish line as the breeze was absent.

Then the usual wind shift arrived and the starting line was moved to the south end of the beach. A gentle breeze filled in and everyone was happy.

Some 700 spectators were hand to watch the action and lend an encouraging word. Many lined the seawall along Conani- cus Avenue. Others strolled along the beach and visited with the various teams.

One return entry this year was “Flower Power” in the Unlimited Class. Last year the team, hailing from Pittsfield, Mass., received an award for their boat’s design. It was a family effort, with six members serving as crew on the boat.

The Jamestown team of “Swirled Cup” was proud that “we have no leaders.” They were two-time defending champions. Tom Harris said the boat included a working soccer field and included an old lobster-breeding tank for the hull. The boat was crewed by eight girls.

The Proulx and LaPointe families first entered in the Fools’ Rules Regatta many years ago. “It took us 14 years to come back, but we’re here,” said Linda LaPointe of their entry, the “Keys Kat,” a boat that looked like it would be right at home in Key West. “Our emphasis is on how good we can look,” LaPointe said.

Probably one of the most interesting entries in the event was the “Wedding Party.” Shannon Scott and Lindsay Orchowski are engaged to be married on Sept. 5. The Fools’ Rules Regatta served as their bachelor and bachelorette parties. Seven crew members made their first appearance at the regatta.

 Following are the official results from the 33rd annual Fools’ Rules Regatta:

Class 1: First Place - “Loungin’ ” Eamon Hunter (Jamestown); Second Place - “The Checks Mixer” – Teddy Hackett (Warwick); Third Place – “The Cat Came Back” – Peter Marks (Woodbridge, Ct.).

Class 2: First Place - “USS Unsinkable” – Al and Matt Michelini (Newport); Second Place - “Farley’s Folly” – Will Farley (Newport); Third Place – “Where Is Anthony” – Emilio Kurz, Matt Demeria (Jamestown).

Class 3: First Place - “Spriley” – Paul, Spencer & Riley Sprague (Jamestown); Second Place - “Rock” – Taylor & Aaron Olson, Nate Runlet (Charlestown); Third Place - “The Bobby” – Daniel & Benjamin Gemma, Andrew Mancini (Barrington)

Class 4: First Place - “Pigs 4 Sail” – Chris & John Faella, Jason & Shane Silva (Peace Dale); Second Place - “Super Tramp” – Ryan Taylor, Adam Davenport, Peter Dennome, Craig Mettleton (Charlestown); Third Place - “Movie Night” – Diane Sousa, Stephen & Karen Irons, Frank Aquino (Bristol).

Unlimited Class: First Place - “3 Sheets To The Wind” – Henry Lyon (Shrewsbury, Mass.); Second Place – “Sail Mary” – Ben, Nolan & Ethan Roach, Michaela Kraut, Tyler McNamara, Patrick Fidler, Grampy (Jamestown); Third Place - “Swirled Cup” – Tom Harris & Ella Sampou (Jamestown).

 Karl Smith Most Ingenious Design Award - “Keyes Kat” Ken Proulx (Tiverton). Worst Example of Naval Architecture Award - “Titanic” – James Briganti, Frank Wood, Barbara Catrona (Narragansett).

Frank Newman Judges’ Award - “Flower Power!” Brian Arseneau (Pittsfield, Ma.)


Originally published in The Jamestown Press, Thursday, August 19, 2010