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Instead of Football Regatta 2012
Vessels from Horizon to Horizon
January 4, 2012

sailing regatta where the starting lines includes a football, engines are allowed and the winner is drawn at random? Yes.

On New Year’s Day, skippers pried their crews away from home to take part in the 2012 Instead of Football Regatta. In its 20-plus year history, the January First event has drawn as few at 3 boats. But this year some 60 cutters, sloops, dinghies and a trimaran showed up. They had great sailing conditions, light winds giving way to livelier ones.

Vessels lining up in front of the Oriental bridge for the start of the 2012 Instead of Football Regatta
Much better than watching the game: skippers, their mainsails sheeted in hard, work their craft to the weather mark
Gerald and Cheryl Crowley’s “RiRa” giving chase to “Skimmer”, “Miranda” and “Migrant”.

This year’s regatta was organized by Art and Elise Tierney and Tom and Liz Lathrop. Tom Lathrop, sailing aboard “RiRa” says it was hard to get a precise count of the boats.

As the starting time of 12 Noon neared, the mass of sailboats milled about in such a manner that an accurate count eluded the Race Committee. Various sources estimated 55 to 65 sailboats, five powerboats, one kayak, and a Piper Cub airplane.

The crew of Ken Lury’s “Beshert” prepares to hoist their spinnaker as they round the Adams Creek marker. Sailing with Ken were friends Sheldon and Irene, Henry Frazer and Wilma Kennedy. Bershert was the first monohull to complete the course. The trimaran “Vector” was the first vessel overall to cross the finish line.
Count ‘em: 45 of the approximately 60 boats that participated in the regatta. The race has just started. The Oriental bridge is visible on the horizon.

The regatta rules were simple. In keeping with the gridiron theme, the starting line was identified by, as the race flyer noted, “the football in the water.” Marks to be rounded included Adams Creek #1, Garbacon #7 and Oriental #1 for the finish.

The Montgomery 15 “Fionnula” sails by of the floating football-shaped marker that served as one end of the starting line

The Instead of Football Regatta was first organized as a way to encourage participants to use their sailboats instead of their TVs on the first day of the New Year. It is as non-competitive as a sailing event can be. Flexibility is key.

For instance, given the light winds Sunday morning, it was announced that motors could be used. Unlike most sailboat races, where the start is strictly regulated, there was even leeway in how boats could cross the starting line. Here, one of the regatta’s organizers, Tom Lathrop describes how the vessel he was crewing aboard, “RiRa,” started and finished the race.

Circumstances forced the Race Committee on “Ri Ra,” a Rhodes Reliant 41, to invoke “Executive Privilege” as well as the “Big Boat Rule” to avoid the crowd and start on the wrong side of Oriental No. 1 Mark. Following the well- known mathematical principle of two negatives, they exonerated themselves by also passing the finish mark on the wrong side. This should clear up any squabbles that might be heard from competing skippers consulting the Protest Committee.

Sunday served up some of the most cooperative regatta weather some of its veteran sailors could recall. Henry Frazer, sailing aboard Ken Lury’s “Beshert”, recalls how, in 1989, it was so cold, “we had to break the ice to get out of the slip”. That was the year that three sailboats (and their hearty crews) showed up.

While there was no ice this year, there was some wet sailing to be had.

Again, Tom Lathrop describes the lively winds and scenery.

gradually the promised wind increased, heeling the boats well over so that many lee decks were awash before reaching Adams Creek. The wind blowing from the southwest over cold water had many crews donning warmer jackets in the stiff and cool breeze.

Large flocks of Double-crested Cormorants zipped along just above the wavetops while Black Scoters flew by in formation at higher altitude.

After rounding Adams No.1, some hardy souls hoisted their spinnakers and some even flew multiple spinnakers for the downwind run. In good order, the fleet made a quick run to Garbacon Shoal marker and then back to Oriental No.1 for the finish.

Just a few of the hundreds of birds that flew across the course before the regatta started.

In keeping with tradition, regatta winners were chosen at random after the race at a reception at M&M’s Cafe. Prizes and gift certificates were offered by Oriental businesses Nautical Wheelers, Inland Waterway Provision Company, Village Hardware, Sailcraft Marina, M&Ms Cafe and West Marine. Winners drawn at random were:

1) Dan and Leslie Allen / “Halcyon” / C&C 37
2) Billy Dixon / “Luna Sea” / O’Day 25
3) Bill Graves / “Next Gen” / Hunter 420

Dan and Leslie Allen of “Halcyon” at M&Ms Cafe’s post race skippers meeting. They were the first place winners as determined by the luck of the draw. Behind them, Art Tierney and Tom Lathrop prepare to pick another entry form – and winner – from a container.

Though billed as a non-competitive event, there’s the old saying that if that if two sailboats are on the water, a race is on. First across the finish line were:

1) Manfred Rott / “Vector” / Farrier 27
2) Ken Lury / “Beshert” / J-105
3) Ed Bliss / “Out of the Blue” / Sabre 362

Manfred Rott rounds the Adams Creek marker aboard his Farrier-27 “Vector.” Crewing with Manfred was Bob Miller. The duo were the first to cross the finish line.

On the following pages, more photos from the regatta.


Coming and going: “Long Shot” and “Il Gatto” pass “Lahsa” heading the other way
Here, on the regatta’s downwind leg, “RiRa” sets a seldom seen combination of sails. Flying from the mainmast is a colorful cruising chute, and from the mizzen, a mizzen staysail. Aboard “RiRa” are Gerald Crowley, Anisha Frizzell, Tom, Liz, Mark, Jan, and Tim Lathrop. (Cathy Brugett photo)
Joe Valinoti’s Nonsuch 30, “Il Gatto” shows the fleet just how swift catboats can be. Here she is starting on the second, downwind, leg of the course.
Matt Bannister, Douglass Wales and crew aboard the light blue sloop pursue the much larger yawl “Skimmer” around the upwind mark
Kara Wheeler at the tiller of an FJ-14 dinghy sent out by the Bow to Stern sailing school. Ben Bruno mans the mainsheet.
The gaff cutter “Phyllis May” sails across the regatta course behind “RiRa”.
“Phyllis May’s” reefing bowsprit. The block and tackle at the end of the spar allow the bowsprit to be pulled inboard for heavy weather or tight maneuvering. Though she didn’t cross the starting line with regatta participants, she joined them for the downwind leg.


Prepping for the race: young sailors with the Bow to Stern sailing program rig their FJ-14 dinghies for the regatta. The sailing school sent 11 sailors in 5 boats to the event.
The thick of things: the green hull of Tim Balfour and Jennifer Smart’s “Pelli” stands out among the starters
“Sirocco” lines up within sight of the Stallings House
Pull up a chair, have a seat: the view from a spectating trawler
Time to head home
Part of the crowd at the M&Ms cafe post race skippers meeting. Owner Dave Sargent provided the meeting area, soup and libations.
Bill Graves accepts his drawn-at-random third place prize. Preparing to select another winner from the pot are Liz Lathrop and Art Tierney
End of the year’s first regatta as seen from the Oriental bridge and the Oriental Harbor Marina.

(TownDock.net thanks Tom and Liz Lathrop for providing on course and post-race descriptions. Also Bill and Phyllis Chaplik for the use of their vessel to photograph the regatta.)

Posted Wednesday January 4, 2012 by Bernie Harberts

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