2014 ROUND ISLAND REGATTA: An Embarrassing and Provocative Outcome

RIR Sail winner

I have been tardy in reporting on what happened at the fourth annual Round Island Regatta, held Saturday, August 23, right here in Portsmouth, NH, both because the regatta’s media department has been very slow getting photos to me and because I am a bit embarrassed by the results. After missing last year’s event, I managed again to get Mimi, our trusty 15-foot Drascombe Dabber, to the start line this year. And no, I did not manage to sail her any faster than the other boats (quite the opposite). This distinction went to Class 1 (Sail) winner Joie Paciulli, seen in the photo up top displaying her winning form aboard her banged-up old Banshee. The Banshee proved an ideal boat for the conditions (weight is just 120 pounds with 82 sq.ft. of sail area), which were very light, and Joie (daughter of Bruno Paciulli, head sailing instructor at the Kittery Point Yacht Club) handled it expertly, easily besting the other 34 sailboats in the fleet, which included a Hobie 16 catamaran.

The embarrassing bit has to do in part with my performance on Mimi, which was execrable. I do have a couple of excuses to trot out: a) we were very heavy this year, with three adults and one child onboard; and b) Mimi‘s archaic sprit rig doesn’t work well in very light wind. This led to us sometimes move backwards for extended periods (most noticeably right at the start), thanks to the very strong current. But also I made some truly terrible tactical decisions trying to get around the windward mark, which was, as one competitor described it, “like trying to round Cape Horn,” thanks again to the strong current and fickle breeze. During the first two laps of the course I so misjudged the line to the mark that I twice had to jibe around for another go. Only on the third and final lap did I manage to get around in one attempt.

The other embarrassing fact is that I was actually rewarded for this pitiful effort. Being primarily a non-competitive event, the RIR recognizes only first-place line-honors winners in its three different classes (Classes 2 and 3 are for paddle- and oar-powered craft) and also grants awards to the “Handsomest Boat and Crew” in each class. The grandest prize, which features bestowal of a perpetual trophy plate, is the Sportsmanship Award, “which is presented to the individual whose behavior and seamanship best exemplify the spirit of the regatta.”

Thanks primarily to Tom Brown, of Great Bay Marine, who served as the regatta’s Master of Ceremonies and Color Commentator and regaled the audience with an ongoing comic description of my misadventures on the race course, I was selected as the grand prize winner this year. And really I can’t even say I was honestly a good sport about being the butt of Tom’s stream of abuse, as most of the time I couldn’t even hear it.

So, as I say, thanks to Tom, my name is now being inscribed on the trophy plate, which I get to keep for a year, and I have received (from regatta sponsor Timberland) an absolutely enormous stainless steel quartz watch that could easily serve as an anchor for Mimi.

Timberland watch

The watch in question, which was presented to me by Carin Frisk, wife of Timberland CEO Peter Frisk

Sail class start

The sailors mix it up at their class start

Joe and Nim

Publisher Joe Burke (in yellow hat) and editor Nim Marsh (in red hat), of Points East magazine, the event’s media sponsor, prepare to compete in Joe’s sailing dinghy Scallywag

Tom Brown

MC Tom Brown hard at work insulting me

Race committee

The race committee takes it easy

Le Mans start

A Le Mans start for the paddlers

Paddlers in action

Paddlers in the heat of competition

Mimi under sail

Sorry, but I don’t have any pix of us sailing in this year’s event. This is what we looked like sailing in the 2012 event, in which we finished second. Mimi also raced in the inaugural event in 2011, in which there were no winners, as the race committee failed to notice who crossed the line first

For a complete list of this year’s winners check here. The regatta this year was a smash success, with 65 entrants in the two paddling classes and 35 entrants in the sail class. Proceeds were donated to the Wentworth Lear Historic Houses, which hosted the prize-giving party.

Many thanks to Robin Normandeau of Chandler’s Loft and Charles Lassen of SEMOSA, the event’s primary organizers, and to the many sponsors: Timberland, Points East Magazine, Piscataqua Savings Bank, People’s United Bank, DeStefano Architects, Keller Williams Realty, Back Channel Canvas Shop, Ellis Insurance Agency, Jackson’s Hardware and Marine, Philbrick’s Fresh Market, Red Hook Brewery, Sanders Lobster Co., Aileen Dugan, Esther’s Marina, Honda Barn, and UBS.

Thanks, also, to Hunter Normandeau for providing most of those pix up there!

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