The Cutty Sark Regatta
The Cutty Sark Regatta was an annual event sponsored by the Cutty Sark Company; the one that makes the blended scotch whiskey.† They used the event for promotional purposes by handing out visors and T-shirts.† They provided the trophy.† It was a beautiful, eight-inch, pewter replica of the Cutty Sark clipper ship.† The first two, held in 1976 and 1977, were raced with Marbleheads.† They were both won by a man named Henry Morris from Delaware and his yellow Epic.† It was during the Jive Turkey race in 1977 that the club announced that the third Cutty Sark Regatta would be a two-day event and raced with 10 Raters. The following spring it was announced that the race would double as the AMYA 10 Rater Annual Class Championship Regatta also known as the 10 Rater ACCR.
On the Thursday before the race, I went on a date.† I asked the girl if she would like to go sailing with me.† She was disappointed when she found out that it wasnít a real boat.† Even though I let her sail it while I gave instructions, we never went out again.
At the start of every race I stood on a raised portion of the curb at the edge of the pond.† This way none of the larger adults could block my view for even a second.† My overall strategy was to stay out of traffic and control the middle of the pond.† At the end of the first day, I had sailed six races.† I had five first-place finishes and one second.† I was in first place overall but I didnít know by how much.
I didnít take a shower that night nor did I take one the next morning. I was determined that whatever luck I had was going to stick to me like my shirt. My strategy for the second day had to be different.† At starts I found myself being crowded.† This happens to the leader. I call it the ďIím gonna hang with that guyĒ syndrome. Skippers think they will do better if they do what the leader does and go where they go. Most of the time all this does is produce a new leader. So my new strategy was to determine who in the race was closest to me in the standings and cover them.† While I may not win that particular race, I wouldnít lose any ground in the standings. With five races under my belt and one race to go, my Sunday finishes were one first-place finish, three second-place finishes and a third.†
Between races, a good friend of mine at the club told me that a blind man wanted a good look at the winning boat.† He wanted my permission before he let the man touch my boat.† I was thrilled. As I watched I wondered what he might have been thinking.† I answered any and all of his questions. After about five minutes he said he could tell that I had a fast boat and he wished me luck. I could sense the good karma circling me.
I walked back to the scoring table to see who was closest to me in the standings so I would know who to cover.† I was almost purple in anticipation for that final race.† This is where I would routinely blow my lead with unnecessary tacks, bad decisions, a missed mark, or a foul.† I always managed to do something agonizingly dumb.† Then the woman who was keeping score told me that my lead was such that there was no way I could lose, even if I didnít put my boat in the water again.
At that moment I wondered if I was hungry so I bought a hot dog.† I ate it too fast to taste it so I got another one.† It was about then that I noticed that I was extremely grimy and I smelled like a swamp.† The good karma that was circling me turned out to be flies. I casually ended my racing day with a pedestrian third-place finish in that final, meaningless race.
My final score was 18.5 points.† Carl Brosius finished second with around 30 points.† Ned Wagner, an ace among Marblehead skippers, came in third with his Epic.† Dad finished in fifth place with 35 points.† I was awarded the pewter Cutty Sark trophy, a plaque declaring me the 1978 10-Rater national champion, and a hand-made lamp donated to the AMYA as a prize by a fellow member.† Afterward, I was interviewed by a reporter from New York Magazine.† She asked me what I thought was the biggest factor in my victory.† I told her it was Jack Daniels and that Iím too young to drink.
That night my mom invited some of my friends to the house to celebrate.† I tried to have a good time but I was wiped out.† Later that week my parents were contacted by Sports Illustrated. They wanted me to go to a studio in the city to have my portrait taken, which I did. I still have the picture.† They called later that week to do the interview.† Unfortunately they called while I was watching The Peopleís Court on television so I wouldnít come to the phone.† Mom did the interview for me.† Needless to say, they didnít run any articles.† I was approached by my high school newspaper.† I requested that they not run a story.† Donít confuse my quest for anonymity with being modest.† I rubbed it in Dadís face at every opportunity which by now, had become the custom.