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70th Annual Moosehead Awards

The annual meeting of the International Society for the Perpetuation of Cruelty to Racing Yachtsmen (ISPCRY) was held this year at Sea Cliff Yacht Club in Hempstead, NY on October 30.

The Donald B. King Trophy is not like the others at the Moosehead Luncheon – it is awarded for doing something well. This year, John L. (Tinker) Myles won it for his outstanding work in race committee management. © Andrea WatsonThis day of infamy operates under the working title of the Moosehead Luncheon, when race committees from around Long Island Sound gather to celebrate the race management mistakes of others. Some even suffer the ignominy of being recognized in front of their peers for making mistakes that would make the US SAILING Race Management team glad they are in business and leave them scratching their heads why their winter courses aren’t sold out everywhere on the Sound. 

As if to herald the arrival of the big day, Mother Nature decided to hold her first snowfall of their year, knocking out power throughout the Northeast and allowing some committees to hold out hope that there would be no power at Sea Cliff. As the old tuna fish commercial said, “Sorry Charlie.”

Now occasionally, some clubs and people manage to do a superlative job running races and are recognized by the Moosehead Committee for their endeavors. American Yacht Club received the Moosehead Committee Trophy for team excellence and Tinker Myles, the retiring chair of the New York Yacht Club race committee, received the Donald B. King award for individual excellence. His citation read in part:

If your club’s race committee fumbled their race committee assignment in any way, these guys will find out about it. © Andrea Watson

“Some people question those of us on race committee as to whether we should have our heads examined. Why would anyone in their right mind want to spend hours pre-planning a regatta, hours on the water running it, and hours afterward finalizing it? All so a bunch of people can have fun and complain about all we do…for no pay!

This year’s recipient may be the dumbest of all of us. He doesn’t serve on one race committee – he serves on three! In total, he has served more than 85 years on race committees – more time than anyone in this room has been on this earth. Not only that, he has been Chairman of all three! A true glutton for punishment.

But our man is not a one trick pony. He has run races for kids, blind people, disabled sailors, Transatlantic sailors, round-the-buoys sailors, and often sailors at National and World Championship levels.

But he is not just a “runner,” he is a creator. Among other things, he was instrumental in creating both fall and spring events at his home club…events that have become premier in round-the-buoys racing.

I’m sure by now you know of whom we speak, but let me list his service:

American YC — Race Committee member for 45 years, Chairman for 3;

Storm Trysail Club — Race Committee member for over 25 years and Chairman for 8;

New York YC — Race Committee member for 15 years and Chairman for the last 7.

He is retiring from New York’s chair this year, but as he has at his other clubs, will surely contribute to race management far into the future.

But as I stated in my opening remarks, “we have come to bury Caesar not to praise him.”

“Mark Rounding” and “Flint Stone” representing a yacht club in Connecticut, proudly display the Moosehead Fourth Class award. © Andrea WatsonAs a committee, we agreed years ago that the flogging of race committees by name be restricted to the luncheon. In this day of emails, blogs, linking in, friending and tweeting, we don’t think it’s fair to expose our brethren to abuse from some sailor from the Pago Pago YC.

That said, this was a year of firsts. One prestigious club received three awards for the same regatta. It was either that or give them one citation with a fanfold to accommodate all they did wrong. Another very prestigious club, named after a sail, managed to long line a competitor with the ground tackle from the leeward gate. Worse yet, a member of our esteemed commit-tee was a crew member of the yacht violated. Another one that stood out was a set of sailing instructions that had to have been written by Timothy Leary, while he was on acid. The following actually appeared in the SIs:

“Time limit - Time limit for the race is 7 hours from the last start or, if later, 2 hours after the first boat to finish.” Our comment: If later…than what? Reading on…“any boat withdrawing has until after the time limit to announce they are withdrawing.” Seems like a long time to be missing. Your face could be on a milk carton by then! And we continue:

“Protests - Protests can be registered… with a launch operator.” What????!!! But this is an equal opportu-nity club…why not the sous chef? The Golden Mike award also provided a new highlight, by letting the fleet know of your failures over an open mike. When a competitor asked what time the next race would start, the response from the RC was “What time is it? I have no idea!” An interesting response in the day of the GPS.

Yet another award went to a sailing association for insisting the race committee of the club hosting a championship postpone the start. For a lack of wind you say? No. In response to panicked phone calls from a few helicopter parents who were stuck in traf-fic on I-95. That’s one I’ve never seen in the rule book and it sure isn’t in the appeals.

In a follow up email, I pleaded with the race committee chairs not to send their committees to a US SAILING Race Management course this winter, as they could put our committee out of existence. Fat chance. You just can’t make this stuff up.


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