By Stephen Zwarg
Saturday, March 30 was a beautiful early spring day for the “frostbiting” Corinthians and guests at Mystic Seaport Museum’s Community Sailing Center on the Mystic River in Mystic, CT. With the temperature in the 50s, no wool hats or gloves were necessary! What kind of frostbiting is this? There were no complaints from the competitors, and the sailing conditions, SE to S winds from 5 to 12 knots, were ideal for the Museum’s fleet of Dyer Dhows.
Jim Gibbs and his able regatta committee (Fred Chester and Ray Huber) set fair starting lines and were able to get off six morning races and four afternoon races. Simple dinghy 2-minute starting sequences and one or two lap windward-leeward courses made for non-stop action and quick turnarounds between races. Any sailing rule infractions were expected to be voluntarily exonerated by the fouler on the race course (360-degree turn), in true Corinthian fashion. There was widespread adherence to this sportsmanship standard, as any formal protest had to be accompanied by a non-refundable $10,000 check to the Museum from the protester. By popular demand, there was no race with a downwind start.
There was a lunch break between sessions, when racers and spectators could refuel with home cooked clam chowder, sandwiches, etc. (thanks to Henry Atterbury and Denise Vitale). Per Corinthian race management tradition, boats were exchanged for the afternoon session: highest scoring morning skipper exchanged boats with the lowest scoring skipper, next highest with next lowest, etc. The exchange shouldn’t have an effect on competition, as the boats are all exactly alike one designs, right???
The Community Sailing Center (Ben Ellcome, Sarah Starkweather, Molly Kulick and Erick Johnson) provided excellent support for getting the boats ready and launched, and on-the-water launches for starting committee and rescue boats. The favorable conditions meant the rescue boat had a light duty day, with only one capsize rescue needed for an anonymous competitor.
After the racing was completed and the boats put away, the crowd moved to the awards party at Betsy & Dan Van Winkle’s lovely home on Mason’s Island. Lots of bragging, apologizing, excuse making, and good feelings were encouraged by the great food and drinks, provided by the able Van Winkle party-givers.
With the closest racing in many years, the Race Committee had their hands full with calculating results. There were 10 races and no throw-outs. A tie-breaker was needed to resolve the top finishers, as only 3 points separated the top four finishers (out of eight participants). It all came down to the last race of the day to define the final standings; key ingredients – a wire-to-wire first, an over-the-line start infraction, and close finishing order. The final results were Todd Williams first, Steve Zwarg second, Ted Corning third, and Tucker Bragdon fourth.
Three of these competitors are previous winners of the Ed Colie trophy, so the racing was very competitive (and a lot of fun). Our current Master, Larry Meade, was an enthusiastic competitor, but found that there was no executive privilege on the racecourse (despite flying the Master’s Flag). All competitors and spectators received admission to Mystic Seaport Museum, as well as commemorative cocktail glasses for participation in this Corinthian event revived by Past Master Jay Kiszkiel 28 years ago.
Many thanks to Mystic Fleet Captain Heidi Steinmetz, Jay Weissman, and the committee for organizing and promoting the event. All Corinthians, prospective Corinthians, and guests are encouraged to participate next year, as this event offers quality small boat racing at a first class facility with a high-class party to top the day.
The Corinthians is a non-commercial membership association which promotes sailing, good fellowship afloat and ashore, and is an introductory means for non-boat owners and boat owners needing crew. More information is available at thecorinthians.org. ■