2006-08-17 / Editorial

When fools rule the beach and waves

Twenty-nine summers ago the first intrepid sailors dipped their toes into the waters of Narragansett Bay to venture forth for what was to become known as the Fools' Rules Regatta. Islanders have been hard at work to float their homemade boats ever since.

The event has become one of Jamestown's zaniest traditions for participants and spectators alike. On the given day in August, aspiring naval architects build their craft on the beach at East Ferry, and then push, pull, and drag their un-nautical contraptions into the water to compete for fame and glory. This may not be the America's Cup, but the sailors take it just as seriously.

Well, maybe.

This year's event is dedicated to the late Karl Smith, who organized those first early regattas. Karl launched a racing spectacle that has become part of the fabric of this community. Summer just wouldn't be summer without the fools and their regatta.

Be aware that the fools will take to the water again this Saturday at the East Ferry town beach. If you are adventuresome, build your own boat, and then put your sailing skills to the test. The entries come in all sizes and shapes, from simple to complex.

Be sure to read the rules first, though.

Should you not be inclined to join the annual migration into the water, you ought to plan on watching. It is an event unlike any other regatta on the bay.

Maybe there should be one extra cannon salute just for Karl.

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