2009-08-13 / News

Fools’ Rules Regatta is all about ‘big fun’

By Dara Chadwick

Chris Powell has seen it all during the 28 or so years he has served as “chief fool” of the Jamestown Yacht Club’s annual Fools’ Rules Regatta – like the guy who once tried to make a boat out of ice.

“He called the night before and said, ‘What time does Class 2 start?’” Powell said, adding that the caller was insistent on knowing an exact time. “The next day, there was a guy at the boat ramp working and at 11, this truck showed up and unloaded a block of ice that had to be 6 or 8 feet long, 4 or 5 feet wide and a foot thick.”

Unfortunately, Powell said, the race started from the opposite direction that year, so the boat builder had to push his vessel – complete with ice – to the other end of the beach.

“By the time he pushed the block of ice to the other end of the course, it had melted,” he said.

Powell said he can’t wait to see what is in store for this year’s event.

“It’s always big fun,” he said. “There are very few things in life where people can just have a good time and laugh at themselves.”

The 32nd annual Fools’ Rules Regatta, sponsored by the Jamestown Yacht Club, will be held this Saturday, Aug. 15, on the Town Beach at East Ferry. Participants should plan to be on the beach at 9 a.m., when a cannon marks the beginning of the two-hour, vesselconstructing period.

After the cannon, participants have exactly two hours to build a sailing craft of non-marine items. The craft may be pre-constructed, but has to be disassembled and built again on the beach.

The Class 1 race will begin at 11 a.m.

Vessels compete for first, second and third place in each class. Classes are determined by the number of participants on the vessel: One, two, three, four, and five or more (unlimited class).

Awards are given during the day, including the Karl Smith Most Ingenious Design, the Worst Example of Naval Architechure and the Frank Newman Judges’ Award.

But the real highlight, Powell said, is the opportunity to see some good entertainment.

“We’ve had just about anything and everything – Volkswagens, hay bales...” he said. “We also have theme boats for events that have occurred during the last year.”

The unlimited class features vessels that range from 15 to more than 40 feet in length and are crewed by as many as a dozen or more people.

When asked what advice he would offer to first-time participants, Powell said, “Remember that it’s not always a downwind course, remember to build something that floats and remember that you have to be able to steer it.”

There is no entry fee for the event. Official “Fools’ Rules Regatta” t-shirts and hats are sold throughout the day and any money raised from sales, after regatta expenses, is donated to island charities.

Call 423-1492, or visit the Jamestown Yacht Club website at www.jyc.org for information and rules. The rain date is Sunday, Aug. 16.

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