Fifty Boats compete in Fools’ Rule Regatta
Brian Arseneau of Pittsfield, Mass., along with friend Bruce Callahan of Jamestown, built a vessel in honor of the animated movie “Up.” Their house wasn’t as successful as the movie’s – the team won Worst Example of Navigational Architecture.
PHOTO BY ANDREA VON HOHENLEITEN
Sunny skies and warm weather brought a large field of competitors to East Ferry town beach early Saturday morning for one of Jamestown’s signature events – the 34th annual Fools’ Rules Regatta.
The field of 50 came primarily from Jamestown and other Rhode Island communities, but people from Oregon, Maryland, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Massachusetts also made the trip to test their boat building and sailing skills.
Before the cannon fired at 9 a.m. to signal to participants said Hunter. “The boat is named Calamine Ocean. It’s a trimaran design. It’s very light. We have no wind, we have no hope of winning,” he laughed.
“I’m from Wickford, but I’m here to take charge of my grandchildren,” said Bill Fennell. “Most of them are from Jamestown. Sail Mary is the fifth generation of the same boat. Every year it changes a little bit depending on how many kids we have on board. The nice thing is that just about every year we add a new grandchild to the list. So once they’re of sailing age, they get to climb aboard.”
Brian Brazil of Jamestown was in his eighth Fools’ Rule Regatta. “Our boat has been precision engineered with German accuracy,” he reported with a smile.
“We’re always first in the class behind us,” a crew member added.
There were also first-timers among the fools. Gary Giannini of East Granby, Conn., said that this was his first year participating in the event and at first he wasn’t even sure that he was planning to register. “We came for the T-shirts,” he said. “But I said instead of just coming for the T-shirts, let’s do it. We’re making a triangle-shaped boat, but it’s actually going to be a stealth bomber.” The boat looked like it would be under the radar.
“Let’s hope it’s not under the water,” Giannini said.
Stephen Follett, 11, from Snug Harbor, described his entry. “We have a plywood frame with some two-byfours, then we have some plastic holding in some air mattresses. We have some floaty tubes that we’re going to use for ballast. There’s a centerboard and a bamboo sail.”
Nancy Dolan, a Rhode Island transplant from Philadelphia, was wearing her Phillies’ regalia proudly on the beach for her first Fools’ Rules Regatta, which she entered with her brother Kevin Dolan. “It’s called O’Dolan’s Folly,” she said of her boat. “We worked on it for two days. Kevin is the ship builder. I’m just a painter and a sewer of sails.”
Dolan was quick to point out the crutches that were being employed as a mast and a tiller.
Chuck Naud of Jamestown was also joining in on the festivities for the first time, and he said that he used the event to support a worthy cause. “We came down here last year and watched, and we thought it would be a great thing to do,” he said, talking about using the event to raise money for juvenile diabetes. “We think we’ll be getting bigger and bigger every year going forward. We already have some plans on the drawing board for next year.”
The Fools’ Rule Regatta is an annual event organized by the Jamestown Yacht Club. The regatta was founded in 1978 by the late Karl Smith, and has been featured in Yankee Magazine and National Geographic.
In addition to the sailing honors, there were awards for Karl Smith Most Ingenious Design, which was won by the boat Just Ducky (Henry Lyon, Catie Lyon, Chris Lyon, Cam Hutt, Charlene and Larry Clockspile of Shrewsbury, Mass.), the Worst Example of Naval Architecture Award, which went to the boat Up (Brian Arseneau of Pittsfield, Mass.), and the Frank Newman Judge’s Award won by Prep Chefs (Mandy Kelley, Winkle Kelley and Gabby Wheeler of Newport).