Family shines at Bullseye regatta
A Jamestown family took a boat that had been rescued from the scrap heap and sailed it to a second place finish in the Bullseye nationals held earlier this month at the Saunderstown Yacht Club. Three members of the Collins family, father Tim, mother Elizabeth and 9-year-old son Henry, took home five trophies in all, one for each of their three first-place finishes in the seven-race regatta, the secondplace overall trophy, and the Filial Trophy given for the best performance by a crew made up of more than one generation.
The Collins’ boat was built in 1958. Somewhere along the line it fell into disrepair and was headed for the dump when it was rescued by two local residents, John Quinn and Dick Hutchinson, about 10 years ago. After the pair restored the boat it was sold to a sailor in Saunderstown. A year later it was sold to the Collins family. There are weekend races for the class at the Saunderstown Yacht Club and the Collinses have won the season championship there for the last three years.
The Bullseye has the same hull as the Herreshoff 12.5. The major difference between the boats is that the 12.5 is wooden, and the Bullseye is made from fiberglass. In addition, the 12.5 is gaff rigged, while the Bullseye is a sloop that carries a spinnaker.
“This is a really slow keelboat that we thought would be good to teach the kids how to sail,” Tim said.
Elizabeth and Tim Collins are both experienced sailboat racers. Elizabeth sailed at the University of Rhode Island and taught sailing in Wickford and Saunderstown. Tim has been racing since he was a child in Duxbury, Mass. His experience includes high-performance sailing on boats like 470s and 505s.
According to Elizabeth, the Bullseye nationals was a two-day event, with five races on Sept. 7 and two on Sept. 8. The races were held in the West Passage just south of the Jamestown Bridge. There were 17 boats in the regatta. Several boats in the fleet came from Marion, Mass., which is a hotbed of Bullseye sailing, but there were competitors from as far away as Fisher’s Island in New York, and even Chicago. Elizabeth said there was a good breeze all weekend, but it was shifty at times.
“It’s an interesting class,” Elizabeth said. “It’s got a lot of old-timers and a lot of families. It’s a good mix of people. It was a substantially gorgeous weekend on the bay.”
The boat’s restorers gave it the name More Bad News, but when the Collins family bought it, the name was changed to Yehudi. It is Tim’s way of paying tribute to a boat that his grandfather bought to teach Tim’s mother and uncle how to sail. That little boat was a Turnabout named Yehudi, and it later became the first boat Tim ever sailed. The name comes from an old Cab Calloway song called, “Who’s Yehudi?” The original Yehudi is long gone, but the name lives on with Tim’s Bullseye.
“We got off to a slow start to the regatta but we never gave up,” Tim said. “Finishing strong was the objective, winning three of the last four races of the regatta. I have sailed in a lot of races in my life and this by far was the most satisfying to date, no matter how we finished. We improved and stayed positive throughout and I was extremely proud of our team. Hopefully these are life lessons that Henry will always appreciate.”
Henry is in the third grade at Melrose School and has been sailing since he was 6 years old. There are two other Collins children, Eloise, 7, and Truman, 4. The entire family usually sails together, but Tim and Elizabeth felt the younger children wouldn’t be able to handle the long days on the water required for the regatta.
“It was very hard,” Henry said. “It was two very big days on the water. It was kind of fun at the end though, and I’m glad I did it.”
Henry was unsure whether he wanted to race again next year, but took credit for the Filial Trophy, which was only made possible when he became the second generation to join the crew. He also said he enjoyed the dinner at the yacht club that followed the first day of racing even though he didn’t find the food particularly kid friendly.
Other Jamestown residents who took part in the regatta included Brian Welsh, who finished fifth aboard Sea Glass, and the Collie family, who were 12th on Swallow.
Tim hopes that the family will be able to take part in the nationals next year when they will be held at Fisher’s Island.
“It’s a great group of people,” Tim said. “They’re a very dedicated class, and they really only do one major regatta a year. It’s fun to meet the other competitors. I think we’ll try to make an effort to do it next year.”