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Scuttlebutt Photos:
Nonsuch Rendezvous - July 13-19, 2008
Newport, RI, USA (event website) - Photos and text by by Cory Silken

Here are some photos and a little background on the final ‘race’ at the Nonsuch Rendezvous 2008. It was most certainly the silliest yacht racing experience I’ve had on the water in a long time, possibly ever! I hope these images will give the 'buttheads a chuckle, as we were bawling with laughter .

Our first laughs came with the announcement of the start. The downwind start was a unique technical maneuver, the likes of which we’d not previously practiced. The starting moment was on a whim, about as random as Captain Jack Sparrow’s compass in Pirates of the Caribbean movies. It was denoted only by the untimed and unannounced lowering of a flag on a committee boat, which was underway, making way downwind! Further, all boats were allowed to use their engines until that moment.

Unfortunately, my gracious host was not allowed to enter in this “race” because he wasn’t able to attend preceding week’s events (even after previously being invited), so we started WELL behind the rest of the fleet and attempted to stay out of everyone’s way. However, this didn’t last very long as we quickly started passing everyone with our efficient, finely tuned racing jibes.

Jibing a Nonsuch is an entertaining event in and of itself. It’s a high-risk practice where miles and miles of the sheet must be quickly yanked in as the wind catches on the other side of the sail, in order for the sheet to slot through the bimini and wind generator and not wrap around them and rip them out of the deck! Well, at least that’s what we were doing until we observed one Nonsuch that clearly had a secret weapon: they didn’t need to jibe at all, they just sailed by the lee! Their main sheet was long enough to allow the boom in front of the mast! They were able to zip back and forth, passing several boats, although we couldn’t quite figure out what tack they were on and who had rights. This didn’t seem to be much of a problem, as several skippers simply stared at us in bewilderment when we yelled “starboard” anyway…

There were several boats racing with dinghies suspended from davits over the stern. At first, me and my mates weren’t quite sure why you would bring a dinghy along in a race. We later learned that if you don’t have a dinghy, it’s much riskier to raid your competitor’s garden to pluck a tomato during the leeward mark rounding!

After tacking back and forth through 150 degrees (our boat clearly didn’t like to accelerate, or point, on a port tack) and making our way up the course, we decided it was more honorable not to cross the finish line and confuse the race committee. However, as soon as we passed the now-stationed committee boat on the outside, we received a horn!

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