Call of the Wild
Most of you have read that the Sailing Anarchy Yacht Club’s inaugural CHAWS regatta in Fort Pierce, Florida was a huge hit last weekend, with plenty of pics to prove that it happened. In honor of the recently deceased Paul Harvey, here’s “the rest of the story.”
When we looked back at the sequence of events that led to the CHAWS, it became clear that we didn’t decide to hold this regatta – it pretty much created itself. Last December, our Anarchy Challenge experiment required that we hold an Annual Regatta to enter into Alinghi’s version of the America’s Cup, and since “annual” is synonomous with “first” in Swiss, it was time to hold SAYC’s race. CNEV certainly hadn’t set the bar too high with its first shot, so we had plenty of latitude to create what we wanted – which is exactly what we did.
After deciding that it was a go, the next step was to figure out the venue and date. Even before the Miami Grand Prix flicked the small boats from Biscayne Bay a few years back, there was a big gap for blue collar winter circuit racing between the St. Pete NOOD and Charleston Race Week, so March became our target. With that set, venue choice became simple, governed by (1) a belief that low cost travel regattas are far too rare, and (2) a desire that small boats, especially sportboats, didn’t have enough open ocean, big breeze events on the East Coast – the kind of racing that gives you thrills that last for months and that hooks newbies forever. Fortunately, our good friend and Melges/FT-10 Clive Daem had introduced us to the wonders of South Hutchinson Island’s redonkulous spring sea breeze a year earlier when we stayed at his lovely little Dockside Inn. We later learned of the month-long Olympic 470 training camps that were once the norm on this windy stretch of coast, and of the windsurfers and kiteboarders that live here to take advantage of the frequent dogs-off-chains days. When asked if we could make it happen at the Dockside, avid Anarchist and sportboat aficionado Daem took about 30 seconds to answer, “we’re in.”
We set our entry fees extremely low, sorted out free hotelside dockage and found the free local ramps, recruited Race Officer and Anarchist HobieAnarchy to run things, and worked on ways to do everything we could for zero dollars, preserving the entry fees for the free booze fund. The locals at Fort Pierce Yacht Club, a tiny club with very little racing left of a once-strong program, were psyched to see the sailing energy in their town, and hosted a great welcome party and provided some stalwart volunteers and boats to help out on the water. The owners of the Flying Tiger “Toy Tiger” and the wonderful beach bar Archies hosted an even better party on Saturday night. With this crew, ably managed by Clive, his nephew Christian and assistant (and eye candy) Leighton, everything went surprisingly smoothly, and even your humble Race Director had plenty of time to party with the competitors until well into the wee hours every single night. The trophies were perfect, every boat got one, and the Ed kicked down a pile of Anarchy Challenge t-shirts for the winners. Our entire budget was somewhere south of two thousand dollars, yet every CHAWS racer went home feeling welcomed, appreciated, and taken care of.