The excitement is mounting. Only nine days to go until the yachting world's premier event, the regatta of the year, the big one ...
No, I'm not talking about the Sydney to Hobart Race, the next leg of the Volvo Ocean circus or whatever "act" is planned next in the endless America's Cup merry-go-round. We are talking about the 24th Annual Hangover Bowl at Cedar Point YC in Westport, Connecticut. Forget about your Melges 24's and your IACC yachts, your professional drivers and your over-coached kiddie sailors. According to the Notice of Race this event is only for "Laser sailors with pale face, haggard eyes, shuffling walk". With the first start at noon on New Year's Day it's pretty certain that I'll qualify.
And don't worry about any of those fancy handicapping rules, IRC, Americap, PHRF or whatever. The Hangover Bowl evens up the chances for everyone by using the WICB system, That is the Winner (of each race) Immediately Chugs a Beverage from the RC boat. It's amazing how quickly the alcohol works through the bloodstream to the brain when exercising in cold weather. I defy anyone to win more than 3 races under these rules.
And the Hangover Bowl doesn't have any of those pretentious European sponsors such as Louis Vuitton, Volvo or Rolex. You know they only sponsor sailing events because their corporate PR departments think it's the best way to persuade us rich American yachties to forget our natural prejudice against Euro-trash trinkets. Who, except an ex-hippie eco-nut, needs some over-priced solid metal box heavy with headlights and crumple zones plastered with stickers saying "Visualize World Peace" and "McGovern for President"? And why pay $3000 for a clunky yellow metal watch even if it is waterproof to 30,000 feet and will tell you the time accurate to a thousandth of a second in 27 timezones when you can buy one that looks just as good for $25 on any street corner in Manhattan?
No, the Hangover Bowl is sponsored, quite appropriately, by Depot Liquor - purveyor of fine products appreciated by every red-blooded American sailor such as Scotch whisky, Caribbean rum and Swedish vodka. As you may have guessed Depot Liquor donate the major prizes for this regatta which is why it is always contested so fiercely.
And forget about your studying your highbrow tactics and strategy books. They won't help you at all in the Hangover Bowl. Gary Jobson has never written on the best approach to starting the "Windward/Leeward or Leeward/Windward Race" where every sailor in the fleet has the choice on whether to cross the (same) start line going upwind or downwind. And you'll never find any advice in Stuart Walker's collected works on strategic options for the infamous "Come within Chug" race where, on the first downwind leg, you have to sail close enough to the committee boat to catch a beverage, drink the beverage, and deposit the empty can back in the committee boat on your way back upwind. (While 30 other hung over Laser sailors are simultaneously attempting the same feat.)
And these are only two of the diabolically ingenious races born from the fertile imaginations of the (equally hung over) race committee in previous years. God only knows what they will dream up this year.
So, all you New England sailors, recover your wetsuit from wherever you dumped it at the end of last season. (Your nose will guide you.) Find someone to lend you a Laser. (Hey, there are over 185,000 of them out there somewhere and at least 184,970 of their owners are too chicken to attempt yachting's ultimate challenge.) And set your alarm clock.
The 2006 sailing season starts in 8 days and 22 hours. Be there.