Silly Season -
March 11, 2004
In the past few days we've seen men dressed as women, women dressed as men, and dogs dressed as people. No, we haven't been hanging out in Mallory Square in Key West; we've been participating in the annual George Town Cruising Regatta, where silliness is rewarded. In our March 28, 2002 entry we described how, 24 years ago, the regatta started as a simple one day affair. A bunch of bored cruisers decided to race their boats around the harbour -- an uncharacteristic display of activity, given their natural inclination to conserve energy and avoid any wear and tear on their boats. There's no shortage of activity at this year's regatta, now a ten day celebration: volleyball competitions, sand sculpture contest, tennis tournament, baseball game, scavenger hunt, coconut gathering competition, variety show, and dinghy races. And, oh, there's also a couple of days of sailboat racing.
There's no place for seriousness at the George Town regatta. One year we won the coconut harvest -- a contest to gather the most floating coconuts while propelling your dinghy with handheld flippers -- and were chastised for going after the coconuts instead of engaging in water fights with the other competitors. Indeed, cruisers wouldn't participate in many of the regatta events if they didn't have a sense of humour. The baseball game, for example, pits the cruisers against some of the local Bahamians; the cruisers routinely get slaughtered, but come back each year for more punishment.
The very first event of the opening night celebrations set the tone for this year's regatta: a dress-up competition for dogs. Charlotte, a long-haired dachshund on board the motorsailor "Union Jack", won first prize for her "Pirates of the Caribbean" costume; she insisted that her human, Stuart, accompany her in appropriate attire. The theme for the opening night dance was "High School Prom" and cruisers dressed accordingly. Michel Lachance and Louise Caron on the trawler "Marie-Antoine" were voted the couple most likely to succeed: Louise was dressed as a mobster and Michel was her (his?) moll. Francie and Bob Sadler on the sailboat "Barefootin" also got a lot of laughs, with Bob playing the class nerd and Francie appearing in a maternity gown.
With the adults acting like kids, the kids had their own day -- Sunday -- all to themselves. Highlights included a pudding eating contest (eating utensils were notably absent) and a tug-of-war.
David crewed on "Barefootin" in the first sailboat race on Tuesday. Their grasp on first place lasted for approximately ten seconds after the starting gun, but they won the prestigious "Mirth and Merriment" award for their matching crew uniforms. Today, David crewed on "Follow The Sun" in the Round Stocking Island Race & Fishing Contest. He was put in charge of fishing and failed miserably (as he has every other year). The junk-rigged schooner "Whisper" caught the biggest fish, a four foot mahi mahi, and David's old buddy Derek on the sloop "Unity" came in last to claim the coveted Turtle award for the third time (a regatta record).
The regatta will close on Saturday with the variety talent show. Eileen has been practising in secret with our friends Sharon and Bill on "Cool Cat" and Barb and Sherman on "Jennica VI". The other crew members are the dance accompaniment for Eileen's songs. Sherman was recruited for the job last week after having consumed a beer or two too many at the Chat 'N Chill beach bar, and has been regretting it ever since. But he needn't fear humiliation on the stage. The audience will expect him to look silly.