I was in two minds about writing about the Wickford Regatta. Part of me wants to share this hidden gem of a regatta, and part of me wants it to remain undiscovered.
This regatta didn’t decide any champions and it won’t make the headlines in the sailing press, but the former coach of the US Olympic team hosts this little regatta in his beautiful home town that reminds us what the sport is all about.
We have just rolled up the drive and put our boat away. I have that tired glow after two days on the water, hanging out with good friends, and some darn good sailboat racing thrown in for good measure. Its hard to pin down exactly what makes such a great weekend, but here goes:
First: Wickford is a really neat place to spend a weekend. Wickford is a beautiful quiet Rhode Island harbor town right on top of some of the best coastal sailing in New England. On the West side of Narragansett Bay, fifteen minutes and a million miles away from the hustle, bustle and bars of Newport.
Second: There is something about a start line which includes Viper 640s, 5-0-5s , A Cats and F18 Cats. Its just a cool and friendly bunch of people to go sailing with and hang out with afterwards.
Third : Sailing off a town beach sets a certain tone. The 5-0-5s, the Cats and the dinghies launch off a sandy town beach. The Vipers get lifted into the water in the neighboring harbor by Larry and his crane. Larry knows what he is doing. Roll under the crane and its up and in with nothing banging your mast. Easy !
Fourth : Postponement while waiting for the sea breeze? Just hang out at the docks. The coolers get opened. Our local sail maker, Chuck will walk around giving some tuning tips. Don’t worry about being late when the flag comes down, they tow you out to the start line.
Fifth : The people hosting the regatta. Wickford Yacht Club is an informal club hanging out over the harbor. Welcoming doesnt begin to describe the atmosphere. The home made dinner on saturday evening (Pistachio ice cream sandwiches……..Mmmmm…) It felt like the whole town had volunteered to help out.
Sixth : Regatta Chair, Skip Whyte. Skip who was the US Sailing Olympic coach for 17 years is host in his home town under the watchful eye of his wife Barbara who will never knowingly let a sailor go hungry.
Seventh: The Southerly sea breeze. Set your watches to it 11.05 am.
Eighth : Sailing with and against good friends. Damn we have a good bunch of people in our local Viper fleet.
Ninth: The month of May in Rhode Island. Sunshine, blue skies, beautiful.
Tenth: That undefinable something that made us all agree to come back next year and tell a few friends….but maybe not too many, because its the small scale and the informality that made this a perfect weekend.
Oh the results? Somebody won and nobody lost. At least six out of the twelve Vipers won a race and everybody had a good time.