New England Beetle Cat Boat Association
1999 Leo J. Telesmanick Championship Results
August 14-15, 1999, Wild Harbor Yacht Club, North Falmouth, MA
Beetle Cat Championship Lives Up to Its Promise as The Wild One
by Mary Bowker
John York's hands were so raw that he declined the obligatory handshake when he accepted the first place award at the 1999 Leo J. Telesmanick Championship on August 14 at the Wild Harbor Yacht Club in North Falmouth. York of Catumet, sailing with his brother, Beetle-builder Charlie York of South Dartmouth, placed consistently in the top seven during the six races of the series held despite the ever darkening skies and fluky 25 knot plus blow. York's Carpe Navem, a shiny new Beetle Cat, consistently nosed ahead of Wild Harbor's Dan O'Conner who was skippering Irish Mist with Sara Adams of North Falmouth as crew. In third overall was regatta co-chairman Tim Fallon and his crew, Caroline Clark in Mole Minder. Fallon's great sailing was hampered only slightly when he suddenly capsized during the third race on Saturday setting off a chain reaction that sent crash boats scurrying to assist two Beetles behind Fallon that nosed under the six foot swells and swamped. While Molly Webster, and Meghan Richter, both of Wild Harbor, balked at being towed in by Molly's dad, others were grateful for the ride. Molly Cornell of West Falmouth sailing in the Old Salts division with her daughter Katharine "never saw it coming" when High C's stern bobbed up out of the water and the boat rolled. Fallon, however, righted Mole Minder, screamed for a bucket, bailed, and reached the starting line in time for the next race.
Fourteen Beetles in all paid a brief visit to Neptune on Saturday before being rescued. Nevertheless, the race committee managed to get five races in before calling it quits. Wells Pile of Providence, lost his crew after lunch when Marguerite Pile sought a softer, drier seat for the afternoon. But hoisting a Wild Harbor urchin aboard he drove Pendragon out into the howling wind to finish the day.
Between the wind, the chop, and the rain, the sailors and their hosts at Wild Harbor Yacht Club stayed soggy for a full two days. The sailing was "terrifying," they agreed, but most got what they came for. Charlie York called it the best sailing he has seen in fifteen years.
Almost miraculously, the weather broke for Saturday night dinner and 140 sailors and their guests dined bay side beneath a tent on chicken and swordfish before a brilliant pink sunset. Trading stories and throwing down challenges, over bottles of "Old Cat," that amber-colored brew provided by Commodore Bowker. Trading toasts, they primed themselves for another day of wet at the regatta dubbed, "The Wild One."
Inky skies and a steady cold rain greeted the sailors on Sunday, the second day of the series. The skippers and crews of the twenty boats that remained out of the original forty-four that registered on Saturday picked their way through the broken gaffs, booms, and tillers that littered the yacht club lawn and sailed out to see what Buzzard's Bay had in store for them. Most of them retained their good humor in the chill when the race committee boat's engine failed and they had to sail around for close to an hour until the committee was towed into place. The only two Mitey-Mites to enter, eleven year old skippers Margo Hines in Sunbeam and Libby Bowker in Starship, both from Wild Harbor, braved the Buzzard's Bay battering, but alas, couldn't take the chill. The ladies and their crews headed home before the race started, leaving the trophies unclaimed for another year.
As the breeze freshened to a blow with gusts up to 32 knots, Rob Richards of Falmouth Yacht Club, with Sean Sullivan, of Falmouth as crew, took and held the lead to win what was to be the most difficult race of the series. Fearing catastrophe on the downwind leg, the race committee aborted the second race and sent the boats home. Richards' fast starts propelled him over the line early in two races on Saturday. Though official recognition eluded him, his lighting moves and determination amazed even the most skilled Beetle skippers.
Dr. William Adams, Jr. of the Wild Harbor Yacht Club focused on Richards and brought the Saro Jane, with crew nephew Nathan Adams, in to claim first place in the Old Salts Division. Adams's was trying to add to his legacy as NEBCBA's first Mitey Mite by finishing in first overall, but he settled for first in the Old Salts division. Sue McGowan of Angelica Yacht Club in Mattapoisett, who unabashedly admits to sailing Beetles for close 50 years, claimed second in the Old Salts with her good-natured crew, Judy De Mailly of Mattapoisett, in Hep Cat II. McGowan's resolve was tested when she was washed overboard on Saturday but managed to keep her cigarettes dry. On Sunday, she and De Mailly capsized. When the boat was righted, De Mailly stabilized the bow, while McGowan sat in the flooded cockpit shaking her head. Wild Harbor's Commodore Roger Bowker, with his crew Dorothy Clark, skippered the Overture to third in the Old Salts Division under power of a new stars and bars sail.
John P.A. Todd of Philadelphia never lost his enthusiasm though on Saturday during the first wild race he did lose his eyeglasses. He declined to sail blind on Sunday and seemed a wee bit disappointed not to give two-year-old Pandora a proper Buzzard's Bay christening. But Betsy Masters, his crew, also of Philadelphia, was content, she admitted, staying shore side to the action. Roy Terwilliger of Harwich sacrificed his standings and beached Missy on Saturday so as not to subject his young crew to the chill on Sunday. He tried to hide his disappointment.
Why at the end of the championship with six races in, not to mention, sixteen capsizes, three broken rudders, lost specs, a broken mast, two cracked booms, and a roomful of squeaking sneakers, the sailors and the regatta staff were still smiling, is one of those inexplicable mysteries that surround Beetle Cats. And what seemed like a potential washout when Saturday dawned, (at least to the Regatta chair) turned out to be a true exhibit of cooperation and camaraderie among the members of the Wild Harbor Yacht Club and their guests. Two days of stringing tarps and wringing clothes seemed a small sacrifice to the joy of a full sail in the famed Buzzard's Bay chop, in the company of the wildest, most proficient Beetle sailors around.
Many thanks to all for a memorable championship.
Over All and Men's Division
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