Sunday, January 02, 2011

Hangover Bowl 2011

Photographer John Payne shares some tradition from his club in Ft. Lauderdale, FL:

Lauderdale Yacht Club always rings in the new year by holding its New Year's Challenge Cup, a.k.a. The Hangover Bowl. Clyde Wright started the regatta in 1978 when he was sail master at the club. That first event was held on a cold, breezy day in full rig Lasers. Many top local sailors competed against a group of past Naval Academy sailing team members including Clyde's brother, now Rear Admiral Gar Wright. Participants now include members and guests, their children, sailors and coaches still in town after Orange Bowl, dock rats, and whoever else wants to jump into a boat.

This year's edition, the 24th, was sailed in Club 420's, in a double elimination match race format. Breeze was strong, and most importantly, warm, under mostly sunny skies with temps in the low 70's. The format starts with a random draw of the 36 skippers (the skipper grabs a crew off the dock), and where you land on the ladder might mean racing against three green fleet Opti sailors or Olympic medalist Anna Tunnicliffe. Against the former you may like your chances. Against the latter? Well, chalk it up to a learning experience.

Winning the 2011 New Year's Challenge Cup was Sarah Lihan, a recent graduate of Yale University where she was an All-American co-ed skipper. Of course having Anna as a crew didn't hurt her chances. Second place went to the defending champion, JP Wright from the University of Florida. The Oinker Award is presented annually to that skipper who is, well, an oinker. It is awarded to that skipper, of some considerable repute, who takes an early exit, or otherwise fails to live up to their reputation. Losing to your daughter, is a good way to qualify (see photos to determine winner).

Because the club is closed on New Year's, the parents put on a huge cookout, led by master chef and past commodore, Clyde Wright. Several flat screen TV's and a satellite dish are jury-rigged to provide full coverage of the day's football action. The "signal boat" for the racing is actually a corner of the junior sailing's floating dock, so everybody can watch the racing from the East lawn.

For the 24th time, it proved to be a great way to start the year.

Images by John Payne.

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