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The Annual Moosehead Awards at Indian Harbor YC. Notice the elegant head gear on the members of Manhasset Bay YC, who won the Lily Saint Cyr award for highest attendance by a single yacht club.

Last week this column reported on the fun-loving group of ladies known as the Women's Racing Clinic. Their activities on and off the water are quickly becoming legend on Manhasset Bay. But there is another group of sailors who are full of fun and antics and are The International Society for the Perpetuation of Cruelty to Racing Yachtsmen (ISPCRY), also known as The Moosehead Committee. This illustrious committee spends the year sending out sailing spies to infiltrate unsuspecting Race Committees up and down Long Island Sound. You know - those people who volunteer tons of time so racers can enjoy their beer-can races, team racing, match racing, one-design matches and come back to their respective clubs and discuss their sailing achievements (read "tall tales"). It is this wonderful group of people, from all the yacht clubs from the east end of the sound to the west, who gather at an annual luncheon to be fried by a committee of men. One of our own, John Browning (MBYC), has been a member of the committee for who knows how long. And this year, the august group of men finally saw the light and elected a woman to the Committee. The woman so honored is Sue Reilly, from Essex, CT. Take a look at the October issue WindCheck magazine's SoundPeople at www.windchecklis.org and you will immediately realize she is a perfect choice for this committee.

This year's Annual Moosehead took place at the Indian Harbor Yacht Club on Sunday, Oct. 30. Most clubs travel by boat to the designated club (which rotates each year, Larchmont YC being next year's destination). With great fanfare, the yet-to-be-humbled Race Committee emerge from their water chariots to the sound of blasting horns or shotguns (apologies to the neighbors - that must be why the event is moved to a new location each year) and bagpipes. On this particular Sunday, the sky was a bright blue, with few clouds in the sky as cocktails were enjoyed on the grassy area in front of the club with a spectacular view of Long Island Sound. It was here that the RC began the afternoon, being treated to kindness and respect, but not for long. Thoughts of calm before the storm come to mind. Fellow sailors from all yacht clubs from the Sound were in attendance, including all the clubs dotting Manhasset Bay. Readers might wonder why Race Committee would subject themselves to such embarrassment and indignity. But year after year, they always come. And there is only one reason - it is one of the most fun afternoons of the year. And in some perverse way, it becomes an honor to go home with a Moosehead. Now readers need to know that these awards are not the usual glass trophies designed by Tiffany's (or a knock-off brand), or even a plaque. No, the Moosehead is taken very literally by the brilliant committee members. They dole out actual moose heads that are so huge that recipients, who stagger under the weight of the thing, have no way of sheepishly skulking into their club unnoticed. Race committees from Manhasset Bay managed to escape this venerable recognition this year, but Manhasset Bay YC won the Lily Saint Cyr Award for most in attendance.

The coveted Lily Saint Cyr award displayed by (left to right): Commodore John Barry, member Paul Strauch, and Vice Commodore Bob Prokop.

There are several awards at the Moosehead that are honest-to-goodness awards and dispensed with quickly, not because of their lack of importance, but for the eagerness of the crowd to get on with the "real show." The Moosehead Committee Trophy for Excellence goes to Larchmont YC for this year's running of the US Team Race Championships & Hinman Masters Regatta and Drake H. Sparkman, III won the Donald B. King award for the running of the US Men's and Women's National Sailing Championships.

The Moosehead Committee conferred the following awards in 2005: The Golden Mike award for hijacking Channel 72 as its own private entity (and hopefully before they were reported to the FCC), was awarded to Larchmont YC. The Boot-in-the-Butt award was bestowed on the New York YC for postponing the start of the Trans-Atlantic Race (which has a predetermined starting date). Why?.... because there "was a storm at sea." The race was started a day late, in the rain, with no wind and without the usual crowd of spectators. As for the storm at sea, the Fourth Division drifted southward to Delaware before getting enough breeze that eventually took them across the pond. The Storm Trysail Club, whose members love stormy weather, and prospective members must qualify for membership by having experience sailing offshore in "nasty stuff" won the Moose End Award for putting prospective new members (at a collegiate regatta, no less) through a rigorous qualification process -winds nearing 45 knots, with boats out of control, sails shredded, booms broken. The Presidents Award went to Northport YC for qualifying for the "meglo" medical treatment, which translated means "my eyes glaze over." The clubs in attendance were instructed to check out their fellow sailors to determine how long it takes before their eyes glaze over and then you'll have some idea of the suffering this RC perpetuated. The JSA of LIS won the Moosehead - Fourth Class, Black Rock YC won the Moosehead - Third Class, Pequot YC got the Moosehead - Second Class, and Old Greenwich YC won the Moosehead - First Class.

The Moosehead Supreme went to Halloween YC and their award is described thus:

"We are on board the Fuji blimp, cruising over Long Island Sound (as mentioned earlier, the ISPCRY spies are everywhere). They are watching the Mayor's Cup, which is billed as a "major yachting event by the YRA of LIS." Conditions are perfect and the course is set for an easy race with boats finishing well within the time limit. On the water the RC view is different. For reasons unknown, orders are issued to shorten course. And here comes trouble. The RC sets itself inside the course - not outside - at the last turning mark. Although they hoist an "S" flag, they fail to fire two blasts until the first boat of Division 1 reminds them of that necessity after they properly round the mark and head for the finish at Cows with parting words "We hope you can get there before we do!" as the rest of the division follows. Confusion reigns. Boats take their own times at two marks. Other boats simply finish any way they can. Well before the RC returns, the first 'finisher' arrives at the party armed with a properly prepared Request for Redress. Should the race be abandoned? Not on your life. It is too important an event for such an ignoble fate. Thus, the RC rules - to avoid appeals - that all boats will be scored no matter which way they went and their times would be taken at the last mark even if they hadn't been recorded! So for this magnificent attempt to deny a wrong, claiming it was right all along - and still get it wrong in so many ways - the Moosehead Supreme for 2005 is hereby awarded to Halloween YC."


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