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The Moosehead Awards, aka, International Society for the perpetuation of Cruelty to Racing Yachtsmen, that annual "beat up on the Race Committee" event was as clever and funny as ever, presented by MC Bill Sandberg and his committee of spies to make Sunday afternoon, Oct. 29 at Larchmont YC a most entertaining affair. Each year, Race Committee on both sides of Long Island Sound, are subject to dubious awards, such as Moosehead First Class or Moosehead Supreme. These awards, always delivered with the perfect comedic timing (one wonders if Sandberg and his band of marauders have taken lessons from Comedy Central), depict egregious mistakes by RC during the previous sailing season. How they gather this stuff is open to question, but there must be moles rampant in the ranks of sailors. Could it be that one disgruntled team, wishing for a perfect racing record, but was OCS and furious to be actually caught, ratted on their very own RC? Actually nothing as clandestine as this - most likely. But it is all great fun - especially hearing the bloopers that august yacht clubs managed to accomplish in just one season. If felt like the outtake of a movie, only better, because each of us attending had "been there and done that."

While most of the afternoon was the retelling of hilarious episodes, presented to embarrass the respective RCs in front of their peers, the first award was a serious one. Bruce Cook, Commodore of Seawanhaka YC, representing US SAILING, approached the podium. "I am here today on behalf of US SAILING and US SAILING umpires to honor a fellow umpire, Mary Savage, upon her retirement as a US SAILING national umpire. Mary came to me earlier this year, to say she wanted to retire after much consideration on her part. Accepting her wishes, US SAILING umpire committee immediately recognized Mary's contribution to the sport, and unanimously agreed to designate her Umpire Emeritus. Mary is one of the pioneers in the Umpire Program in the US, the first woman to apply for certification, and was certified in 1990. Since then Mary umpired throughout the U.S. and abroad. I personally want to thank Mary for being a teacher and mentor for me and for all the time we have spent together over the years.

Thanks to Mary's longtime friend, 'Tuna' Wulfschleger, the Legend of Black Flag Mary has come to light. According to Cook, "In umpiring and race management there is a black flag. So here is the Legend of Black Flag Mary. One of the ways to run afoul of RC and get a black flag is for a competitor to convey the umpire is incompetent. Many years ago, Mary and Tune were calling a very close match. 'Keep up! Keep up!' the leeward boat was saying to the windward boat, to which the windward boat dutifully ignored. Frustrated and annoyed, the leeward boat turned sharply and a collision occurred. Mary promptly issued a penalty. As she did so, the top of the mast on the penalized boat broke off from the impact of the collision and fell on Mary's head. For hitting an umpire in the head after being penalized by the umpire, Mary then penalized the boat with a Black Flag and terminated the match.This is all true! Tuna then gave Mary the moniker of Black Flag Mary, a name she has been known by in umpire circles ever since." Bruce then presented Mary with a black flag and a gold whistle, which she promptly tested for the audience.

Mary received a citation from Kirk S. Brown, the chair of the Umpire Committee, US SAILING, which Cook read. It said, in part, "To Black Flag Mary, Umpire Emeritus, your long and distinguished service as an umpire has been an inspiration to all. You have been instrumental in teaching and mentoring others in the deployment and training of umpires. For your leadership, wisdom and high standards of excellence, you have been the foundation of the development of the Umpire Program. We present you with a certificate of our pride in your accomplishments and appreciation for your tremendous support. Well done and congratulations."

After awarding James L. Farrell of Riverside YC the Donald B. King Trophy for individual excellence, the serious business of the day concluded, and Bill Sandberg began awarding the Mooseheads. "Today we celebrate rats, because if they didn't exist we wouldn't be here today. They come in all sizes and shapes: there are racing sailor rats who can't wait to let us know your mistakes. Then, of course, there is the committee that follows the Old Moosehead Rule: rat on others before they rat on you. And finally, we have the best rats of all, those that rat on their own committee, even if they are high ranking officials." With that introduction, with certain members of the audience already starting to sweat, the festivities began. For the next hour or so, hoots and howls were heard throughout the room. Some of the awards: A moosehead went to one yacht club for having no committee boat on station at the finish line; The Presidents Trophy went to another club who chartered an especially comfortable RC boat only to return it to lender before the finish of the last race.

Manhasset Bay YC received the Moosehead, First Class Award and it is reported that he is residing comfortably at the club. This is not the highest award - that was reserved for another club on the other side of the sound for "complete disregard of their own sailing instructions and for allowing boats to finish from any convenient direction."

Sandberg concluded the day with the award of the very politically-incorrect Lili St. Cyr award, given to the club that has the most attendance at the luncheon. This year Lili went to the Stamford YC, who, without a doubt, will make room at the club to display her prominently. It should be duly noted that the RC representing Manhasset Bay YC proudly returned this work of art to the Moosehead Committee upon arrival at Larchmont YC, after giving it a home for a year or so.


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