Maybe it’s time to act like a fool

Published on August 14th, 2013

The sport is too expensive.

The racing rules are too complicated.

The attitude on the race course is too serious.

Have you ever expressed these sentiments? If so, grab your leadership cap and organize something better.

At Jamestown Yacht Club on Conanicut Island in the Narragansett Bay of Rhode Island, they have been hosting their Annual Fools’ Rules Regatta for 36 years. Here are the rules/guidelines/suggestions that seem to work for them…

The cannon will be fired at 9:00 AM to mark the beginning of construction of the “sailing vessels.” Participants will have two hours to build their boat from non-marine items. Imagination and ingenuity are the rules. Past vessels have been built out of such things as Volkswagens, dog houses, hay bales, chicken cartons, and sand boxes!

Races begin at 11:00 AM with the firing of the cannon for Class 1 boats, followed by Classes 2, 3, and 4, each crewed by the respective number of fools. The final race is the Unlimited Class. Vessels in this class have been as large as 40 feet, with crews numbering in the dozens. All boats must attempt to sail a downwind course of approximately 500 yards.

Kicking, oaring, paddling, punting, ooching, sculling, pulling, pushing, or cheating will not be tolerated. No eye-catching beauties shall be used to distract and confuse competitors. There shall be no hurling of missiles at competing crews, nor shall harpoons or cannons be fired at other vessels or at rowdy or boisterous spectators on the shore.

There shall be no deliberate ramming of other vessels. In the event of a collision or violation of standard sailing rules it is suggested that those involved fight it out amongst themselves or anyone else. No time allowance will be given for running aground, sinking, drifting off to Newport, Block Island or Providence or becoming disabled by inter or intra-crew fighting.

The very high grade character of this event demands best behavior and tempers must be controlled. The protest committee’s responsibility is to call local and state police and the National Guard on occasion when their assistance is required.

Below is winner of the Most Ingenious Design Award for the 2013 Fool’s Rules Regatta. Photo by Will Tuthill.


Photos below from 2013 edition by Suzy Leech.

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