Harken Derm

Burning Up The Road

Published on June 30th, 2014

While the 2014 Etchells World Championship proved to be a hot event last week in Newport (RI), a truck caught serious heat (and flames) while towing one of the competing boats afterwards. When the photo hit the social media channels, it brought back memories of a story by Dave Foster that was published in the April 2003 issue of Sailing World. Good times…

My buddies and I go to a lot of regattas: two to three weeklong events per year plus all the weekend racing in Thistles and Lasers we can get. The racing, the partying, and the people are great. The 2002 Thistle Nationals on Oregon’s Fern Ridge Reservoir was a success in each of those regards. But that wasn’t what made the regatta so memorable. When I set my sights on the 2002 Nationals, held at Eugene YC, I knew my regular ride, a 1990 Audi sedan, wouldn’t work for the 6,000-mile round trip from our home club in Nyack, NY.

One early summer afternoon on the patico of Nyack Boat Club I said, to no one in particular, “We need a van.” Arthur “Bunky” Brehault overheard my request and immediately offered to lend us his 1979 Chevy long-bed van for the drive. I ended up buying it from him for 800 bucks.

Bunky’s van was really cool, a hell of a sight. She had plenty of rust, a few replacement body panels that didn’t match, a cozy custom interior with shag carpet, tinted windows, bookshelf speakers, and a “suicide knob” on the steering wheel (something usually found on fork-lifts and other types of low-speed industrial equipment – it facilitates close quarters maneuvering). She also had a 350-cubic inch V-8 that made a wonderful noise. Perched on the driver’s seat you had a commanding view of the road. Just sitting there made me smile. Led Zeppelin never sounded as good as inside that van. I was in love.

Before leaving for Oregon, I brought her to a few local Thistle regattas where my friends on the circuit either loved her or hated her. But no one thought we’d make it across the country without breaking down. There was also some talk of starting a pool to bet on the state in which we’d get stuck. But I knew we’d make it; she was a solid ride.

Famous last words. Click here for the rest of the story.

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