Recognizing achievement and misfortune

Published on November 8th, 2021

Four score and no more years ago, a “secret association” of sailboat racers called “The International Society for the Perpetuation of Cruelty to Racing Yachtsmen” (ISPCRY) began recognizing both excellence in Race Committee work in Long Island Sound, as well as the errors and misfortunes of same.

Affectionately known (or not-so-affectionately, depending on which end of the moose you’re on!) as the Moosehead Committee, the group convenes at the end of each racing year to roast the human failings of deserving race committees, as well as to toast the race officials who have gone above and beyond in the performance of their duties.

After a year in which the pandemic caused the ISPCRY to temporarily change the format to a streaming video, the 2021 festivities were held at Seawanhaka Corinthian Yacht Club on November 7, which hosted a record crowd of over 220 guests from 16 clubs. Thom Hering, the “moose-master” of the ISPCRY, was well-pleased with the turnout.

“After last year’s in-person event was cancelled, and with the difficulties endured by the racing community since COVID-19 began, we were somewhat concerned about a potential loss of ‘moose momentum’,” said Hering. “The record turnout for this year’s rendition reflects how much attendees missed all the fun that the ceremony provides.

“We were also worried that by mid-season there had not been enough racing and racing mistakes to fill out our roster of awards, but there was a welcome resurgence of inept moments in the back half of the racing calendar so that we really had to work hard to – if you’ll pardon the expression – ‘cull the herd’.”

Just about every club that rings Long Island Sound has been “graced” by a Moosehead award – the most “prestigious” of which are “enormoosely” large, authentic, mounted moose heads that tradition holds must be hung in the winning club for the entirety of the year until the following year’s ceremony.

(It should be noted that several of these mounts are well-worn and somewhat ratty, so if you have a spare mounted moose lying about the house please let them know. Taxidermy of other animals – deer, or wild boar for example – are also employed in the ceremonies, as are parts of animals such as butts and hooves. Please note: The Moosehead Committee is not that picky when it comes to its trophies, but greatly prefer that donations be pre-stuffed, as opposed to fresh road kill.)

The ISPCRY’s sense of decorum (such as it is) demands that those who have received an award in the category of a mishap or mistake are treated anony-moosely, but excellence is celebrated and moose-called out. This year, New York Yacht Club was honored for smoothly running 16 major events with approximately 560 races.

NYYC’s Invitational Regatta – a high-profile international event with seven clubs from the United States and twelve international clubs – was run flawlessly over twelve races. Other major regattas included the Leukemia Cup, The NYYC Annual Regatta, and the IC37 North Americans. They also introduced women’s 2v2 team racing into the schedule. Taken together, it was an impressive display of race organization and management throughout the entire season.

The “Donald B. King” Award is the Moosehead Committee’s lifetime achievement award for race committee service, and is only awarded as circumstances warrant. (Don King was a local race committee legend and long-time member of the ISPCRY, not to be confused with the comb-challenged boxing promoter.) This year, the committee chose to recognize Luiz Kahl – the founder of YachtScoring – who tragically passed away earlier this Fall.

Ray Redniss, the last winner of the DBK (and longtime member of the ISPCRY) reports, “When YachtScoring came onto the scene, it was quickly recognized as the Race Committee’s best friend. It makes registration, communication, organization and scoring so much easier. Luiz’s impact on the sport cannot be overstated. It was a pleasure and privilege to work with Luiz on literally hundreds of events. He will be greatly missed and is most deserving of this honor.”

A Moosehead Committee member was doing some research on this year’s host club, Seawanhaka Corinthian, who is celebrating their the 150th anniversary, when he uncovered an embarrassing Race Committee gaffe from 1971 that seems to have been overlooked by the ISPCRY when it occurred five decades ago.

The ISPCRY then tracked down a copy of the contemporaneous New York Times Magazine article detailing the miscue, written by a reporter who witnessed the moose-worthy moment first hand. As described in the feature, the Seawanhaka Corinthian Race Committee had placed the finish line at the wrong mark – one that wasn’t even in the race instructions – and then abandoned the race, all detailed in the New York Times Magazine.

Somehow, despite the coverage in one of the most notable newspapers in the world, the ISPCRY at the time was left unaware. (Perhaps that’s why the NY Times motto is “All the moose that’s fit to print.”) While the I.S.P.C.R.Y. do not usually publicize committees’ mistakes, in this case it was felt that an exception could be made since everyone who was involved is long-dead.

Therefore, the ISPCRY gave out the first “postumoose” citation in its 80 year history. “There is no statute of limitations in the ISPCRY by-laws, so this seemed like the perfect time to make things right by highlighting the wrong and honoring the host club in this manner,” joked Hering. “We are biting the hand that literally is feeding us!”

Meanwhile, in an unrelated development, the Moosehead Committee continues to disclaim a rogue Facebook page – Moosehead Yacht Klub. We cannot confirm nor deny our approval of this social media outlet, but wish to note that loose moose lips often lead to good moosehead tips.

The Moosehead Committee is always on the lookout for moose-worthy stories. We realize moose do move about and can be found all over the Northeastern US. So, in keeping with our mascots’ migratory machinations, the Moosehead Committee is interested in Race Committee stories anywhere along our shorelines.

If you see something, say something … just send it to the Moosehead Hot-Line email: All reports will be kept confidential.

Notable RC incidents may be recognized with Honorable Mentions, but extra-territorial Race Committees will be notified and special invitations sent if a Moosehead story comes in that is worthy of an infamous Moosehead Citation. The 2022 Moose Season is open now, and it should be noted that frostbiting events are often fertile ground for reports.

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