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Memorial to cause maximum confusion

Published on May 31st, 2022

Along the Patapsco River in Maryland, the Francis Scott Key Memorial Buoy commemorates the author of the U.S. national anthem. On the San Francisco Bay, Blackaller Buoy recognizes National Hall of Famer Tom Blackaller. But over in England, Stuart Munro shares a story of a buoy name that goes a step further to remember someone:

There is an area in the Solent, to the north of Cowes, where some racing marks are named as a memorial to well-known sailors or characters in sailing. When my brother, Alistair Munro (aka Rubber Ball), died last October, his family and friends thought it would be a good idea to name a mark after him.

He had mentioned that if he ever named a mark it would be called Tack Gybe Set as he wanted the name to cause maximum confusion both to the foredeck (as he was a long-time foredeck crew) and the afterguard.

It was also his favorite spinnaker set, and when done well, can be spectacular with a tack, followed immediately by a gybe, spinnaker set, and jib on the deck before the stern passes the mark…and all before those fancy gizmos on boats now.

The day we blessed the buoy in April with its new name painted on with, appropriately, a bottle of Mount Gay Rum, the wizzy Cape 31s were racing in about 25 knots of breeze. We subsequently heard that the foredeck on one of them was told how the next mark was Tack Gybe Set, to which came the reply, “I know the maneuver, but what’s the name of the bloody mark?”

Job done. Happy brother and confused sailors. Two out of two, and well done Cowes Week Ltd and Laurence Mead for having a sense of humor.

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