SPAR WARS DIXIE 2014 — Out of This World!
By Nancy Molitor (3798)
Memorial Day Weekend set the planets spinning this year over Lake Allatoona, when Atlanta’s Fleet 48 staged the first (and maybe last) intergalactic battle of the millennium for Thistles from all over the universe. Cosmic hitchhikers — 58 from eight states and almost twice as many space stations — risked the Wraith to steer their craft toward Planet Acworth and gear up for war against the Dark Side (and, not coincidentally, each other) during a three-day skirmish that ended in victory by anyone’s interpretation. In a delicate balance of beer and brutal warfare, AYC’s coup de grace is always its southern hospitality, designed to make the enemy want to come back for another encounter. What could be more spatial??
Space travelers landing Friday night were met at the gate by AYC-3PO, amazing robot of the First Order, who pointed the way to Command Keg Central and the welcome way station, provisioned with enough spaghetti to last into the next century. Clearly no longer were we of this world, with little green men everywhere and even a space ship hovering over the koi pond. After becoming reacquainted with each other’s code names. we were off to a final pre-battle night’s sleep in anticipation of the campaign ahead.
Saturday morning brought fair skies, check-in at the Command Module, and one more Out-of-This-World Brunch at our Cosmic Cantina. First order of business was the Junior Spar Wars Dixie, whose level of competition must have intimidated a lot of juniors because we only enlisted three boats this year. Thanks to these determined kids for never backing down — Darby and Michael Reddaway from Lake Lanier, and AYC’s Lauren Yapp, sailing with friends Devon Hanna and Gig Arias.
Finally, time for liftoff. Following suit with a new custom established last year and voted five or six thumbs up, competitors were invited to enlist in the battle division of their choice, the Purple Troop for knife-edge racing or the Green Troop for a bit less intensity but still keen competition— no “must” rules, just choose your station, ensuring fair and fun competition for all. (Interestingly, we had almost exactly the same mix this year as we did last, with 38 sailing Purple and 20 going Green.) The winds were kind on Saturday, with just enough bite to put two on the rail (and indeed, the majority of boats went out with only two, a not uncommon scenario in the Dixie). In the Purple fleet, it did not take long for the rocket stars to separate themselves from mere mortal space travelers, as Paul Abdullah (4035) and Skip Dieball sailed at the speed of light and won both races handily. Right behind them were the Brothers Griffin, Greg (3976) and Scott (3997), who have a habit of hanging around each other on the finish line, in this case crossing 3-2 and 2-3. They finally let a couple of AYC boats in, Gavin McCormack (3741) and Buddy Wainwright (3807), who also switched finishes with an 8-4 and a 4-8. Though there was plenty of wind, there was not enough time to sail all three races scheduled, so the day for the Purples ended on all twos — two races, two bullets and two ties.
Meanwhile, in the Green Troop, families ruled. In the first race AYC’s Will Stout (3885), sailing with daughter Adrienne and granddaughter Zoe, finished just in front of John Sinclair (3824), sailing with son Sam. In the second race, however, Stout suffered a case of WGRS (Wrong Gate Rounding Syndrome), which earned him a weighty 21-point addition to his score and allowed Len Wert (3813) the pleasure of the first place finish. Team Sinclair took second in this race also, placing them in first place at the end of the day with a 2-2. The two thirds went to Brook Hamilton (3894) and Art Molitor (3798).
Priorities are well understood at the Dixie, so no one had a problem weighing the loss of a third Saturday race against starting the party on time. Very peculiar people, transformed with the help of alien attire, began pouring out of cabins and tents to make their way toward our Lost-in-Space Margarita Station and Back-to-Earth Appetizer Buffet. We had Martians; we had Star Warriors. We had antennae-modified bike helmets; we had blue faces; we had light sabers. We had Spock ears; we had kilts. (Kilts??) Darth Vaders may have outnumbered Luke Skywalkers, but not Princess Leias — the youngest and most adorable one still in diapers. To be sure, there was scarcely an alien species not represented. Never let it be said that Thistlers do not rise to the Challenge of the Theme!
But sailors know when too much of a good thing runs amuk, so fortunately our Earth-bound Mexican dinner was light years ahead of freeze-dried protein capsules. Nothing earthly about dessert, however — this year’s incredible cake disguised as a space ship, aliens and all, crafted by culinary wundergirl Sam Haisty. Not to mention the accompanying shot-cup desserts that were absolutely out of this world. And afterward, all troops enjoyed music and close encounters on the dance floor until the stars began to fall. There were so many contenders for the Potted Thistle that we had to hold a Pot-Off the next day. Jack Smith and Sean and Jenny (the incumbent) Adams were high on the applause-meter but paled beside Pete and Robert Gregory, who I suppose had to split the lopped-over blossom with scissors. Honorable mention went to the Sams — Hawkins and Hodges — for their breakdancing skills. Up and coming, but they still have a few years before they’re allowed to earn the venerable Pot.
The gather blast sounded on time Sunday morning and we dutifully but skeptically headed out to the course, hoping for a third race to break ties for some and give others the chance to redeem themselves. But when the wind left us hanging in space, Sunday’s races were abandoned and Saturday’s results became the regatta results. High fives to Paul Abdullah and Skip Dieball, first place in the Purple Fleet, followed by Greg Griffin, his brother Scott, Gavin McCormack and Buddy Wainwright. In the Green Fleet, kudos to winning team John and Sam Sinclair, followed by Len Wert, Brook Hamilton and Art Molitor. St. Petersburg’s Chris Kloz (1), with crew Michael Reddaway, took not only the Sour Grapes award for finishing in sixth in the Purple Fleet, just out of trophy range, but also the Fastest Over Sixty Award. And hey, if you didn’t win a trophy but stuck around long enough, you might have scored a piece of Scott McCormack’s birthday cake, a pretty good consolation prize for the rest of us.
At the time of re-entry, Mission Commander Brook Hamilton pronounced Spar Wars Dixie a noble victory, not to mention an intergalactic blast. Space helmets off to the hardworking and highly specialized crew of Thistle Station 48, who make these trips happen year after year, and especially to those of you who came so far to make this dangerous mission almost as much fun as a regatta. May the Force be with you!