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Peace, Love, and Rock ’n Roll Tacks at the


By Nancy Molitor (Thistle 3798)

Why make such a big deal about the 955-mile pilgrimage back to Woodstock North when Woodstock South is right here at the end of Yacht Club Road? That was our premise for this year's Dixie -- and all it took to convince 56 teams of Thistlers that Fleet 48's Bellbottom Dixie was the place to be on Memorial Day Weekend. 

     Pilgrims from ten states started trailering in on Friday night, passing under our Woodstock South welcome gate that included an entirely unofficial (but, as it turns out, highly sought-after) Peace Thistle. They were met with not only the welcome keg, but a plateful of Earth Mother Tumlin's pschedelic spaghetti -- an earthly reward for making the trip. With registration in the wings and Wailin' Wainwright in the background, old and new Thistlers got reacquainted under a full moon rising, and by the time they were making their way to cabins or tents we had done our best to set the tone for the hippie-dippy Sixties weekend ahead.

    Saturday began with Rita's Good Morning Sunshine brunch and GREAT-looking t-shirts, these days provided by Coral Reef but once again designed by our own Julia Martinroe. The weather (as in wind) forecast was not good at all, so we assumed when we sent the Juniors out in the morning that they would use up the weekend's allotment for wind. They did have plenty to enjoy, and we salute Michael Reddaway for his first place, sailing with his more experienced older brother Michael and younger sister Darby as crew. Despite a bee-eautiful breeze we were only able to scare up two boats full of Juniors, so next year we'd sure like to see more. 

    Fortunately, the weather-guesser must have been just too mellow to get it right this time, because the wind did hold for Saturday's adult races and did not, after all, include the squall that RC Chair Don Hackbarth prepared us for late in the afternoon. Our customary four-fleet, two-division starting sequence again served us well, allowing every sailor to compete against all others at least once. In separating the fleets on Saturday before the races, our "fleet-splitting committee" observed that in addition to the A-list (capable of winning), the C-list (highly unlikely) and the B-list (everybody in between A and C), this year we had so many competitors above and beyond A that they designated a fourth category, Double A! (Is this evidence of the evolution of the Thistle species??)

    In any case the die was cast early on, and in two nearly flawless races we had not only fair sailing but pretty predictable names on the score sheet. Those pesky Griffin brothers, Greg and Scott, were quite coincidentally paired against each other in the first race, first division, finishing one-two respectively after a glorious downwind spinnaker duel that was a pleasure to watch if you happened to be on shore. The brothers Griff were followed by recent Dixie winner Brent McKenzie and by David Reddaway, both from LLSC, then by defending champion Brad Russell, who managed "only" a fifth and so had his work cut out for him if he were to retain rights to the throne. In the second division we let a few Yankees in -- in first Kyle Finefrock and in third his sister Nicole Shedden, both from Ohio, with their parents Jack and Kathy crewing for the second-place finisher Andy Russell.  (Nepotism, I say, nepotism!!) Not until fourth place did we get a Fleet 48 skipper in, so thanks, Gavin McCormack, for saving us from a shut-out.

    In the second race Greg Griffin and Scott Griffin each took first, leaving them with a pretty good lead on Saturday night.  Incumbent Brad Russell took one of the seconds, placing him in third, and John "Slur-a-Dur" Irvine the other, though the Irvines' 13th in the first race didn't do much to help their overall score.  In third it was cool to see AYC Y-Flyer sailor Clint Hodges, all grown up and sailing the heck out of Ed Holben's Thistle, a beauty of a boat that Clint is angling to spend more time on this summer.  And we put a couple more McCormacks in fourth and fifth, Bob and Scott. So after two races first and second were virtually uncontested, Brad Russell was in third, Kyle Finefrock fourth and David Reddaway fifth.

    But this was not wartime, it was party time! The Love Bus was parked in the poppy field, the protest signs were free for the taking, and the Flower Power Hour was ready to roll, with people I swear we've never seen before pouring the Purple Haze Punch.  Never, in all our years of Dixie theme parties, have our revelers risen to the occasion with such creative abandon! We said bellbottoms?  We got bellbottoms. We said tie-dye? You tie-dyed! Headbands and sandals, flowing skirts and embroidered vests and peace jewelry and wreaths of flowers and tattoos -- where have you people been keeping all this stuff??? Queen of indoor decor Arlene Newnham and her family of thousands actually tie-tyed the tablecloths for dinner AND made all those groovy little sailboats by hand. And if you didn't care to burn your bra you could just chill out with a few extra brownies after dinner -- those were hand-made too! Psychedelic Paul Abdullah took over at that point, expanding our universe with his inimitable style of get-the-party rockin' music that went on and on and ON. While it is an unwritten rule that nobody keeps score in the party competition, there seemed to be no contest this year, and Mike Didyk pleaded nolo the next day when he was awarded the coveted Potted Thistle.  

    The tradition that says a rollicking Saturday will be followed by a flat Sunday was defied this year, miraculously rounding out the third "windy Dixie" in as many years. Hackbarth and team sweat bullets to get the RC stuff right, and they deserve a round of applause for giving us three really excellent races. The Griffin boys, true to their reputation, again both took firsts in the third race, but you will remember that back in the first race Greg had nosed out his brother, which gave Scott that one important extra point and kinda sorta sealed the deal for the trophy. Brad Russell and David Reddaway finished too far back in the third race to hold on to their Saturday places, allowing Kyle Finefrock and Brent McKenzie to move into third and fourth, respectively. And in a neat little family power play, John and Leslie Irvine, sailing with first-time Dixie teammates Max and Carly, took another second and moved into the silver, trouncing Bryce Dryden on a friendly tie-breaker.

    Tracy Allardice never fails to come up with trophies you never dreamed of, and this year did not disappoint. Nylon folding chairs, embroidered with "Dixie Regatta -- Peace, Love and Rock-'n'-Roll-Tacks!" were awarded to "silver" winners and their crews, with a bonus extra-comfy reclining chair going to Brent McKenzie for being the Fastest Over Fifty. Brad Russell's crew "Swirvin' Ervin" Grover, received the "Arrived in Style" award for showing up in a screeching taxi from the Atlanta Airport just in the nick of time for Saturday's races. Kevin Bradley's chair, which will go back to North Cape, Michigan, with him, read, "What a long, strange trip it's been!" And how could you not guess that Kathleen Fricker would receive a chair of her own for being the acknowledged "Mother of all Mothers of Thistlers?" Some things never change!

    Heading out of Woodstock South and back to sanity, we might be feeling a little less hip and a little more weary. But it was all good! Special thanks to Regatta Chair Scott "Dixie Dude" McCormack, to Fleet Captain Bob "The Man" McCormack, to Registrar Beth "Groovy Baby" Tumlin, to Julia Martinroe for a most awesome website, and to Rita McCormack for doing everything that anybody else did not think to do. You can breathe now! Just follow the directions on the exit sign: 
"Peace, Brothers and Thistlers!"

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