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Commodore's Corner - April 2010

Final preparations began early in the morning on Saturday, March 20, 2010. The last minute hunting and gathering of everything needed for the 2010 Wind Ceremony at Shell Point Beach almost drove me insane. As Chris and I got in the truck to make our way to the Point, I went down the mental checklist . . . got the shirts, suppah tickets, tables, chairs, cooler, registration tent, registrations, registration forms, TikiMon, wind wish sticks, curlers in my head, . . . and my band "outfit". Okay, good to go.

Registration began at 3:00. There were 3 or 4 people already in line around 2:45 so they would get their Wind Ceremony shirt. Thank you Ann, Kathy and Merrilee for helping with registration! Being the Chair of any event is so much easier when folks just walk up and say "what can I do"? Thanks to everyone who did.

The stage pieces were under the big pavilion waiting to be strategically placed for the "show". Lights were erected all around the pavilion, and a podium was quickly built for Soundboard Master Rick. Hey, when and how did that pole get in the middle of the dance floor? The wood showed up on a trailer that was jam packed, thanks to Dave. The trailer was unloaded and shortly afterward the bonfire was built and ready to be set ablaze! Thanks to all of the pyromaniacs who helped put the bonfire together - it burned way, way, way into the night! Thanks to Wright Finney for leading the site prep crew consisting of (among others, I'm sure) Dan, Rick, Stan, Bob A., John G., Lee and Chris. The site preparation resembled a colony of ants gathering together everything needed to make things just right for Swami and the Festoons to perform later that evening.

Tables were unfolded and arranged for what would turn out to be LOADS of food. There were 17, yep SEVENTEEN pots of chili!!!!! Wow! I'm sure the judges Dan Burch, William Treichel, Mark Voigt and Scott Williams had a heck of a time trying to pick 5 winners from those 17 pots! Thanks for a job well done and we all hope your taste buds are still functioning! That's a lot of chili tastin'!!

The results were: Tracie Churchard (1st), Chris Hill (2nd), Abby Hodge (3rd), Andrew Priest (4th) and Keith Long (5th)! Congratulations and thanks to all who entered!!!

Thanks to everyone who brought a dish to go with the chili! Thank you Judy, Lizzie, Mark and others for handling the food line and the chili judging! If I missed acknowledging anyone, I am truly sorry - after the food line was set up and I finished a bowl of that AWESOME chili, Teensie and I had to excuse ourselves and retire to the "dressing room". Thanks to William for bringing the "bubble"!

I must say my first band experience was one I hope to repeat next year, if they will have me. The musical talent within the SPSC is awesome. Larry Couch, from Panama City, was there to help us retie those cosmic threads to bring windy days to Shell Point Beach. Awesome guitar playing Larry!!! We also had our own conch player - thanks Gavin, you did an awesome job!!! The amount of dedication and hard work from these folks for a few hours of entertainment at the Wind Ceremony is well worth it, don't you think? I know I had an absolute blast! Thank you Swami for keeping us on track, thanks to all of our band members; Don & Sharman, Andrew, Adam, Jack, Dave, Richard, Perry, Paul, Bradley, Deb, Bob, Wright, Tina "is the bass player" and Rick on the mixing board.

Our focus now turns to the 37th Annual Stephen C. Smith Memorial Regatta set for April 23-25, 2010. So get registered early (www.smithregatta.com) and let's make it even more successful than last year!


"La Commodora"

Juanas 2009 (finally)
Bill “I’m worried about the beer supply” Olson

I had heard through the grapevine that windsurfers were once again appearing at the Juana Good Time Regatta in Navarre Beach. Rumors ran rampant about who would show, while others embellished the horror stories that made them abandon the event in the past. Since there were several nights of free beer scheduled, I headed over to Navarre Beach. Friday afternoon and evening were dreary and gray, but yes, there were windsurfers at Juana’s this year, five of us.

Saturday dawned gusty and cloudy, with rain already on the way. The sixty plus catamarans headed out for their long distance race and the windsurfing fleet set up for course racing.

Jim from Birmingham and Bert from Pensacola were the formula fleet. Bert was riding a free formula board and Jim meant to sail a formula board, but found when he opened the board bag that he had brought a Starboard Go instead. Pat from Tampa and Steve from Pensacola were the long board fleet and I was there for comic relief on the old F2 Lightning.

It was rainy and gusty Saturday morning so I rigged my smallest sail, banking on perseverance rather than top speed. When the committee boat and course were set, I found that sand had jammed my extension and the stupid pin would not lock. By the time I re-rigged with a Chinook base extension, I had missed most of the morning and just sailed around a while.

After lunch I finally made it down to the course and started the first race. It was very choppy by then so I sailed one heat and gave up after getting lapped. Even then, I got to yell at a Hobie 16 that was cutting across our course on his way back to the beach.

The party Saturday night was good, with barbecue, a decent band, and plenty of locals. Sunday dawned clear and calm, and barely a breath of wind. The race committee left us on our own to set up the distance race.

I was still bruised and battered from the day before, so I declined to sail and got a beer. Jim and Bert found better things to do as well, so Pat and Steve checked the chart and selected a channel marker about a mile and a half to the west as the mark for the race. Steve used his local knowledge to good effect because Pat didn’t quite grasp that the marked channel was on the north side of the bay and headed down the middle of the bay and couldn’t find the mark.

All in all, Juana’s 2009 was a fun event for me. The venue is a good place to sail and the people were all nice. It may be a while before serious racers are attracted to the event again. I never did find out who won, but it didn’t matter. Maybe next year I won’t get lapped.

Wind Ceremony Indoctrination
By Larry Couch

It’s been about 11 years since I first stepped onto a sailboard under the expert instruction of Bobby Nabors. I spent the next few years totally immersed in the sport and really took an interest in racing in particular. The first regatta I attended was in Pensacola Beach. I would’ve missed the race had it not been for a generous Shell Point racer who let me borrow a boom because I had forgotten mine. I think most of the windsurfers I’ve met would have done that. But, the folks from Shell Point are different. That was a carbon boom. And it was inscribed with strange symbols, hieroglyphs if you will. I suspected they had some sort of mystical powers because the wind seemed to follow me around the race course. After the race, the guy I borrowed the boom from winked and said, “Glad the boom worked for you” when I thanked him for the loner . . . strange.

I don’t remember my first regatta at Shell Point, but I do remember that the wind blew really hard on that Friday, the day before the racing started. This didn’t happen just once. I believe it’s happened for every regatta I’ve ever attended there. And that would’ve been awesome if I was ever able to actually show up early on Friday. The locals at Shell Point however, were able to enjoy a wonderful shortboard day prior to the event. How coincidental.

I was always curious about the Wind Ceremony, but driving half the day to attend a party didn’t really appeal to me. Besides, I’m a musician and weekends are my work days. Baby makes three back in 2003 and that really made it hard to justify making the trip. However, curiosity got the better of me when I first heard a recording of “The Festoons” show from 2007. How could this many musician-types exist in one windsurfing club? And what band did Perry front in the 60s? Believe me, I’ve heard amateurs play music, and this was not a group of wannabes. This group was genuinely touched.

For the past 2 years I’ve been trying in vain to make the trip. It’s nearly impossible to get a weekend off from a band. And the economy hasn’t really been conducive to taking time off anyway. But, after having one too many meetings where my boss cut my salary while simultaneously booking a flight to see Cirque du Soleil and ordering sushi to be delivered to his Jaguar, I decided to leave the band. The first thing on my agenda: make plans for the Ceremony … oh, and get another job.

I always thought it was lame when musicians asked to sit in. Traditionally, you should wait for an invitation. But in this case, I felt compelled to delicately offer my services. You know, in case somebody passes out, loses a guitar pick, or gets zapped by an ungrounded microphone. Jack said he had a couple of guitar solos that were giving him muscle cramps, so I was in. The first thing that blew me away about the Ceremony was the scale and care that was taken. I mean, I haven’t had a monitor engineer since I …uh, wait, what was Wright doing over there beside the stage? Actually, I haven’t played a gig with a sound engineer for a few years period. The backstage was a full compliment of chili and fixins which by the way, the musicians were offered to partake of before anyone else. That’s respect my friend, or it could be to keep the band from belching into the mics and playing everything at “full stomach tempos”. And, you could drink while you were playing too. Little known fact: you can’t have a margarita when you’re playing at Margaritaville. Jimmy has gone very corporate. I also learned from my Festoon band mates that you can mix Tecate with Bacardi Limón. Well, you can probably mix Bacardi with anything. The other thing that really struck me even before I was in Shell Point that evening was that these guys actually rehearse. Although I wasn’t fortunate enough to attend, I’ve heard rehearsals are judiciously planned down to the minute and executed like a military sortie. And the sign of a great entertainer is their ability to build a mystique. They say obtaining a copy of Festoon’s lyrics is sort of like getting Bush’s baked bean recipe … without the help of that loose-lipped dog. And style points? Well, let’s just say I’ve never been on stage with Parliament Funkadelic, but I know what it feels like baby. And I’m sorry, but a chic playing bass in leopard print boots is the coolest thing ever. But for me, it all comes down to how the music feels. And when you put a group of friends on a stage that are truly enjoying themselves, that comes across in the music. The vibe was strong that night. You can’t learn that kind of stuff at Julliard. I certainly felt like I had been re-tied to the cosmic thread on the drive back to PC Beach thinking about a season of mystical wind and looking forward to next years Ceremony. Festoons!

Check out more Wind Ceremony Photos from the SPSC Photo Gallery and John Goodson's Photo Gallery

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