All too often sailing is perceived as snobbish. This year Richmond Yacht Club reminded sailors not to take it – or themselves – too seriously with Beer Can Opening Day, a ‘hoity-toity-themed’ beer can race that fortuitously fell on April 1st.
“Yachting is too exclusive, even the name ‘yachting’ exudes snootiness,” said Seymour Dodds. “So we thought let’s poke fun at the pretentiousness and what better day to do it than April Fools’ Day. It was like a synchronicity of yacht racing planets!”
Forty-four boats turned out to race in a 10-15 knot breeze, with the prestigious Judge Smails Trophy at stake. There was also a Hoity-Toity Decorated Crew Competition and Predicted Log Race for Powered Yachts. It was all just too much fun.
Eric Arens, Staff Commodore Emeritus, looked particularly dashing in his club blazer with RYC epaulets. Scott Gordon accented his St. Francis Yacht Club blazer with a pith helmet for a vintage tropical look. Marissa Miller’s pink sheath and nude heels said, ‘lady who yachts.”
We sipped rosé champagne as the boats jockeyed for position; below some of the racers were also toasting the event. There was such a fun, festive mood everywhere.
It was about that time that I remarked how fun this yacht club is, and Scott explained RYC “was built for fun.” The large plaque inside the entrance says so.
Indeed it does, I saw later.
Then it was off to the Predicted Log Race aboard Scott’s cabin cruiser, Jungle Cruise. It was exciting to watch the sailboats race by, some crew in their hoity-toity attire.
A turnout of 44 boats on a ‘school night’ is quite impressive, actually all the more in the 15+ knot breeze. Then again, most RYC racers consider that normal, this is San Francisco Bay.
Scott and Marissa, skipper and first mate of Jungle Cruise, posed after the predicted log race. Back at the club, it was fun to take in the creative costumes. There were captains’ hats, ascots, white and red pants, nautical stripes and more.
There was quite a crowd too, with the tail end of the bar line was bumping into the tail end of the food line. More than 200 people cooked their own burgers outside on the grill. It was a lovely evening and fun to chat as we each played chef.
As we noshed ham- and veggie-burgers, my table continued our sparkling theme with some Gloria Ferrer. Soon it was the moment we’d all been waiting for, the prize giving.
Merrick and Grace Cheney won the decorated crew competition as Thurston and Lovey Howell of Gillian’s Island fame. Runners up were Simon Winer and his crew, who were on water in blazers and Breton Reds with inflatable lifejackets.
They actually did some rescue work in their stylish attire, pulling a competitor out of the mud. Simon and crew won two pairs of starched boxer shorts and Merrick and Grace, a pair of starched boxers and the Judge Smails Trophy.
Scott won the Predicted Log Race, and the prize? What else? A Duraflame Log of course. Such silly fun!
Winners of the beer can race won bottles of wine with special themed labels like Rock and Hard Places Vine Orinaire, Commodore’s Private Reserve, It’s not Oaked, It’s Been Fiberglassed and Too Many Tacticians. The lights dimmed, signaling it was time for Beer Can – The Movie, which was produced by Luther Green, RYC’s resident film auteur. Beer Can interweaves unique member storylines, Jocelyn Nash in her iconic Nescafe ad, Scott as a ‘Sailing Center’ anchorman and 50s-era film noir along with racing footage. Clever, witty, fun, we laughed nonstop.
RYC is renown for their themed races, most notably October’s Great Pumpkin, which can feature togas one year and pay tribute to duck tape the next.
Seymour summed it up well, “Yet the most fun still is providing good racing on the water. That’s the club’s bottom line.”