Sunday, September 06, 2009

Rockville Regatta: Lull Before the Storm

What is not sky, land or Windveil Blue Mustang is the historic Sea Island Yacht Club located on the bank of the Bohickett Creek at Wadmalaw Island, SC. In a few days, Saturday, August 5, these quiet empty spaces will be invaded by sailors, their boats, trailers and equipment. There will also be wall-to-wall spectators, drunk and wild and very loud. There will be hundreds of little bimbettes trying to fill out or perhaps fall out of their abbreviated bathing suits. Every parent cringes in hopes that it will not be their daughter who lifts her top and twirls them for the camera. They live in dread of seeing a TV commercial in the wee hours for, " BABES OF THE ROCKVILLE REGATTA : GIRLS GONE WILD VOL. 50 "

Thus will begin the annual Rockville Regatta. A regatta is a race between sailboats in this case. Every summer there is a series of regattas held at each of the local yacht clubs in the Charleston area and as far north as Wrightsville Beach, NC, and as far south as Savannah. Rockville has hosted a regatta for well over one hundred years. There is some sort of legend that it began as a rivalry between two friends or family members, but such legends are usually created by a two or more drunks who tell some sober person, but later forget that they made it up in the first place.

Different class boats will race at the regatta. The Y-Flyer, Sunfish, E and C Scow series boats, Lasers and many others including the indigenous Sea Island One Design ( SIOD ). The SIOD is a sailboat somewhat boxy in design, but is a sentimental favorite. These are not computer designed esoteric hulls such as Ted Turner might skipper in a stupor, but more home grown in its lines and a great deal less expensive to make. Competition to take home the silver is certainly the objective, but tradition will fill their sails as much as the wind.

The Rockville Regatta is the last race of the series each year. You can be assured that by Sunday evening when all, but a few residual young drunks will have been swept up, the good citizens of tiny, secluded Rockville will feel human once again as life returns to what it seems in the photograph.


Anonymous Pam said...

The Sea Island Yacht Club is my favorite - and what a wonderful building and spot! I crewed on SIOD for three years - and fell in love with imperfect wooden sailing vessels.

6:32 AM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Yes, Pam, it's one of the last of the old line yacht clubs which is dedicated to sailing competition, the original mission of such clubs. Of course, it also has social functions centered on the regatta, but you're not going to find them serving White Wine Spritzers or Perrier with a twist. This is hard liquor and cold beer crowd.

The Sea Island One Design (SIOD) boats is the spiritual center of this regatta. They are "imperfect wooden sailing vessels" which more closely represent these island people than any other tangible object.

The UNDINE, CYGNET as their successors I, II, III, etc., the DOG HOUSE are some of the legends of this class. Unlike ladies at a cocktail party, no skipper of a SIOD need fear meeting an exact copy at any regatta.

The Club itself has considerable history and no pretensions. The building, the " Hall " as it's called, is like the SIOD line: imperfect wooden structures of which function trumps form, in which the island folks have great pride and affection.

12:16 PM  
Anonymous Agricola said...

Time blurs the sharpness of the images stored on my hard drive, but I am left with the very clear feeling that I had many a fun day and night at Rockville. I have seen the toughest guys of my era fight to a draw outside the SIYC, I think I had my first beer at a house on the Bohicket, and I know I kissed a girl, once, during some wonderful regatta weekend.

3:56 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Roger that, Agricola, we recall a few hard heads which got fragmented in the high spirits around The Hall. Speaking of hard drive, none was more difficult or perilous than short tacking down the Maybank Highway in the tiny hours of a Sunday morning after a very full Saturday. We once imagined seeing Van Clyburn at the Baby Grand on such a run, but maybe it was just Jim.

Sometimes the Rockville Regatta was an excuse for a young lady's better judgment, if not virtue, to take the night off. Many of those systems were password protected in the old days, but a fellow who was agile on the keyboard could often gain entry.

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


In retrospect I'm glad that I strutted my stuff in my bikini at Rockville before gluttony, sloth, and gravity rendered my figure un-bikini-worthy. I can also report that I was just as virtuous that weekend as I was any other.

3:49 PM  
Blogger Windviel said...

Oh, you're probably being a bit too hard on yourself. We believe that is the inner woman which matters more though the surface sights are well worth seeing en route.

You do have us wondering how all of your non-Rockville weekends must have been.

Many thanks for sharing your thoughts.

5:44 PM  

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