Issue: June 2004
Across the Pond

The racing was spirited and the geese were flying low at the annual Cow Pond Regatta.


     So, here were the basic rules for the 5th Annual Clovelly Cow Pond Regatta, neat, sweet and to the point: 1. Bring beer; 2. Be responsible for your children and/or your dogs; 3. If you foul someone on the racecourse, do your circles and don’t whine; 4. If you feel someone has fouled you, say so nicely or you won’t be invited back.

     If only all regattas had similar priorities and civility. Organized and hosted every year by Amy and David Hitt of Annapolis and Amy’s parents, Tony and Donna Gibbons-Neff, the regatta of radio-controlled, CR-914 sailboats on Easter weekend this year drew 19 competitors from as far afield as New Jersey. With a light southwesterly just fluttering the waters of the cow pond at Clovelly, the Gibbons-Neff’s farm near Chestertown, Md., the race committee (Amy) got off 14 windward-leeward races for a full day of intense beer consumption and competition, with an Easter egg hunt and picnic thrown in on the side.  

     As at any high-level regatta, strategy was key. “You don’t want to get anywhere near the shoreline,” Tony Gibbons-Neff advised as skippers were rigging their boats under a cool gray sky. “You’ll run aground and then someone will have to put boots on and go get you out.”

     Likewise, the prudent skipper kept a careful eye on the herd of rowdy Labradors-and Bismarck, Gibbons-Neff’s German shepherd-who frequently bounded toward the course in pursuit of a variety of airborne quarry, mostly slimy tennis balls and sticks.

Other obstacles of the course included a canoe full of kids and a low-flying Canada goose that strafed the picnic tables and nearly took out a couple of boats before splashing to a landing. (Fortunately the handsome Black Angus cattle who call the cow pond home watched with some alarm from a safe distance.)

     With a small forest of radio antennas directed toward the pond, the skippers stood in a cluster on the shoreline, their attention focused on the racecourse action. There were a few lively exchanges, though the most heated outbursts were reserved for tragic beer spills. In the end, it was Dave Ramos, owner of Chesapeake Performance Models of Stevensville, Md.-the North American distributor for the CR-914-who ran away with the regatta with a total of 19 points (there was some sotte voce discussion about jamming his radio frequency during the heat of competition). Ramos’s name will be inscribed on the Clovelly Trophy-when they get around to it, anyway. So far, only the 2000 and 2001 winner’s name-Mick Price-is on it. Second place this year went to Bucky Buchanan of Annapolis, with 34 points, and third was Steve “Stevie Mac” McLaughlin of Annapolis, with 39 points.