Last week I had a chance to attend the IBEX marine trade show in Louisville, KY. There I met and listened to a ton of movers and shakers in the biz, and I started chronicling my experiences at the show in my last post here. This past weekend I had a chance to witness the movers and shakers at the grass roots.
For those of us interested in the sailing side of boating, there was a race or two this past weekend. Many have been tuning in to the America’s Cup, one of the highest profile competitive events in the sport. The Little America’s Cup (really the International C-Class Catamaran Challenge Trophy, which originated in 1961) started on Sunday, the Melges 32 class World Championships ended Sunday (congratulations to the crew on Argo!), and there were numerous events held all over the country and the world at levels from these top end regattas to weekend beer can stuff.
I had the pleasure of participating in the Tennessee Valley Challenge Cup regatta, hosted by the Lake Guntersville Sailing Club and Marina in Guntersville, AL. The regatta is a challenge between six member clubs which field teams of at least three sailboats each. The low score (sailing races are scored like golf, lower scores are better) of the top three boats from each team is awarded the Cup, and the hosting duties rotate around each of the six member clubs that ply the waters of the various Tennessee River lakes.
As with any event, it’s the people behind it that make it happen. Granted, the weather is always a factor in any outdoor activity, and especially so in boating-centered ones, but Mother Nature cooperated in large measure and the organizers made the most of it. But the man behind the controls showed the dedication and drive that I found with the well-compensated suits at IBEX, and he did it for kicks. The folks behind the scenes – those cleaning up the place the week(s) prior to the event, shopping for the food and beverages, organizing the amazing meals (including make-and-take lunch provisions, a great idea!), entertainment for the Saturday festivities, and other details too numerous to mention were all executed flawlessly by volunteers with smiles on their faces at all times.
It’s the smiles that counted most. Any time anything was asked of anybody, the response was a cheerful yes, or a cheerful I’ll see what I can do, or a cheerfully friendly something. The organizers and volunteers made each and every participant – or more accurately, guest – glad they spent the time and money to come to the LGSC and play in their sandbox. I’ve participated in a lot of regattas in my day, and organized a few too. I’ve sailed in everything from World Championships to the beer can stuff mentioned above, and I gotta tell ya, the organization and execution of this TVCC was right up there with the best, a sentiment echoed by each of the individual award winners at the closing ceremonies.
This is what makes the boating lifestyle so rewarding. There are so many aspects to it – Lake Guntersville was buzzing with bass boats and PWCs and more in addition to the sailboats this weekend – and we enjoy participating in many of them. But mostly we think the people who selflessly contribute to others’ enjoyment of boating is what makes it such a satisfying way to spend time. Thanks again to the good folks at the LGSC and at all the local volunteers who make it so special!