Wikipedia defines “The Mystic Lakes” as “closely linked bodies of water in the northwestern suburbs of Boston, Massachusetts.” Fed by the Mystic River, which runs all the way to Boston Harbor, the name reportedly comes from the Wampanoag word “muhs-uhtuq”, which translates to “big river.”
Anyone who has sailed there, however, knows that the name is very appropriate for any regatta held on said waters. Puffs appear from “mystical” locations, or jump over one boat and reward another without rhyme or reason—leaving us all “mystified.”
This past weekend the conditions were particularly trying, thanks to a zone of high pressure that kept any gradient wind from building. Northwest fought with northeast on Saturday, while Sunday’s puffs filled from an incredibly wide variety of angles. Wisely, the RC pulled the plug early so we could all enjoy Sunday afternoon doing something besides waiting for wind.
In all three of Saturday’s races, getting across the finish line was often a struggle as puffs would vaporize only yards away from certain victory. Both winners and losers alike took solace in the adage that “the lake giveth, and the lake taketh away.” Or as Jimmy Bowers said after his mystifying last minute comeback in what would turn out to be the final race of the regatta, “The lake taketh away, and then the lake giveth.”
Yup, Jimmy and his son Alex won, again, on their home waters, the only team to post all top 3 (or even all top 10) results. And though the rest of us could maybe see a ray of hope in the trend of Jimmy and Alex’s scores (1,2,3), now we will never know if the trend would’ve continued.
Class veterans Harry and Sarah Levinson sacrificed a weekend of cruising on Narragansett Bay to finish 2nd overall. Third place was taken by Andy Klein and Jessica Claflin. And the three races were won by three different, mostly local teams: Jimmy/Alex Bowers, Carol Cronin/Linda Epstein, and John Lally/Kerry O’Brien.
Mystic Lake reminds us that regattas are not all about the racing, because if they were, 29 teams would not have made the effort to assemble outside Boston on the hottest and possibly lightest weekend of the summer so far. Part of what brought us together was a chance to see the “Woodies” again, that collection of vintage Snipes that have all been lovingly restored by their owners. All four of the classics went sailing, and the winners were regatta organizer Art Rousmaniere and his brother John. Art handed off the tiller to John for the final race, which turned out to be their best finish. Could it be that Art is the better bailer/crew?
Thanks to the Winchester Boat Club, all the volunteers, and especially Art/Jennifer Rousmaniere for putting so much energy into this annual event. I continue to be “mystified” by its appeal, but I will be back (though maybe not next year).