Black Fly Scullers
1382 Fellows Road
Danville, Vermont 05828
Phone : (802) 745-7207
Fax : (802)748-4323
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With the mercury (and barometric pressure) twice as high as '02, scullers doubled their numbers at The Second Inaugural Black Fly Regatta, held on June 28, 2003 on the upper reaches of the Connecticut River in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom. There was no global warming; temperatures hunkered in the 40's as a nor'easter blew in for the First Inaugural when seven intrepid scullers toed the whitecaps of the Comerford Reservoir. But Fly II ushered in sunshine, a sotto voce tailwind and favorable conditions not seen since Agamemnon sacrificed Iphigenia.

The scullers listened attentively to the director's instructions: "Please don't pet any stray prairie dogs unless you have your Monkeypox vaccination, and anyone acting in an unsportsmanlike manner will be denied Porta-potty privileges." With these edicts ringing in their ears,thirteen scullers, ranging in age from 15-66, assembled within one or two boat lengths, more or less, of the starting line across the reservoir promptly at 9:26.22 AM anticipating the patent pending "mass start."

At the report of the starter's gun, the baker's dozen shot off the line, not to conquer Troy, but to claim the coveted tin of Bag Balm awaiting the fastest male and female scullers of the day. Whatever the pre-race strategy the scullers had for the 4-mile race was quickly discarded; the start could only be described as a sculling frenzy. "It seemed to me," said Regatta Director and Black Fly Tom Paul, "that after the first three strokes everyone decided to sprint for a thousand meters and run on fumes for the last fifty-four hundred. It's tough to let off the gas when someone's bowball is in your cockpit."

The impetus shattered all course records. Reminiscent of this year's Oxford-Cambridge race, Stu "Igor" Miller eclipsed the fastest time crossing the finish at 25:44, but Henry Hamilton was only a whisker away at 25:45. For his effort Miller took home the grand prize for fastest male: a tin of Bag Balm and a "Champion" tomato plant, as well as a dozen of Pete & Gerry's Organic Eggs (thought to promote the development of fast twitch muscle fibers), for first place in the male Swarm E division. Henry Hamilton consoled himself with a first-place finish in the male Swarm F age group and went home to make quiche with his dozen eggs.

Not to be outdone the female flies put in a stellar performance posting the third, fourth and fifth fastest times of the day - steadfastly denying that they were biting the males before the race. Barbara Nix and her ARC comrade Laura Gerken (the "Thelma and Louise" of the regatta) finished 3-4 at 26:56 and 27:15. Marie Hagelstein (who took the Jack Benny award for age disclosure) crossed the line 12 seconds later at 27:27. "Three female black flies within 31 seconds of one another," observed a spectator, "they really do travel in swarms." Barbara carried away the grand price for fastest female: a tin of Bag Balm, a Stargazer Lily, and a dozen of Pete & Gerry's finest. Laura Gerken, second in Swarm A was awarded with a bag of Maple Crunch. Marie Hagelstein, first in Swarm B will be making omelets.

First place in male Swarm C went to Regatta Director Tom Paul at 28:06. "A week of golf in Chicago and some Grey Goose Vodka makes for a pretty decent taper," he supposed afterward. Fellow Vermonter Greg Clayton looked stylish in his wooden Hudson and Macon blades and will reflect on his time of 28:46 as he munches on the Maple Crunch with his second place finish in Swarm C.

Defying age studies of the Black Fly published in Scientific American, four males competed in Swarm E. After "Igor," fellow Mainer Jeff Foltz got the Maple Crunch at 28:04, and Joe Dobson won a 12 ounce honey bear from McLure's Apairy for 38:36 of hard sculling.  Ted Perry, rowing a rec shell of his own design finished at 34:36 and immediately sold his boat to an observer at the finish line! He received a discretionary Director's award, a copy of Skillful Rowing by Marlene Royle and Ed McNeeley and a Craftsbury Sculling Center Henley T-shirt - having just sold the shirt off of his own back.

Lest we forget our youth, the Female Pupae division - and the hope of the propagation of the species - was won by Krissy Horn at 35:57; and the Female Larvae Division was won by Sandra LaFlamme, daughter-in-law of the egg producer, who opted for the Maple Crunch in lieu of the eggs.

As the scullers returned to the launch site, they munched on bananas, oranges and king size chocolate chip cookies against the backdrop of a family reunion that assembled in their absence, replete with strains of George Strait, the clang of horseshoes and enough Bud Light to flood the reservoir. "I was told," said Paul, "that you could trade a cookie and a banana for a Bud Light and a hot dog, but I'm not talking from personal experience."

The lure of the horseshoe pit was not match for the oohs an aahs over the '03 T-shirt. Dolce & Gabanna sent congratulatory telegrams; look for Gisele Bunchden to wear it on the Paris runway. The final award of the day was a gallon of "Black Fly Cider" which was awarded to the car with the dirtiest windshield. What was once a white Ford Expedition took the prize. It looked like somebody glued poppy seeds to it.

Buoyed by the success and joie de vivre of Fly II, Paul is looking for a bigger turnout next year. "It's a Presidential election year," he reasoned, "and all political parties will realize the Black Flies hold a key swing vote. I expect to have W debate Howard Dean right after the race. I hope they buy some T-shirts."

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