Black Fly Scullers
1382 Fellows Road
Danville, Vermont 05828
Phone : (802) 745-7207
Fax : (802)748-4323
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The unfaltering quest for the algorithm of French Roast coffee, Belgian chocolate, Sangiovese Brunello, and terminal anaerobic threshold drew twenty-six scullers to the Third Inaugural Black Fly Regatta (Fly3) on Saturday June 26, 2004. On the upper reaches of the Connecticut River in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom, however, the scullers would be forced to improvise with Dunkin' Donuts and (Maine Rowing Association potentate) Steve Collins's home-pressed Pondicherry "Zinfidel." - Batch 17. The quixotic scullers drew bow numbers from a sack. The Comerford Reservoir, site of the peerless "mass start," lie quiet under the low overcast. The tall pines along the riverbanks stood tranquil. The starter loaded his shells in his shotgun. All was ready.

The pre-regatta instructions were customarily unintelligible but mercifully brief. "Before today the most scullers on the starting line was thirteen, so I am not certain whether we can fit all twenty-six of you across the reservoir in one line," said regatta organizer Tom Paul. "One solution would be for all scullers to attach a couple of CLAMS to each scull. That would decrease the combined outboard of all the scullers by over a couple hundred centimeters. Then you can stop and take them off once you get separated."

Sensing that wasn't the best option, Paul tried a different approach. "Look into your hearts," he implored. "If you think you're really fast then get on the line. If you are among the not so fast or the not so-so fast you can drop a length or two back, if..."

"When are you gonna get to me?" queried winemaster Steve Collins.

"Yeah! I'll be starting tomorrow!" chimed the notorious start-jumper Jeff Foltz. Meanwhile Stu "Igor" Miller, the third member of the improbable Maine Triumvirate, stood stoic but for the smirk on his face.

The cumulative consternation was unwarranted. All twenty-six scullers, devoid of CLAMS, fit across the reservoir with plenty of room to spare. At the report of the starter's 12-gauge shotgun, the vortices of 52 sculls dotted the reservoir like so many over caffeinated water spiders. Over the next 1200 meters when the scullers would reach the confluence of the river and reservoir, Paul would learn whether this three year field experiment of the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the Random Number Theory would result in countless insurance claims or the thrill of a lifetime.

"A prudent person would demand a refund," said Paul. "But we all know that scullers are a bit deranged. And it certainly helps to remind everyone of our one and only rule that unsportsmanlike conduct results in denial of Porta-Potty privileges," he continued. "I haven't done the math but I bet that sanction trumps the FISA interference penalty and it keeps them from killing each other out there."

The scullers dispersed into discernible pods and all made it through the reservoir, up the cut and around the port turn at the three- mile mark unscathed. All that is except for novice sculler Marc Eagle who's fin mysteriously detached from his shell just after the start. Dejected, he wobbled his craft back to the launch site.

At the finish line two hearty volunteers tossed icy bottles of Gatorade from their bass boat into the river to the scullers who delightedly paddled to retrieve refreshment before rowing back to the launch site. Once they returned, the jubilant scullers gorged themselves on the traditional post-race feast of bananas, oranges, cookies, bagels and schmear.

With their glycogen stores replenished they turned their attention to the real reason they came: to ooh and aah over this year's T-shirts and dream of being elected Poet Laureate of the 3rd Inaugural Black Fly Regatta. The T-shirts certainly grabbed their attention. The continuing misadventures of the Black Fly were once again artfully depicted as she sat in her 1973 Volkswagen Super Beetle, rowing shell atop her car, outside of what looked like Edward Hopper's Nighthawks Diner only to find it closed as she exclaimed "Morde Me!"(which is Latin for "Bite Me!" ...which is what black flies do after all). The Black Fly Scullers also unveiled their perennial "Taper Hard!" T-shirt to rave reviews.

"It helps to keep them distracted while the race committee fudges the results," said Paul. "But just in case all results are audited by my accountant, Cooke N. D. Buchs, CPA. If anyone has any questions they can call him directly at 1-800-FINGERS."

Albeit gun shy from last year's libel claim from Steve Collins, (see website for details) Paul did volunteer that his attorneys, Steele & Lye, cleverly thwarted a potential libel claim from Jeff Foltz who vehemently denied that he ever jumped a start as alleged in the Black Fly Scullers website "They uncovered a daguerreotype plate by Matthew Brady in the sub-basement of the Malta boathouse behind some sketches of the Biglin Brothers showing Foltz with two lengths on the field before Lane 2 was polled!" exclaimed Paul.

"Oh well," conceded Foltz. "It's not like Paul's got any money anyway."

"We should start calling him Teflon Tommy," added Collins. Igor stood taciturn.

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Surreptitiously putting aside his sundial, hourglass and abacus, Paul announced to the near delirious crowd that the results were in. At stake in each age division was one dozen of Pete and Gerry's organic eggs(laid right on the New Hampshire side of the race course) for first place, a bag of Maple Grove Farms Maple Crunch for second, and a 12 ounce McClure's honey bear for third. In addition, the fastest female fly would take home a perennial Stargazer Lily and a tin of Bag Balm while the fastest male fly would return home with a Champion tomato plant (which matures in 62 days, or twice the length of a Vermont summer) and a tin of Bag Balm.

The female larvae division (up to age 19) was hotly contested as the Putney duo of Nicole Ritchie and Taylor McNeill went 1-2 at 26:16 and 26:34 respectively. Maine's Krissy Horn rowed a personal best and took 3rd place at 31:25.

In the male larvae division Brian Quarrier won the eggs with the time of 25:51 and his brother, Seth, won the male pupae division (ages 19-27) with the time of 26:08. "The proximity of their times proves Mendel's Laws are correct," observed Paul. "Sculling must be a dominant gene in that family."

Barbara Corrigan repeated her 2003 victory in Swarm A (ages 27-35) with a course record of 26:53 while Sandra LaFlamme rowed a personal best to 2nd place at 28:04. On the male side of Swarm A, Erik Breiland left the field in his wake, literally, taking home the eggs, Champion tomato plant and Bag Balm with a course record time of 22:14. Woody Fagge's impressive time of 24:16 was good enough for the Maple Crunch. "Next year we'll make Erik race with all the prizes in his shell," said Paul.

In Swarm B (ages 36-42) Ellen Kennelly, under the guise of the Palm Beach Rowing Association, returned from her sabbatical to claim the eggs as well as the Stargazer Lily and Bag Balm with her own course record of 25:04. "Next year we won't allow composite singles," advised Paul. Kacey Elfstrom, with a time of 26:02, would return to Connecticut and a new governor munching on a bag of Maple Crunch.

In a close contest in the Swarm B male division, Green Mountain Head Guru Joe Holland whisked away the eggs at 23:48, seven seconds ahead of David "The Llama" Lilly who received special recognition for the most intriguing nickname.

Swarm C (ages 43-49) saw four men go for the eggs, with Greg Clayton posting 26:23, nipping regatta organizer Tom Paul by seven seconds. Reflecting on last year's successful "Grey Goose" taper, Paul conceded, "I may have over-tapered this year." "Eighty-one holes of golf in four days is really pushing the limit," he elaborated, "but I was really crushing my 5-wood and my putter was white hot." Charlie Carr grabbed 3rd place at 27:03 and Ken Gifford took home a discretionary award of Afterbite Itch Eraser for his 4th place time of 31:26.

In a class by himself, Jonathan Wright, grabbed the Swarm D (ages 50 to 54) eggs with a smooth 25:51. In the Swarm E division (ages 55 to 59) Stu "Igor" Miller tuned up for his voyage across the pond to Henley with a 1st place time of 25:24 while his Maine compadre Jeff "I didn't jump the start" Foltz collected the Maple Crunch at 27:14. During his lengthy acceptance speech Foltz proceeded to thank everyone from Don Spero to Leo Tolstoy. "Throw a blanket over him" pleaded Collins. Igor shook his head.

Swarm G (ages 65-69) saw Pim Goodbody post an impressive time of 26:37. Overwhelmed with emotion he divulged that he would give the dozen eggs to his wife for their 39th anniversary present. He was doubly overcome when he was awarded a gallon of "Black Fly Cider" (windshield washer fluid) for having his car selected at random as the car most likely to break down on the return home. Maine's Steve Collins, last year's improbable Swarm A champion, crunched his Stampfli up the river to 2nd place at 30:31.

Exercising his seldom used discretion, Paul placed two recreational shells in the Swarm H category where 71- year-old Bob Sleigh won the eggs at 29:41 and 67- year- old Ed Monahan got the Crunch at 32:56.

This year also saw two novices compete in the "Skin-So-Soft" category. Unfortunately, "Finless" Marc Eagle did not finish leaving regatta sponsor David Sleigh alone and 1st at 29:08. Observing that the father/son team of Bob and David Sleigh finished sequentially in the overall standings Paul wondered "if David got only one-half of his DNA from his father, why didn't he row the course in half the time?"

Laden with their well-earned rewards, the scullers then realized that the moment was upon them to crown the Poet Laureate of Fly3. As part of their membership/entry forms all scullers were invited to describe in twenty-five or fewer words how they planned to taper for Fly3. They were advised that haikus, limericks, sonnets and anything in iambic pentameter would be given special consideration. To his amazement, Paul received nearly two dozen poetic entries. "Last night, after five bottles of Pondicherry "Zinfidel" the regatta committee selected three finalists," Paul told the nearly breathless crowd. Steve Collins, Bob Sleigh, and "Finless" Marc Eagle were called forward. Before the throng of transfixed onlookers each finalist read his poem: Collins's punny quatrain, Sleigh's Latin ode, and Eagle's beat rap. Afterward Paul held his hand over each poet's head as the crowd signified its approval with applause.

In what can only be described as poetic justice, "Finless" Marc Eagle was decisively elected the Poet Laureate for Fly3 with his Haight-Ashbury inspired spurt:

I WILL TAPER..........................HARD!

For listening to his muse, Marc took home the coveted Poet Laureate award: a paperback Roget's Thesaurus and a nip bottle of Grey Goose Vodka.

After the scullers were gone, Paul reflected on what had just transpired. "We doubled our numbers from last year," he beamed. "We also had four scratches and when I returned home after the regatta I had a telephone message from Henry Hamilton telling me his car broke down on the way to the regatta. Perhaps I should send him a consolation prize of a half-gallon of Black Fly Cider."

On a more pragmatic note Paul added, "I attribute the exponential growth of this year's regatta to our website which was constructed and maintained by my sweetheart (and two-time Swarm A champ) Barbara Corrigan. She never ceases to amaze me."


Puffing a Montecristo while counting the regatta proceeds aboard a Gulfstream bound for Tuscany, Paul declared the regatta an unparalleled success. "I think we covered the legal fees to Steele & Lye for defending Foltz's libel claim," said Paul. "I am hopeful we can subrogate against City Securities. Sculling trou is expensive!" he said, nodding toward his sweetheart, Barbara Corrigan, sipping Veuve Cliquot in her Dolce & Gabbana bustier, vintage Chanel skirt and Balenciaga pumps. "What's the exchange rate for Euros?"


Scullers row as one
Four miles to the finish
Laughter. Morde Me!


The Black Fly Scullers wish to thank our generous sponsors Sleigh & Williams, Attorneys at Law, and Baileys & Burke Country Store.

Kudos to our volunteers: finish line crew Meg Clayton, Peter Thomas and Mary Thomas; the motorboat team Don Wallace, Scott Hooker and Jeff Pitcon; and our referee-for-life, Gayle German.

Special thanks always to my friends from the Maine Rowing Association, Steve Collins, Jeff Foltz and Stu Miller for their continuous support and good humor. Also thanks to the Maine Rowing Association for the use of its timing equipment. It confused the hell out of the finish line committee but the scullers never caught on. I don't think anyone will ever know that we just made up the times this year.

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