By Leslie Yager
Hundreds turned out for a wonderful tradition in Binney Park in Old Greenwich on Sunday afternoon. Strong gusts of wind presented a challenge, with boats crashing into each other or boomeranging after being launched optimistically by families along the shore. Still, said Ingrid Winn of OGRCC, the strong wind was preferable to last year’s dead calm.
At one point the wind wreaked havoc on the homemade sailboats and the Commodore improvised, shortening the course mid-stream and picking the last boats afloat for second and third place. At another point, the wind reversed the direction of the homemade sailboats, and lifted more than one out of the water, into the air and into the grass.
All in good fun. “This is all about the little ones,” said Tim Dodge, who grew up in Old Greenwich and has participated in the regatta tradition on Binney Park for forty years.
“It gets people away from computers and screens and out in the air. It’s about being in the shop with dad and building something,” Dodge said, adding that back in the 1970s Bill Braley, long associated with the regatta, taught him at the newly built YWCA how to build boats.
Dodge said it’s a pity the regatta is the only day of the year when electric powered boats are permitted in Binney Pond. He added that he wished a club or group would form and obtain permission for two hours on a Saturday mornings to run their remote controlled boats in the pond. “But now it’s illegal. They’re worried the boats will injure a goose,” he said with some degree of frustration.
Ingrid Winn sees the day as a wonderful way to get people outdoors and unite the community. “The event makes people feel part of something,” she said, adding that the event brings together multiple generations, often with grandparents, adult children and grandchildren all collaborating on boat building and sailing.
Carol Zelenz said her father Steve Marino was given three model sailboats that were in disrepair after someone passed away. She said her father made the boats seaworthy and her son David, 9, of North Mianus School was competing in Division 1, the mono-hulls under 17″ and a larger on.