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The Evolution of the Mohawk


By casmithlo - Posted on 01 November 2009

Nockamixon Thistle Fleet member, Craig Smith, just finished his term as Thistle Class President, which culminated in a memorable experience.  Here is his article...

The Evolution of “THE MOHAWK”

By Craig Smith

 

Some would call it “a good idea that went terribly wrong!”, or maybe “just plain stupid”.  Well, it sounded like a good idea when it was presented to me by Kimberly McBride, coordinator of Women’s Nationals, but, in hindsight, maybe I should have thought it through a little more!  Here is how it all started (and where it went)! 

 

It started rather simply, in mid May, with an email on the list serve by Kimberly.  It said, “Hey ladies, let’s work to get some great numbers for Women’s Nationals at Cedar Point this summer.  Maybe I can challenge Craig to do something crazy (like dye his hair purple) if we get more than 15 boats on the starting line.”  Of course, I responded right away (BEFORE thinking about it) with, “Yes, if we get 15 Women’s boats, I will DYE MY HAIR PURPLE!!”  After much list serve banter, including several male skippers volunteering to dress in drag to make sure enough boats sailed, it came out that I should first BLEACH my hair, to get the proper “base” to dye it purple.  So, of course, I “kicked up” the challenge a little.  I said that if we could get 10 Women’s boats pre-registered by AC’s on July 18th, I would BLEACH my hair at the AC’s party on Saturday night! 

 

With all the hype about Women’s Nationals, the Junior Sailors were feeling left out.  What if they got 15 JUNIOR boats at their nationals??  What would Craig do then??  Hence, the second part of the challenge.  On July 8th, Brian Swingly, the coordinator of Junior Nationals made the following post to the list serve:  “Dear President Smith:  As co-chair of Junior Nationals I'd like to extend an additional challenge, similar to the one you have going for Women's Nationals: If we get 15 or more boats to compete for the Thistle Junior National Championship, will you shave your head into a Mohawk?”   Of course, my response (again, without thinking) was “YES!”

 

So, it was set:  15 Women’s boats – Purple hair; 15 Junior’s boats – Mohawk.  Who would make it, or would they both??

 

As we got close to AC’s I was feeling pretty good about not having to “man up” to my challenge because the registrations were coming in slowly.  As of Thursday night before AC’s, I thought I was safe, because only 9 Women’s boats had registered.  But, on Friday afternoon, Erik Goethert, on his way to AC’s, volunteered to loan his boat to Kirsten Barton, the eventual Women’s National Champion, to be the 10th registered boat.  Since it was before July 18th, I was then obligated to bleach my hair at the AC’s party.  With the assistance of some of the women sailors, I woke up Saturday morning with a “new do”.  It didn’t look so bad, and several people expressed the opinion that was so tactfully shared by Kathy Finefrock, “Hey, that’s a big improvement!”  Thanks Kathy!

 

Now, the countdown to the August 1st event;  The women looked like they were more likely to make it because they had verbal commitments for 14(ish) boats including Sara Paisner who was willing to drive up from NC for the day’s racing.  As of 2 days before the regatta, they had 15 to 17 teams that were committed to sail.  I guess purple is not so bad, huh? 

 

We expected the juniors to register late but just 6 days beforehand, there were only 10 junior boats registered, so, ha, it looks like no mohawk!  Then came the bad news for me; as of Thursday there were 14 junior boats that were committed to attend, with many of them coming from Ohio.  There was a mad scramble on Friday to assemble a final team from the Nyack Boat Club, with members of their junior sailing program in Dave Foster’s boat.  This made the final (15th) team for Junior Nationals.

 

So, as of Saturday August 1st, there were EXACTLY 15 junior’s boats, and EXACTLY 15 women’s boats competing for Women’s and Junior Nationals!  So, after the racing, we assembled all the competitors under the flag pole at the Cedar Point Yacht Club for pictures and “The Ceremony”.  First, the junior sailors took their turn to shave my head into “the Mohawk”, and then the women dyed it purple!  The result was pretty scary but pretty comical; the old guy sporting a Purple Mohawk. 

 

This event (or stunt) was noticed by the national sailing community.  I received the following email from Brian Hayes, International Lightning Class President.  “Craig- I am gravely concerned of the precedent you have set for other class presidents with this “hair dying” episode!   Pretty girls rubbing your scalp while imbibing in refreshing cocktails! What were you thinking??!!  Seriously, I have been “watching” your “progress” and efforts to attract participation at the Nationals and I think what you are doing is great (and fun!). Perhaps even borderline brilliant (or unbalanced!!).  Anyway, congratulations on the great job promoting the class and keeping people excited. I’ll be swinging by CPYC during the Nationals a bit before I head off to do duty at Lightning NAS but if there is anything we can do to help while you’re in the area let me know. Lord knows anyone who is willing to die his head purple and shave it into a Mohawk needs help!!  Brian Hayes” Enough said! 

 

I was proud to see the enthusiasm that was put forth by the women and juniors to make this event such a huge success.  Having 90 women and junior sailors on the water is well worth me making a fool out of myself for a few days at Nationals.  All kidding aside, this was a wonderful experience for me, and I was proud to be a part of it.  The pictures will be a lasting memory of the things I am willing to do for the people and the class that I love so much.  Craig Smith, Past President

 

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