"At the other end of the pomp-and-circumstance spectrum is the Black Fly Regatta . . . It's tough to imagine a more irreverent rowing race - or one that is as much fun."
"Morde Me!" indeed, flies. Chip Davis, the introspective, humble, and virtuous publisher of Rowing News magazine (aka the magazine of rowing) poignantly compared the Black Fly Regatta with England's Henley Royal Regatta in his September 2009 Publisher's Note. Unfortunately, a last-minute editorial decision left staff photos of both events on the newsroom floor. Can you guess which one is the Black Fly Regatta and which one is Henley Royal?
(Hint: We're ranked #3. Royal Henley's ranked #7.)
So what are you waiting for? C'mon and join the largest swarm of scullers ever to start en masse north of the Tropic of Cancer for the Eleventh Inaugural Black Fly Regatta on Saturday June 23, 2012.
6000 meters of the Second Law of Thermodynamics.
(Hey, Chip. You didn't say which end of the spectrum the Black Flies inhabit. Are we infrared or ultraviolet?)
As long as we keep our powder dry, the shotgun will blast and the mass start will unravel at 9:01:52 a.m. EDST, more or less. Our delirious volunteers will be on hand to greet you at 7 a.m., more or less.
And don't miss the pre-regatta press conference at 8 a.m-ish. Please note I will not be taking questions.
Pay your dues
So what's this going to cost? Plenty. After all, how many Euros would you expect to pay to be at the opposite end of the spectrum from the Henley Royal Regatta? 100? 200? More? I like the way you're thinking. You can't buy this kind of insouciance just anywhere, you know. But with the Greek Banks foundering like Odysseus on the wine-dark sea, I must request you pay in U. S. Dollars this year. Don't fret. Self-restraint is the hallmark of the Black Fly Scullers. We're not gonna let this media blitz go to our swollen heads. So for the low, low, price of only $40.00 you, too, can become a member of the Black Fly Scullers for the entire year which entitles you to come play with us on the Comerford Reservoir.
Larvae and Pupae scull free -- sort of
I know it's hard to raise a swarm. And thanks to our recently approved IMF loan, the Black Fly Scullers can offer reduced membership dues for all you little larvae out there. Yep, you can join for just $10! Heck, you'll eat that much food during "Sam 'n Ella's Scullers's Breakfast." Not to mention the prizes. Talk about losing money. Now you know why the IMF is in such rough shape.
Hey, Pupae, don't feel left out. I remember what it was like to be a poor, starving, college kid. And in a few years, I won't be able to remember anything. So I gotta act now. If you are a "Student/Athalete" Pupae (aka "SAP") -- which means you are age 18 through 26, currently enrolled in college, or post-graduate school and/or training for the U23 or National Team (of any sovereign nation except Switzerland!) -- then you can pay only $20. I know, that cuts into your beer money. But life is all about choices.
I know how grateful you are. You can express your thanks by waiting for me to cross the finish line before you do.
Respect your elders!
As an added bonus, your membership entitles you to participate in the "Black Flyathlon" (copyright Black Fly Scullers, Inc. 2010), a nordic ski schuss amid the backwoods of the Northeast Kingdom which starts precisely at noon on the Saturday after the CRASH-Bs. (Details below) Two races for the price of one! Double your chances of winning a prize! Or catastrophic injury! What a deal!
Our factory-trained representatives are ready, able, and willing to process your registration.
Just click on the "Register Now!" or "Join Us Today!" tabs and you are on your way.
Don't scull? Don't worry. We need help. And we'll take yours. Click on the "Become a Volunteer" or "Help Us!" tabs for more info.
Let's pause now for a word from our new sponsor: "Code Blue!"
Let's face it, flies, health care reform is here to stay. And Code Blue Health Insurance is here to help. We know that if you got your health, you gotta insure it. It's the law! Code Blue has no deductible, and for the first year there are no premium payments. That's right! Your first year is free. After that Code Blue automatically withdraws the premium from your CB Home Equity Line of Credit. It's fast. It's easy. And in three years, it's mandatory.
No home. No problem. Code Blue will tap into its databank of social security numbers and in no time you'll have your very own CB Home Equity Line of Credit. And no lawn to mow!
Code Blue won't saddle you with paperwork, either. Or e-statements. Save your inbox for Tweets. Just sit back, relax, grab the remote, eat some Buffalo wings, drink another beer, and order in some Fried Chicken. It's not your responsibility to be healthy anyway. That's why you got health insurance.
Claims processing is quick and efficient. Under Code Blue every ailment for which you seek treatment is a pre-existing condition. Because someone, somewhere, suffered from it long before you did.
So your claim will be denied. By text message. Standard messaging rates will apply.
"Code Blue" Where every condition is pre-existing.
Hey, and as an added benefit all Code Blue insureds will be automatically covered in its proprietary managed-care dental plan: Maine Dental.
Yes, Maine Dental, we treat your first tooth like it's your only tooth. Because, after being treated by our select group of pre-approved dentists, pretty soon that's all you'll have left.
And now the latest news from our correspondents in the field:
No Fly Zone!
Flies, you will recall -- and I won't let you ever forget -- last year we had a dissenter questioning my claim that the Black Fly Regatta is the largest mass start north of the Tropic of Cancer. Here's what he wrote:
"Hey Fly - I was looking at your site for the 2010 Fly Date when I saw you were claiming to be the largest mass start race in the upper Northern Hem - wrongo Big Guy - I think that Armada Cup thing in Europe has like 1000 people in it or something - you may want to research that by the way - what IS (!) the freakin' date for this year's Fly?"
Well, I dispatched that mutineer with a terse reply. Or so I thought. My interns have informed me that those impertinent Swiss are still carrying on with their uber-officiated, uber-organized, and uber-cilious regatta. So it's time to bring out the heavy artillery.
As Constitutional Monarch I declare Switzerland to be a No Fly Zone.
First we'll take out their air defenses.
We'll strike before they can activate their air raid sirens.
And then we'll take out their reserves.
We don't need their cheese.
We have our own.
We don't need their chocolate.
We have our own.
We don't need their banks.
We have our own.
In a few decades they'll be begging for mercy. Just stay away
from the coffee!
Black Fly Scullers Community Boathouse
Last year I reported that the real-life counterparts to Reg and Chet Campbell (see Fly 4 and Fly 5 Director's Notes)sold their dairy herd -- something to do with getting paid $1.00 for a hundredweight of milk when it costs $1.50 to make a hundredweight of milk. Now I'm no farmer but it seems to me like these cows are getting paid way too much. They should make wage concessions. We'll wait and see.
Anyway, they wanted to convey five acres to the Black Fly Scullers. But there was another suitor in the weeds. Wants to build a "dream house" on our original five-acre parcel. And claims to have the moo-lah on hand.
So the negotiations have taken a turn to starboard. Our meetings are still cloaked in the piquant bouquet of chicken manure from Pete & Gerry's Free Range Farm which is spread on the fields because there ain't no cows to supply home-grown fertilizer. Talk about tears in your eyes.
These farmers are a shrewd lot, I tell ya. But don't worry; I got 'em right where I want 'em!
So here's the revised deal:
We've marked off about three acres. Just upstream from the "dream house." But we'll pay at least $150,000 less than we had to come up with earlier. And whereas over half of the five-acre parcel was under water or on a hill, all three acres are mostly level. It's all dry, and we don't have to build the road.
We'd forego owner-financing. Just raise all the money and pay it in a lump sum.
Now, there'll be a bit more "dirt work" to get the shells to the river. Then there's transfer taxes and other fees which must be paid at closing, too.
So how are we gonna get the money? That's where you come in!
Flies, aren't you glad you translated Herodotus in Grammar School. Or for you remedial types, in high school? No doubt you recall the epic account of the Battle at Thermopylae. Xerxes, King of Persia, seeking vengeance upon Athens for the defeat of his father's army at Marathon ten years earlier, crosses the Hellespont and invades Greece. His army is said to number nearly two million men, including 10,000 of the "Immortals." His fleet numbered 1207 triremes.
The Greeks mount a defense at the narrow high-walled pass called Thermopylae through which Xerxes would have to lead his army en route to conquer Athens. The combined Greek forces number 5,200. The leader of the allied forces was the Spartan King Leonidas who brought with him 300 hand-picked Spartan hoplites.
King Xerxes cannot believe that such a small force would dare stand in his way. For four days he waits for them to retreat in the face of his overwhelming forces. But they did not. So on the fifth day Xerxes attacks. He sends in the Medes. In their impenetrable phalanx, the Spartans stay in the narrow pass and annihilate them. Xerxes then sends in his "Immortals" who suffer heavy casualties and retreat. On the next day every Persian who attacks falls before the phalanx. Xerxes is stymied. And infuriated.
But then a traitor named Ephialtes informs Xerxes about the Anopaian Path which led through the mountains behind Thermopylae. Xerxes dispatches the Immortals who march through the night and surround the Spartans from the rear. Leonidas, learning of this treachery, dismisses all but his 300 hoplites. Knowing that the phalanx is now useless they fight one final battle on the open plain, inflicting heavy casualties on the great Persian Army. All 300 die in battle.
Word of their courage spread throughout Greece. The epitaph for the 300 reads: "Tell this, passerby, to the Spartans: It is here that we lie, their commands we obey."
A month later the Greeks crush the Persian fleet at Salamis. And a year later, allied Greek forces led by the Spartans destroy the Persian army at Plataea. Greece, and Western civilization, is saved.
They don't write 'em like that anymore. And it's been 2500 years. Well, I say it's high time for history to repeat itself.
I'm looking for 300 Spartans. Each one of the 300 will pledge to contribute a total of $1,000. You can pay it all at once; or over 5 years; or anything in between.
100 percent of your pledge will go toward buying and improving the land. In other words, all your money's going into the ground!
I ain't got no overhead. No one will work for me.
We can then use the land for collateral for the construction of the boathouse. And here's our artist's rendition:
Fear not, ladies! The Persian War was not an exclusive boy's club. Remember how I said Xerxes fleet numbered 1207 triremes? Well, of all of the commanders of all the ships in the fleet, Herodotus specifically mentions Artemisia, Queen of Halicarnassus:
"Of the entire navy, the ships she furnished were the most highly esteemed after those of the Sidonians, and of all the counsel offered to the king by the allies, hers was the best." Herodotus VII 7.99.
In the naval battle at Salamis Artemisia's ship was pursued by an Attic ship. Her escape was blocked by the other Persian ships all of which were in a state of mass confusion. They were losing badly. So she did the only sensible thing she could do ram one of the other Persian ships. Seeing this, the Attic ship retreated thinking Artemisia was commanding either a Greek ship or a Persian ship that was deserting. At the same time Xerxes is informed that Artemisia sank an enemy ship. And in response to what he is told Xerxes exclaims: "My men have become women, and my women, men!"
Artemisia, the Queen of the Mass Start!
To Error is Human. But an Heiress would be Divine.
I know what you're thinking. What about the heiress of the billionaire industrialist you were searching for? Well, so far no luck. But I'm not one to put all my eggs (free-range only) in one basket. And I am a hopeless romantic. So, please keep searching, and if you find her send her my way. Here's what I have in mind:
After all, it's for the greater good.
Plan C- Meniscus
Just in case you desert me, and the heiress has a pre-nup, I have one final option.
Our accountants at Cooke & DeBuchs have scoured our Balance Sheets (we have several). There's no question that any mortgage to the Black Fly Scullers, Inc. is a toxic asset. So our crack legal staff at Steele & Lye has formed a hedge fund to buy it: Meniscus.
It's credo: "You'll never know if the glass is half-full or half-empty." Meniscus will buy the toxic asset and mingle it with other junk bonds. But we'll get caught you say? No. You see until now everyone traded synthetic collateralized debt obligations. Meniscus will trade only organic cdo's. Like green. Like British Petroleum. It will be all the rage. Goldman Sachs will have investors gobbling it up like Thanksgiving Turkey.
Meniscus will short sell the whole bundle. We'll have so much money we'll be able to build two boathouses. I tell ya', we are home free!
Shhh! Don't tell anyone. That would be insider trading.
Perhaps you're a Xerxes-phile. Or you don't have a dowry. I understand. You can help the old-fashioned way. Just bring some cash to buy a fistful of raffle tickets. And by "fistful" I mean a lot because the raffle tickets are really small. And besides you don't want to hold a measly fifteen or twenty tix. I mean it will be all over Facebook that you are El-cheapo-tight-wad. The world will be all a-Twitter: " OMG so & so's ECTW!" Your blogging days will be over. Save your reputation. Big brother is watching.
Only $1.00 each. All proceeds will go toward the Black Fly Scullers Community Boathouse. Or my honeymoon with the heiress of my dreams. Or my legal defense.
So, you ask, "What's in it for me?" You're reputation isn't enough? Well, I'll tell you . . . the best sculling prizes extortion can secure. And you get to choose which prize you want from among the following fantastic prizes:
- Concept2 has once again donated a pair of sculls made to order to your most exacting specs. (You have to pay shipping but I will gladly pick them up for you and hold on to them through the fall head race season -- trust me I won't use them). This marks the fifth year in a row that Concept2 has donated a pair of sculls for the raffle. Thank you!
- Designer Gold of Hanover, New Hampshire is back for an encore! Thanks to Paul Gross (a true gentleman and a sculler) Designer Gold has donated a sterling hatchet blade key ring, value about $225. I hope I win - I can use it as an engagement present for my billionaire heiress! But if you win you can give it to the sculling widow in your life.
- Ed McNeely has donated a three-month training program. He will work with you to test your strengths and weakness and establish a program to make you go faster. (Unless you're competing against me!) Thanks, Ed!
- Peter Kermond, the Armani of rowing fashion, and the folks at Burnham Boatworks have donated a Burnham Boat Cover! Racing shell not included. Can you take the waist in a couple inches?
- Cabot Creamery has donated a scrumptious gift box! Everyone loves the "World's Best Cheddar" produced by the 1200 farm family dairy cooperative with members in New England and upstate New York.
- And last but not least, you can win a year's subscription to Rowing News! And I hear that this fall they will do a feature article: "Black Fly Scullers: Infrared or Ultraviolet?" If you don't win, you better subscribe.
So bring lots of money. And read up on our sponsors in our sponsors section of the website.
Sam 'n Ella's Scullers' Breakfast
The good folks at Pete & Gerry's Eggs have offered yet again to underwrite the Fifth Annual "Sam 'n Ella's Scullers' Breakfast" (copyright Black Fy Scullers, Inc). They want to thank everyone who last year helped harvest eggs from Pete and Gerry's happy-go-lucky free-range hens. You were a big help. For those of you who forgot, please remember to return your baskets.
This year we're hoping you will continue to show your support for sustainable farming practices and consider enrolling in the Black Fly Sculler/Pete & Gerry's "Adopt-a-Hen" program. Just stop by the farm and hang out on a perch. In no time you'll know which chick you wanna adopt. And with your loving support she'll grow up to become a champion layer. In return, you will receive a certificate of adoption and periodic updates on how your baby is doing. And her first egg will be laminated and sent to you in a beautiful acrylic case.
Faberge, eat your heart out.
We will once again beg the chefs from the New England Culinary Institute to wash their hands and prepare the meal: Pete & Gerry's scrambled eggs, Pancakes with Vermont Maple Syrup, organic free-range bacon from Second Chance Farm, fresh fruit, orange juice from our own Northeast Kingdom Orchard, and ice-cold green tea brewed from our own hydroponic Ceylonian tea leaves.
Canadian scullers will be able to chose from crepes cooked over an open fire or a gift certificate from Tim Horton's.
As part of our ongoing "Go Green" initiative, the Black Fly Scullers want to remind everyone that consuming raw or undercooked eggs or bacon saves time and energy. Please do your bit to reduce our carbon footprint!
The breakfast is free to all scullers. Spectators and guests are welcome to eat at their own risk. We suggest a donation of $5.
Black Fly veterans know that the only reason I host the regatta is to give me an excuse to make t-shirts. And by now Black Fly veterans should know better than to give me an excuse to do anything.
The Black Fly Scullers T-shirt is more than a work of art. It is the epitome of our "Go Green" initiative. Every year, the Black Fly Scullers order bales of organic-free-trade-micro-loan hemp and bamboo to make our t-shirts from renewable and sustainable resources.
Unfortunately, this year’s shipment was confiscated by the Mythbusters team to test the myth that a Panda inhaling hemp fumes would eat all the bamboo.
And all the bamboo was eaten by a voracious Panda who got the munchies from inhaling the hemp fumes.
Kari adopted the Panda.
Talk about snakebit. Good thing we had insurance. Through the Icelandic Volcanic Casualty Corp., a wholy-owned subsidiary of Aeschylus Maritime Co-op in Athens. They sent a nice letter. It said we'd be getting paid in gyros. I think it was a typo. I'm pretty sure they meant euros.
But, I'm not gonna let a little paperwork get in my way. We've scoured the local Salvation Army and found plenty of raw material to patch together heirloom quality t-shirts for you and generations of your family to cherish. Dry clean only. And despite the unforeseeable loss at sea, we will sell them for the same price as last year: $20 apiece (they'll come in one piece -- and with duct tape).
Rest assured as part of our Socially Responsible Program, the Black Fly Scullers take every step to insure that your t-shirts are made in safe, humane conditions right here in the U S of A. Our manufacturer in Arizona is currently experiencing a labor shortage.
Don't fret, flies. I have been assured by management that all t-shirts ordered two weeks before the regatta will be at the regatta. If you order after that, I will try my best to get it to the venue but in all likelihood your t-shirt will be mailed to you about two weeks after the regatta.
Poet Laureate Contest
Have you forgotten last year’s rendition of “Dancin’ in the Streets” by the Upper Vally Rowing Vandellas? It’s still a You Tube sensation. I hear they’re opening for Adele this summer. So invoke your personal muse and cast aside your dignity --------------------- briefly. No one’s watching really, I mean you tube? Seriously ...
Let’s face it the poet laureate contest has devolved into a kind of “American Fly-dol.” And I’m not one to stand in the way of progress. I asked Regis Phil Bin to emcee. He declined we’re on our own heaven help us. This year we’ll establish a low water mark for sure. This year’s theme is:
Why fight it? Like the great humanitarian said: “Let them eat cake.” Sing, orate, mime (but only in iambic pentameter).
Yes, I’m looking for a Port-a-pot-purri of poet laureatetry.
Singles, doubles, quads, and octuples are welcome.
If it’s really bad you can all perform simultaneously.
Got a little sculler’s block? Don’t fret. Just pop in that 8-track tape and let the music fill your mullet.
In no time you’ll grab your quill and pen a winner, fer sure.
Please indicate the name of the song you're plagiarizing.
But be ready! If you're selected as a finalist you will perform your entry during the post-regatta awards ceremony.
And you, the Swarm, shall select the winner!
The winner will be forthwith installed as the Black Fly Scullers' Poet Laureate with all the honors, privileges, and obligations pertaining thereto.
Flies, I know you know that everyone who is in the know knows that sculling is really cross-training for cross - country skiing. And to prove that point you are welcome to participate in the ever-Inaugural Black Flyathlon. Come join the mass-start schuss about the arduous yet scenic hand-hewn cross-country ski trails surrounding the Black Fly Scullers World Headquarters in North Danville, Vermont. It's held, as always, at High Noon (great movie, Gary Cooper, Grace Kelly) on the Saturday following the CRASH B's.
Your x-c time is added to your regatta time (let's see, carry the five, subtract the 3. I hate base 60!) And the male and female flyathletes with the fastest combined times will be crowned the Black Flyathletes of the year and awarded the most coveted prize in all of sports: the "Stanley Cup." Yep, you keep the Cup for a year and return it to the Regatta next year where it is awarded with right reverence to that year's Flyathalete.
Unfortunately our Iphigenia body double didn’t fool the snow gods and we were bereft of aropos snow. We will see you next year. And I’d appreciate your keeping the whole Iphigenia thing on the down low.
Hearty soups and bread are provided to the skiiers. Skiiers are asked to bring chocolate and Pinot Noir for the Black Fly. Everyone is asked to bring their own mugs/soup bowls/spoons to reduce the trash I stuff in my neighbor's abandoned trailer. (How'd that get there?) Hey, you're automatically enrolled anyway. The laughter is free. So mark your calendar - or whatever it is you do to remember where you're supposed to be.
Flies, if you're like me you suffer from hypoactive organizational disorder with extreme laxity and undifferentiated mendacity. See, DSM-MCMLIX. (I can recommend several highly-qualified psychiatrists and clerics.) So please, please, please, try to get your entry form and moolah to me before the Summer Solstice. That will give my dyslexic but cheerful staff time to segregate you into the proper swarms, assign bow numbers, and otherwise mishandle everything. More importantly, I need the time to figure out how much food, water, and gatorade to buy so I can have drinks at the finish line and food when you get back. Anyone who ignores the deadline will eat leftovers from last year.
The Comfort Inn in St. Johnsbury is offering a discount to Black Fly Scullers stranded overnight in the Northeast Kingdom. Call 802-748-1500 for reservations. Tell them you are participating in the Black Fly Regatta. Wait for the laughter to subside. The Comfort Inn is conveniently located off Exit 20 on Interstate 91 and is approximately 20 minutes from the launch site.
For those of you on a tighter budget, I suggest you contact Karme Choling Buddhist Meditation Center in Barnet, Vt. (802) 633-2384. It rents tent platforms. So you can pitch a tent, etc. And perhaps get in a very agreeable frame of mind for the "big day." It is conveniently located off Exit 18 on Interstate 91 and is approximately fifteen minutes from the launch site. And I hear they have a really cool alarm clock.
Hey, the Black Fly Scullers are on Facebook. It's only natural; Black Flies love to swarm around faces. Join the group. I will post updates there from time to time.
See you on the starting line!
The Black Fly