BLSA Inaugural Puddle Duck Regatta

12 November 2012 - As the end of the summer neared, my dad put the finishing touches on the sailboat that he had spent the last few months making with his best friend, Bo. The small handmade boat was called a Puddle Duck. Lots of hard work and sweat went into the production of their Puddle Duck, and the project was coming to an end. Two days before they intended to leave for Brookville Lake for the Puddle Duck Regatta with a group of other boat builders, my dad got a call from Bo saying that he was sick with the flu and would not be able to make it to the gathering. My dad, now gloomy with disappointment, needed to find a new partner. Soon.

My dad asked me if I wanted to come along with him to the Lake. Not being very interested in boats, I was initially hesitant to say yes. However, seeing the look of desperation to find a partner in my dad's eyes, I agreed to join him. We spent the whole afternoon packing the car for the Regatta the next day. After a long day of preparing for our outing the following day, I needed to get some sleep.

"Beep! Beep! Beep! Beep!"

I rolled over hit the button to turn off my ringing alarm, and got up out of bed. I looked at my clock, which read 4:30am. Sleepily walking to the bathroom to wash up before heading to Brookville Lake, I stumbled into my dad, who was already awake and dressed.

"This is going to be a blast!" his voice glittered with excitement, "I can hardly wait to put the Puddle Duck in the water!"

"It's too early," I groaned, clearly not as eager to get on the road.

"I know you've never been sailing with me before, but I bet if you go in with an open mind you'll end up having fun and really enjoying yourself," he recommended.

I decided to take his advice. I smiled back at him, "You know what? You're right." With a new pep in my step and an optimistic outlook for the afternoon, I went back to my room to get ready for the big day I had in front of myself.

"DON'T STOP BELIEVIN''!" My dad and I half sang, half screamed along to the car radio.

"All right, we're only about 5 minutes away from the lake now!" My dad informed me.

I put my shoes back on and prepared for the race ahead of me. When we stepped out of the car, I was immediately engulfed with the afternoon heat, and I could feel the sun beaming down on my cheeks. Tiny drops of sweat formed at my temples.

We carried our Puddle Duck down to the lake together and put it in the water. As I lifted my second foot from the shore and it joined my dad and me in our boat, we sailed off to the starting line of the race, where we saw about 10 other Puddle Ducks already floating in the murky water.

"Now here are the rules," We heard the Puddle Duck leader announce through a microphone. When he finished explaining them all, we were all ready to go!

"Three, two, one, GO!"

We were off! At first, our Puddle Duck slowly crept along, but as the wind picked up, our boat hurried through the misty water. We took and early lead along with a second Puddle Duck very similar to our own. We sailed for about 45 minutes, pulling away from most of the crowd. However, we could not seem to shake off the second boat.

As we got closer and closer to the finish line, my hands were stinging due to the cuts all over my fingers from the rope burns. The blazing sun blinded me and sweat dripped past my eyelids, making it nearly impossible to see anything. But now was not the time to worry about bloody hands or the flaming sun. Now was the time to worry about being the first Puddle Duck to reach the finish line, which was just barely visible in the glistening water. Out of breath and heart thumping, my chest was about to burst. I caught a glimpse of my dad; perspiration soaked his shirt and covered his forehead.

Suddenly, we took a strong lead and darted past the second place boat, leaving them lingering in our waves. The finish line was right in front of our boat; I could almost touch it. I could taste the victory seeping into my mouth and exploding on my tongue. Closer and closer we got, the finish line was now only a couple inches away.

We crossed the finish line a full 9 seconds faster than the second place boat. My dad looked over at me with the biggest smile I had ever seen. There was no need for him to say anything; his smile expressed exactly how he felt. It was a mix of accomplishment, appreciation, but most of all, love.

At this moment, we both knew that today did not conclude the way it had started. At first, it was just about going out to the lake for a day of happiness and bonding with my old man. Had we planned to have fun? Of course. Had we planned to take first prize in our Puddle Duck race through the combined efforts of our teamwork, competitive mind-set, and natural skill? I know I didn't. However, today's accomplishments were probably the most memorable of my life. Not the fact that we won. Although that was a great bonus, the real triumph was that my dad and I now had a new hobby to do together every weekend. All of this happened because I decided to take a risk, and try something new, and I ended up absolutely loving it.

Lesson: if you try something new with an open mind, you may end up liking it. Partly because you did it with someone you like, and partly because you find it to be an enjoyable activity.