The moans from crew members entering Crum Creek on Sunday morning seemed more indicative of some tortuous rite-of-passage à la pledge season than voluntary quests for fame and glory, but as the shrill blast from the Registrar’s whistle signaled the start of the 40th annual Crum Regatta, racers proved they were in it to win it. Braving the frigid waters in various stages of undress and perched upon a wide spectrum of “floating” contraptions, the six teams carried on what Regatta Commodore Martin Warner introduced as one of the college’s “largest, mostly continuous traditions” — a reference to last year’s gap year.The Commodore initially predicted the straw-hatted Skinny Dippers (Yvonne Socolar ’13, Erin Curtis ’13, Emma Thomas ’13 and Taryn Colonnese ’13) as the 2012 victors. Their craft — the only floatation which kept all members dry when seated on board — certainly appeared to be more structurally sound than the crew-favorite duct tape-water cooler combinations that ruled the morning.
“[I have] a general rule of thumb: if it looks like a boat, it will probably work like a boat,” Warner said prior to race time.
After winning with an aforementioned duct-tape-water-cooler craft, the crew members of Bare Bones felt inclined to disagree. Reviving their winning model from 2010, Eli Siegel ’13 and new crew member Joe Liang ’13 sprinted downstream with Jeewon Kim ’13 in tow, finishing well ahead of the competition and setting “a new speed record,” according to the Commodore. Although far from the driest route downstream, the success of second- and third-place teams H.M.S. Chapunga Dwam and The Lapras using a similar technique emphasized the necessity of human-generated locomotion in speeding down the creek.
“The boats that look like boats never win,” two-time champion Siegel said with a laugh after securing the Leif Ericson Award for first-place finish.
“There’s no current [in the Crum],” Kim explained. “You have to pull [the boats], and oars aren’t going to do it.”
Meanwhile, the Skinny Dippers — propelling themselves with sticks and a Sharples tray from the safety of their mattress — finished in a tie for last place. The ruling was the result of a compromise established between crew members of the H.M.S. Price Ferchill and the Dippers after roughly ten minutes in the water and more than half the course to go. Proposed by the Commodore from the shores of the bank, crowd members eagerly anticipated team members’ reply.
“A tie?” echoed H.M.S. Ferchill crew member Stuart Russell ’14. “Yeah, that sounds good.”
Following the acceptance of shared defeat, both crafts’ crews abandoned ship to race to the finish line.
“I called it wrong!” the Commodore lamented after the awards ceremony. “But it’s [part of] the fun of it. You never know what’s going to happen.”
The Skinny Dippers believe their “fierce costumes” — spandex with the aforementioned flower-decked bonnets — prompted the Registrar’s ill-fated prediction; however, their decorative garb failed to earn them the Queen Elizabeth Award, which went to Charon Ferry Across the River Styx for their use of alternative materials and artistic attire. With one crew member hanging onto the triad of floating bins, the remainder of the three-person crew pulled the contraption and carried an undead joy-rider downstream.
“[Our strategy is] not to die, and to drag hell-bound souls down with us,” cloak-clad Hilary Traut ’13 explained pre-race. With a plastic skeleton along for the ride, their adherence to theme (the Styx is a river in Greek mythology that separates the living from the dead) possibly turned the judges’ hands in their favor.
Winning the Christopher Columbus Award for their second-place finish and exemplary team spirit was the scantily-clad crew of the H.M.S. Chapunga Dwam (Tyler Hanson ’13, Aaron Dockser ’13 and Justin Reyes ’13), whose aerodynamic speedos may have motivated their downstream sprint.
“The water is freaking cold,” the crew members of The Lapras confirmed minutes after discussing their plans for a warm-up shower. The only team with first-year sailors, roommates Lucas Chen ’16 and Richard Monari ’16 spent their fall break on campus working on their craft, determined to emerge from the race with “money and glory.” Although they received the Crum Creek Cruiser Award for best engineered vessel, Monari said they’d only enter the Regatta again if they came up with a different design — presumably, one that left them dryer.
The Skinny Dippers, for their part, were happy to cross the Regatta off their bucket list and secure their goal of a last-place finish. The Commodore “loved their laid-back presentation” and “summer garden-party theme,” enhanced by their ships’ lazy progress downstream. Crew members rescued shoes and skeletal bones as they made their way slowly to the finish.
As for the Commodore? He blamed his misprediction on an unlikely culprit — his admiral’s hat, topped with feather plume.
“It pinches,” he explained while walking back to school. After removing it, one could see a faint indent where the band pressed into his scalp. “I get a little dizzy after a while.”