Turkey regatta 2019

The Alamitos Bay Yacht Club parking lot filled rapidly Saturday with participants at the Turkey Day Regatta.

I’m thankful we live in a place where we can sail year round and Alamitos Bay YC’s Turkey Day Regatta, held last weekend celebrates it. As member Ed Spotskey said, “It was a stunning weekend where motor and sail boaters were both happy.”

The regatta attracted 125 entries in 14 classes. The annual tradition of presenting edible trophies of turkeys, game hens and pumpkin pies has been long standing and continues to delight. There is a special pride in sharing the fruits of your win with family.

Just this week, an informal survey was made on the Facebook Yacht Club page querying sailors on their favorite trophies. Consumables and useful items were by far the most popular.

Gone are the days of pickle dishes for trophies. One frequent regatta winner said, “The best trophies are functional trophies.” Embroidered racing gloves, vests, insulated bags, belts, foul weather gear, picture frames, gift cards and chocolate chip cookies topped the list.

No matter what kind of hardware you do or don’t bring home, it is about the experience and the volunteers on and off the water that make it happen.

In October, ABYC hosted its 93rd annual installation of officers gala. Nicknamed the Prom, Dana and Sam Bell were honored with the “Couple of the Year” award for their volunteerism — and that’s so much more than being the Prom King and Queen. As chairman of SAC, ABYC’s Social Advisory Committee, Dana combines her bountiful energy with innovative ideas to make every soiree sizzle.

For the Turkey Day regatta, the Bells served as liaisons with ABYC member-owned Teak Catering to prepare a Thanksgiving spread that would make Norman Rockwell rethink his painting. Commodore Stephen Mueller and Junior Staff Commodore David Schack served up hearty portions of turkey, ham and all the fixin's.

Back in the club’s Munford-Lousberry days, members cooked the entire meal. With the average member age growing and increased concerns over liability, the outside help is welcomed.

Hundreds of members, sailors and their guests were served. Dana made sure the last group of hungry young sailors who were meeting with their coach had the same plate-load of goodness that the first ones in line did. With her basket filled with orange placemats and napkins ties with fall-colored yarn full of eating utensils, she briskly went from table to table. Sam was alongside carrying a bus tray and filling it quickly.

By 7 p.m., the bar was on last call, exhausted sailors had gone home to get a good night's sleep before another day of sailing and the cleanup crew was wrapping up.

I met Dana back in the 1970s — when we worked at the Queen Mary Tour and Cousteau’s Living Sea Museum. Thanksgiving was one of our biggest days. There were busloads of Canadian tourists, because few attractions were open on the holiday especially where travelers could also be served a great dinner.

One of the exhibits was about ocean exploration and included the history of Self Contained Under Water Breathing Apparatus (SCUBA) diving. Many guides claimed Dana needed her own SCUBA tank to help her squeeze more words into her tour guide spiels, because she rarely came up for air.

Always the overachiever, soon she became the chief honcho of all the guides and tour operations. She ran the tour operation with the same gusto and enthusiasm that she exhibits today at ABYC.

Today, in addition to her SAC duties, Bell organizes adventures to Howland’s Landing, a Catalina cove just east of Emerald Bay, for Ukulele sing-alongs, beach bonfires and family fun. As Rear Commodore Brooke Jolly adds, Bell’s “willing posse” also annually attends the Avalon Silent Film Showcase put on by the Art Deco Society of Los Angeles.

The regatta is a grand tradition, and the feast was delicious; the dessert table had apple and pumpkin pies — with an unsupervised aerosol can of whipping cream. There is so much to be thankful for.

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