By Lynn Fitzpatrick
I love history.
The romantic in me was in for a grave disappointment.The big shindig in Larchmont Yacht Club’s Pandemonium was nothing more than a rubber chicken dinner that fizzled out with a few propaganda speeches followed by a memoriam to the Class.The legendary and not so legendary shared their “the first time I sailed a Star, I was (pick a number) years old …” Just as it was becoming clear to many that the night was bearing a striking resemblance to an AA meeting, someone who had undoubtedly had a lot of time in the sun followed by an equal dose of good cheer brought the meeting to a close with a pointless story that wouldn’t end.
Would the event have been different had everyone donned their black ties and cummerbunds rather than their khakis, blue blazers and belts to hold up their bellies?Would it have been more meaningful had those Star sailors tried to raise money for a cause, say youth sailing, preserving the Class’ history and relics, or funding a lobbyist to lead the way to claw back into the Olympics?Of course, however it seemed as if the Class rested on its laurels and didn’t find enough people to pour their hearts and souls into gilding the lily.Hopefully, the Class’ next centennial celebration, later this year, in Europe will be something worth attending.
My disappointment didn’t linger for long.Instead, I headed for Long Island.With a cocktail dress, gown and more in my trunk, I found myself in the boatyard where my sweet sixteen Sunfish came from.I introduced myself to the boatyard’s new owner. After a long conversation he excused himself to speak with one of his client’s who had just driven in to check out the bottom job on the sailboat that was in the slings.
I hadn’t seen Aileen Eppig in decades.We used to race Narrasketucks together.She still sails Tucks, but was checking out the new and slippery bottom finish on her racer/cruiser.Aileen has always been a fierce competitor and a leader and was never one to mince words or hide her feelings.Saturday night was her night.She was the honoree at the Good Samaritan Healthcare System’s annual gala.The theme was a trip to the Emerald City and Aileen was the belle of the ball in her red gown and dance slippers.
That night, Aileen accomplished what no one had ever done before.She attracted 195 people to the ball - the largest crowd ever.She used her sailing connections to raise funds for a good cause.She knew how to ask billionaires, millionaires and corporations for millions and thousands.She put together 19 tables and let other friends take care of the rest.Cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, raw bar, champagne, filet mignon, a band and a whole lot of fun for all.By the way, she kept her speech short and to the point.
I’m glad that I ran into my old role model in a boatyard and am even happier that my sailing friends from the Great South Bay will come out for a cause that is much greater than sailing. The sport of kings would be that much richer if we were to follow Aileen’s lead and each do at least one thing to benefit the greater good rather than scratch each other’s backs.