During the summer of 1976, I sailed on Tabor Boy as paid crew and had the amazing good fortune of participating in the Bicentennial Tall Ships Race from Bermuda to Newport and the Operation Sail event in Boston. At last Friday's Headmaster's Council meeting I ran into an old friend; someone I hadn't seen in over 30 years. Chris Dowley graduated in '76 but joined us for this once in a lifetime experience of sailing with the world's largest gathering of tall ships. Although I hadn't seen him since 1976, he looked remarkably the same after all of these years. It must be the fresh air and clean water in Marblehead!
Arriving in Newport after the race from Bermuda there were lots of activities for participating crew and trainees. Chris, a very accomplished member of the Tabor sailing team, was looking for a crew member to race in the 420 regatta. I really didn't have a clue about small boat racing but figured it would be a fun thing to do so I signed on.
The first day out, thanks to Chris's skills and experience, we dominated our races, winning both handily. I thought this was pretty incredible since we were high school kids competing against a fleet of accomplished international sailors. The second day we didn't do quite as well but we still ended up finishing 3rd overall out 20 teams.We received medals in an Olympic like ceremony which was pretty cool. I thought my medal had been lost but after telling my mother about catching up with Chris, she showed up the next day with a box that contained that medal as well as the official Tall Ships 1976 medallion.
Chris lost a lot of his memorabilia from those days in a fire but thanks to a chance meeting at the recent Headmaster's Council meeting and the power of the internet, he now has a copy.