Steve Uhl

How the Grinch Stole Nationals

Reprinted from Fleet 5 Road to the Cup – December 2019 Holiday Edition

Every Fleet 5er liked Nationals a lot,
Except for the Grinch, who most assuredly did not.

The Grinch hated Nationals!  It always ruined his season.
Please don’t ask why.  No one quite knows the reason.

It could be, perhaps, that his boat was not right,
That his spreaders were short or his sails too tight.

But I think the most likely reason of all,
May have been that his brain was two sizes too small.

His failure to win over 25 years
May also have contributed to his loathing and sneers,

For he knew better than most the truism of race,
That no one cares less about who takes second place.

And gobs of seconds he won, some even quite close.
In fact, one comes to mind that was closer than most.

In 2010 he was crowned champ for a minute,
Until finishes were rechecked and proved that he didn’t.

And that wasn’t the first time, no certainly not.
His close calls started early, but just never stopped.

But whatever the reason, his boat or his sails,
His pint-sized brain or his tactical fails,

His aversion was real, and ate up his soul,
Leaving in its place a smoldering black hole.

So when Nationals was announced for the 2020 season,
He lost his mind and threw out all reason.

“This won’t happen again,” it really just couldn’t.
So he resolved then and there to make sure that it wouldn’t.

But what could he do?  The decision was in,
The bid had been made and Fleet 5 got the win.

He knew that class members would be planning and scheming,
And I’m not talking about just a little light cleaning.

They’d be building new masts and replacing their lines,
Buying new sails and stiffening their chines.

They’d come from all over surely out of their minds,
To drive thousands of miles, trailing boats behind.

Then they’ll laugh and they’ll rig and then sit down for a drink.
And they’ll drink!  And they’ll drink! And they’ll DRINK!  DRINK! DRINK! DRINK!

They’ll be welcomed and hugged and invited to feast,
On New England Clam Chowder and Corinthian roast beast.

“Then they’ll do what I hate most of all,” said the Grinch with a scoff.
“They’ll go out on the water and beat my pants off.”

Then he growled, with his Grinch finger nervously drumming,
“I must find some way to keep Nationals from coming.”

“Why for 25 years I’ve put up with it now,
I must stop Nationals from coming.  But how?”

Then he got an idea!  An awful idea.
The Grinch got a wonderful, awful idea.

“I’ll take the event on, lead the scheming and planning,
Pretending to make the event so enchanting.

“We’ll scheme!  And we’ll plan! And we’ll PLAN!  PLAN! PLAN! PLAN!
Feigning to plan to the very last man.

“But when push comes to shove and it’s too late to change,
Something will happen that will be very strange.

“The planning and scheming will inexplicably fail,
And that is when the Grinch will suddenly bail.

“What can they do with their event balloon hissing?
Their plans scrapped and tattered, their event chair gone missing?”

And he chuckled and clucked, “What a great Grinchy prank.
I’ll ruin their regatta and they’ll have only themselves to thank.”

So he took the event on to execute his scheme,
And the first thing he needed was to recruit a team.

But things didn’t work out quite as he planned,
Due to the first to join his Nationals band.

No, not Cindy-Lou Who, though that’s a good guess,
For she, after all, was part of one other big mess.

Elise, who like young Cindy-Lou Who,
Though small and diminutive, was nobody’s fool.

She signed on to co-lead that Nationals team,
To keep an eye on the Grinch, who was not quite what he seemed.

“Just a little bit off,” and not sure he could be trusted,
“So best to stay close in case he needs to be busted.”

And stay close she did, ever vigilant and observing,
To make sure the Grinch didn’t do any swerving.

She’d work and she’d plan and she’d WATCH! WATCH!  WATCH! WATCH!
Determined to make sure that nothing was botched.

Every now and again Elise would question the Grinch,
Unwavering and not willing to give even one inch.

“Why is the budget as small as a pea?
Are we planning to put this event on for free?

“Shouldn’t we be planning lots of yummy treats,
To attract far-away folks from far-away fleets?

And, “Don’t you think we should have spent,
A little bit extra for an emergency tent?”

She’d question and probe and she’d ASK!  ASK! ASK! ASK!
But the Grinch was quick, and usually up to the task.

“The budget is small to be conservative, my dear.
We can, after all, get sponsors to donate beer.

“As to the food, no one cares in the least,
For New England clam chowder or Corinthian roast beast.

“And don’t get me started after the money we’ve spent,
To go out and spend more on an emergency tent.”

And so on it went until the time finally came,
To recruit all the others to join his fraudulent game.

They put out the word and they came from all quarters,
All bound and determined to be Nationals supporters.

Jocelyn Cook took on trophies and Peter Sorlien the budget,
The Rubins would raise money (and Peter would fudge it).

Renee Heff took on social to keep everyone happy,
And Tom Dailey would find them beds for their napping.

Stefan would measure, and Christina would greet,
And Steve Uhl would handle the racing end of the fleet.

And that’s not all of them, no certainly not,
There were so many people that the Grinch just forgot.

They came with ideas and great attitude,
Determined to serve the very best food.

They came to make planning a whole lot of fun,
And to make sure the event was second to none.

They came, and they came, and they CAME!  CAME! CAME! CAME!
With smiles and energy to support this big game.

In fact, the response was so generous and rare,
The Grinch lost all track of why he was there.

The Grinch suddenly realized that even if he quit,
Nationals was coming and he couldn’t change that one bit.

It would come with old friends sharing food and good cheer,
None caring who won, just happy to be here.

He puzzled and puzzled until his puzzler was sore.
Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before.

“Maybe Nationals is bigger than just keeping score,
Maybe Nationals, perhaps, means a little bit more.

“It’s not about winning or coming in second,
It’s more about friends being friends,” he reckoned.

And what happened then?  Well, in Marblehead they say,
The Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.

And then the true meaning of Nationals finally came through,
And the Grinch found the spirit of ten Grinches, plus two!

“Welcome to Nationals!  Bring us your cheer.
Cheers to all sailors, far and near.

Our Nationals regatta will always be,
Just as long as we have we.

Welcome Nationals while we stand,
Heart to heart and hand in hand.

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2020 Nationals

The 2020 Nationals will be held in Marblehead August 26-29 hosted by Fleet 5 and the Corinthian Yacht Club.  Stay tuned for more information.  If you need to talk to someone in the meantime, please contact Kim Pandapas at kpandapas@comcast.net

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