The Block Island Times

"It's been six months since I haven't had a boat." Ed McGovern

By J. V. Houlihan, Jr. | May 16, 2013
Photo by: J. V. Houlihan, Jr. Ed's new sled, with Champ Starr

Ed McGovern and I talk about books, boats and our dogs; not necessarily in that order. When Ed and Champ Starr pulled into the stand-by lot today, I got a snootful about Ed's new Pearson Ensign; dogs and books were not discussed. "Joe, wait til you hear what I paid for this one." Ed got, ahem, a very good deal. 'Nuff said. Champ said, "Joe, jump up on the trailer and look at the winches and blocks!" Indeed, Ed scored on this great little Carl Alberg racer. The Harken winches and blocks alone are worth more than what Ed paid for the boat.

   A Pearson Ensign, is a twenty-two and a half foot one design racer which carries a powerful sail plan. An Ensign has a three thousand pound full keel. In its day it was the J-22  class of Narragansett Bay. These boats are very fast and nimble, moreover they are a blast to race; no quarter is given with this class. (I've crewed on them.) They carry a crew of four, and it can be a pretty agressive scene at the start of a race. It is very physically demanding when sailing these boats. Champ also has an Ensign. "There are about eight of them on the island," said Champ. This is still a very active and competitive class in the United States. "There's a huge fleet in Texas," said Ed, "this is hull 332 out of possibly five thousand."

   McGovern, like many guys I know made the leap from surfing( Ed still surfs) to sailing. It was kind of a natural segue of  aquatic activity. When I met Ed in the 60's he surfed. He had also previously owned a C+C 30, Fun Girl for eight years. Additionally, he and Ray Torrey co-owned a Pearson 39 for about twelve years. The guys sold the boat last fall. I knew it was just a matter of time before Ed would get another one. He told me this winter, " I'm looking for something smaller, that requires less maintenance." Well, today he said, "Joe, I heard about this boat, and when Champ and I looked at her, Champ said 'if you don't buy this, I will!'" The guy offered Ed a deal he couldn't refuse. It turns out, that this boat was moored near our boat over in Newport. I've seen this guy out sailing.

   Ed and Champ were grinning as they showed me all the gear that came with the boat. Champ opened his van and showed me: green and red jib sheets, bag upon bag of good sails (an almost new mainsail,  two working jibs, a 150  genoa and a spinnaker). Ed said laughing,  "look at this Joe!" He pulled out a toilet seat, and Champ pulled out a bucket. Priceless. (Oh what a fine madness this sailing thing is.)

   The Ensign has a little cosmetic work to be done; a little bright work in the cockpit will pretty her up nicely. Ed will paint the hull red. We discussed the merits of one part polyurethane paints. With today's paints you can roll and tip a hull, and after the paint sets up and levels, from two boat lengths, it looks like an awlgrip job(see Walter Filkens for more information on rolling and tipping a sailboat. He's a master). Also note, from two boat lenghts, all boats look great.

   Finally, I asked Ed if he'll be racing his Ensign this summer. "Oh, you know, just fun stuff on Thursday nights." Champ said, "Yeah, just fun, ya know." Continued Ed, "Yeah, we'll see what it's like at the starting line Champ." I know these guys; they're competitive, and their fangs will appear at the gun. Also, both guys know the one truth that all sailors know. They know that when two boats are moving along side each other, they're racing, whether they're racing or not. It's just the way it is when you're a sailor. So, look for Ed tearing around New Harbor in his new red sled this summer, chasing Champ, or vice versa. When asked about a name for his Pearson Ensign, he wasn't sure. Gail Ballard Hall already suggested "Kittens," to Ed. I have a name in mind also, but I ain't saying.

To be continued:

Nota Bene: McGovern does own an iceboat, which is a whole other story.

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