Thursday, March 5, 2009


My brother Scott is a windsurfer and lives in Harwich, Mass. on Cape Cod. One September during the 90's Scott entered a windsurfer race known as "The Monomoy Challenge" held at Red River Beach in South Harwich in September as part of the Cranberry Harvest Festival.

The Cranberry Harvest Festival is a well known small town festival held in Harwich, Mass. This festival features a large craft fair, fireworks, food, musical entertainment, a parade, amusement rides, road race, and all sorts of fun activities. The festival is held in September generally about a week after Labor Day.

I went down to the "Monomoy Challenge" windsurfer race to watch Scott compete and see all the other windsurfers as well. There were approximately eighty to one hundred windsurfers in the race. Prior to the race, the race officials described the course to all the race participants and the location of the different buoys set in the water to define the course.

The Monomoy Challenge is named after Monomoy Island which is off the coast of Chatham, Mass on the Cape and is currently an uninhabited bird and wildlife sanctuary owned by the US Government. Monomoy was inhabited as early as 1710 by settlers with their own harbor, homes, stores, etc but a hurricane in 1860 destroyed the harbor and this settlement was abandoned. There is currently an abandoned light house and owners quarters on this eight mile island.

After everyone was given the race instructions the windsurfers all got into the water and waited for the starting gun for the race to begin. The race course was described as a straight run from shore out to the first buoy, then a left turn around the buoy continuing left parallel to the shore line to the next buoy, around that buoy and then heading back to the starting point.

As the starting gun fired, all of the windsurfers starting sailing in an extreme right direction. All of the windsurfers that is except Scott. It was interesting to see one windsurfer heading out straight from the shoreline towards the first buoy and everyone else heading away from shore to the right. Either that one windsurfer,(Scott), was way off course; or everyone else was off course but Scott.

I don't know why all the other windsurfers took off to the right. Perhaps the wind currents were blowing stronger in that direction. Perhaps one windsurfer wanted to get "clean air" and decided to start on the right hand side and try to avoid the other windsurfers and then another person followed that windsurfer, and then another followed that one, etc. until they all like a pack of lemmings started following the other windsurfers.

It turned out that Scott was the only one that followed the proper race course. He had a tremendous lead by following the described course on his own and resisting the temptation of following everybody else in the race who were going in the wrong direction. Yes, Scott Shaw "marched to a different drum" so to speak and trusted his own judgement resisting the lure of the "crowd" of misguided windsurfing competitors. Scott followed that less traveled path and that made all the difference.

Scott won a commemorative trophy plate and a custom green fleece jacket monogrammed in gold "Monomoy Challenge Champion". He was also rewarded for trusting his own beliefs and not just following the herd. Staying true to your own course was the real "Monomoy Challenge."