COLUMBUS, Ohio –
“All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by…”
John Masefield’s words rung true at Defense Logistics Agency Land and Maritime’s celebration of the U.S. Navy’s 246th Birthday with the second edition of the COVATTA.
Except the ships were not tall and were not steered by a star but by frantic blowing and fanning as they raced swiftly down dual tracks of water in an inflatable pool once again in a tabletop version of past events.
This year’s event at the Mission Park Pavilion was a lighthearted affair with friendly competition between services in both the COVATTA and Cornhole tournament, new this year.
The event was well attended by the Land and Maritime uniformed services and command staff.
DLA Land and Maritime Commander Navy Rear Adm. Kristen Fabry appreciated everyone coming out, remarking that not only the Navy was well represented so was the Army, the Air Force, the Marines and civilians as well.
“Happy Birthday Navy,” Fabry said, “Really happy to see our joint partners here, our whole DLA team out celebrating this event.”
Even though the large boats have been replaced by those much smaller in scale, the competition was just as fierce.
Out of a field of 10 hand built and meticulously decorated boats, Don E’s Revenge, owned by Navy Cmdr. Eric McCandless, blew out the competition and emerged victorious, an improvement on his second place finish last year. Some of his competitors came close but he was sure it was certain modifications that thwarted all others in the field that day.
“They all go the same speed no matter what you do. It’s all in the fanning,” McCandless said. He added that keeping the sail squat with a lower surface area combined with the fanning were the keys to his success.
No Quarter Given owned by Marine Corps Lt. Col. Joshua Sperling placed a close second and Carolina Dreamin’ owned by Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ken Swing came in third.
This year’s birthday theme is “Resilient and Ready” which speaks to the Navy’s history of rising above the most challenging crises, and still maintaining force lethality and preparedness.
Fabry was excited to see how the competition would play out and how all have adapted to this new format due to COVID concerns.
“What I’m also excited about is the resiliency of the Navy team here,” she said, speaking about their ingenuity in coming up with this alternative format over the life-sized regattas pre-COVID.
Inspiration for the boats came from many places. Some looked to Navy lore in the decoration of their boats while others looked to popular culture and movies in the creation of their crafts. Some had miniature pilots and guns placed strategically on their hulls. Each boat was as unique as their owners with names like Battlechop, Ghost Princess, The Toothless Ferry and Victory at Sea II.
“I love the creativity and ingenuity for all the boats,” Fabry said.
The strong breeze was swirling throughout the course buffeting the small crafts from all sides making it all the more satisfying to achieve victory in each heat.
Multiple techniques of blowing, flapping, fanning and just hoping the wind would be in their favor were employed by each competitor to spur the little boats along the two-lane course.
Fanning devices ranged from clipboards to fancy fans and homemade devices with varying rates of success.
The competition was fast and furious and after five quick elimination heats, moved on to the championship rounds to determine the last boat standing.
Fabry handed out medals to those who placed plus an additional extra special prize in the form of special Navy COVID masks to each winning member. The Marine in the group, (Sperling) took lighthearted offense, covering up his Navy mask with that of the U.S. Marines.
Everyone burst out laughing followed by cheering and much applause.
The ceremonial cutting of a small birthday cake by Land and Maritime sailors representing the Navy’s history from oldest to youngest followed. Below the cake were ceremonial cupcakes and cookies for all to eat to celebrate the Navy’s 246th year safely.
The inaugural Cornhole tournament followed with participants dividing up into teams of two with games set up all around the pavilion.
After a flurry of activity lasting about 20 minutes, a winning team emerged. Army Col. James Godfrey and took top honors in the inaugural Cornhole tournament. The second-place team was McCandless and Navy Cmdr. Craig Dziewiatkowski and the team of Marine Corps Maj. Kyle Huston and Swing took third.
The COVATTA boats and their owners are listed below.
1st - Navy Cmdr. Eric McCandless, Don E’s Revenge
2nd – Marine Corps Lt. Col. Joshua Sperling, No Quarter Given
3rd - Navy Lt. Cmdr. Ken Swing, Carolina Dreamin’
Navy Cmdr. Vaughn Cooper, Ghost Princess
Navy Cmdr. Craig Dziewiatkowski, The Toothless Ferry
Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jonathan King, King Family Kruiser
Air Force Capt. Michael Hofer, Twins 246
Navy Cmdr. Andrew Mikesell, Green Monstrosity
Navy Cmdr. Brandi Roberts, Battlechop
DLA Land and Maritime Deputy Commander Kenneth Watson, Victory at Sea II