August 23, 2006
Failed Fear and Loathing at the Hamptons Princess Race
The first ever Hamptons Princess Race, an all women's competition, began last Thursday at 8:30 a.m. The first of 10 teams, consisting of one driver and one co-pilot, left the Bridgehampton Historical Society parking lot ready to win at all costs.
Or so I was told. I spent the evening before discussing how I would cover the race with my friend Justin over several drinks and I overslept, missing the beginning of the race. We were going to both follow the women around reenacting Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas when Hunter was covering the Mint 400. My editor said I could do what I want with this.
But by 9:30 a.m., feeling groggy and hungover, and with no word from Justin, I had to go it alone.
I arrived at the Bridgehampton Historical Society at 10 and managed to coax an itinerary from one of the hosts of the race - a tall man wearing a tight, black shirt and even tighter short-shorts who did not seem to trust me.
He gave me Group One's itinerary but wouldn't let me have the other two groups' schedules. When I tried to grab them when I thought he wasn't looking, I was told to get lost.
Despite being called a race, the winner would not be decided by how fast they completed everything but by points they scored for each event. The first event on Group One's agenda was Sky Diving from the East Hampton Airport. The ladies scored points in this event by having the chutzpah to actually jump out of the plane. I decided not to hang around to watch this because it would take several minutes to take the ladies up in the plane and they would only go one group at a time.
I left to get much needed coffee and breakfast and made my way over to the surfing portion of the competition. Main Beach in East Hampton was warm and beautiful but the waves were breaking right on the shore. In the distance I could see two parachutes floating through the sky.
The Main Beach Surf and Sport crew was just setting up. Cory, the surf instructor, had just finished dragging a dozen long boards down the beach and was waiting for the first team to arrive and the tide to turn. With him was shop manager Steve and two very attractive employees, both of whom looked very good in their bikinis.
The point system for this event was more elaborate than the sky diving event. Participants would score one point for paddling out, two for catching a wave, three for standing, and four for riding the wave all the way in to shore.
By the time the third team arrived I had been in the sun for three hours without sun block. I could feel the skin on my face tightening and beginning to feel tender, the result of having red hair and a fair skin tone. It was time to bid adieu to the beautiful Main Beach Girls and move on to another event.
After a brief stop off to watch a game of chess and drink a cup of coffee in Sag Harbor I made my way over to Shelter Island to watch the kayaking event. There were no participants there so I went into town for food and a newspaper. I couldn't leave because I paid $12 for a roundtrip ticket and, as I am an intern, I am poor.
The first deli I found seemed promising but the grill had been turned off. The 400-year-old woman behind the counter told me the grill is shut off at 3:30 because at five they begin serving Spanish food . . .What?
What was I doing on this island? How am I even supposed to cover this thing? There are teams all over the Hamptons. Some are all the way out in Montauk while I am stuck on Shelter Island. What were the scores? I'm not even allowed at the invitation only awards ceremony to see who won.
The whole purpose of this race was to raise money and awareness about Innocence in Danger, a charity focused on children who had been victims of trafficking and sexual abuse. But there were no spectators to be made aware of this. Plus, there was the mystery of the money behind the race. Audemars Piguet, the major funders of the race, apparently pulled out at the last minute for unknown reasons.
So how was this race really helping the children? The only thing this race seemed to accomplish was turning these women into adrenaline junkies.
At some point while I waited in my car for the contestants to arrive, I fell asleep. When I woke up, I was sweating, my face hurt and the second team had just finished kayaking.
I was done. I was tired, burnt, and had no story for the paper. I didn't even know the names of most of the participants. It was time for me to go. It was time for me to leave the Rock, to get some rest, to try desperately to throw something together for the paper.
But first to find that rotten friend of mine and have a drink.