Boating Adventures | "How a Sweater Helped Bring Out My Competitive Spirit" | 12 Photos & Text by Vicki Totten

My Big Moment Photo Bombed
"Your Mom is a Winner" I excitedly announced on the phone to my 27 year old son when he called. It was the day after I had entered and won the Ugliest Christmas Sweater Contest at the Rockport Yacht Club. After about a 30 second pause on his part, he skeptically asked what I was basing that announcement on. Apparently he was having trouble stringing the words "Mom" and "Winner" together. He is about as non-competitive as his Mom, so he probably knew it wasn't going to be something very serious that had captured my competitive spirit enough to compete in, much less to actually win. And it's true that had it been a contest for the prettiest or the most creative sweater, I would not have been even slightly interested in participating. But a chance to win for having the Worst or Ugliest of something - well that's something to get excited about. Let's not ponder too long about what that might say about me and instead allow me to share my winning strategy.

First, I had to actually find a sweater. I was confident that with my expert skills at thrift store shopping, that would be a breeze. My process was to scour the thrift stores for an appropriate sweater and Christmas decorations to attach to it. The $1.00 candy canes used on the back of the sweater came from Goodwill, and the $1.00 bells from the Dollar Store. Castaways 1/2 off Christmas stuff sale was the best find, however, since that's where I scored a Christmas sweater vest for $1.00 and beads for 25 cents to complete my winning combination.

Thrift Store Finds

Beads Made with Safety Pins

Bells are Important

On the evening of the contest, I was one of the first people to arrive at the yacht club. I looked around to see who my competition was. Uh oh. Had I gotten the date wrong? Was it last week instead?

I was just beginning to feel a bit self conscious about my bells and bows when my competitors finally began trickling in.

I rather liked the tie and Hawaiian Christmas shirt being worn by one member. Then there was the mildly ugly sweater that I was afraid to comment on - since I wasn't sure if it was being worn as part of the contest, or possibly was someone's idea of a great sweater. When I saw someone walk in with lights on their shirt, I began to get a little worried that I might have some serious competition. How do you compete with blinking lights on someone's chest? Then there was the contestant who should have won - had there been a category for the oldest Christmas sweater. His Christmas sweater was given to him in 1954 - and it still fit.

Nice Combination

Oldest Sweater - from 1954
The Judging

The Suspense

But there only seemed to be one clear winner, and that was yours truly. But even if I hadn't won, it was a great way to have fun and to explore my own latent competitive spirit. Ok, and I admit it was also nice to be declared the winner.

The Proud Winner

My Big Moment Photo Bombed

Chatting with Commodore Barbara Koster

Vicki and husband, ceramic artist Stan Irvin, are both retired professors who have discovered the joys of Rockport and living part-time on their 33' sailboat, while exploring new sailing destinations and adventures.


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