Jan's Blog

Plinks, pitty-pats and plonks

July 14, 2011

The following post is from the Rey Center blog.

Plinks, pitty-pats and plonks. Do you know what these words mean? You would if you are a stone skipper. The Margret and H.A. Rey Center held its first ever Rey Center Rock Skipping Contest on July 3rd. The rain did not stop our hardy group of skippers from having a blast creating ripples on the Corcoran’s Pond.

Historic records date the sport back to the 1500s where people used oyster shells and rocks to skim across the water. It is thought that George Washington popularized it in the United States by skipping, as legend has it, a silver dollar across a river. The popular term for it long ago was “ducks and drakes” for the motion the stone made over the water. In the modern era rock skipping is a famous past time as well as competitive sport. Organized tournaments have been held throughout the century with one of the more famous being held in Mackinac Island each 4th of July. Competitors from around the nation and world participate and watch this event that has taken place since 1972. Other tournaments are held at Boothbay Harbor, ME and in Franklin, PA and sometimes are qualifying events for the Mackinac tournament. The current world record holder from Franklin, PA Russell “ Rock Bottom” Byars threw a rock that skipped 51 times! Check it out here.

The weather for the day was perfect for the parade, and then just before our contest, a soaking rain hit the valley. We still had 13 brave participants compete in our tournament. As is traditional, each person signing in had to come up with a handle, or nickname, in which to go by for the tournament. We had nicknames such as; Ripple, The Sinker, Rocker, Pebbles and Skronker. Most of our skippers competed to get as many skips as they could by throwing a chukker (set of 6 stones) in which they took the best of 6 throws. We had some plonks (a stone that sinks on first hit) and even a category based solely on plonks called the Gerplunkers. This category featured our youngest participants, 6 and under, and was graded based on the splash, or splashes, they could make with the stones. Judges Andrew “Agnew” Tyler from the Jugtown Country Store, Kali “Gerplunker” Foley from the Waterville Valley Resort and the high commissioner Tom “Duck Tree” Quackenbush from the Town of Waterville Recreation Department counted the skips for each group and decide the winners. (right)

We had some very nice throws during the tournament and even one that was close to professional grade, in which you must throw 20 skips. Winning it for the Gerplunkers, ages 6 and under, was Kiki “B” Gohr. This was her first time skipping stones. The Hoppers, ages 7-13, had a very tight race. Besting that group was Vinny “Vinster” O’Brien with 4 skips. The champion of the tournament came on a big throw by Greg “Donkey Boy” Gohr who had 18 total skips on his fifth throw. Each of these competitors received some amazing awards including trophies, fudge and rock candy!

Next year will be even better, hopefully brighter and I will look forward to seeing our returning champions try to bring the big trophies home again!

Rock skipping definitions approved by the Mackinac Island Stone Skipping and Gerplunking Club:

Plink – A clean cut skip, usually at the head of a run;heavy water shows between hops.
Pitty-pats – Short skips at end of run with light water showing between.
Plonk – A stone that sinks on first hit of run.
Skronker – A stone that never hits water or anything.
Agnew – A stone that hits a person.
Chukkar – Composite of 6-stone set

About Jan Stearns

I've been living in and loving New Hampshire's White Mountains for most of my life. I moved to Waterville Valley in 1981 and quickly realized why it was dubbed a Yankee Shangri-la. Once you’ve experienced Waterville Valley, you’ll want to call it yours. The great team of Realtors at Waterville Valley Realty can help you find a Waterville Valley home that fits your lifestyle and budget. 1-888-987-8333.

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