For a number of consecutive years, I was Chief Judge at two of the most competitive and popular of all antique and classic boat shows( New Hampshire and California). and although recognizing the potential value of such competitive events in establishing benchmarks, I also observed first hand the corrosiveness that such competitiveness engendered within a relatively small and supposedly collegial hobby, not to mention the intimidation that others felt - a lot, in fact - by leaving their far more numerous, and more interesting, but perhaps less finely finished boats at home tied to their docks.
Over time, like the advancing thin edge of the wedge, I also learned how many of those spending fortunes of time and money to win awards were one-trick-ponies whose only real motivation was to WIN. Only after visiting a great un-judged show (a "Rendevous") at the Sagamore on Lake George (New York) did the light shine on the greater value and sheer pleasure of simply enjoying and admiring these gorgeous boats for what they were. It was like a breath of fresh air, and I forever since dropped judging , either as a judge or by entering my own boats in a judged contest (full disclosure: one of my own boats was once awarded 98/100 points, the highest ever in the class at the time).
People's Choice: Invariably, whatever is the most spectacular, showy, or most glitzy will win, regardless of real merit as to quality, originality or historical fundamentals. Our family stopped participation in all boat shows some years ago after our Edwardian steam launch -the only one is the region and state- was mobbed each and every time with "People's Choice", overshadowing just about everything else more deserving.
I see the RPM movement as tremendously enlightening in same way as the sociable Lake George Rendevouz was enlightening to me. Each and every model stands by itself as it is judged silently by each and every observer according to his own aspirations and standards, whether by tyro or professional. The emphasis is on models, not ribbons or points or trophies. The models are at the center and they stand alone.
IMHO, the NMRA would be well served to embrace this egalitarian philosophy that zeros right on the heart of the hobby.
Denny S. Anspach MD