With a cool, brisk breeze rippling the waters of Vineyard Haven harbor, perhaps the most surprising feature of the annual Sail Martha’s Vineyard seafood buffet and auction was the number of sailors who were not out on their boats for the evening.
Sailors for the Sea, an ocean conservation nonprofit focused on the sailing and boating community, announced that Sail Martha’s Vineyard and Tisbury Waterways have taken the Clean Regattas Pledge for gold level Clean Regattas certification of the 2013 Vineyard Cup. Clean Regattas certification provides independent, third-party verification that a yacht club, sailing program, or regatta is environmentally responsible and is protecting and restoring the waters.
It may come as a surprise to some that growing up on an Island does not always ensure access to sailing. The water is always within reach, but there have long been socio-economic barriers to Island kids interested in learning the sport.
In the early 1990s, a group of Edgartown residents teamed up to tackle the problem. Nancy Hoffman and the late Nancy Haskell spearheaded the effort to found Sail Martha’s Vineyard (now known as Sail MV), a program dedicated to helping Island kids gain access to affordable sailing instruction.
Sail Martha’s Vineyard will give its first Walter Cronkite Award, in the memory of its staunch supporter and honorary chairman who died last July, to the artist Ray Ellis.
The award will be made at Sail MV’s annual Seafood Buffet and Auction at Tisbury Wharf on Saturday, July 10.
“Walter Cronkite might not have wanted this fuss made over him,” Peggy Schwier, president of the Sail MV board, said in a statement, “but he certainly would have approved of Ray Ellis as the first person to receive this award.
Vandals have been targeting the boat house at the Sailing Camp Park in Oak Bluffs, leaving a trail of smashed-in doors, broken windows, floats set adrift in the Lagoon Pond — and, in a dangerous turn, the latest offense this week saw gasoline poured around the grounds.
At the receiving end of all this vandalism is Sail Martha’s Vineyard, the community-supported nonprofit program that leases the boathouse on the Lagoon from the town to teach sailing to Island children.
The sixth annual Vineyard Cup regatta was the best yet. Wind, weather, participation and competitive spirit reached new levels in what has become the Island’s premiere three-day sailing competition. A record 101 sailboats of varying size and construction competed in Vineyard waters, from Menemsha Pond to Cow Bay.
Unlike other spring sports at Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School, sailing can’t move indoors in inclement weather.
The team is on the water most afternoons, after catching the bus from school to Sailing Camp Park (parent organization Sail MV provides the facilities and equipment for the team). When it rains, they rig up the boats. When there’s no wind, they go out and practice nonetheless. And if there’s a late-season snow shower, well, the team’s still on the water. About the only thing that can keep them inside is lightning.