Some of the nation's best sailors gathered for a long weekend in Edgartown to compete for prizes in the Shields Nationals. The three days of racing began on Thursday. Twenty-nine boats with plenty of sailors came from all over the East Coast and from as far away as Illinois and California.
The boats raced in all kinds of weather, from high winds to light air. The boats have open cockpits and most of the sailors wore wet weather gear.
Jonathan Pope of Mattapoisett won the event with a boat called Madam X, winning two of the six races outright. Mr. Pope is no stranger to the Vineyard, having participated in the Edgartown Yacht Club regatta earlier this summer.
Jeff Randall, Edgartown Shields fleet captain, said of the racing: "It was tremendous for the yacht club; it was tremendous for the fleet."
More than 200 sailors participated. Each 32-foot Shields sailboat had a captain and crew of four or five. The events on the water and off the water kept the sailors busy. "It was a fantastic regatta. We had different breezes which were challenging for the sailors," Mr. Randall said. And ashore, there were club events to keep the sailors in a positive mood.
The first day of racing Thursday brought powerful, gusty winds. Mike Carr's sailboat bent a spinnaker pole and flipped on its side in a peak gust. His sailing ability in that tough moment earned him the highest praise and a special award. Mr. Carr, of Rye, N.Y., received the coveted Take a Bow Award. "It is the actual bow of a real Shields mounted on a plaque. It goes to someone who has distinguished himself infamously during a regatta. The event was photographed by Michael Berwind," Mr. Randall said. At one point the tip of the boom of Mr. Carr's boat was higher in the air than the tip of the boat's mast.
Friday's racing started late. High winds from the west kept the fleet anchored off State Beach for most of the morning. Anyone driving along the Edgartown-Oak Bluffs Road that morning saw the 29 boats close to shore, nearly all of them anchored. By noontime, the boats were again competing.
"Cow Bay is a great place to sail," Mr. Randall said. "It eliminates any of the tidal currents that we are accustomed to seeing in the outer harbor. It is an even playing field. It takes away any home court advantage that the locals might have, no matter what the wind direction." The wind was varied and the seas were often rough.
You might say that for Tim Bryan, a member of the Edgartown fleet, the Shields class is in his blood. His grandfather, Cornelius Shields, designed the first Shields in 1962 after sailing on America's Cup sailboats.
Shields are a highly competitive sailing class, Mr. Bryan said. Over the years there has been an effort to make sure Shields racing is about sailing skills, not boat performance. Mr. Bryan said that in some other classes of sailboats, sometimes those who spend the most money on equipment and resources win the race. Since the Shields class is highly controlled to make one boat as good as the other, the winners are usually the best sailors.
There are rituals associated with the start of the race. "All boats are measured in length before they race," Mr. Bryan said. At least three of the boats were trucked to the Vineyard from Chicago to compete.
The results suggest there was no hometown advantage in the racing. The fastest Edgartown boat was Mr. Bryan's boat, Aileen, and he came in 17th. Behind him came Clare Gesualdo in 20th place with her boat, Flyer. Bill Berry, a friend of Mr. Pope, also came over from Marion and participated in the July yacht club regatta.
Mr. Randall said what makes a good national regatta is a great race committee that runs races by the book. "There were very few protests," he said, fewer than six.
This is not the first time the club has hosted the nationals. The last time was 10 years ago and with as many boats. There have been two previous championship races here.
The results after three days of racing and six races are as follows:
1, Jonathan Pope, Mattapoisett, Madam X; 2, Chuck Allen, Portsmouth, R.I., Ultimate Pressure III; 3, William Berry, Marion, Syrinx; 4, Brandon Flack, Newport, Va.; 5, Jamie Hilton, Newport, John Dory; 6, John Burnham, Newport, Grace; 7, Charlie Shoemaker, Newport, Hawk; 8, Kevin Teborek, Chicago, Yankee Girl; 9, Graham Quinn, Marion, Nimrod; 10, Robert Labdon, Brewster, Janel; 11, Reg Willcocks, Oyster Bay Cove, N.Y., Whistler; 12, Dan Goodwin, Marion, The Grinch; 13, Mike Carr, Rye, N.Y., Cornelia; 14, Robin Monk, Newport, Diversion; 15, Larry Hall, Marion, Nuts; 16, Platt Johnson, Newport, Rajah; 17, Tim Bryan, Edgartown, Aileen; 18, Skip McGuire, Larchmont, N.Y., Lure; 19, Richard/Ethan Robbins, Mattapoisett, White Rabbit; 20, Clare Gesualdo, Edgartown, Flyer; 21, Mark Adams, Marion, Anduril; 22, John Gowell Jr., East Greenwich, R.I., Gem; 23, Tim Klein, Edgartown, Deja Vu; 24, George Gardner, Mattapoisett, Goodnews; 25, Phil Smith, Edgartown, Bolero II; 26, Berkely Green/Craig McCabe, Newport, Calif., Aletor; 27, Jonathan Schwartz, Chicago, Red Feather; 28, Jeff Randall, Edgartown, Trouble; 29, Paul Mitchell, Edgartown, Amusing.