East winds, fog and shifting breezes challenged the best sailors in last week's 82nd Edgartown Yacht Club Regatta. More than 200 sailboats competed in the one-design sailboat race that ran from Thursday through Saturday.
Forty sailboats started in the Round-the-Island race on Saturday morning. The start of the race was delayed for more than an hour because of lack of wind. Nearly half of the boats finished a shortened race. The finish line was in Lucas Shoals in Vineyard Sound. The race started after 9 a.m. and the first boat to cross the finish was Rima, captained by John Brim. Hugh Chandler of Boston with Scherherazade finished the race in first place, on corrected time.
"It was a most challenging regatta, certainly the most challenging in the four years I have been chairman of the race committee," said Ned Brooks, yesterday. "The conditions were tricky to say the least."
Prevailing fog delayed some of the regatta starts. But it was wind that challenged even the best of sailors. What makes a good sailor isn't how well he performs in a predictable steady southwest breeze and a race course that comes out of a text book. What divides good sailors is how well they handle the unexpected, the variations of sea and wind.
"East wind is unusual. It is tricky for the sailor and it is tricky for race management. Wind conditions on Friday were very fluky, very difficult and everyone enjoyed themselves," Mr. Brooks said.
"An east wind is typically not a stable wind. You tend to see shifts in velocity and in direction and that challenges the competitors to pick the correct side of the course," Mr. Brooks said.
There was fog every day beginning on Thursday and finishing on Saturday. But at times clear skies shone through. "The one-design classes were able to conclude their racing on Saturday in spectacular conditions, though some races were postponed because of the fog," Mr. Brooks said.
"The wind came up from the east and stayed built from 12 to 14 knots. We had eight to 12 knots for most of the day which made for good racing."
While there is a lot of fun sailing in rough seas and high winds, this year's regatta will go down in the record books as one of the more challenging ones. "I'd say this is what makes sailing an intellectual challenge as well as a physical challenge," Mr. Brooks said.
Mr. Brooks said his favorite part of the race was watching the 19 Wianno senior sailboats racing out in Cow Bay. "It is particularly heartening to see the Wianno fleet rebuilding after the fire," Mr. Brooks said. Mr. Brooks was referring to the Crosby Boat Yard fire in Osterville in December of 2003 which destroyed most of the fleet.
For yacht club manager Bill Roman, the highlight was watching over 200 junior sailors from all over Southeastern New England competing, going off to the races and coming back.
The Vineyard Haven Yacht Club had a strong contingent of sailors along with those from Sail Martha's Vineyard. "What gives me goose bumps is seeing all the boats, the patrol boats, this place comes alive. You feel it," Mr. Roman said. Mr. Roman estimated there were at least 60 starts during the three days of racing.
An award ceremony for the regatta one-design sailors was held on Saturday afternoon. The Round-the-Island race awards ceremony was Sunday morning.
Top one-design racers in the regatta are as follows: Herreshoff, class series summary: 1, Riley/Berwind, Persephone; 2, Tom Dunlop, Lila; 3, Paul Sullivan, Taku. Shields class series summary: 1, Jonathan Pope, Madam; 2, Bill Berry, Syrina, 20; 3, Roland Vandermeer, Blero II. Rhodes 19, 1, Katharine Putman, Joan F.; 2, Margot Becker, Faith; 3, Lionel Spiro, Island Girl.
Wianno Senior Class winners: 1, George Edwards, Aurora; 2, Todd Kittredge, Pieces of 8; 3, Joe Lotuff.