The Coast Guard marine radio weather alarm sounded 20 minutes after race organizer Dave Koshiol had started Saturday’s 22nd Black Dog Dash multihull race: “Severe thunderstorm front with lightening fast approaching. Take immediate cover.”
From the committee boat, Mr. Koshiol gave the abort race command. Fifteen New England Multihull Association skippers and crews were now in a race back to safe harbor or the nearest beach.
“Avoid contact with metal and open spaces,” continued Coast Guard marine warnings. That would include 65-foot carbon steel-masted boats on open ocean. Clouds colored like Concord grapes released lightening strikes, thunder and hard-hitting rain torrents.
Sponsor Black Dog’s restaurant and porch sheltered the international sailors familiar with risks of extreme sailing speeds and open ocean storms, many having competed in cross Atlantic races. Coast Guard husband-and-wife officers Jay and Irene Spaulding and their family had their vessel, Blue Moon, beached safely. Phillipe from Paris, France had never seen such harbor waters. Mlada and Dennis Newman, of Stonington, Conn,, joked with Russian crews, as Britons Keith and Vallorie Burrage expounded on why they had left England’s rain.
One very notable returning Islander, Dick Newick, was also in the race, sailing one of his many designs. Mr. Newick’s 83 years include a 50-year international award-winning boat designing career. Since 1960, there have been 130 Newick designs, with more than 100 built. Two different Newick designs started Saturday’s race: Mr. Newick himself sailed with Larry Bedell on Hobbit, from Dartmouth, against Damfino, owned by James Connelly of Marion.
“Great thanks go to race organizers Dave Koshiol and Rob Douglas for keeping us racing fast, as no one has ever convinced me it is more fun to sail slow” Mr. Newick quipped.
After a two-hour storm delay of 35-knot gusts, the 22-mile pursuit Black Dog Dash race was restarted in light winds at 2:30 p.m. Each boat starts from anchor, in descending order, with highest handicap multihull boat leading off from Vineyard Haven harbor to Edgartown Light, triangulating back to a Vineyard Haven harbor finish.
Saturday’s 7 p.m. finish was followed by a traditional awards presentation celebration on Black Dog Beach, framed with the soaring riggings of beached trimarans and catamarans. Top finisher was Ted Grossbart on his ultralight, all carbon fiber 33-foot catamaran Rose Bud — of the same color, from Marblehead. Second place finisher was Menemsha’s Richard Bluestein on his 27-foot Farrier trimaran, White Heat. Steve Parks on Flying Fish, from Newport, R.I., finished in third place.
In spite of the dramatic weather, everyone had a great time, particularly chatting with Mr. Newick, and plans on returning next year.