Harry Duane would have loved every minute of it.
The late giant in the Vineyard Haven sailing community was certainly present in spirit for the 35th running of the annual George Moffett Race last Saturday, when a robust fleet of sailboats turned out in weather that was even more robust to race in a 20-mile course from East Chop to Falmouth to Oak Bluffs to Edgartown and back. In the end, all agreed — it was a memorable day of sailing in nearly every way.
The Holmes Hole Sailing Association sponsors the race, which this year was dedicated to Mr. Duane, a founder and principal proponent of the Moffett Race and two-time winner of the event in his Soling, Andiamo II. Mr. Duane died on June 19 at age 80 following a long illness. He was remembered at a memorial service sponsored by the sailing association on Sept. 6 at the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club, where he was a revered longtime member.
The Moffett race took place two days later on Saturday, Sept. 8. The race is named for one of the founders of the Holmes Hole Sailing Association, George Moffett, a veteran sailor who campaigned his yacht Guinevere for many years, including victories in the Bermuda and SORC Races. He donated Felix Neck Wildlife Sanctuary to the Island.
Forty-eight boats registered for this year’s event and 40 came to the line near East Chop in Vineyard Haven harbor. The fleet was divided into two groups with the slower boats starting at 11:20 a.m. and the faster boats at 11:30 a.m. It was a beautiful, sunny late summer day with a robust, near gale-force southeast wind of 20 to 30 knots. The race committee, in the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club boat Vigilant, selected a challenging 19.4-mile course, accounting for the predominant east setting current.
The course took the fleet from the East Chop start north to buoy RG at Hedge Fence Shoal, then northwest to Red Bell 16 at Falmouth harbor, then southeast to Green Bell 23 at Oak Bluffs, then east to Red Bell 2 at Edgartown, then north to Red Bell 22, then west back to green bell 23, then southwest to the finish line. The nine-plus miles from Falmouth to Edgartown was a challenging beat to windward into big seas built by the opposing wind and current.
After the race, the sailors convened at the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club, which, at the direction of Sally Culkin, generously hosted a reception for the grateful skippers and crews, who were treated to chowder, refreshments and race results. Twenty-four boats finished the race. Commodore Dan Culkin and race scorer Roger Becker commended those that elected to bail out in the challenging conditions for their judgment and seamanship.
Call it divine intervention, karma, poetic justice, or anything else you might choose, on corrected time, the winner of the Moffett Cup Trophy was Harry’s boat, Andiamo II, skippered by his grandson Jared Hammond, with Harry’s son Paul and grandson Nick as crew. It is the only boat to have won the race three times. Wow!
Second place went to Peter Cassidy in the S&S sloop Siren. Third was Scott DiBiaso in the Gannon and Benjamin-built schooner Juno. Fourth was past winner Jerry Goodale in his Pearson 31 Stormalong. Fifth was Steve Besse in the J-120 Apres, a past winner. Sixth was Brian Roberts in his S&S sloop Aileen. Seventh was Andy Berry in the Cal 33 Isobar. Eighth was Phil Hale in the Shields Wicked. Ninth was past winner and Holmes Hole commodore Dan Culkin in the Vineyard vixen Magic Time. Tenth was Doug Heil in the J-24 Pearly Baker. Remaining results follow:
Placing 11th was Ged Delaney, past winner in Ardent; 12, Bill Schillhammer in Stormdancer; 13, Irving Gates in King Kiwi; 14, Ernie Mendenhall and Kathy Logue in Rocinante III, past winner; 15, Roger Merrill in Deneb; 16, H. Cammann in Sakie; 17, Matt Thomas in Grasshopper; 18, Stuart Halpert in Providence; 19, Peter Goodale in Stormalong II; 20, David Lott in Avanti; 21, Peter Wells in September; 22, Tom and Laurie Welch in Eastaway; 23, Frank Desimone in Lagoonah; 24, David Mcdonough in Trinity. A grand tribute to our dearly departed skipper and fleet captain, Harry B. Duane.