Saturday, Sept. 7 was a great day for the 36th annual Moffet Race. It was a bright, late summer day as the fleet sailed north from Vineyard Haven on an 18.7-mile course that would take the boats across the sound then off to the east to Wreck Shoal where they would continue on southward and westward legs that would test each skipper’s ability to cope with differing winds and tides.
Early in the race some slower boats were in leading positions but by the time they reached the Cape, fast boats earned their rightful place in the parade, and Juno, Charlotte, Gentian and Aileen sailed on with skill and beauty.
The tide was flooding to the east as sailors worked to pass various marks on the proper hand. At the R10 bell southwest of Wreck Shoal the course turned south and, with the R22 Gong at the east end of Hedge Fence as the next objective, skippers trimmed sheets to sail closer to the wind. On this leg sleek racers moved ahead of the cruisers and the fleet separated as some boats had to negotiate a longer course to leave the Hedge Fence mark to starboard. In the early afternoon the tide began to ebb to the west and skippers worked to cope with tide and wind to find the fastest path to the finish line.
The winning boat was Flying Bugster, a Cape Dory 25, sailed by Bill Coogan. Bill’s time was three hours and 58 minutes. That means Captain Coogan and his crew sailed fast, made no mistakes and earned their place on the Moffett trophy.
In terms of sheer speed, Juno crossed the line first in two hours and 40 minutes. Aileen finished in 2:43; Gentian in 2:58; Charlotte in 2:57. Three of these fastest boats were wooden. Two were made in Vineyard Haven.
Pat West, the first Holmes Hole commodore, used to say Vineyard Haven is a sailor’s town. The 36th Moffett race was a great day for Vineyard Haven sailing.