It took seven hours and 43 minutes for the fastest sailboat to complete the 'Round the Island race on Saturday. Sforzando, captained by Blair Brown of the New Bedford Yacht Club, was the first to cross the finish in the Edgartown outer harbor at 3:43 p.m. The speedy Taylor 44's lap around the Island typified the pace of most sailing in the 80th annual Edgartown Yacht Club event.
The three days of racing that began on Thursday were fast, fun and full of sailors of all ages.
"The regatta was a great success. It is very easy when the winds are cooperative. We had some pretty good breezes," said Sam Warriner, regatta chairman and rear commodore for the club.
William Roman, manager of the Edgartown Yacht Club, said: "We did have a brief postponement on Thursday morning after a thunderstorm passed. But otherwise it was beautiful weather for racing. It was a great blend of tradition and fine sailing; this is so indicative of Edgartown."
More than 400 sailors participated in the many races of the regatta. On Saturday afternoon, there was a record turnout for the prize ceremony in the main hall. The ages of the sailors ranged from eight years old to over 80, and they gathered under paintings of the whaling era. The ceremony was opened by Ned Brooks, race committee chairman. "It was the greatest turnout I've ever seen," Mr. Roman said.
Mr. Brooks told the Gazette yesterday: "The regatta traditionally has good winds. We maintained that tradition this year. We had steady, strong southwest winds, the kind that Edgartown is famous for. Everyone had a heck of a good time, whether it was a record turnout for the kids or the 'Round the Island race.
"From year to year, my favorite sight is watching the Wianno seniors coming downwind with all their multicolored spinnakers. But this year, the start of the 'Round the Island race was the best sight," Mr. Brooks said. Fog covered Vineyard Sound early in the morning. The sun gradually broke through and bathed the sailboats in soft light.
Mr. Brooks and the racing committee that officiated the start of the race observed from aboard the 90-foot Berger powerboat Wimil, owned by Edgartown summer residents Bill J. and Beth Lynch. The vessel, built last year, is named after the couple's two children, William and Michael.
The start of the race around the Island was a spectacle. The race was divided into two divisions, those with and those without spinnakers. A sailboat named Upbeat was the first across the start in the first race.
Mr. Warriner was a participant in the race, in his boat High Tide, a 35.5-foot sloop. "We started off with a reach. There were 15 boats in our class," he said, sailing without spinnakers. "We finished the race at 5:58 p.m., rushed home and made it in time to go to the Sail Martha's Vineyard dinner in Vineyard Haven."
John Nugent of the 51-foot Swan sailboat Godspeed was also fast enough to complete the race and still attend the Sail Martha's Vineyard auction.
"It was a beautiful sail around the Island," said Mr. Warriner. "The weather was great."
Dame of Sark, a beautiful 40-foot Concordia yawl, won the non-spinnaker class race. She is captained by Stephen Donovan, a club member. The yawl's shiny varnished wood hull was a sight to see and a local favorite. This was the third year she has won her class. "She is the oldest boat in the fleet," said Mr. Roman.
The Holmes Hole Sailing Association was a team winner in the 'Round the Island Race. Mr. Warriner explained that three teams of sailboats competed for prizes in the race. Each team consisted of three sailboats. Edgartown Yacht Club had two teams. Beverly Yacht Club and the New Bedford Yacht Club had a team. The Holmes Hole Sailing Association was represented by the following boats: Solitude, a Swan 36, captained by John Amabile; Lapwing, a Geiger 35, captained by Phil Zell and Three Boy Breeze, a J-44, captained by Gene Berardi. Mr. Amabile placed second in the non-spinnaker division; Mr. Zell won the spinnaker division and Mr. Berardi placed 10th in the spinnaker division.
The team couldn't be at the awards ceremony on Sunday because they were back out on the water sailing in another Holmes Hole Sunday race.
Yesterday the Edgartown Yacht Club clubhouse was a good deal quieter than over the weekend. Employees and volunteers were clearly enjoying the slower pace.
Attention now shifts to August. Mr. Warriner said the club is planning now for the annual 12 metre regatta slated for August 8, 9 and 10. "We are hoping for 15 boats, the largest number ever," Mr. Warriner said.