Weather was a big factor in creating memories in this past Saturday’s annual Pat West Gaff Rig Race. A squall line came through that will be talked about for years to come.
Three schooners were the top winners in the race.
The Island-built 65-foot schooner Juno, captained by Scott DiBiaso, won the race on both corrected time and elapsed time. The vessel completed the race in 2 hours 44 minutes and 8 seconds.
Second place went to Phra Luang, captained by Jeff Robinson and third place went to Malabar II, captained by Jim Lobdell. Mr. Robinson completed the race in 3 hours, 15 minutes and 11 seconds. Mr. Lobdell came behind three minutes later.
The race started at 11 a.m. in the waters between East and West Chop. Fifteen sailboats started the race and 10 boats completed it.
“It was an extraordinarily memorable race,” said Harry Duane, race committee chairman. “The stories from each of the boats are something.” Rain came down horizontally.
The sailors raced across Nantucket Sound to nuns and buoys off Edgartown and back to the finish off East Chop.
Mr. Duane said he drove down to Cow Bay to watch the sailboat progress when fog arrived, preceding the arrival of a squall line.
“Within minutes the front came through. It blew very hard and very quickly,” Mr. Duane said. The wind anemometer at the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard recorded a high gust from the southwest at 45 miles per hour.
So much wind in such a short time tested the strength of sail, line and rigging and the wits of sailors.
A catboat named Kathleen, captained by Tim Fallon, had been in the front of the race for most of the start of the race, until the breeze came.
“Kathleen dropped back behind the big schooners, dropped her mainsail and anchored. They reefed as much as they could, raised anchor and continued to race,” Mr. Duane said.
The sailboat When and If, captained by Emyl Hattingh, was overwhelmed by the breeze and pulled out of the race.
“When and If was hugely overcanvassed and could not head up into the wind in time to get their canvas down,” Mr. Duane said. To survive the moment, the vessel relied on its engine to head into the wind and bring the sails down.
The last sailboat to complete the race was Swallows and Amazon, completing the race just before 5 p.m.
Mr. Duane had high praise for the sailors participating in the race. That piece of weather was a lot, he said, and the sailors handled it well.
The winners are as follows: 1, Juno, Scott DiBiaso, schooner; 2, Phra Luang, Jeff Robinson, schooner; 3, Malabar II, Jim Lobdell, schooner; 4, Kathleen, Tim Fallon, catboat; 5, Estrella, B. Davies, schooner; 6, Sparrow, Dan Pesch, Bella; 7, Celeste, Bobbie Crosby, G& B; 8, Violet, Gary Maynard, schooner; 9, Valora, Lu Yoder, ketch; 10, Swallows and Amazon, Tom Graham, G& B.