A Vineyard sailor in one of the smallest boats was among the winners of Saturday’s ’Round the Island Race.
Roger Becker, in a bright red 24-foot sailboat called Gloria, was one of four first-place winners. The race was part of this past weekend’s 85th annual Edgartown Yacht Club Regatta.
Thirty-seven sailboats participated in this year’s ’Round the Island contest. It truly was challenging because of the lack of enough wind.
The Saturday morning start was delayed an hour and a half while sailors and officials waited for the southwest wind to kick in. When it came, it came light, mostly from the south at 10 to 15 m.p.h.
“I got to do some recordkeeping, but I may be the smallest boat to win,” Mr. Becker said yesterday after the race. He said he also won two years ago.
Clare Gesualdo, race committee chairman, said it was a challenging race: “First there was the delayed start. There was light wind beating down East Beach.”
One of the largest sailboats, the 65-foot Rosebud, got stuck in a shoal far off Wasque for a couple of minutes.
The grounding wasn’t all that surprising, as the area is notorious for shifting sandbars. If there was a place to touch bottom, that was where to do it.
Ms. Gesualdo said the yacht club had sent a boat down to the southeast corner of the Vineyard prior to the race to get a handle on the depth of the water. “They came back saying it was a mess with all the shoaling,” she said. A more distant marker was chosen for the sailors to round.
They chose The Hooter, the Muskeget Channel buoy, over a buoy closer to Wasque.
Roger Sturgeon of the Hyannis Yacht Club, the skipper of Rosebud, then managed to maneuver the sailboat through the shoaling area and still come in faster than any other boat. Rosebud was the first to finish the race in 5 hours, 59 minutes and 18 seconds.
Despite that swiftness, the boat still came in last in her class on corrected time. The length of the race was 58 nautical miles.
Hugh Chandler’s 39-foot sailboat Scherherazade, of Eastern Yacht Club, came in first on corrected time, though the boat crossed the finish almost two hours behind Rosebud. Mr. Chandler completed the race in 8 hours, 2 minutes.
When so many boats are of different sizes, the race organizers work out a handicap system, trying to pit sailor against sailor. Without a handicap, the biggest boat with the most sail area tends to win. The handicap levels the playing field.
The 12-metre sailboat Onawa, captained by Chuck Parrish of the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club, did not finish. Nor did four other boats.
With the delay at the start and light winds, the race was shortened for 17 boats participating in the Cruising A and Cruising B classes. Their 42-mile race ended at Lucas Shoal, a spot in Vineyard Sound, well before West Chop. While boats finished as late as 8 p.m., some didn’t get back to Edgartown until 10:30 p.m.
Mr. Becker said he was assisted on deck by Steve Vancour of Edgartown and Peter Rodegast of West Tisbury. Mr. Becker, a past commodore of the Holmes Hole Sailing Association, is an avid sailor who sails in the association’s Vineyard Haven harbor races every Thursday and Sunday. He is a carpenter by profession. The three sailors feasted on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as they went around the Island. He completed the shortened race in 9 hours and 53 minutes, or at almost 7:26 p.m.
Bill Brine of the Edgartown Yacht Club, sailing the local boat Good Fortune, finished the race third in the same cruising class as Mr. Becker. Mr. Brine finished the shortened 42-nautical mile race at 5:50 p.m.
The big winners at the round the Island race came from afar. Along with Mr. Chandler winning division one, Bill Dingwell, commodore of the New Bedford Yacht Club, won first place in Division 3 in a boat called Zoomer.
Ms. Gesualdo said the Edgartown Yacht Club is far better at hosting the race than providing winners, who seem to come from other yacht clubs.
“We are not as good as we’ve been in the past. But we are happy to host the event for our visiting sailors,” Ms. Gesualdo said.
Yacht club manager Bill Roman said despite the light air in the’Round the Island race, the regatta was fine.
“We had three spectacular days of racing. The air was dry and clean and steady but not too overwhelming,” Mr. Roman said.
Sixty-four 420 sailboats and 93 Optimist sailboats competed in the regatta.
“I wasn’t sure we would have the same number of people as last year,” said Deirdre Rynne, sailing director for the Edgartown Yacht Club, based on all the reports about the weakening national economy. It was assuring, she said, to see sailors still, especially young people, still must get out in their boats.
Miss Rynne said the sailors found more currents in the Edgartown outer harbor and that added to the racing. One eddy especially challenged the sailors, she said.
“The eddy came up and was opposing the sailors on the course, even though at the other end of the course it was running in the direct opposite direction,” she said.
The yacht club race crew worked hard to adjust the marks to favor good competitive sailing, she said, and that meant changes even during races.
Optimist sailors are the regatta’s most loved sailing group. The one-man boats measure 8 feet in length, and sailors outgrow them physically before they slip into the bigger boats. The boats may not be so fast, but they are competitive sailboats.
Throughout the three days of sailing, one junior sailor who drew admiration from all who watched. Carter Bartram, 12, of Wilmington, Del., and Edgartown came up with the lowest score in the three days of competion. The lowest score means he is a winner.
“In 12 races, he just kept winning,” Miss Rynne said. “Last year, Carter wrote a little book on his own on how to become an Optimist sailor.”
There is a new spinoff from the regatta. Miss Rynne said the sailing coaches from Vineyard Haven Yacht Club, Sail Martha’s Vineyard and the Edgartown Yacht Club are starting up a sailing series on Thursdays. They’ll compete weekly through the summer for their own cup. The racing will take place at the different clubs.