Possibly the biggest, and certainly the longest, sailboat races of summer come together this weekend. Tomorrow, 74 sailboats are expected to race around the Island in the Edgartown Yacht Club’s annual Round the Island race. The race — about 52 miles in length — starts in early morning and lasts all day, taking boats clockwise around the Island.
Yesterday, Bill Roman, yacht club manager, said the energy is high among the entrants, especially this year. It is a huge turnout compared to last year, when there were 48 boats, he said. “I think the timing is better,” he added, noting that this year’s race is happening in late July. “There are fewer conflicts with other sailing events.”
The choice to schedule it for this weekend is tied to currents around the Vineyard. Looking at the forecast ahead, the weather looks superb for racing, too. “We probably will have an easterly breeze. They’ll have a reach going down along East Beach [of Chappaquiddick]. From there they’ll have a run all the way along South Beach to Aquinnah. It will be a nice race,” Mr. Roman said.
Sailboats entered in the Round the Island race have an opportunity to practice for the big race today by doing smaller, but no less competitive, buoy racing in Nantucket Sound, just north of the Edgartown Lighthouse. Mr. Roman said they have over 28 boats registered for this morning’s racing, in what is being called the Big Boat Event. It is a day of racing that begins this morning at 10 a.m. and finishes in the afternoon. For those who love to watch spinnakers unfurled, this is a better race than Saturday’s race, because all the boats are fairly close to each other. In the larger race, the boats stretch out.
This morning’s race can be watched from the Edgartown lighthouse beach. Maybe some of the racing will be visible from the Bend in the Road beach (Joseph Sylvia State Beach).
The Saturday morning start to the Round the Island Race is an impressive sight. The sailboats are in different divisions, with the slowest boats usually starting first, followed by the bigger and faster boats. There are a few minutes between each of the starts, so the boats sail off towards Cape Pogue lighthouse in differing groups.
Depending on how much wind there is, Mr. Roman said that the sailboats will start returning to Edgartown in mid- to late-afternoon. Slower boats will trickle in through well into the night.