Sometimes you win races by sailing fast. Sometimes you win races by sailing slow, but still faster than your opponents. And sometimes, as was the case in the 28th annual Pat West Gaff Rig Race on Saturday, you win races by not sailing at all.

Race starts Saturday with light and shifty breeze. — Sam Low

Juno led the schooner division across Vineyard Sound, trying to make the best of a light and shifty breeze. As she approached the windward mark off the southern shore of Cape Cod, the wind got lighter and shiftier still.

Skipper Scott DiBiaso was barely able to keep the 65-foot Gannon and Benjamin built schooner moving through the water. The problem with that was the water was moving in the opposite direction. A strong current more than offset the boat’s forward motion. The crew was sailing backward at about one knot. So he turned to a rare but effective race tactic.

“We anchored and held our position for about 45 minutes,” said Mr. DiBiaso. “Then a southwest filled in, and then we finished it off.”

Robert Soros, owner of winning boat Juno. — Steve Myrick

Juno bested seven other schooners to win her division. Owner Robert Soros accepted the half-model trophy in an awards ceremony cleverly disguised as a large celebration of wooden boats at the Gannon and Benjamin Marine Railway shop on Vineyard Haven Harbor.

Mr. Soros also collected the Zeb Tilton trophy, awarded to the first boat across the line.

Brilliant, sailed by skipper Nicholas Alley, took second honors in the schooner division. Phra Luang, skippered by Jeff Robinson, was third.

While Juno outwitted the maddening Vineyard Sound current, Lisca used the swift tide to her advantage to win the second division.

Brad Abbott, captain of second division winner Lisca. — Steve Myrick

“We got a good start and we were able to lay the mark earlier than a lot of other boats,” said skipper Brad Abbott. “The tide was still in our favor.”

When Lisca rounded the mark and headed back toward the finish, both the tide and the wind shifted, and they enjoyed favorable conditions on the last leg, as their competitors struggled against the current.

Lyle Zell aboard Minnehaha was second in the second division. Artemis, launched from the Gannon and Benjamin yard just last month, was third.

Two boats earned special recognition.

Adventure, a 121-foot schooner built in 1926 and now designated a National Historic Landmark, sailed to Vineyard Haven from her home port in Gloucester for the Pat West Race. Many of the competitors toured the vessel, and Adventure hosted the skippers meeting the evening before the the race.

Brilliant and Charlotte. — Sam Low

Also drawing sustained applause was Venture, recently restored and returned to Martha’s Vineyard from a sojourn in Maine. The race is named after Pat West, who sailed Venture for 50 years out of Vineyard Haven Harbor. She finished fifth in the second division with Lu Yoder at the helm.

“We do all this for Pat West, the legend,” Mr. DiBiaso said. “It’s a great way to spend the third Saturday in September. It keeps growing and growing. The people that are out there are what make the race.”

“It’s my favorite race of the year,” said Mr. Abbott. “You look up and you’re surrounded by great people in beautiful boats. It’s really timeless.”