’Round Town

Spring sailing

Wed, 04/28/2021 - 7:30am

    I met the nicest lady from Rockland on Saturday. It was a spectacular spring day and we met on the Department of Marine Resources lawn. This was our vantage point from which we could view the high school sailboat racing. I was told about the race by friends and they suggested the viewing location. I didn't have a boat, neither did she, at least not one here in the harbor. I suspect she may have a boat in Rockland. She knew a lot about sailing and could tell from my dumb questions that I did not. I was grateful for her answers to my questions.

    I don't know who this lady was but she came to the Harbor to watch her daughter race. Her daughter's boat had a little green triangle at the top of the main sail. She had a long braid and a yellow backpack. Mom had big binoculars and could see lots more than I could with my relatively long camera lens.

    Everything seemed to be all jumbled up on the water. Boats were going every which way. Some tilted over abruptly tossing occupants about! Some people were hanging way outside their boat for crying out loud. What the heck kind of race was this?!

    As it turned out, this was a regatta with five teams competing – Lincoln Academy, Boothbay Harbor, Camden, Rockland and Islesboro. It's part of the Pen Bay league and usually consists of three or four races, but this season, due to COVID, there are only two races. Nonetheless, it is an opportunity for high school teams to get time on the water and race. The boats, which are all supplied by the hosting school, in this case Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club, are called C420s. The boats are operated by two people who scramble around wildly hoping to properly align the boat with the winds and other boats.

    The C420 is about 14' long and equipped with a trapeze set up which allows one member of the team to devote some time to “balancing” the boat for optimum speed. Both members of the team frequently “hang out” together for added stability. It can be a wild scene, especially when viewed from a distance where the race can take on the appearance of a frenzied group of mosquitos.

    In addition to all the other items of concern, winds can be maddening as was the case for this local race. In the words of one racer, the winds were really shifty and gusty. At some points the breeze was all the way down to 6-7 knots with gusts in the mid-teens, making it very challenging to sail tactically. It’s difficult to set a course when things are so unpredictable. From my vantage point at DMR, it made no sense.

    The beautiful day otherwise seemed quite ideal. At least it wasn't the weather we experienced the weekend before with crazy winds, snow and freezing rain. For everyone involved I hope you had fun and wish you well in future races. I learned a lot thanks to the lady from Rockland who helped me appreciate what was going on, not that I fully did.