An emotional storybook finish for Moffett Race winner

Competitors faced stiff winds and heavy seas for the 35th annual Moffett Race.
Photo by Louisa Gould

Competitors faced stiff winds and heavy seas for the 35th annual Moffett Race.

The late Harry Duane cast a large shadow over Vineyard Haven Harbor in a lifetime of sailing and racing in local waters. He still does.

When all the times were tallied and handicaps applied for the 35th Annual Moffett Race, dedicated to Mr. Duane, the boat he loved to sail, Andiamo II, was the Moffett champion.

At the helm of Mr. Duane’s boat for the winning effort was his grandson Jared Hammond. His grandson Nick Hammond, and his son Paul Duane served as able crew, rounding out a storybook ending for the storied end-of-season race.

“It almost seemed like he planned it,” said Jared Hammond. “I couldn’t have asked for a better finish. I’m sure he would have liked to have seen us.”

Andiamo II is the only boat ever to win the Moffett more than once, and now the Soling sloop holds the distinction of winning three times.

Principal race officer Brock Callen said this year’s Moffett Race was a severe test of sailing skill, with a steady breeze of 20 knots, and gusts substantially higher. Many sailors welcomed the windy conditions. But waves washing into the boats? Not so much.

“Certainly some folks got some great practice with bailing,” Mr. Callen said. “There were a few boats taking on a little green water. It was really quite spectacular.”

Peter Cassidy, aboard Siren, took second place on corrected time. Scott DiBiaso on Juno was third, Jerry Goodale aboard Stormalong, fourth, and Steven Besse, aboard Apres was fifth, according to the official results. Mr. Goodale and Mr. Besse are recent Moffett winners.

A total of 25 boats completed the 19-mile course. The actual distance sailed was considerably longer, as the boats tacked across two long upwind legs.

Thirteen boats abandoned the race, many because of the weather conditions, a development Mr. Callen applauded as good seamanship. “They deserve as much credit as the finishers,” he said.

Beloved sailor

Harry Duane, who died in June at the age of 80, was a legendary Island sailor. The race committee paid tribute to him by dedicating the race to his spirit of competition and enthusiasm for sharing sailing knowledge.

“When his health precluded further sailing, he took on the role of race chair and mentor with equal enthusiasm,” the committee wrote in the sailing instructions. “Every competitor – and the race committee in particular – benefitted from his knowledge and insight.”

Mr. Duane was renowned for his knowledge of local waters, especially if it might prove a competitive advantage. His friends marveled at his knowledge of smallest eddies kicked up by the tide, and the quirky wind patterns formed by a southwest breeze flowing over East Chop and West Chop. He passed that knowledge, along with a wealth of skills, and a deep love of sailing, to many others, including his children and grandchildren.

“Growing up, I was always out sailing with him,” winning skipper Jared Hammond said. “You were pretty used to being in heavy wind, hanging out over the side, having to handle the hectic times.”

Jared said Andiamo II is well suited to upwind sailing, so he worked a long weather leg across Vineyard Sound to his advantage, and then improved his position on a long starboard tack back out into the Sound. “It was a lot of hanging on and a lot of hiking out,” he said. “We were pretty tired at the end of that leg.”

He knew he would be in contention for the top spot, but like all the competitors, he had to wait for the race committee to apply the handicaps, a time adjustment designed to give all the boats an equal chance.

He admitted to a case of nerves as the announcement neared, and shed a tear or two when his name was called and the competitors offered a hearty round of cheers and applause. “I’ve been wanting to win this race since I was a little kid,” he said. “I’ve been close, but not quite.”

Jared’s mother, Marion Hammond, watched the start from West Chop. She thought the stiff wind might be a problem for the light, 26-foot Soling. When she returned to watch the finish, she knew Andiamo II was going to be close to the top.

“It was extreme weather,” Ms. Hammond said. “We all grew up loving extreme weather.”

She said the Moffett victory was a very emotional moment for her family, who attended a memorial service at the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club for her father just two days earlier.

“My children were out with him on Andiamo when they were two or three years old,” Ms. Hammond said. “He’d take his dog, he’d take his kids. We all just learned to sail on that boat. As he got older and couldn’t compete, he loved sharing his knowledge with anyone who would listen. Apparently people were listening.”