Fast boats, good sportsmanship mark Vineyard Cup Regatta

A quick adjustment in rough seas aboard Next Dimension, a Jeanneau 409 competing in the Vineyard Cup Regatta. — Photo by Steve Myrick

Mischief, an Alerion 26 owned by Phil Hale and skippered by Bob Lurie, won overall honors after three days of spirited racing in the 2013 Vineyard Cup Regatta.

Mr. Lurie, a perennial contender in the regatta, was best in Class 1 on Friday, and Saturday, and got second place in the class Sunday, to secure the top prize.

Overall winner in Class 2 was Donald Tofias, sailing Wild Horses, a 76-foot W-Class sloop that cut a striking picture around the course, winning twice and placing second once.

Team True, sailing an ID 35 Mod, captured Class 3 for boats using spinnaker sails with a first and two second place finishes. Team True narrowly beat local favorite Stephen Besse and crew, aboard Apres.

Winning both Saturday and Sunday in the Classic Class was Siren, a New York 32 skippered by Peter Cassidy. [ Full Results ]

Dramatic racing

As usual, the laid back regatta had more than its share of fun, and more than its share of good sailing. This year, the Vineyard Cup also had more than its share of drama.

More than 40 vessels, from sleek one-design racing sleds, to family day sailers, kicked off the racing under gray skies, moderate seas, and steady 16 to 18 knot winds Friday.

Shortly after the starting gun, the crew of Lumen Solare, an Alerion Express 28, had to deal with a frightening emergency. The vessel’s mast snapped just above the cabin.

“The mast ended up in three pieces,” crew member Carter Smith said. “It’s amazing how fast it happens.”

The crew started the engine, but the propeller fouled in a jib sail that drifted under the boat. Left with no sails and no engine, snarled rigging and pieces of broken mast a threat to punch through the boat’s hull, skipper Bill Brown said he was very glad to see the crew of Climate Change divert from the race to help.

“We had just sailed past them, we heard it,” said Doug Metchick, CEO of sponsor Morris Yachts, who was sailing aboard Climate Change for owner and skipper Dennis Costello of Wellesly. “We sailed back to the boat and made sure the crew was all right. They were so busy working, we helped communicate with the committee boat. Everyone was okay, but it could have got bad fast.”

Stopping their race to help a competitor is a classic show of sailing sportsmanship. Mr. Costello never gave it a second thought, according to Mr. Metchick.

“There was no question,” Mr. Metchick said. “We were the closest boat, they were in distress.”

Climate Change stood by until a race committee boat, the Vineyard Haven Harbormaster, and the Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard could arrive to stabilize the vessel and tow it back to shore.

Saturday and Sunday saw light and variable breezes, tossing some competitors good luck, some bad luck.

On Sunday, after more than four hours of sailing and little hope of making it back to the finish under the time limit, skipper Jim Pringle aboard Myfanwy, notified the race committee by radio that he was retiring from the race, as did several other boats caught without wind and drifting with the current down-Island. But Mr. Pringle’s declaration was more humorous than most.

“We have a plane to catch Tuesday, so we’re abandoning the race,” he said.

Sailing benefit

Race director Brock Callan thanked all the sponsors who underwrite much of the cost of the event, which benefits Sail Martha’s Vineyard programs.

A new sponsor this year was Sugarbush Resort. The Warren, Vermont ski area proved a popular attraction at its booth inside the party tent, handing out samples of Vermont’s famed Cabot cheddar cheese, and raffling off lift tickets.

“Sailors are a great market for us,” said Candace White, vice-president of Marketing for Sugarbush. “They are adventurous, they have to deal with any kind of weather. We talked to a lot of people, a lot of them are skiers.”

Each day of sailing was capped by a raucous party under a tent beside the Black Dog Tavern, which served lobster rolls, salmon sandwiches, and barbecue along with gallons of clam chowder.

Dukes County Love Affair entertained the crowd on Friday evening, while the popular band Entrain put on a free concert, despite a heavy drizzle on Saturday.