Big boats, tough competition sail in for Edgartown race weekend

Vesper, an IRC 52 owned by Edgartown seasonal resident Jim Swartz, leads rival Sled, during Edgartown race weekend last year. — Photo by Michael Berwind

The Edgartown Yacht Club race weekend looks more competitive than ever this year, with at least seven top racing teams bringing boats in the 50-foot range for the three-day regatta.

A series of buoy races just off Edgartown Harbor is scheduled for Thursday and Friday, July 24 and 25.

The annual ‘Round the Island race is scheduled for Saturday, July 26.

Four IRC 52’s plan to mix it up on the water, including Vesper, owned and campaigned by Jim Swartz, a member of the home Edgartown Yacht Club and a seasonal resident of Edgartown. Vesper won its class in both buoy racing and the ‘Round the Island race last year. Other IRC 52’s competing are Sled, Interlodge, and Hooligan, all well known at top East Coast regattas.

Also scheduled to compete are Privateer, a Cookson 50; Rima2, a Reichel/Pugh 55; and Irie 2, a Kerr 55.

The weather forecast should throw challenges at the racers, with showers and thunderstorms forecast for Thursday, but clear conditions with moderate winds for Friday and Saturday.

The best viewing spots for the ‘Round the Island race Saturday are on the north side of the Island. The big boats should be a sight to behold from Gay Head, West Chop, and East Chop. The race beings off Edgartown Harbor, and the boats circumnavigate Martha’s Vineyard in a clockwise direction.

Hal Findlay, a seasonal resident of Edgartown, will be on the line for the ‘Round the Island Race with his 32-foot Aphrodite 101 named Arrow.

“Our typical Saturday afternoon is to sail out of Edgartown Harbor and beat or run back,” Mr. Findlay told race organizers. “We would never think of sailing 56 miles around the Island, so the ‘Round-the-Island Race is an opportunity to spread our wings a little.”

The big high-tech racing machines are not the only attraction for race weekend, however. The regatta includes divisions for all sizes of boats in IRC, PHRF, Double-Handed, Classic and Cruising divisions, and it always attracts sailors of all competitive levels.