With boats like Spookie III, Dark ’n Stormy, and Breezing Up among the fleet in the 79th Edgartown Yacht Club Race Weekend, held on July 20-22, the race conditions hardly measured up to the monikers. Seas were calm, and the wind, gentle to sometimes nonexistent, made for a speed-challenged spectacle.
In the main event on Sunday, Heidi and Steve Benjamin’s Spookie III, a 52-foot racing yacht, representing the Seawanhaka Corinthian and Noroton Yacht Clubs, sailed to victory in a truncated ’Round the Island Race, shortened by light winds.
The yacht, built in 2011 and designed by Botin Partners, won in a corrected time of 5 hours, 47 minutes, 48 seconds, more than two hours in front of race runner-up Wahoo (8:06:43), from the U.S. Naval Academy, skippered by William Johnson.
With the win, the Benjamins captured the prestigious Venona Trophy, awarded for the first overall finish by a racing yacht with a spinnaker.
“Spookie” is a familiar name in the rich history of the event. The original Spookie, owned by Harold T. White Jr., won the Venona in the inaugural race, held in 1938. Heidi Benjamin’s father, William Ziegler III, then guided Spookie to wins in 1948, 1950, and 1955.
The 2017 running of the famed race got off to a late start and ended early.
Light air delayed the start of the 54.62-mile race by nearly an hour, with 57 entrants in nine classes departing Edgartown’s Outer Harbor around 9 am.
The fleet rounded a mark off Cape Poge and proceeded south along Chappaquiddick Island to the turning mark RW “MC,” the red and white Mo(A) marking the shoals south and east of Martha’s Vineyard. From there, the faster boats proceeded west toward Devil’s Bridge. Ultimately, the race was shortened to the first virtual scoring gate, a longitude line on the south side of the Island.
The overall winner, Spookie III, and runner-up Wahoo topped the fleet in Class 7 PHRF A.
Rounding out the 13 boats completing the course were: White Rhino 2, Todd Stuart, New York Yacht Club, 08:55:21 (Class 7 PHRF A, third); Apollo, Ryan Pinch, NASS, 09:23:08 (Class 7 PHRF A, fourth); Hafa Adai, Eliot Shanabrook, Marblehead Yacht Club, 08:38:40 (Class 6 PHRF B, first); Pressure Drop, David Alexander, Constitution Yacht Club, 09:14:57 (Class 6 PHRF B, second); Sparkle Pony, Francis Shiman-Hackett, Bill Finn, Savin Hill Yacht Club, 09:56:29 (Class 5 PHRF C, first); Panasea, Kent Nicholas, Red Brook Harbor, 10:19:45 (Class 3 PHRF N/S A, first); Breezing Up, Roy Catignani, Hyannis Yacht Club, 10:45:36 (Class 2 PHRF N/S B, first); Iniki, Paul Stafford, Edgartown Yacht Club, 09:16:43 (Class 4 Double-Handed, first); Atalanta, Richard Sides, Eastern Yacht Club, 09:44:22 (Class 4 Double-Handed, second); Aurora, Gus Carlson, New York Yacht Club and Larchmont Yacht Club, 08:44:26, (Class 8 IRC, first); Azura, Jamie Walker, Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, 10:36:32 (Class 8 IRC, second).
Spookie III wins class in ’Round the Buoy races
Preceding the ’Round the Island race were the sixth annual ’Round the Buoy races on Thursday and Friday.
The lack of wind on Thursday caused two of three classes to sail in only two races, instead of three. Friday, during the morning races, winds started at between 6 and 10 knots before dwindling to a near standstill. By 2:30 pm, the final race commenced with a westerly breeze of six knots.
In the PHRF A Class 3 series, Spookie III was perfect, winning all five races. Temptation-Oakcliff, skippered by Arthur Santry, was second, followed by White Rhino 2 in third.
Dark ’n Stormy, a J/105, co-owned by Ned Joyce, Andy Reservitz, and Eric Wagner, also went five for five, winning the PHRF Class 2 series.
Chip Hawkins skippered Caneel, a C and C 41, to a perfect score through three races in PHRF Non-Spinnaker Class 1, and Richard Sides’ Atalanta, a Sabre 28 Ketch, won all four races in the Double-Handed Class 4 series.