Festival is a seafaring success

Vineyard Cup and the Seafaring Festival: Photo by Ben Scott
The Vineyard Cup and the Seafaring Festival brought people to the Tisbury Wharf last weekend. Photos by Ben Scott

By Karla Araujo - July 13, 2006

Sail Martha's Vineyard (Sail MV) hosted its first annual Vineyard Cup Weekend July 7, 8, and 9 to help raise funds for the nonprofit organization's free sailing programs for Island children. According to board of directors member Brock Callen, the inaugural event drew "an extraordinarily great turnout" and cemented the Board's five-year commitment to make it an annual tradition.

The Seafaring Festival was held on Sunday at Tisbury Wharf in Vineyard Haven and featured a full day of events for adults and children. Youngsters marveled at live crabs they could handle while legendary troubadour Bill Schustik told pirate tales and performed seafaring songs. Other musicians included the Taylor Brown Trio, Kevin Keady, Joe Keenan, Tristan Israel and Paul Thurlow, Howie Marlin and Ted Fill and Paul's Blues Band. Island authors Paul Schneider and Dr. Michael Jacobs discussed material from their recent books. Captain William Pinkney, Master Emeritus of the Freedom Schooner Amistad and the first black man to sail solo around the world, shared his unique experiences with the audience. Shark expert Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries provided his perspective on the creatures that continue to fascinate adults and children alike.

Hope Callen, administrative director of Sail Martha's Vineyard, and Ralinda Lurie, Vineyard Cup committee member: Photo by Ben Scott
Hope Callen (left), administrative director of Sail Martha's Vineyard, and Ralinda Lurie, Vineyard Cup committee member.

The weekend featured sailboat and windsurfing events for both juniors and adults. Brock Callen said that 43 boats participated in the regatta and 14 windsurfers competed in the Open event. Vineyard Cup winners included:

Heritage Division (spinnakers not permitted; scoring using the Holmes Hole Method): Vela, a 53-foot cutter owned and skippered by Havilah Hawkins won the 15-nautical-mile race.

Grand Prix Division (spinnakers permitted; scoring using PHRF handicaps): Onawa, the oldest 12-meter afloat, owned by Chuck Parrish and skippered by Lars Guck, won the 25-nautical-mile race.

Open Windsurfing Event: Nevin Sayre.

Bronze Lobster Trophy (combined boats from Heritage and Grand Prix divisions): Andiamo II, skippered by Bob Jewitt and Moneypenny, owned and skippered by Jim Swartz.

Emily Furlong as Bloody Em and Billy Shustik as Sweet William at the Sail Martha's Vineyard festival: Photo by Ben Scott
Emily Furlong as Bloody Em and Billy Shustik as Sweet William are dressed for the sea. The two entertained at the Sail Martha's Vineyard festival.

Town Challenge (pitting boats from Chilmark, Tisbury, Edgartown and Oak Bluffs against one another): Moneypenny scored a victory in Edgartown's honor.

Sailors from states including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut participated in the Sunday event. According to Mr. Callen, the Vineyard Cup will be held the same weekend next year and the event's website, vineyardcup.com will be updated monthly throughout the year.

"We had a goal of 30 boats and we attracted 43," Callen said. "We hope to expand the race to a two-day format next summer for the larger vessels."

Sail MV Office Administrator and Event Coordinator Hope Callen said that the festival was conceived to help raise increased funds for program support. Until this year, Sail MV relied on its annual Seafood Buffet and Auction, also held at Tisbury Wharf, to raise funds needed to teach children how to sail at no cost to Island families. "As our costs increase and as more kids want to participate we had to come up with a new way to raise money," she explained. This year's dinner, the 15th of its kind, raised approximately $100,000 through admission charges and silent and live auctions. Auctioneer Trip Barnes was in top form on Saturday evening as he cajoled the crowd into bidding on such items a penthouse party for 25 atop Edgartown's Harbor View Hotel and a week in St. Bart's in a four-bedroom villa.

Dr. Michael Jacobs, medical director of Vineyard Medical Services: Photo by Ben Scott
Dr. Michael Jacobs, medical director of Vineyard Medical Services and co-author of "A Comprehensive Guide to Marine Medicine," speaks at the Seafaring Festival.

Sail MV was conceived in 1992 to honor the Island's seafaring past, present, and future and to offer free sailing instruction for Vineyard children. Since then, more than 800 Island children between the ages of 10 and 18 have passed through the program in two four-week summer sessions each year. Sail MV programs have expanded to include women's sailing, pilot gig rowing, and the offshore Mabel program that takes students on extended excursions at sea.

The Callens, on behalf of Sail MV, credit Honorary Commodore Walter Cronkite, Trip Barnes, auctioneer, Fella Caters, Our Market, Beetlebung Steel Band, event sponsor Vineyard Vines, O Water, the Douglas family and Coastwise Packet, as well as Outerland owner Barry Rosenthal for helping to make the first annual Vineyard Cup Weekend a success.

Karla Araujo is a freelance writer and tennis instructor who lives in the Florida Keys and on Martha's Vineyard.