It's off to the races. Sailors and spectators alike will experience the thrill of competition among 12-metre yachts during the Edgartown Yacht Club's 15th Annual 12-Metre Regatta this Saturday and Sunday, August 8 and 9.
In previous 12-metre regattas, competitors have come from all along the East Coast, and around the country, and even Europe.
"The majority of people that participate come from Newport, Marblehead, New York, and around the area, with many participants returning from the past," said Bill Roman, general manager of the Edgartown Yacht Club (EYC). This regatta differs from the EYC Annual Regatta, which includes several classes of boats and the 'Round the Island Race. "There are different divisions, with different speeds and ages, and the boats in each division compete against each other," said Mr. Roman.
Racing will be in the waters of Nantucket Sound off Edgartown. The start and finish lines depend on the wind and currents. During last year's regatta, the first day of racing only allowed for one race, while the second day allowed for three. Prizes are available in four divisions - Grand Prix, Modern, Traditional, and Vintage.
Veterans of past America's Cup races have attended previous regattas, which feature match racing - that is two boats racing head to head. The America's Cup is the oldest active trophy in international sports. The 33rd America's Cup will take place in February 2010, between defender Alinghi of Société Nautique de Genève, in Geneva, Switzerland, and challenger BMW Oracle Racing from Golden Gate Yacht Club in San Francisco.
"Generally there's 18 to 20 sailors on each boat, and there is always a designated captain for the cruise," said Mr. Roman. There is a practice race on Friday, August 7, where the club prepares a number of short, long, and rolling start races to give participants a day of practice. It's a time where the teams can test out the waters, and get a feel for the upcoming competition.
"On Sunday after the racing is over, there is always an awards ceremony where we award each winner in each of the classes," said Mr. Roman. One award specifically, the Kay Hubner Memorial Trophy, was given to Sear Willschleger, of Nantucket at last year's regatta.
There are hopes that this year will be as successful and outstanding as last year's race, with as many enthusiastic and dedicated sailors. The regatta is more than just a competition. "There is great fellowship among the sailors," said Mr. Roman. "They take the racing very seriously, but they have a lot of fun doing it, too."
The 12 Metre Regatta brings all the aspects of summer together - water, sailboats, and an audience of curious and excited onlookers who have come to enjoy the event.
Mr. Roman said, "It brings excitement to Edgartown and to the people involved in it."
The Edgartown 12-Metre Regatta is Saturday, , August 8, 11 am, and Sunday, August 9, at 10 am. Practice race on Friday, August 7, 12 noon. 508-627-4361.
Caitlyn Clark, a senior at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, is a summer intern at The Times.