Martha’s Vineyard sailors anticipate upcoming Moffett Race

Island sailors compete in the annual Moffett Race. – Louisa Gould

The 39th annual Moffett Race will be held on Saturday, Sept. 10, in the waters off Vineyard Haven Harbor. Always an exciting race, it provides the perfect punctuation mark to the Island sailing season.

George Moffett, one of the founders of the Holmes Hole Sailing Association, was a passionate and intrepid sailor. Upon his death in 1977, his wife Lucia established a trophy in his honor for a race in September, when the winds were likely to be fresh. Any sailor with a boat between 15 and 70 feet would be welcome. As luck would have it, the first race in 1978 was in very light air, with only 20 boats entered.

Over the years the numbers have grown, and when the entry list reached 45, the start was divided into two fleets based on size. There is only one winner, and prizes are awarded for the top five places.

Handicapping the race is particularly difficult for the race committee, because many boats show up that are unfamiliar to them. A few years ago, in fact, Roger Becker, prime handicapper, announced at the skippers’ meeting that that the committee thought they had arranged it so no one could win. There is, however, always a winner, but he or she is heavily penalized for the next five years to avoid a repeat.

It is hoped there will be a big turnout this year of both seasonal and year-round sailors from the area. For further details, please visit and click on “Moffett” in the toolbar.