Vineyard Cup brings champagne conditions

Hundreds of boats compete in the annual Sail MV regatta. 


This year’s Vineyard Cup brought champagne summer sailing conditions in Vineyard Sound, with sunshine and mild breezes all three days. On Friday, the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) spinnaker and non-spinnaker divisions started their race in an 11-knot southwest breeze, which died toward the end of the day, leaving most boats limping toward the finish line.

The Vineyard Cup is hosted annually by Sail MV, the Vineyard’s local community sailing program. The three-day sailing event attracts over 100 boats in multiple classes, mostly from around the New England area, and is staffed and run by Sail MV staff and volunteers. This year the MV Shipyard helped sponsor the event, lending their harborfront space for nightly events with food, drink, and entertainment. 

All the proceeds from the regatta help support Sail MV and its community sailing and sustainability programs.

This year’s winners are:

Sonny, Craig Venter, for the Classics division
Penelope, Mo and Pam Flam, for the PHRF non-spinnaker class 1
Kittyhawk, Winthrop Sanford, for the PHRF non-spinnaker class 2
Après, Stephen Besse, for the PHRF spinnaker division
“The Methuselah” Trophy: Providence, Stuart Halpert 

For complete results, visit

Saturday was the busiest day of the event, being the only day in the Cup with starts for all boat classes — PHRF spinnaker and non-spinnaker classes, the Classics division, and the Catboat class. The day started out with lighter, dying winds from the south, dropping to almost nothing midday. The race committee held out hope that the wind would pick back up, but eventually abandoned all races for the day due to the lack of wind. 

Unfortunately, with Saturday’s racing abandoned, the Catboat class was not able to have a complete regatta, and no trophies for that division were awarded. 

Sunday finished off the regatta with a pursuit race, in which each boat is assigned a start time, with the slowest boats starting first and fastest boats starting last. Again, the weather provided champagne conditions: Winds were 7 to 14 knots, with sun or partial clouds all day. Racing went by pretty quickly, leaving plenty of time for awards at the M.V. Shipyard. 

Friday, The Times was able to race onboard Starfish, belonging to regatta organizers Sail MV. The boat, helmed by Andrew Nutton and crewed by members of Sail MV, sailed in the second PHRF non-spinnaker class with a small handicap. Joining Nutton were Sail MV Coach Daniel Patten, 19, and Martha’s Vineyard Regional High School sailor Miles Wolff, 15. After motoring out to Vineyard Haven Harbor and raising the sails, the crew of Starfish was ready for a day of distance racing. 

The PHRF non-spinnaker division sailed Course 4R, meaning all boats had a reaching start out to Vineyard Sound. After much deliberation, the crew decided rather than do the more aggressive starboard tack start, Starfish would brave the crowds and be the first boat to the coveted pin end. Setting up with a minute and 30 seconds to the start, Nutton was able to keep her best course to the pin and hit the start right at go, giving Starfish a considerable lead right out of the gate. 

Starfish maintained her lead throughout the race, making good laylines and tight mark roundings to finish first in Friday’s race. After a fifth-place finish in the second race on Saturday, Starfish finished second overall in the series.