For the past six years, Herreshoff 12 sailors from Edgartown and Menemsha have faced off in the annual Vineyard Herreshoff Cup, the brainchild of Menemsha resident Edward Miller. After competing in the 2013 H-12 nationals held at Edgartown Yacht Club, Miller and some of the Menemsha Pond Racers got hooked on the competitive side of H-12 sailing. Soon after, Miller and the Pond racers challenged Edgartown to their own regatta, where the clubs compete for the Vineyard Cup (and bragging rights).
At first, the regatta was meant to resemble the America’s Cup, where the winning town gets to host the next year’s regatta. “But things got a little lopsided, so now it just switches off between towns every year,” said Brock Callen, this year’s principal race officer.
This year, the regatta was held on Menemsha Pond, with nine local boats and four boats from Edgartown. The winner of the regatta is determined by calculating the sum of the scores of the top three finishers from each club (scoring in sailing is like golf — the boat with the least points wins). But the regatta isn’t really about who wins or loses, it’s about the “Corinthian spirit of good sportsmanship and bonding between the two towns,” according to Ed Miller. “It’s really just fantastic to watch.” According to the sailing instructions for the event, there is no protesting allowed; in the interest of sportsmanship, each competitor must recognize when they have committed a foul and excoriate themselves accordingly.
The Menemsha Pond Herreshoff racers have been around for more than 60 years — long enough to be memorialized in Thomas Hart Benton’s paintings of the pond. The boat itself has been around a bit longer: the Herreshoff 12 class is one of the longest-competing one-design sailboats in the U.S. Designed by Nathanel Herreshoff, the yacht designer of early America’s Cup fame, in 1914, the class is still alive and well in New England. “It’s just awesome to see Menemsha Pond filled with 14 Herreshoff 12s,” Miller said about the regatta.
Conditions this year were light and shifty on the pond, playing to the strength of the locals. The Menemsha Pond Racers won handily, with a combined score of 47 points, compared to Edgartown’s 78 points.—