Every shape and size welcome

Holmes Hole Sailing Association welcomes new racers.

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Aileen and Patch of Green participate in the Holmes Hole races. — courtesy Lisa Stout

Holmes Hole Sailing Association welcomes vessels of all shapes and sizes over 15 feet in length. The largest boat in the fleet is Aileen, a 65’ Sparkman and Stevens sloop owned by Brian Roberts. Aileen’s displacement is 62,000 pounds and her hull, rigging, spars and deck are all of carbon fiber. By contrast, the smallest members are the 14 graceful Herreshoffs, 15’ overall, and 12½’ at the waterline. Nathaniel Herreshoff designed the 12½ in 1914, and it wasn’t until 1950 that the remarkably accurate reproduction of the hull in fiberglass was begun. At the moment there are about 50 Herreshoffs in Martha’s Vineyard waters, 10-15 of which are wooden. Three that are maintained by Martha’s Vineyard Shipyard are over 100 years old. 

The Thursday race on July 23rd was a lackadaisical affair after a confusing start, a last minute course change, and start time mix up even caught a couple of contestants crossing the start in the wrong direction. Because there wasn’t a particularly strong breeze, everyone was sorted out fairly easily with no mishaps. First over the finish line was Truckin’ sailed by Zander Melany who completed the course in just over 40 minutes. Through the magic of handicapping, however, Truckin’ was second, behind Peter Howell, sailing a VHYC Sonar. Third place went to Silhouette, an Alerion 33 skippered by Wendell Colson. The 8 mph southeast breeze was just enough to get all 11 boats around the harbor in under an hour before dying with a whisper. Of the four Herreshoffs, Charlie Felder and Tanya Zouikin’s Bazinga beat out Phil Hale’s Whirlwind, but unfortunately the two other boats crossed the start early. Regrettably the Sunday race was cancelled due to ominous weather. 

Holmes Hole was Vineyard Haven’s original name. John Holmes (1730-1812) settled the village, and his descendants changed the name to Homes Hole in his honor. The harbor was an important stopping point before or after rounding Cape Cod for ships cruising the coast of New England and beyond. As residents became more prosperous and began traveling abroad, the story is that they did not find their home port name of Holmes Hole classy enough and changed it to Vineyard Haven. Evidently, residents of Woods Hole and Jackson Hole remained unruffled, and still do.