Come sail away

Getting to know members of the Martha’s Vineyard Model Yacht Club.


On a spectacular Tuesday morning, I spied a small, red-hulled sailboat with white sails near the shore of the beach between Owen Park Beach and the Steamship Authority slip. On closer inspection, there were other tiny boats on the shore — their sails up and ready.

It was a good morning to take a detour from my well-worn path between the SSA and 30 Beach Road. There I met Glenn Provost, commodore of the Martha’s Vineyard Model Yacht Club. He was only too happy to share the MVMYC’s history, handing me a flyer with all the particulars.

The model radio-controlled sailboats race every Tuesday and Thursday morning from May through November, weather permitting. On this morning, the weather was spectacular, with a slight breeze and that crisp, humidity-free September air.

“We’ve been sailing Tuesdays and Thursdays for 25 years,” Provost told The Times.

The Soling One Meter models are 39 inches long, and came as kits, which the boat owners had to put together. Provost has also inherited some boats from skippers who have passed away, and has one that he’s refurbished available for $200, another for $400, and a brand-new boat that goes for $600, he said.

“My first boat took about 40 hours to complete, so there is a considerable amount of work required to complete this project,” Provost wrote in his flyer.

Many of the participants in the Soling races also participate in RC Laser racing. (You may have seen the Douglas family participating in these races in the water near the Black Dog Tavern, Bill Dennehy, a member of the MVMYC, told The Times.) Those races take place on Sundays. “They’re a little more complicated to race,” Dennehy said.

The Solings race off a private beach owned by one of the members. “It’s a perfect spot to race,” Provost said, noting that they are out of the way of other boat activity in Vineyard Haven Harbor.

Typically, there are 10 to 12 boat captains at their remote controls, which have two channels — one to steer and one that pulls both sails at the same time.

Jim Demarest, a relative newcomer, was there on Tuesday, and had his brother-in-law’s boat in the water early to practice.

“There’s no better place to spend a morning,” Dennehy said as he adjusted the sails and set off for a practice run of his own.

If you’d like more information on how to join this yacht club, there is no website. But there is an encyclopedia of knowledge about remote-controlled racing on the end of this email address:

The race hadn’t begun by the time my office beckoned, so I don’t know who won, despite Dennehy’s best efforts to get me to play hooky: “You need to find a reason to stay.”