Framing the Dyce Head Light, Spirit of Tradition-class yachts Vortex (left) and Aurora duel for position as they reach toward the starting line of last week’s Castine Classic Yacht Race. PHOTO BY STEPHEN RAPPAPORT

Sonny sparkles in Castine Classic Regatta



CASTINE — They sure know how to put on a show in Castine.

On Wednesday, the public had a chance to tour both the iconic Olin Stephens-designed ocean racer Dorade — alongside at the town dock — and the 139-foot schooner America, spectacularly moored in the middle of the harbor.

On Thursday, spectators in boats at Dyce Head and along the Castine Harbor shore got the chance to watch as Dorade and America joined 28 other handsome yachts for the start of the 17th annual Castine Classic Yacht Regatta.

For the past several years, the event that kicks off three days of classic yacht racing Downeast has frequently struggled with fog, light winds or both at the start and on the 19.6-mile course down Penobscot Bay. Not this year.

Skies were blue and the wind brisk as the racing fleet gathered shortly before noon near the starting line set between the motorboat Fair Lady and the Castine Harbor bell buoy. Three classes crossed the line at 10-minute intervals, sheets hauled tight and with several boats carrying a single reef. The yachts beat down East Penobscot Bay, rounded Robinson Rock off the southern end of Islesboro and finished under spinnaker off Curtis Island in Camden.

“The entire 19.6-mile race was sailed in “perfect conditions — under clear skies and steady 15-to 20-knot southwest winds,” Castine Yacht Club event chairman David Bicks said in an email on Sunday.

In the Classic A class, Sonny, a 53-foot Sparkman & Stephens-designed sloop built in 1935, took first place, with The Blue Peter, a 64.5-foot Mylne-designed sloop built in in 1930, close on her transom. Dorade took third place.

Sonny won the Ames Cup, repeating her 2015 victory. The trophy honors the memory of Richard Glover Ames and Henry Russell Ames of Castine, who were lost at sea on June 9, 1935, south of the Grand Banks in an unsuccessful effort to save their father after he was washed overboard during the Newport to Bergen, Norway, yacht race.

The Class A fleet included a match race among four 45-foot NY-32 sloops — Falcon, Isla, Gentian and Siren — designed by Olin Stephens in 1936 for the New York Yacht Club, with Siren taking the honors.

In the Classic B class, for generally newer yachts, Palawan, a 47.5-foot S&S yawl launched in 1952, bested Fidelio, a 38-foot S&S Finistere yawl built four years later. end. Rogue, a 37-foot Herreshoff-Sparkman & Stephens sloop built in 1953, finished third.

The Class B fleet also included three Concordia yawls. Otter took home the Phalarope trophy as the top Concordia finisher.

Racing in the Spirit of Tradition class, Isobel, a 68-foot Stephens-Waring-designed sloop was the scratch boat in the fleet and she more than saved her time.

Launched five years ago by the Brooklin Boat Yard, the plumb-stemmed racer-cruiser reached Camden in just over 2 hours, 45 minutes for the fastest elapsed time of the day, finishing more than 13 minutes ahead of the William Tripp-designed Aurora with a cushion of more than 2 minutes on corrected time.

Sonny, winner of the Ames Cup awarded to the fastest yacht in the Classic A and B classes, covered the course in a little more than 3 hours 21 minutes, with a corrected time of just under 2 hours, 44 minutes.

In a fleet filled with special boats, two stood out: Dorade and America.

Olin Stephens designed the 52-foot yawl Dorade in 1929 at age 21. The boat took the yachting world by storm, scoring decisive victories in 1931 in both the Transatlantic and Fastnet races. A year later, she won her class in the 1932 Bermuda Race and, after a move to the West Coast, won the 1936 TransPacific Race.

Over the past three years, Dorade entered and achieved astonishing success in those same races. In 2015, she bettered her time in the Fastnet, set nearly 80 years ago, by more than a day.

The 139-foot schooner America is a replica of the vessel that started the America’s Cup tradition in 1851 by defeating the British to win the Royal Yacht Squadron’s 100 Guinea Cup. She is approximately 2 feet wider, 5 feet longer and 30 percent lighter than the original almost certainly faster.

Launched on the Hudson River by Scarano Boat Building in 1995, America spent her early years in the charter business in New York City, Newport and Key West. Based in San Diego, the boat is currently on tour as a “roving ambassador” for the upcoming America’s Cup scheduled for Bermuda in 2017.

Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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