BROOKLIN — The Eggemoggin Reach Regatta for wooden boats always draws a large fleet of interesting and attractive boats.
This year, 105 vessels came to the starting line, 11 more than last year and, no surprise, most of them were interesting, attractive, or both. Again the scratch boat, Richard Schotte’s Isobel, launched by Brooklin Boat Yard in 2011, had the fastest elapsed time as it did last year — finishing in just over 2 hours 11 minutes over the 16-mile course down Eggemoggin Reach, through Jericho Bay and back to a finish off Little Babson Island and the entrance to the WoodenBoat School anchorage.
Fast as Isobel was, she couldn’t save her time against the venerable Sonny though. With Laurel Gaudet at the helm, the Sparkman & Stephens-designed yawl launched by the Robert Jacobs Shipyard on City Island in 1935 finished with a corrected time of just over 1 hour 57 minutes, about 18 minutes faster than the scratch boat and the best in the entire fleet. Sonny also took home the Joel White Award for the “plank-on-frame” boat with the fastest corrected time.
The ERR fleet is divided into eight classes based on age, size and type of rig. As the 11 a.m. starting time approached for the first group — the Vintage A, Classic A and Spirit of Tradition A classes — Jericho Bay was shrouded in fog that never lifted throughout the day but the wind in the starting area west of Torrey Island was brisk and enough out of the southwest to favor a beam reach start at the pin end of the line.
Those conditions held through five more starts, the last at 11:40, for the big Spirit of Tradition B boats. So Richard Stetson and the rest of the race committee on board the Maine Maritime Academy’s schooner Bowdoin had to be gimlet-eyed to keep track of the boats — about 15 percent of the racing fleet in the event — that started early and would earn time penalties at the end of the day.
The committee’s efforts were rewarded, though, by a spectacular lunch and some close finishes as boats emerged from the fog at the eastern end of Eggemoggin Reach.
With the brisk wind holding through most of the day, the first boat sailed across the finish line at just after 1:50 p.m., but was quickly disqualified for failing to sail the required course. Just three minutes later, Black Watch, a Sparkman & Stephens-designed yawl built in 1938 crossed the line — the first boat to finish the entire course and just seconds ahead of the Luders 24 Leaf.
Several other boats earned awards at the ERR including, among others, Snow Star as the first Aage Nielson-designed boat to finish; Otter as the first Concordia yawl to finish; Vela as the most photogenic boat in the fleet; and the Herreshoff-designed and built Mashee, launched in 1902 and, at 116, the oldest boat in the regatta.