MOUNT DESERT — Neither fog on the water nor the fog of a world-changing pandemic could put a stop to the annual Hospice Regatta, sailed last weekend in and around the waters of Mount Desert Island’s Great Harbor.
In its 24th year, the principal fundraiser of the Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County attracted dozens of boats and at least a hundred sailors of all ages to three days of vigorous and sometimes difficult racing in boats ranging in size from tiny 8-foot Optimist prams to 50-foot custom racers. The end result was a big win for the Hospice Volunteers.
“This year’s Hospice Regatta of Maine was such a gift,” Jody Wolford Tucker, executive director of Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County, said Monday. “Under the pandemic requirements,” arising from efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, “who knew what was possible.”
Although the organization had to eliminate all of the shoreside activities normally associated with the regatta, and sponsorship opportunities were limited, Tucker said, the event netted “a little over $30,000” to support hospice services.
While overall income was down, so were the expenses connected with the event. The result was Hospice realized “right about the same” proceeds as in previous years.
Racing was spread over three days with junior sailors from the Mount Desert Island Community Sailing Center and Luders 16 sailors hitting the water on Friday, the Northeast Harbor Fleet’s International One Design sloops racing on Saturday and the big cruising class boats racing Sunday in what race director Fran Charles called “thick o’Fog conditions” that limited visibility in Great Harbor to 50 yards or less, though there was plenty of breeze.
Seven big boats started off Bear Island and sailed down the Western Way and back, past Sutton Island then along the Great Cranberry Island shore to the finish.
Tio Loco, a Swan 42, sailed away with the race with Cybele finishing second overall but behind both Lynnette, sailed by Northeast Harbor Fleet Commodore Mike Cook, Dreadnought, skippered by Joe Weber, and Tom Rolfes’ Sidewinder on corrected time.
Saturday’s IOD races began in pea soup fog with no wind on Great Harbor, so the fleet drifted up into Somes Sound, where the wind was more accommodating.
As the wind piped up, Freyja won the day’s first race by a wide margin.
The day’s second race started in what Charles called “a very stiff breeze” and near zero visibility in “super dense fog.” J’Ellie Bean won the race, but Freyja, finishing second, won the regatta with a low points total of three.
Friday saw 10 elegant Luders 16 sloops come to the starting line in light breezes and fog that presaged what would be in store for the rest of the weekend.
The father and son team of Otto and Bill Smith took the first race in their Freight Train to your Love, Baby. Ned Johnston was second in his Domino, with David Folger and Aurai Mauras third in VooDoo.
A second race was started, abandoned and restarted in light, shifty airs. Alec Fisichella and Art Paine in Ludicrous snuck around Freight Train just before the windward mark and held on for the win.
Friday was also the first day of serious racing for the young sailors from the Mount Desert Island Community Sailing Center. Sailing singlehanded in both Optimist dinghies and RS Tera sailboats, the junior racers also took part in the Hospice Regatta.
While the Hospice Regatta was a success despite the impact of the coronavirus, another longtime summer sailing event has become a casualty of the pandemic.
Last week, the board of directors of the Maine Retired Skippers Race announced that it was canceling this year’s event, which was originally scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 15.
“We came to this resolution based on the ongoing pandemic, the ever-changing state mandates, the inability of Maine Maritime Academy to host any on-campus events and most of all, to ensure the health and safety of all the skippers, and their crews of family and friends,” the directors said in a statement.
This year would have marked the 69th edition of the annual regatta for boats sailed by skippers at least 65 years of age. The first Maine Retired Skippers Race was sailed in 1952.