ROCKLAND — While light wind meant competitors drifted over the starting line, 14 windjammers raced from Gilkey Harbor, Islesboro, in the middle of Penobscot Bay to the finish line at the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse in the 43rd Annual Great Schooner Race on Friday, July 5.
With boats ranging from 48 to 141 feet long, and the two oldest windjammers in America racing against some much newer ones, victory relied on skill, luck and which boat caught the wind first.
Racing for the first time, the schooner Columbia, hailing from Panama City, Fla., and in a class of her own, sailed against the bigger boats in the Maine Windjammer Association fleet in the Windward Class. She was given a 20-minute handicap.
As the wind built during the afternoon, Columbia pulled out in front and crossed the finish line first. The schooner Mary Day, in hot pursuit, finished 19 minutes 16 seconds behind Columbia and took first place on corrected time, winning the Great Schooner Race Cutty Sark Award.
In keeping with tradition, Mary Day’s captain, Barry King, was presented with the trophy and the coveted “Eat My Wake” flag, both given to the first Maine Windjammer Association boat to cross the line.
The Spirit of ’53 Award, recognizing great seamanship during the race, went to the windjammer Angelique and Captain Dennis Gallant from Camden.
The Boyd Guild Award, named for the colorful former captain of the three-masted schooner Victory Chimes and recognizing tenacity throughout the race, went to Captain Sam Sikkema sailing, appropriately, the Rockland-based Victory Chimes.