SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Hot on the heels of wining the Maine State High School Sailing Championship, the Mount Desert Island Trojans held a narrow lead over George Stevens Academy in their effort to retain the Welles Cup after the first of two days of racing.
MDI won the cup last year, sweeping GSA in five races on its home waters, and winning one race when the sailors moved to Castine for the second five-race series. That gave the Trojans a 6-4 margin in the 13th edition of the regatta.
If possible, this year’s racing is even closer. Sailing in an extremely light and flukey southwesterly, on May 20, MDI won three of the five team race events, while GSA won two. If GSA can repeat last year’s performance in Castine on May 27, the Eagles will recover the Welles Cup.
MDI sailing coach Griff Fenton said last week’s performance was evidence of the island team’s depth. Several Trojan regulars were not available for round one of the racing.
“Who would ever have thought that MDI without two of its better skippers would be ahead at this point,” Fenton said.
The Welles Cup uses a team race format rather than the fleet race format more common at the high school level. In team racing, each team races three boats and the winner is determined by computing the combined team score based on the order of finish. In the fleet format, each team races two boats and the winner is the individual boat with the lowest score.
In recent years, the Trojans have had a lock on the Welles Cup, taking home the trophy in 2008 and 2007. They also won three in a row, between 2002 and 2004, and hold a slight 7-6 advantage over GSA after 13 years of racing.