BROOKLIN — The Eggemoggin Reach Regatta fleet is always a mixture of old boats and new, with the common denominator being that all of them are of wooden construction.
While the 66-boat fleet for last Saturday’s race included plenty of elegant antiques — Desperate Lark, Bob Vaughn’s Herreshoff Bar Harbor 30 launched in 1903, was the oldest boat to cross the starting line — a boat just three days old was among the top finishers.
Last Wednesday, Brooklin Boat Yard launched the Jim Taylor-designed 50-footer Rascal for longtime Blue Hill summer resident Patrick Wilmerding. Last Saturday, with her owner at the helm, Rascal took top honors in the 10-boat Spirit of Tradition (B) class, edging Blackfish, another BBY-built Taylor design launched just last year, by 1 minute 40 seconds on corrected time over the 16-nautical mile course that starts off the Torrey Islands in Eggemoggin Reach, runs out into Jericho Bay around the Halibut Rocks, then back to a finish between Naskeag Point and Little Babson Island. Rascal also saved her time on Outlier, another SOTB boat built by Brooklin Boat Yard last year and scratch boat in this year’s fleet, that finished the race with the fastest elapsed time: just over 3 hours 13 minutes.
This year’s race got off to a relatively calm, downwind start in a light northwest breeze, with many skippers hoisting spinnakers right at the starting line. The northwesterly held just long enough for the largest, fastest boats — the Class B Spirit of Tradition fleet — to get underway. Then the northwesterly died, spinnakers collapsed, and as afternoon approached so did the usual, and on Saturday fairly light, southeast breeze, but the sailors were undaunted.
In the Vintage B class, Black Watch, a 1938 Sparkman & Stephens-designed yawl named the most photogenic boat in a spectacularly photogenic fleet, nipped across the finish line well ahead of Marilee, an N.G. Herreshoff-designed New York 40 launched in 1926 and another beauty. In the Vintage A class, Chris Bouzaid’s Luders 24 Leaf finished 22 seconds behind Cheetah Cheetah, the Luders 24 that won the Castine Classic last Thursday, but eked out a seven-minute win over her wildly colored rival on corrected time for the class win. Third in the class went to the Atlantic Class sloop Silverfish.
Although COVID-19 kept a lot of racers home and cut the fleet to about two-thirds the number of last year’s, there were still plenty of elegance on display, but only two gaff rigged boats: the Alden-designed schooner Dirigo II, built in 1939, and the William Hand-designed Ladona, launched in 1922, both from Maine shipyards.
In a little wrinkle in this year’s race, there was a separate class for International One Design (IOD) sloops. Three of the elegant 33-footers — Freyja, Gambler and Satin Doll — made the trip across the bay from Northeast Harbor to race, with Sydney Rockefeller’s Freyja winning the class by just 22 seconds over Mia Thompson’s Satin Doll.
There was another victim of the pandemic at this year’s regatta. The race committee aboard the motor cruiser Honey Badger replaced the “flag girls” who, for the past several years, have donned appropriately colored T-shirts and literally stood in (or sat down) in place of the traditional colored flags used to warn racers of their approaching start times.
Perhaps next year the pandemic will have passed, the fleet will return to the usual 100 boats or so and the flaggers will be back.