BROOKLIN — Built by owner Harvey Jones for the express purpose of winning classic sailing races, Outlier did just what she was supposed to do Saturday afternoon, finishing the 35th annual Eggemoggin Reach Regatta with the fastest elapsed time of the day.
Launched in June at Brooklin Boat Yard, the 55-footer covered the 16-mile course — sailing in a building reaching breeze — in just under two hours seven minutes.
That gave the Botin-designed sloop line honors for the race and she was fast enough to save her handicap time to win the Spirit of Tradition B Class — generally the hottest sailers in the race — finishing some two minutes ahead of another BBY production, Joe Weber’s Taylor 49 Dreadnought.
Isobel, at 68 feet the scratch boat in the fleet and another BBY boat, finished seventh in the class, some four minutes behind the winner, more than eight minutes on corrected time.
This year’s ERR drew a huge fleet, with 108 boats registered for the race and just about 100 actually racing after a handful dropped out before the start off Torrey Island in Eggemoggin Reach and a pre-start collision forced two boats to withdraw.
The first three of the eight-class fleet got underway at 11:10 a.m. in what seemed to be a dying southerly wind. As the remaining classes started at 10-minute intervals, the wind alternately puffed and died around the starting line. With a coming tide in the Reach and a big wind hole in the middle of the line, a few of the smaller boats found themselves drifting backward rather than sailing forward.
By the time the fastest, Spirit of Tradition B-class boats started shortly before noon, the southwesterly breeze had settled in and begun to build into a steady sailing breeze as the boats headed out into Jericho Bay to round Egg Rock and the Halibuts before setting spinnakers for a run to the finish between Naskeag and Little Babson Island.
As is always the case with this event, there was no shortage of handsome, interesting or extraordinarily elegant boats in the fleet.
Brilliant, a 71-foot Olin Stephens-designed schooner launched in 1932 at the Henry B. Nevins yard on City Island in New York City, was named the “most photogenic” boat in the fleet, but there was plenty of competition for that title. Much of it came from the seven boats more than 100 years old that raced this year.
Two of the old-timers, Mashnee and Nellie, were designed by Nathaniel G. Herreshoff and launched in 1902. According to nautical historian Maynard Bray, Mashnee, a 49-foot Marconi-rigged sloop, was launched earlier in the year than the 1-foot-shorter gaff-rigged Nellie, which makes her home in Surry’s Morgan Bay, and was the oldest boat in the fleet.
Other centenarians included: Desperate Lark-1903; Alera-1904; Neith-1907; Tiger-1910; and Spartan-1913. All were designed and built by Herreshoff except Tiger, a 26-foot gaff sloop designed by B.B. Crowninshield and launched at the Rice Brothers shipyard in East Boothbay.
Class winners included: Classic A, Silent Maid, winner of the Castine Classic Race, which finished 28 minutes ahead of the second place boat; Classic B, the 41-foot Concordia yawl Eagle; Classic C, Mah Jong, a 52-foot Sparkman & Stephens-designed yawl launched in 1957; Vintage A, Jolie, a Ralph Winslow-designed yawl launched in 1929; Vintage B, a 44-foot Herreshoff Fisher Island 31 launched in 1930; Gaffs & Schooners, the centenarian Alera; Spirit of Tradition A, The Hawk, a 38-foot William Tripp-designed sloop; Spirit of Tradition B, Outlier.
Much of the success of the ERR has to be credited to the WoodenBoat School, which provides the fleet anchorage, launches and crew and space for the pre-race skippers meeting and post race barbecue and awards ceremony. Brooklin Boat Yard and Rockport Marine also chip in with launches, chase boats and the crews that run them.
Credit should go to the race committee which organized the fleet, ran flawless starts and recorded the order of finish and precise time of each finishing boat. The committee also served up a spectacular lunch — crowned by a pair of blueberry pies — to passengers on the committee boat and the chase boat crew.