Sailing Races in Edgartown Harbor
by Elyse Brightman
Edgartown has a history deeply rooted in maritime traditions and none more withstanding than the annual regatta held every July.
This marks the 90th year that participants as young as seven take to the waters to show off their sailing skills in a series of races from July 11 through July 13. Racers are invited from all over, but mostly venture from other parts of Massachusetts. The past has brought some well-known names, but none more famous – or infamous—as Kennedy.
The event is organized through the Edgartown Yacht Club, “It’s a huge volunteer effort on part of the membership,” says race committee chairman Warren Vose. Commodore Ned Brooks organizes the patrol boats and club member and volunteer Anthony Giordano plays a big role in putting together this year’s regatta. Each of the three days can see anywhere from three to six races per class with the distances varying depending on the length of the boat.
Classes are separated into juniors and seniors, but over the years the event has become more geared towards juniors with 95 participants in the 420’s class and 75 in the optimus class. Sailing director Greg Koman organizes the all the junior classes. Adult classes are open to one designs including Rhodes 19, Herreshoff 12 1/2, Shields and more.
The optimus green fleet are the youngest competitors and sail one person to a boat,
“There’s prizes for all the classes,” says Vose, with all the trophies made of crystal or glass; however, all junior racers receive participation awards, “we try not to make it too competitive for them.” There’s also a special award for the boat with the highest margin of victory called The G. Richard Steigler Memorial Trophy.
One of the most exciting races to watch is the Wianno Seniors, a 30 foot old fashion gaff rig. This class races in Cow Bay which makes it hard to watch unless on a boat. The Optimus fleet can be seen from the Edgartown lighthouse, the top of the town dock or from the Chappaquiddick Beach Club.
The annual Edgartown Regatta is a great classic New England event that everyone should see at least once. Late entries may be accepted.