Martha’s Vineyard is home to Edgartown Yacht Club and some of the Northeast’s best sailboat racing, including the club’s Edgartown Race Weekend, scheduled for Wednesday through Sunday, July 17-21. Hosting classes for IRC, PHRF, Double-Handed, Cruising and Classic sailboats, the weekend’s centerpiece is the popular 54.7 nautical mile ’Round the Island Race (Saturday, July 20), originally inspired by the Race Around the Isle of Wight and attracting name sailors annually since 1938.
The Big Boat Buoy Races (Thursday and Friday, July 18-19), added as a one-day event in 2012, have been expanded to two days for 2013, promising to similarly cultivate a devoted following of racing aficionados.
If 'celebrity' can pertain to a racing sailboat, then Rives Potts’ (Essex, Conn.) Carina could be the most fabulously exciting entrant to watch on Edgartown Race Weekend’s red carpet. Built in 1969, the 48-foot McCurdy & Rhodes sloop has become one of the most recognized racing yachts sailing today, having made 12 Atlantic crossings and won, among other prestigious awards, the top trophy (St. David's Lighthouse) in the biennial Newport to Bermuda Race three times. (The last two times were back-to-back in 2010 and 2012 with Potts at the helm).
'I used to do the ‘Round the Island Race a lot back in the ‘80s and ‘90s,' said Potts, who will compete in IRC class, 'and we enjoyed it a lot. This year, we want to do both segments with Carina’s core crew of six and fill in around that with six to seven juniors from the local area.' Potts said the idea came to him while talking with Edgartown Yacht Club’s Commodore Ned Brooks, and it fit right in with his modus operandi— maintained since 1996, when he became Carina’s owner— to sail with his two boys and friends who could bring along their own sons for the rides. 'I like the father-son culture on board, and I would like to encourage other yacht owners to include younger sailors in their crew. If we are going to perpetuate the sport we love, we have to engage the young sailors. And besides, they are fun to have on board!'
Potts’s own sons, Allen and Walker, are now 29 and 28, respectively, and they will be present on Carina with their father to mentor the juniors during Edgartown Race Weekend.
Also strutting some impressive stuff in Edgartown Race Weekend’s newly introduced Classics division will be Donald Tofias’s (Newport, R.I.) W-Class yacht Wild Horses. The 76-foot fractional sloop is actually considered a modern classic (roughly defined as looking like an old boat above the water but with modern appendages below the water), and Tofias says he would like to race against 'other like-kind ‘Spirit of Tradition’ boats,' but if that does not transpire, his CRF (Classic Rating Formula) will allow him to sail fairly against the other classics.
Tofias first competed in the ‘Round the Island race in the early ‘70s, and he posted the fastest elapsed time for the race in 2000 and 2004, with Wild Horses and the W-76 White Wings, respectively. 'We held on to the record established by Wild Horses for years, until Rambler (George David’s 90-footer, which has entered the race again this year) came along and stole it from us (in 2009),' said Tofias. He called the clockwise circumnavigation of Martha’s Vineyard 'challenging, beautiful, and full of great surprises.'
'The ‘Round the Island race starts at 8 a.m. in the morning, and typically the fleet has all returned to the docks at Edgartown Yacht Club by dark,' said Tofias, who also competed in last year’s Big Boat Buoy Races and again plans to compete in both segments that Edgartown Race Weekend offers. 'Most of the sailing is done in fairly shallow water where the ocean warms up very quickly. There are a variety of conditions, where it’s windier closer to Edgartown because of the heat effect, then toward Nantucket you might get light and variable, and then there are the tides to consider. It’s one of my favorite around-island races.'
Tofias explained that Wild Horses was in St. Barths this winter to race, and this summer it will compete in almost every event on the northeastern Classic Yacht Racing Circuit plus some superyacht regattas where Newport, Maine and Nantucket are venues in addition to Martha’s Vineyard. 'It’s part of what we do,' he said. 'We go to the right places, with the right people, at the right time of year, and there’s nothing better than being on the Vineyard in July.'
Edgartown Race Weekend’s social schedule includes a Welcome Reception on Wednesday, a Mount Gay sponsored 'jump-up' on Friday, and Prize Givings on both Friday and Sunday, all to guarantee as memorable an experience ashore as on the water. Wednesday, July 17 is the entry deadline for Thursday and Friday’s Big Boat Buoy Races, sanctioned as part of the prestigious U.S. IRC Gulf Stream Series, while Friday, July 19 is the entry for Saturday’s ‘Round the Island Race, part of the New England Lighthouse Series for PHRF yachts. The Big Boat Buoy Races and the ’Round the Island Race are scored separately and each have their own Notices of Race and entry forms; however, there is no additional entry fee to compete in the buoy races.
For NORs, more information and to register, visit RTI Race.