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Hyde Sails 2017 Dinghy Show

The Classic rocks at Indian Harbor Yacht Club

by David Seabrook, IHYC 19 Sep 2019 14:47 PDT 13-14 September 2019
Class II start-Abigail, Dagger, Aegir - Classic Yacht Regatta 2019 © Mary Alice Carmichael

I've served on race committee for the IHYC Classic Yacht Regatta on and off since 2012, but this is the first time I've noticed a hipster millennial among the competitors. With a long, square-cut beard and a rail-thin physique, he looked right out of Brooklyn central casting. What was he doing at a classic yacht regatta?

Maybe he'd come to celebrate a battle with nature. Winds were 15-20 knots out of the south, and the fetch across the Sound created three to four-foot swells. These were ideal conditions for the powerful yachts built in the 1930s: Scott Franz's Ticonderoga of Greenwich, built in 1936 and 72 feet in length, and IHYC member John Melvin's Black Watch, a 68 ft custom yawl, built in 1938.

The sight of these yachts as they powered through the seas showed their true character—not antique vessels preserved for their beauty, but formidable racing machines, ideally suited to their environment. Ticonderoga had her best Classic in years, finishing second across the line, just five minutes behind Black Watch. The Concordia yawl Phantom won the event overall, taking the Frank Bowne Jones trophy by correcting out just over three minutes ahead of Black Watch.

Commodore Fogarty's Cadenza was first across the line on the short course, a bittersweet victory, as this is Cadenza's last race as an IHYC boat. Commodore Fogarty is donating her to Mystic Seaport. He received a special award after the regatta to recognize his contributions to classic yachting, and a salute from the race committee as he crossed the finish line.

Perhaps sailing celebrates a new kind of climate "wokeness," with Greta Thunberg sailing across the Atlantic to upbraid politicians at the United Nations, and millenial sailors eschewing carbon-consuming craft for wind-powered excitement.

There were certainly many smaller craft ready to tackle the elements, with a fleet of ten thirty-foot Shields battling it out on the same 14 nm course as the largest vessels, right across Long Island Sound. By all accounts these sailors, used to sailing short windward-leeward courses, were exhilarated by the challenge. One praised the course as "square," which in baby-boomer usage means "uncool," but to sailors means "right into the wind", and therefore a tough but fair sailing challenge. Larchmont Yacht Club's Lady won this battle between the Shields, with Katherine second and IHYC's Circe in third.

I don't know, but perhaps the millennial sailor was on one of the catboats, some of which, at 18 ft, were the smallest craft in the regatta. The catboats showed their sturdiness, handling the waves with ease. Even the smallest catboats finished well inside the time limit. Surf City Yacht Club's Whiskers finished first among the 18 footers, while Sally E won the catboat division overall.

Or perhaps it was the party after racing, long a famous event in sailing circles. This is the tenth year that Commodore and Shelia Graves have run the IHYC Classic Yacht Regatta. Shelia Graves received congratulations from sailors who had competed in this year's other classic yacht regattas, including Eggemoggin Reach, the Opera House Cup and the Newport Classic. They all said that they enjoyed the IHYC Classic the most. I don't know if the commodore or Shelia spoke to the millennial hipster sailor, but I ran into him near the bar, not long after The Uninvited had started a set. He was wearing a batik shirt and a slightly stunned expression. He caught my eye and said: "This regatta rocks!"

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