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North Sails Performance 2023 - LEADERBOARD

Edgartown Race Weekend shaping up nicely

by Barby MacGowan 25 Apr 2023 11:14 PDT June 15-17, 2023
Clockwise from top right: Defending Venona Trophy winner AFRICA under sail at last year's Edgartown Race Weekend, Denali under sail, crew of Denali, crew of Crazy Horse, crew of Resilience © EYC / Stephen Cloutier

Edgartown Yacht Club has a good jump on its 2023 Edgartown Race Weekend to be held over June 15-17. Thirty-nine teams - some new, some returning, some veteran, some novice - have registered from across Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, and as far away as New Hampshire, Maryland, Texas, and California.

The event leads with two days of 'Round-the-Sound ('RTS) coastal sprints on Thursday and Friday before culminating on Saturday with the marquee 'Round-the-Island ('RTI) Race, an annual Martha's Vineyard tradition for 85 years, making it one of America's oldest distance races.

"We feel good about the strong count so far and the representation of a wide variety of boats and sailors," said Event Co-Chair Alex Nugent, adding that while racing options include participating in as little as one or two days of racing, the trend has been for teams to take advantage of the full three days. "It's like a Race Week but without having to take seven days off. We've added more fun things to the shoreside activities, and as for on the water, sailing can be some of the best all year on the Eastern Seaboard, with conditions normally characterized by a steady sea breeze of 10-14 knots and flat water."

Event organizers moved the Race Weekend from its traditional time slot in July to June last year, transitioning it to the "shoulder season" so competitors can more easily secure moorings, rental houses and hotel rooms and more fully enjoy the offerings of the popular island retreat of Martha's Vineyard.

"It's an ideal time on Martha's Vineyard, with its first blush of summer beauty; everything is prepared, but the crowds have not yet arrived," said Nugent.

Also initiated last year were new options for shortening the 'RTI course, if needed, so that all boats can get back to Edgartown Harbor by 8 p.m. and no team is left struggling to make a time limit.

Last year, in "tricky air, on the lighter side," organizers used those shorten-course provisions; some classes finished at "Gate 1" after 20 nautical miles and others at "Gate 2" after 34 nm. Two classes finished the traditional (full) 56 nm course, including PHRF Spinnaker A, the winner of which was AFRICA, a Tripp 41 co-owned and skippered by Bump Wilcox and Jud Smith of Marblehead, Mass., who also won the coveted Venona Trophy for best corrected time in the spinnaker division.

"It was a very interesting race with many different conditions and currents," said Wilcox, who will defend his team's 'RTI crown this year and again sail in the 'RTS races. "We did have an excellent season last year and we appreciate all our victories but winning the 'RTI and Venona Trophy was a big one, especially since it's not in the Marblehead area. All of us aboard AFRICA thought the Edgartown Yacht Club made us feel welcome. The crew had a really good time, so when we had our fall crew party they voted to come back."

Unlike for AFRICA, this will be the first time for the Aphrodite 101 Crazy Horse to compete at Edgartown Race Weekend. She was purchased in 2022 by John Murray (Salem, Mass.) from an owner in Martha's Vineyard where the boat was known as Arrow. "It will be a homecoming for her," said Murray, whose team last year performed impressively in other distance races such as the Sequin Island Sprint (50 miles, first in class), Berringer Bowl (45 miles Marblehead to Provincetown, second) and Downeast Challenge (80 miles, Marblehead to Portland, third).

The J/35 Resilience represents newcomers to the sport itself who feel comfortable competing here alongside so many veterans. "It's only our second season of racing and our second Edgartown Race Weekend," said Olwen Huxley (Falmouth, Mass.). "Most of us hail from Woods Hole and Falmouth and are relatively new to racing. We are stoked to be back for another year!"

For the Sabre 452WK Denali, which sails mostly local around-the-buoys races, participating in Edgartown Race Weekend's unique series of coastal and offshore racing provides an opportunity to whip its racing crew into shape before the rest of the season. "We race both 'Round-the-Sound and 'Round-the-Island for the camaraderie and time on the water," said Denali's skipper Joshua Weiss (Waban, Mass.).

The 'Round-the-Sound races (one race per day) run between 20-25 nautical miles around government marks on Vineyard Sound and Nantucket Sound and are scored separately from the 'RTI with separate prizes given.

Classes include ORC, PHRF-NE (including Spinnaker, Non-Spinnaker, and Doublehanded Divisions), and Multi-Hulls.

The first 50 paid registrants for 'RTI are provided two nights of free moorings. Entry fees for 'RTS include a night of moorage for each day that participants register for 'RTS. Later registrants will be provided moorage on a space-available basis. Current sponsors of Edgartown Race Weekend are Mount Gay Rum, North Sails, and Regatta Craft Mixers.

For more information on Edgartown Race Weekend, including the NOR, go to www.rtirace.org or contact Margaret Passafiume, , (508) 627-4364 x18.

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