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Ancasta Botin Fast40 USA Newsletter: Celebrating Labor Day weekend regattas


Labor Day weekend regattas offer a great late-summer racing opportunities

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Warrior Won during the 2017 Vineyard Race - photo © Christopher Sheehan

Dear Recipient Name

While the summer of 2018 was marked by its share of heat waves parading across North America, and by thick, awful-smelling smoke from myriad forest fires here in Seattle, the promise of fall's crisper, cooler temperatures and - if you live in the Pacific Northwest - smoke-free air is starting to exert sway over the sailing community. After all, while fall's official start is still some 19 days over the horizon, its wash of cool temperatures, lessening daylight and changing fall colors also brings with the inevitable end to another great season of racing sailboats in North America. But rather than getting morose about the inevitable changing of the weather guard, seasoned sailors know that early fall days hold some of the year's best sailing opportunities, including coast-to-coast races that are unfurling this Labor Day weekend.

Although my feet may be firmly planted in the Pacific Northwest, it's almost impossible for me to see a Labor Day Weekend unfurl without thoughts of the Stamford Yacht Club's annual Vineyard Race (August 31-September 2). [N.B. In the interest of full disclosure, my family has been members of the SYC for decades, and while I am personally not affiliated with the club, there's no question that this 238 nautical-mile race is New England's classic Labor Day regatta.]

Last light during the Stamford Yacht Club's Vineyard Race - photo © Jay Keeshan collection
Last light during the Stamford Yacht Club's Vineyard Race - photo © Jay Keeshan collection

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The full-course Vineyard Race starts near the Cowes, just outside of Stamford Harbor, and takes racers down the length of Long Island Sound to Buzzard's Bay Light Tower (passing it to starboard), then back to Block Island (also passing it to starboard) before again sailing the length of Long Island Sound, passing the Cowes and Nun #2 to starboard and negotiating the final yards to the finishing line. (N.B. the SYC race committee also starts the 116 nautical-mile Cornfield Point Course, as well as the 143 nautical-mile Seaflower Reef Course.)

For some sailors, the Vineyard Race serves as a season finale, while other teams sail this classic course with an eye towards shaking the boat down one final time before a winter of preparing her for the following season's distance races.

Provided the weather gods cooperate (read: no easterly winds, at least not for the race's first half), racers get to experience some of Long Island Sound's best sailing conditions, as well as some of the prettiest coastline south of Maine.

90th Anniversary Conanicut Yacht Club Around the Island Race - photo © Cate Brown Photography
90th Anniversary Conanicut Yacht Club Around the Island Race - photo © Cate Brown Photography

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Sailors contesting the SYC's annual Vineyard Race will pass by the entrance to Narragansett Bay twice during their adventure, and while competitive navigators won't be tempted to reshuffle the weekend plans with a stop in Newport (baring extremely unforeseen circumstances, of course), a different group of sailors will be contesting the Conanicut Yacht Club's Around The Island Race, which circumnavigates the island of Jamestown, just to the west of Newport.

As of this writing, 57 teams have entered this circumnavigation race (plus two additional teams racing aboard classic yachts), including speedsters such as William Hubbard's Reichel/Pugh 56 Siren,, Brian Cunha's Kerr 55 Irie 2, and Jack Lefort's 12 Metre, Challenge 12.

90th Anniversary Conanicut Yacht Club Around the Island Race - photo © Cate Brown Photography
90th Anniversary Conanicut Yacht Club Around the Island Race - photo © Cate Brown Photography

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Several hundred miles to the south, on the historic waters of the Chesapeake Bay, the Annapolis Yacht Club and the Eastport Yacht Club's annual Labor Day Regatta offers handicap and one-design around-the-buoy racing for a wide variety of racing, racer/cruiser and cruiser/racer designs. As of this writing, the regatta is already attracting double-digit entries in the Cal 25, J/105 and J/22 classes, as well as numerous PHRF entries, with its two days of racing and après-sailing events.

Continuing south down the eastern seaboard, the Sarasota Sailing Squadron's annual Labor Day Regatta (September 1-2), which has run since 1946, will offer two days of around-the-buoy racing for PHRF mono- and multihiulls, as well as one-design racing in a variety of classes including Lasers, Optis, 420s, Sunfish, E- and MC-Scows, and beach catamarans. Additionally, entrants can anticipate fun post-racing onshore activities both days, including Sunday's award ceremony.

Finally, jumping to the West Coast, Labor Day weekend also marks the Alamitos Bay Yacht Club's Labor Day Regatta (September 1-2), which is set to unfurl on the waters just off of Long Beach, California, and which will feature one-design racing in classes ranging from Cal 20s and Formula 18s to Laser Radials, Optis, Sabots and Thistles.

90th Anniversary Conanicut Yacht Club Around the Island Race - photo © Cate Brown Photography
90th Anniversary Conanicut Yacht Club Around the Island Race - photo © Cate Brown Photography wishes all sailors competing in these and other fine Labor Day regattas the best of luck as they negotiate their respective racecourses, and we also hope that all other sailors will get out and enjoy a great sail or two over Labor Day Weekend. After all, while September holds the promise of cooler temperatures and reasonable amounts of daylight compared to August's dog days, the situation starts feeling appreciably more ephemeral when one considers the tidings that typically parallel the arrival of October and November.

May the four winds blow you safely home,

David Schmidt, North American Editor

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