BHYC Regatta and Shipyard Cup Classic Challenge Thrills Racers and Spectators Alike

Photo above: Classic racers north of Squirrel Island Saturday / John Yrchik Photography

Boothbay, ME - The 47th Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club (BHYC) Regatta and inaugural Shipyard Cup Classics Challenge fleets cut a breathtaking scene Saturday, July 24 as the over 50 classic and modern racing boats sailed under clear blue skies across Booth Bay to their starting lines for Day One of the two-day event.

With moderate breezes, Day One provided enjoyable racing conditions for the fleets and a sight to behold for the dozens of spectator boats also out on the water. Weather on Day Two, Sunday, July 25, was quite different, though, as a steady, sometimes driving rain and high winds created challenging conditions for racers and left all but the heartiest spectators at home.

The BHYC Regatta has been run since 1974. This was the inaugural season for The Shipyard Cup Classics Challenge which features classic yachts and pays homage to the very popular Shipyard Cup superyacht races that were sponsored by Hodgdon Yachts and a staple for both the sailing and local communities in Boothbay Harbor for over a decade starting in the 1990s.

Classic racers competing in the Shipyard Cup Classics Challenge ranged in size from the historic 21-foot Boothbay Harbor One Designs to the 99-foot Schooner Isaac H. Evans, now owned and based in Boothbay Harbor. The long list of yachts included several well know older vessels like Gleam, a 12 meter trial horse for the America’s Cup built in 1937; Marilee, a NY40 designed by the legendary Nat Herreshoff and built in 1926; Nat Wilson’s 1916 Herreshoff fish class design named Tarpon; Doug Goldhirsch’s 1898 Cat Boat Grayling; and a number of other unique and beautiful vessels.

1937 12-metre Gleam owned by Andy Tyska, Bristol Marine’s Shipyard at Boothbay Harbor
Photographer Keith P. Luke

The BHYC Regatta included a large cadre of PHRF racers, a mainstay of the Regatta for years. This year’s fleet included seven J80s, among them a boat skippered by Geoff Emanuel of Portland who has attended every BHYC Regatta since the 1970s. “There were lots of new boats this year so it was great to see all the new faces,” said Event Co-chair Bob Scribner. “It was also nice to welcome Geoff back and thank him for all the years he’s participated.”

Racing took place in two fleets, each featuring classic and modern racers. The larger, faster boats raced to the south of Squirrel Island going out beyond Damariscove Island on Saturday. Smaller boats raced in the outer harbor north of Squirrel Island. With 10 Division Champion trophies and 8 perpetual trophies at stake, gauntlets were thrown down, skills were tested, and competition was fierce.

Buzzards Bay 18s Uncas and Besherte racing Sunday Photo credit Dwight Poler

One of the most unique battles was between two Buzzards Bay 18s, Besherte owned by Josh Goldberg of New York City and Uncas owned by Jim Newton of Southport. They are modern rebuilds of the classic Herreshoff design and as far as the two skippers could discern, it was the first time two Buzzards Bay 18s had faced off in decades. Uncas won the first race between the boats while Bestherte won the other, and both owners were thrilled to have finally raced against their sister ship.

Competitors ranged in age from 16 to eighty with a large contingent of local youth sailors from BHYC and the Southport Yacht Club. Several boats were crewed entirely by youth sailors or with a large youth crew presence. Youth Sailors Bobby Clarkson and Kate Mason of Boothbay Harbor, sailing Molar Express, took first place in the highly competitive Boothbay Harbor One Design Division.  “Seeing our Junior Program sailors so eagerly step up to race on larger boats of all types was great,” said Co-event Chair Deanna Clarkson (Bobby’s mom!). “They’re the future of sailing, after all, and they performed really, really well.”

1926 NY 40 Marilee racing Saturday Copyright, Donald R. Snyder, All Rights Reserved

Winner of the inaugural Shipyard Cup Classics Challenge was the NY 40 Marilee, skippered by Ken Colburn. Marilee also won the Vintage Classics division. The Apparition Trophy for overall PHRF/One Design winner, along with the GMORA Maine Championship Trophy, went to Carter White racing the J/80 GHO2T. The Youth Team Trophy went to Bobby Clarkson aboard Molar Express and the Pea Pod Trophy was won by Razzle skippered by Southport Yacht Club Vice Commodore Anne Rand. Two Dogs, raced by the Carlton family, won the Hank Spencer Award for having over 30% of its crew under the age of 18.

Skippers and crew alike sang high praises for the weekend pointing particularly to how professionally the races were run and how welcome both local and visiting yacht folks felt. “Given the variety of sailing conditions and the variety of entrants, it was a marvel to behold” said Bill Burgess, skipper of Amie de Mar, the PHRF Cruising Division winner.

The weekend also featured a dock party at Bristol Marine’s Boothbay Harbor Shipyard after the first day of racing. Over 300 skippers, crew and guests mingled, enjoying cocktails and hors d’oeuvres while comparing notes about their boats, swapping stories about the day’s competition, and “talking trash” about how well they planned to do on Day Two!

Another highlight of the weekend was the “Parade of Sail” held Sunday morning where 24 magnificent vessels from the fleets circled through the inner harbor giving the local community an up close and personal look. Despite heavy rain and windy conditions, a brave group of spectators watched as the boats paraded through the harbor led by Grand Marshall George McEvoy and his wife Nancy aboard his magnificent Nellie G II. Audrey Hodgdon of Hodgdon Yachts was parade announcer introducing parade participants with help from her dad, Tim. Adding to the fun, her husband and dog accompanied the last sailboat in the parade, Windbag, her grandfather’s Hodgdon 21. Parade Co-chairs Andy and Alice Mutch on their motor vessel Loon closed out the parade.

Event Co-chair and Shipyard Cup Classics Challenge winner Ken Colburn commented “this event couldn’t have happened without strong support from local sponsors, the 58 local and visiting racing yachts, and the 60+ volunteers who worked long hours before and during the event.”  He specifically thanked lead sponsors Hodgdon Yachts, Bristol Marine’s Boothbay Harbor Shipyard, Robinson’s Wharf, J. Edward Knight Insurance, the Southport General Store, and Water Street Kitchen & Bar, along with the 32 other sponsors whose support made the event one to remember. He also thanked the Register for helping spread the word and Harbor Master Jeff Lowell for leading the parade through the harbor.

For a list of participating boats, pictures of the action, and a breakdown of division trophy and award winners, visit  Beautiful drone footage of Day One was shot by videographer Jonne Trees and can be viewed on the website as well. You can also see more on Facebook BoothbayRegatta or on local cable tv Channel 7.

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