Classic Yacht Challenge Series 2023 Recap

Photo: Alison Langley

The Classic Yacht Owner’s Association’s Challenge Series continued to grow its numbers in every direction in 2023. More sailors participated in more races throughout the 26-race series held among 13 regattas this past summer season. 204 classic yachts crossed starting lines from Maine to New York between June and September. These events, as unique as the boats themselves, ranged from single point-to-point races cruising around picturesque islands to multi-day events with shorter navigation courses. The common string that ties these events together is always camaraderie and spectacle every classic yacht regatta affords all those lucky enough to experience them.

The CYOA has been defining strategies to bring consistency to the racing experience for participants and regatta organizers through the CRF rating system, racing guidelines, and a scoring system to rank boats across these diverse events. The goal of the Classic Yacht Challenge Series (CYCS) is to encourage friendly competition among the stewards of these unique vessels by optimally comparing race results in the most transparent way. 

This year the CYOA entered 604 individual race results into the Series' scoring database - a 20% increase from 2022 meaning that more teams are sailing more often, an average of three per team. 

To qualify for the Overall Series' awards, a boat must compete in at least five races across three events, and one of those events must be in a different district. The three CYCS districts are Maine, Massachusetts, and a combined Rhode Island, Connecticut, and New York region. There are also awards for those teams who stay in their district and sail at least three races in two regattas. Award winners also must be members in good standing of the CYOA.

Twenty-one boats qualified for the overall Series this year - up from 19 in 2022 and 15 in 2021. However, between 2022 and 2023, there was also 30% increase in the number of races sailed by those qualifying boats, demonstrating further growth in the participation among the fleets.

Andy Tyska's 1937 12-meter Gleam and Lars & Peter Forsberg's 1934 Alden Schooner Spirit tied for the most races sailed with 18 each. The 1938 S&S Black Watch Syndicate was just behind them with 17 races total. 

Lars and Peter Forsberg's SPIRIT finished second overall in the Vintage Class. Photo by Alison Langley

These three Vintage class boats duked it out from the first event in June, NYYC's Tiedemann Regatta in Newport, followed by Maine in July and August, and then down to Long Island Sound for Indian Harbor YC Classic Yacht Regatta in September. Vintage boats must be built before 1950, and any restorations must still have authentic materials and maintenance. In the end, Black Watch and Spirit tied for the overall Vintage class with a perfect high-percentage score each, but Black Watch won the tiebreaker because, as per the Notice of Series, they sailed against more boats.

High Percentage Scoring is a system that awards points to teams based on how many boats they sailed against, and only the top 5 scores are taken over a season to determine the performance of perfection.  Gleam finished just 2 points shy of perfection to round out the Vintage podium for 2023.  

Andy Tyska's 12 Meter Gleam finished 3rd in the Vintage class overall. Photo by Alison Langley

In the Classic division, generally boats built between 1950 and 1980 that are built primarily of wood, aluminum or steel (For details on Division breakdown, visit, two 12-meters took the top 2 spots on the podium: Columbia and American Eagle matching up in 7 races between Newport in June then again on Nantucket for the back-to-back events, Nantucket Regatta and Opera House Cup. 

Steve Frary rounded out the Classic podium in his debut season with his Herreshoff Ketch, Arrluuk of Jamestown.  Frary sailed in 11 races and 6 regattas, the most in the Classic Division. Of note, though, Jesse Terry with his Alden Ketch, Abigail, participated in one less race than Arrluuk and finished 4th overall - but also took on the Marblehead to Halifax Race this year as one of two classics in the offshore race. 

In the other three divisions, Modern Classics, Spirit of Tradition, and Contemporary, only five boats qualified for the Series, but the dedication of these division winners is worth mentioning.

CYOA Board President Steve White, sailed in 7 races with his Modern Classic, Vortex.  After White accepts his award this year, he will be stepping down as Chair after four years in the position as he eases into retirement, having also stepped down as President from Brooklin Boatyard earlier this year after 23 years at the helm. 

Harvey Jones' Botin 55, Outlier, takes the top spot in the Contemporary class this year and the Brooklin 76 Zemphira in the Spirit of Tradition Class. Both boats were built at Brooklin Boatyard in recent years under Steve White's tenure.

Wizard (FI 31 10), Outlier (USA 151), Falcon (NY 6), Marilee (NYYC 13), and Blackfish (USA 75249) at the Eggmoggin Reach Regatta in Maine. Photo: Alison Langley

District awards recognize those classic yachts that do not travel as much but are great competitors locally. The Maine district, especially, had a 33% increase in qualified teams from 2022, with 24 boats total, 10 in the Vintage class alone. While the top two from the overall, Black Watch and Gleam, are the winners in that division for Maine, there was a hard-fought battle for the last spot on the podium between Chris Bouzaid with his Knud Reimers design and Ken Colburn's Herreshoff. Bouzaid just inching out Colburn.

Among the Maine Classics, Seville SimondsRogue won with an impressive perfect score after dominating all three of the iconic Maine point-to-point regattas held in August: Castine to Camden, Camden to Brooklin and the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta. 

Brooke Parish's S&S Mermaid, the winner in 2022, finished 2nd, and Tom Ashton's Concordia Yawl, Phalarope, finished 3rd among the Classics.

Among the Modern Classics in Maine, Lorentzen Oivind's The Hawk won over Lions Whelp and Vortex.  Drew Lyman's new Hopgrasser won the Contemporary division and Zemphira the SoT.

In Massachusetts, Peter Cassidy's Vintage NY32 Siren and Harvey Jones' Contemporary Outlier were the only district qualifiers.

In the multi-state southern division of RI, CT, and NY, SpiritOnawa, and Dorade made up the Vintage podium in that order.  Abigail performed much better on home waters and took the top spot in the Classic division, with Josh Golberg's Dame and Frary's Arrluuk rounding out that podium.

Awards will be handed out at the CYOA Annual Meeting this November 10th held at The Sailing Museum. 

Results can be seen at

CYOA Members can RSVP for the Annual Meeting and Awards at

Overall Ranking of Series Qualifiers:


  1. Black Watch, Black Watch Syndicate
  2. Spirit, Lars & Peter Forsberg
  3. Gleam, Andy Tyska
  4. Dorade, Matt Brooks
  5. Marilee, Ken Colburn
  6. Onawa, Onawa Syndicate
  7. Siren, Peter Cassidy
  8. Bijou II, Chris Bouzaid
  9. Ticonderoga, Scott Franz


  1. Columbia, Kevin Hegarty
  2. American Eagle, Jay Schachne
  3. Arrluuk, Steve Frary
  4. Abigail, Jesse Terry
  5. Dame, Joshua Goldberg
  6. Sisphyus, Matthew Twomey

Modern Classics:

  1. Vortex, Steve White

Spirit of Tradition:

  1. Zemphira, Holdings LLC, Tenacious
  2. Ponyo, Paul Koch
  3. Wild Horses, Donald Tofias


  1. Outlier, Harvey Jones
  2. Van Ki Pass, Freddie Mills

Overall Ranking of District Qualifiers:



  1. Spirit, Lars & Peter Forsberg
  2. Onawa, Onawa Syndicate
  3. Dorade, Matt Brooks
  4. Leaf, Ben Hall
  5. Gamecock, Peter McClennen
  6. Ruweida, Jeff Gentzen
  7. Ticonderoga, Scott Franz


  1. Abigail, Jesse Terry
  2. Dame, Joshua Goldberg
  3. Arrluuk, Steve Frary

Modern Classic

1. Lively Lady, William Hubbard

Spirit of Tradition

  1. Hound, Dan Litchfield
  2. Ponyo, Paul Koch



  1. Black Watch, Black Watch Syndicate
  2. Gleam, Andy Tyska
  3. Bijou Ii, Chris Bouzaid
  4. Marilee, Ken Colburn
  5. Sonny, Craig Venter
  6. Polly, Peter Gallant
  7. Falcon, Bob Scott
  8. Sapphire, Theodore Coombs
  9. Celia, Rob Parrish
  10. Brilliant, Sarah Armour / Mystic Seaport


  1. Rogue, Seville Simonds
  2. Mermaid, Brooke Parish
  3. Phalarope, Tom Ashton
  4. Besherte, Josh Goldberg
  5. Rozinante, Craig Buttner
  6. Sisphyus, Matthew Twomey

Modern Classics

  1. The Hawk, Lorentzen Oivind
  2. Lions Whelp, Phin Sprague
  3. Vortex, Steve White

Spirit of Tradition

  1. Zemphira, Holdings LLC, Tenacious
  2. Restive, Rob McApline
  3. Zingara, Stephens Waring Design


  1. Hopgrasser, Drew Lyman
  2. Van Ki Pass, Freddie Mills



1. Siren, Peter Cassidy


1. Outlier, Harvey Jones

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