A Season Ending Celebration of the Classics at Indian Harbor Yacht Club

Before the light Summer breezes fade into the Winter's Nor'Easters, crisp Fall winds deliver some of the season's best conditions and nowhere is that truer than Long Island Sound in September. Many classic yacht owners in the area also associate this time of year with the Indian Harbor Yacht Club Classic Yacht Regatta. This annual event has become more than a race in its short eight years. For the competitors, organizers, and yacht club members, the IHYC Classic Yacht Regatta is a reunion, a boat show, and a race all in one.

Just two boats shy of their 40-boat attendance record, co-chairs of the event since its inception, Sheila and Ted Graves, were nervous Hurricane Irma would impact the participant turnout. But when the storm headed further east, a surge of late entries put their numbers at 38 classics by the race day on September 16th. Entries ranged from custom 68-footers, like Ticonderoga and Black Watch, to Q-boats, S-Boats, and Cat Boats.

Ted Graves, Vice Commodore of IHYC and owner of Nor'Easter, a 1926 Q-Class, attributes high turnout to his wife, co-chair, and CYOA Board Member, Sheila Graves', hard work throughout the year to personally reach out to every owner. She sends a personal email to each competitor early in the year followed by a phone call to check in and talk about their boat, their team, and their plans for the season. "That is huge," says Ted, "What it does, is imbue the competitor with that feeling of friendship in the Classic arena. Many of the Classic Yacht owners come for the camaraderie. The parties afterward are a cacophony of noise and just a big celebration."

While the race might seem "new" in age among other annual Classic Yacht regattas in New England, Indian Harbor Yacht Club is known for their race management in the sailing community. Their Classic Yacht Regatta, while later in the season, is no exception. They have had the same PRO, Rear Commodore Ray Griffin, every year since the event began in 2010. Given the unique location of IHYC in Western Long Island Sound, he and his Race Committee have over 25 courses to choose from by using government marks in their elliptical shaped sailing venue. The regatta is just one race; the bigger boats are sent on the "Long Course" while the smaller classics race on the "Short Course."

"Every course has a variety of legs and points of sail to give competitors and the race committee a chance to create a race that is fair to the ratings. Even if we have shortened a course due to wind restrictions, which we had to do this year, that complexity is baked into the choice," says Graves. He stresses the goal of the event is to make sure everyone, from sailors to spectators, have fun on the water but also allow everyone time to take a shower before the party.

The party and awards are just as important as the race for the organizers and Indian Harbor Yacht Club. With over half the participants walking away with silver, the awards are a chance to honor the participants and all the hard work it takes to maintain and campaign a classic yacht. This year, the Overall Winner was Black Watch but second place went to William Simmon's, S-Boat, Allegro. Allowing all the competitors to compete on an even field is essential to strengthen the fellowship of all the classic yachts no matter the size, age, or hull construction.

When asked if anything about the 2017 event was unique from past years, Graves jocularly responded: "What was unique about this year was it was just as successful. We feel we have a formula for a regatta that works and 'If it ain’t broke, don't fix it.'"

Ted and Shiela are already planning for 2018, and they are bringing new people into the fold to find new voices and volunteers to carry on the tradition for years to come.

Do you have a story about your regatta, your classic, or your team that you would like to see featured? Contact our media team at kate@risingT.com to discuss.

Thanks to our Diamond and Gold Partners

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