Great Schooner Race 2008

Good morning everyone. A look at the schedule will tell you that this is Race Week in the Windjammer fleet. The Great Schooner Race is unlike most races in the yachting world. No set course… the course is made up the day of the race depending on the weather. The classes are divided up by age and relative speed and size. The handicap system tries to even things out but goodness knows it is all just guess work. In the end it boils down to skill, luck, and just plain fun with guests jumping in where they see an opportunity.

Mary Day starts at the back of the pack along with the American Eagle… the only other schooner regularly in our class. The schooner Roseway was up for a visit and sailed in our class as well. The J & E Riggin, Nathaniel Bowditch, Heritage and Angelique sail in what we call the Leeward Class sailing a slightly shorter course and getting a 15 minute head start on us. The pre World War One coasting schooners, Victory Chimes, Grace Bailey, Lewis R French, Mercantile, Stephen Taber, Isaac H. Evans and Timberwind start 15 minutes ahead of them and sail and even shorter course. In the end it usually works out about even depending on how the winds hold. In the case of yesterday’s race the early bird got the worm but the second mouse got the cheese.

On the up wind leg the Leeward class really showed their stuff and were in a cluster by the time they rounded the windward mark. American Eagle luffed us up from our weather advantage shortly after the start forcing us to tack away. Not to worry. I had personally given up any hope of catching the fleet so sailed my merry way to the far side of the bay. It was there that the wind and tide gave us a boost. In most places the breeze seemed to be easing up with the last of the ebb tide but held where we were and gave us enough lift so that we had a clear weather advantage on American Eagle when we crossed tacks. The Leeward class all of a sudden started to loom a little larger but distant none the less. All we needed now was a little luck (OK… a lot of luck!).

I lost track of the Coasters whose course was several miles do