By David Seabrook
I’ve served on race committee for the Indian Harbor Yacht Club Classic Yacht Regatta on and off since 2012, but this year’s edition, on Saturday, September 14, was the first time I’ve noticed a hipster millennial among the competitors. With a long, square-cut beard and a rail-thin physique, he looked right out of Brooklyn central casting. What was he doing at a classic yacht regatta in Greenwich, CT?
Maybe he’d come to celebrate a battle with nature. Winds were 15-20 knots out of the south, and the fetch across Long Island Sound created three to four-foot swells – some of the heaviest wind and surf in the Classic’s ten years. These were ideal conditions for the powerful yachts built in the 1930s: Scott Frantz’s Ticonderoga of Greenwich, built in 1936 and 72 feet in length, and IHYC member John Melvin’s Black Watch (Riverside, CT), a 68-foot custom yawl built in 1938. The sight of these yachts as they powered through the seas showed their true character—not antique vessels preserved for their beauty, but formidable racing machines, ideally suited to their environment. Ticonderoga had her best Classic in years, finishing second across the line, just five minutes behind Black Watch. Joshua Dennerlein’s 41-foot Concordia yawl Phantom (Westfield, NJ) won the event overall, taking the Frank Bowne Jones trophy by correcting out just over three minutes ahead of Black Watch.
IHYC Commodore Jim Fogarty’s Rozinante 28 Cadenza was first across the line on the short course, a bittersweet victory, as this is Cadenza’s last race as an IHYC boat. Commodore Fogarty is donating her to Mystic Seaport Museum in Mystic, CT. He received a special award after the regatta to recognize his contributions to classic yachting, and a salute from the race committee as he crossed the finish line.
Perhaps sailing celebrates a new kind of climate “wokeness,” with 16-year-old activist Greta Thunberg sailing across the Atlantic to upbraid politicians at the United Nations, and millennial sailors eschewing carbon-consuming craft for wind-powered excitement. There were certainly many smaller craft ready to tackle the elements, with a fleet of nine 30-foot Shields battling it out on the same 14-nautical mile course as the largest vessels, right across Long Island Sound. By all accounts these sailors, used to sailing short windward-leeward courses, were exhilarated by the challenge. One praised the course as “square,” which in baby-boomer usage means “uncool,” but to sailors means “right into the wind,” and therefore a tough but fair sailing challenge. John Mawe & Doug Miller’s Lady (Larchmont Yacht Club) won this battle between the Shields, with Margaret & Gregg Takata, Doug Campbell and Andrew Wertheim’s Katherine (Larchmont YC) second and Tom McManus’ Circe (Fairfield, CT; IHYC) third.
I don’t know, but perhaps the millennial sailor was on one of the catboats, some of which, at 18 feet, were the smallest craft in the regatta. The catboats showed their sturdiness, handling the waves with ease. Even the smallest catboats finished well inside the time limit. Roger Bigos’ Marshall Sanderling Whiskers (Surf City Yacht Club) finished first among the four 18-footers, while John Reffner’s Atlantic City 24 Sally E (North Wales, PA; Halloween Yacht Club) won the catboat division overall. Complete results are posted at YachtScoring.com.
Or perhaps it was the post-race party, long a famous event in sailing circles. This is the tenth year that Commodore Ted Graves and his wife Shelia Graves have run the IHYC Classic Yacht Regatta. Shelia received congratulations from sailors who had competed in this year’s other classic yacht regattas, including Eggemoggin Reach, the Opera House Cup and the Newport Classic. They all said that they enjoyed the IHYC Classic the most. I don’t know if the Commodore or Shelia spoke to the millennial hipster sailor, but I ran into him near the bar, not long after The Uninvited had started a set. He was wearing a batik shirt and a slightly stunned expression. He caught my eye and said, “This regatta rocks!” ■
David Seabrook served as Principal Race Officer at this year’s IHYC Classic Yacht Regatta.