Courtesy of the Larchmont Yacht Club Mainsheet
After a pandemic-impacted season in 2020, the 2021 summer racing season will kick off with Larchmont Yacht Club’s traditional season opener, The Edlu Race, on Saturday, May 8. Following the off-cycle running of last year’s race in September, The Edlu returns to its early May schedule, where it has traditionally served as a classic tune-up race for the summer racing season.
The Edlu Race was named after LYC Commodore Rudolph Schaefer’s Sparkman & Stephens-designed 56-foot cutter. Edlu was launched in 1934 and three weeks later won the Bermuda Race, setting up a successful racing career. At 56 feet LOA and 47,000 pounds displacement, Edlu was a classic S&S design, built by Henry Nevins on City Island for $25,000 ($490,000 today). In 1938, Commodore Schaefer commissioned Edlu II, another S&S design, but this time a 68-foot yawl displacing 77k pounds. Edlu II had a colorful history including coastal patrol in World War II, while on loan to the U.S. Navy, and time as a training ship for Tabor Academy, before returning to LYC under the ownership of Commodore Dr. George Brooks for 51 years. In 2005, she was sold and restored, and currently campaigns as Blackwatch proudly flying a battle flag based on the Schaefer Beer logo.
This year will be the 66th running of The Edlu Race. The race was originally a 125-mile overnighter, but for the past several decades has been run as a 32-mile day race from the Larchmont breakwater to Eaton’s Neck and back. LYC boats have won the race 17 times in the 65 runnings, with the Steve and Andrew Weiss family holding the record with four wins in various Christopher Dragons (1977, 1983, 1988 and 2015).
Carina II, a 1955 Rhodes-designed 55-foot yawl, holds the record for most wins by a single boat with victories in 1957, 1963, and 1967. The winner of the first Edlu Race in 1956 was Walter Wheeler’s massive yawl Cotton Blossom IV, a 1926 William Fife 71-foot yawl, now a cutter named Hallowe’en, and the most recent running in 2020 was won by Larchmont’s own Tenebrae, William Ingraham’s J/124.
In recent years, The Edlu has become one of the most popular events on Western Long Island Sound. Although short enough to be completed in a few hours, it has elements of a true distance race. The emphasis is on strategy rather than boat handling, appealing to all sailors, both serious racers and more casual families who want to get out on the water for a fun day of sailing.
The Edlu will include ORC, PHRF, double-handed, one-design, and non-spinnaker classes, as well as a “Plus One Division” for shorthanded boats. In order to encourage the participation of occasional and first-time racers, The Edlu includes a non-spinnaker “Club Class” for boats that do not hold PHRF certificates. The Club Class will sail the Edlu’s 20-mile course under ratings assigned by the Race Committee. You don’t have to own a race boat to do the Edlu: in 2016, Jed Kelly won the 11-boat non-spinnaker class with Entropy, a classic ketch that weighs over ten tons. If you have a sailboat, you are encouraged to join the fleet!
Under the leadership of Regatta Chair Bud Heerde and Rear Commodore Chris Schoen, LYC is looking forward to a fun-filled 66th Edlu Distance Race to kick off a robust 2021 racing season. With 65 boats on the line last year, you are encouraged to join the fleet and help continue the storied history of this fabulous race.