MOUNT DESERT — The summer sailing season is set to begin Saturday for racing teams in the Northeast Harbor and Southwest Harbor fleets.
The Luders class series begins with the first race of the season on Saturday, June 17, while the International One Design class series begins on Saturday, July 1.
Steve Madeira is taking the helm from David Schoeder as commodore of the Northeast Harbor Fleet, while Ken Brookes will continue to serve as commodore of the Southwest Harbor Fleet.
Several regattas will highlight the season.
The annual Hancock County Hospice Regatta is set for Saturday, July 8, at 1 p.m. Awards are scheduled for 4:30 p.m. at Morris Yachts in Northeast Harbor, followed by a cocktail reception.
“It is a really great event and way to honor the hospice volunteers in the area,” said Northeast Harbor Fleet Manager Fran Charles.
The Great Harbor Dream Pursuit Race will be on Saturday, July 23, in Southwest Harbor, followed by a party from 6-9 p.m.
“It’s a really big deal as a way to promote support of the [Mount Desert Island High School] sailing team,” said Charles.
This year, the Northeast Harbor Fleet will host the International One Design Worlds from Aug. 20-25, a prestigious race that brings sailors from different corners of the globe.
Charles said he expects about 20 boats to race in the event, which alternates among fleets each year. The last time Northeast Harbor hosted the Worlds was seven years ago.
“We have sailors all the way from Norway, Sweden, Nova Scotia and Bermuda,” said Charles.
Two teams from the Northeast Harbor fleet will compete. John Henry’s and David Rockefeller Jr.’s teams will race but will not be permitted to race in their own boats, Gambler and Caribou, respectively.
“It makes it a little more fair for the out-of-towners,” said Charles. “Northeast Harbor has the largest fleet of IODs in the world. Everyone leaves their boat at home and uses our boats and rotates boats after every race.”
The Luders and IOD fleets are gaining new hulls this season.
Magic Bus, a refurbished IOD that will be donated to the Northeast Harbor Sailing School, will launch at Mount Desert Yacht Yard this Saturday at 2:30 p.m.
Schoeder, David Folger and Bill Dowling have worked to restore the 1936 hull, which had been left to dry out for more than seven years.
“It is gorgeous,” said Charles. “It is like a piece of furniture. You could put a piece of glass on it and use it in a living room. It really shows off Downeast boatbuilding at its finest.”
Charles said the new boat is a boon to the fleet since it signals that sailing is gaining popularity among youths in the area.
“That boat being resurrected is great for the IOD class as [it has been] difficult to find boats for sale,” said Charles. “This class of boat is dying all over the world except for here in Northeast Harbor.”
Henry Brauer also will debut a refurbished vessel in the Luders class.
“There is another class that you couldn’t give away 10 years ago, and now it is becoming a little more popular than the IOD class,” said Charles. “It’s a testament to the sailing programs in the area that people are getting more comfortable sailing.”
This summer’s race and event schedules are available online at www.nehfleet.org.