Silver medal winners in the Club 420 trap/spin class, MDI sailors skipper Connor Ratcliff and crew Skye Ehrhart on the line at the Junior Olympic Sailing Festival here July 12. The pair heads next to the Club 420s National Championship Regatta in Falmouth, Mass. ISLANDER PHOTO BY LIZ GRAVES

Great Harbor hosts Junior Olympic races



MOUNT DESERT — Youth sailors from harbors around Mount Desert Island took on competition from across northern New England here last Tuesday and Wednesday in a regional USA Junior Olympic Sailing Festival.

The MDI Community Sailing Center (MDICSC) and Northeast Harbor Fleet (NEHF) hosted the event with help from the other yacht clubs and groups involved in the Great Harbor Dream collaboration. The Great Harbor Dream has made events like this much more do-able than in the past when a single group would go it alone, event chairman Christopher Scott said.

“This was very much a Great Harbor project,” Scott said. “The weather was fantastic, and we just had a blast.”

Races were held in six classes: Laser radial, Club 420 with trapeze and spinnaker, Club 420 with just main and jib, Turbo 420 with just main and jib, Optimist and Cape Cod Mercury.

Connor Ratcliff of MDICSC and Skye Ehrhart of the NEHF had five bullets in 11 races for a second-place finish on the day in the Club 420 with trapeze and spinnaker class. The MDI boat was edged out by Ben Palmer and Sandra Heilshom of Portland by two points when they were disqualified on a protest on the second-to-last race. Jillian Galloway and Samantha Zwecker of Camden finished a close third.

“We were within five points of those other two boats the whole first day,” Ratcliff said. “Close regattas are always the most fun. You learn a lot in the process.”

Terra Ehrhart took top honors in a field of 28 in the Optimist class, building on her second-overall finish in last year’s JO competition held in Camden. Opti sailors were divided into white fleet for sailors 10 and under, blue fleet for ages 11-12 and red fleet for 13-15.

John O’Rourke of Agamenticus Yacht Club finished first in the blue fleet.

Riley Donahue of MDICSC was first in the white fleet, even pulling ahead of many older sailors for a fifth-place overall finish in one of the races.

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A sailor on the Turbo 420 line.

A separate green fleet Opti line was for sailors new to racing. Sophie Trammel of the NEHF came in first for the green fleet.

Peter Morrissette of SailMaine won the day in the Laser class, and Aidan Wood and Quinn O’Hara of Vermont won the Club 420 (main and jib) class. Many local sailors were on the Turbo 420 (main and jib) line, led by Ellen McInnes and Racquel Shulman of MDICSC, who finished fifth with one second-place and three third-place races.

That class was won by Kate Gilman and Lily Pinciaro of the Kittery Point Yacht Club.

Scott and Sailing Center director Glenn Squires had worked for nearly a year on planning and logistics. Squires, Fran Charles and Steve Madeira were in charge on separate committee boats for simultaneous races across the harbor, each with scores of volunteers on mark boats, safety boats and spectator boats. Linda Crain coordinated the massive registration effort of 170 kids in 130 boats at the green near the Northeast Harbor marina.

“I’ve never run a regatta like this before,” Scott said. “The talent available on MDI is remarkable. And everybody chipped in on volunteer tasks, whether it was setting up chairs or picking up trash. Every time I thought I had a big task, 20 people showed up to help do it.”

The festival concluded with awards on the green and a dinner at the Neighborhood House in Northeast Harbor.

Not ones to rest on their laurels, Ratcliff and Skye Ehrhart headed to Falmouth, Mass., this week for the Club 420 National championships. Ratcliff also is excited to sail as crew in the International One Design North American championships in the Great Harbor July 27-30, he said.

The annual pursuit race to benefit the Great Harbor Dream is set for July 31, with a party with live music to follow at the Northeast Harbor Fleet.

See more photos in a gallery here.

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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