Capsizing is an inevitable part of high school sailing when the breeze is brisk and gusty, as it was last Saturday at the PenBay League regatta in Rockland. The Mount Desert Island High School team sailed in Portland instead. PHOTO COURTESY OF PAM PIERCE

Sailing team competes on ‘picture perfect day’

PORTLAND — The weather Saturday was glorious — sunny, warm and breezy — perfect conditions for high school sailboat racing along the Maine coast.

Mount Desert Island High School sailing Coach John Macauley took a team of 10 young sailors down to Portland Harbor Saturday morning for a day of team racing hosted by Cheverus High School. The venue was the waters off the SailMaine facility located between the Portland Ocean Terminal pier and the Eastern Prom.

Seven teams were on hand for the event, most of them from the Portland area. Besides MDI, though, two squads came a distance to race: Portsmouth High School from Portsmouth, N.H., and Boston College High School, all the way from Beantown.

“It was a picture perfect day with plenty of sun and wind, and the MDI team did a great job in a format with which they are not as familiar as some of the other teams,” Macauley said on Monday.

The regatta used the team racing format in which three-boat teams compete against one another in a round of match races.

The Trojans “did surprisingly well,” Macauley said, with wins in the first three flights against Portsmouth, Portland and Cheverus. MDI later lost to both BC High School and perennial Maine powerhouse Falmouth.

“We did not sail against Greeley,” from Cumberland, “as planned due to time constraints,” he said.

Closer to home, the PenBay Sailing League held its second seasonal regatta, with Camden Hills High School dominating the event. Five schools sailed in the team racing event, but none of them was from Hancock County. MDI was in Portland, and George Stevens Academy didn’t sail last weekend.

“It was a wild and wacky day,” Boothbay Regional High School sailing Coach Charles Barclay said in a Monday email.

With too much wind to race in a more exposed section of the harbor, the race committee set a course in close to land and the dock.

“This provided some slight relief in wind strength, though it still blew 15-18 [knots] with gusts higher and a top recorded gust of 26” and plenty of sudden shifts.

Well-suited to the harrowing conditions, Barclay said, “the senior-laden Camden team had a weight and experience advantage and sailed well to compile a record of 11 wins and one loss.”

With the end of the school year fast approaching, the regatta calendar is short.

Next Saturday, public and private secondary schools from around Maine and northern New England are slated to gather at Maine Maritime Academy for the annual Downeast Fleet Racing Invitational and Maine Schools Sailing Association Championship regatta. The event is hosted jointly by MMA and George Stevens Academy.

As of Monday, 14 teams had signed up for the event, according to GSA sailing Coach Andy Stephenson.

Now in its 20th year, the event will award three trophies: the Jim Modisette Memorial Downeast Regatta Trophy, given to the team that finishes in first place overall; the MSSA Championship Trophy, given to the highest-placing Maine school team; and the inaugural Butch Minson Memorial Trophy, named in honor of the longtime Maine Maritime Academy sailing coach and supporter of scholastic sailing programs who died last year.

On May 26, the MDI Community Sailing Center and MDI High School will host the final PenBay event of the season, the Great Harbor Regatta, in Southwest Harbor.


Stephen Rappaport

Stephen Rappaport

Waterfront Editor at The Ellsworth American
Stephen Rappaport has lived in Maine for nearly 30 years. A lifelong sailor, he spends as much time as possible messing about in boats. [email protected]

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