SOUTHWEST HARBOR — High school sailors looking forward to a trip to Mount Desert Island to race in the sixth annual Great Harbor Regatta this weekend are in for a surprise.
This year, they won’t be sailing Turbo 420 dinghies from the MDI Community Sailing Center floats off Clark Point. Instead, they will be back in Castine, site of the Downeast Regatta two weeks ago, sailing Maine Maritime Academy’s collegiate 420s.
Why? Because this year, all of the sailing center’s Turbo 420s are back at the builder’s factory undergoing repairs.
“The Turbos are still being worked on by the manufacturer,” MDI sailing coach John McCauley said last week. “All we have are six Zims.”
Zim Sailing is a Rhode Island manufacturer that builds several of the different versions of the 420 dinghy, nearly ubiquitous in one version or another in scholastic and collegiate sailing throughout the United States. It does not, however, build the Turbo 420 — the principal boat in the sailing center’s fleet.
That boat is built by Whitecap Composites in Peabody, Mass.
In 2013, a group of MDI sailing organizations working together in the Great Harbor Dream initiative bought 18 of the Turbos with an eye toward replacing the dozen 420s the organizations bought together in 1999. Though similar, the standard 420s and the Turbos handle quite differently.
Although the Turbos were designed to be more rugged than the standard 420s, after five years of hard sailing the boats needed some work.
“We want to update the rudders and jibs, and the centerboard gaskets need repair,” Glenn Squires, director of the sailing center, said last week.
The MDIHS sailing team is based at the sailing center and has hosted the Great Harbor Regatta in its home waters, and in its familiar boats, for the past five years, but the switch to a different venue, even sailing unfamiliar boats, is unlikely to faze the Trojan sailors.
Ten days ago, the team finished tied in points with the Islesboro Central School for third place overall at the Downeast Invitational Regatta sailed in Castine in the same boats that will be used this weekend.
A tiebreaker kept the team from earning the state high school sailing championship and the Griff Fenton Maine Schools Sailing Association Trophy.
The Notice of Race for this year’s Great Harbor Regatta calls for a single day of fleet racing, with two divisions sailing. Report time for the sailors is 9 a.m. on the MMA waterfront with the skippers meeting set for 9:30 and the first race scheduled to start at 10:30.
As of Monday, Squires said, 10 teams of high school sailors, including George Stevens Academy from Blue Hill and MDIHS, were expected to be on the water in Castine this weekend.
Last year, the eight high school teams at the regatta sailed in murky weather on Great Harbor and completed 16 fleet races in Turbo 420s. The host Trojans team finished fourth.
A club team of Camden high school students won the Glenn Squires Cup, finishing first overall with bullets in nine of the races. Islesboro Central was the runner-up.