MOUNT DESERT — The 24th Annual Hospice Regatta of Maine gets underway this Friday at a time when the organization’s services may be in more demand than ever.
As in the past several years, the regatta will feature races for several different sailboat classes and several Mount Desert Island sailing organizations will help with the logistics. There will, however, be at least two major differences from the regattas of years past.
Because of the constraints on social gatherings related to the coronavirus pandemic, Hospice Volunteers of Hancock County will not be providing the spectator boats seen at past events for donors to the cause and guests of the organization. There will also be no post-race Rendezvous receptions on shore. The cocktail party and prize presentation, hosted over the past several summers by The Hinckley Co. at the former Morris Yachts service facility in Northeast Harbor, has been a big part of the regatta.
The regatta, which is the organization’s biggest fundraiser and typically generates some $30,000 in contributions annually, encompasses three days of racing.
On Friday, July 10, the Southwest Harbor Fleet will host a series of races for Luders 16 sloops and the Mount Desert Island Community Sailing Center will host a Junior Hospice Regatta for young sailors in 420-class dinghies.
On Saturday, the Northeast Harbor Fleet races International One Design sloops (IODs) and Luders 16s will race on the waters of Mount Desert Island’s Great Harbor under the aegis of the Hospice Regatta.
Sunday will feature a race for large cruising class boats that will start off Greenings Island in Great Harbor and may, depending on weather, take the fleet down the Eastern Way and offshore around the Cranberry Islands.
Just as the pandemic is having an impact on the Hospice Regatta, it is also affecting racing sailors at the Northeast Harbor Fleet.
This year, the Fleet is limiting the size of crews on racing boats unless the crew includes only “family or household members.”
Sailors will have to complete a “tracking document” every day they race to allow the club to do contract tracing in the event of a positive COVID-19 test among crew members. What’s more, skippers and crew will have to sign a waiver absolving the Fleet of all liability in connection with the possibility that they may contract the disease while racing in a Fleet event.
The Friendship Sloop Regatta that usually runs at the same time as the Hospice Regatta on Saturday has been canceled because of the pandemic.