SOUTHWEST HARBOR — Mount Desert Island High School senior Chris Booher took home the “gourd” in the Sailing Center’s annual intra-team Pumpkin Regatta that marks the end of the season. He edged out two-time defending champion MDI junior Connor Ratcliff for the winning score.
“We only had five sailors so we made it a single-hand event,” center director Glenn Squires said. Four Turbo 420s were on the line, and a fifth sailor, Lilly Anderson, crewed with a different boat for each race.
“It was lots of fun,” Squires said, “except when we came back to the Center, it was extreme low tide. So they had to walk through and drag the boats through the mud flats.”
The strong performance by the club team Oct. 17 at Sail Maine’s Green Wave Regatta in Portland turned out to be their last competition against other squads for the season. A few sailors traveled the following Saturday for the Bulldog Classic, but light winds meant not enough races were completed for results to be official. Team members voted not to travel to the Ghosts and Goblins regatta Oct. 31.
“It was a great fall season,” Squires said. “The team traveled more then any previous year thanks to coaches John Macauley and Liana Folger, and the parents.”
Many of the sailors had been on the water consistently since April. They sailed in the spring high school season, summer fleet racing and the fall club team.
A few even spent the winter messing around in boats. Booher, Ratcliff and Kevin Elk spent last winter working on Surprise, a Luders that was donated to the sailing center a few years ago. Booher skippered the boat in summer Luders racing. Ratcliff skippered in the fall series, with impressive results. Surprise was third of 13 boats in the summer Sunday series.
“We replaced all the blocks and cleats, we re-ran the travelers,” Booher said. “Last year, it was awkwardly rigged. We added new cleats on the cabin top so we could access the lines, and we opened up the back of the boat and made it so you can access the backstay.”
Booher said all that experience has definitely improved his racing tactics, but Luders racing was a different animal from high school 420 events. “It’s a much longer course,” he said. “In 420s, we’ll run more races in a day, and each race only takes 20 minutes. It’s also a different kind of boat.”
Booher echoed Squires and Macauley in noting the difference it was made to have Folger join the coaching staff for the club team this year. The position is supported by the Northeast Harbor Fleet. “She’s a very important part of the program,” he said. “It’s key to have the hands-on demonstration that she can provide.”