All 27 junior sailors pose in front of the Northeast Harbor Fleet flagpole shortly after the awards ceremony Aug. 3 for the MDI Longboard Regatta. ISLANDER PHOTO BY KIKI GRACE

Teras take on strong, shifting winds at MDI Longboard Regatta

By Kiki Grace, [email protected] 

Sailors break through waves with speed as they catch heavy air during the MDI Longboard Regatta Aug. 3.

SOUTHWEST HARBOR — In anticipation of the MDI Longboard Regatta, competitors from Mount Desert Island Community Sailing Center, Northeast Harbor Fleet and Kollegewidgwok Yacht Club in Blue Hill rigged their Teras Aug. 3 amidst sustained winds exceeding 10 knots and the warm afternoon sun.  

On the water, the sailors caught wind quickly and, frequently on the verge of capsizing, sailed into the mouth of Southwest Harbor off the western end of Greening Island. Here, the first race began with 25 participants, a number that more than doubled last year’s total. 

The next two races were held along the same course. Though repetitive in format, the staggering winds and challenging lulls provided for an eventful afternoon of sailing.  

The day came to a close after an ice cream gathering and awards ceremony at Northeast Harbor Fleet, where first place Carlo Montesano, 15, second place Nicholas Kennedy, 14, and last year’s champion Alex Donahue, 14, in third, were recognized for their impressive skills on the water.  

Stephen Linscott, who champions youth sailing for its “tremendous impact” and ability to inspire “a lot of self-confidence” in young athletes, started the MDI Longboard Regatta last year with the idea of creating an event that incorporated both his artistic vision and passion for sailing.  

A Tera, blown over by powerful gusts, floats in frosty waters during the MDI Longboard Regatta Aug. 3.

The trophies, products of Linscott’s woodworking, included marine teak longboards for first place, smaller teak boards for second and third finishers, and wooden bow ties for “middle of the pack” sailors. Local businesses, such as F.T. Brown, First Bank and Sail Shack also provided gifts and contributions to the regatta.  

Throughout the regatta, two boats capsized in conditions that MDI Community Sailing Center instructor Ellen McInnes described as “a little spicy.” Though chaotic, the winds generated intense competition, especially between lead sailors Montesano and Kennedy. The two sailors went head-to-head for the first-place longboard prize. This contest was so close that in the second race, Kennedy beat first race winner Montesano by just a foot.  

By the third and final race, the wind died down to a patchy 3 knots. “We are going to have to postpone,” Nicholas Steenberg, director of Northeast Harbor Sailing School, declared from his position on the committee boat, Sheerwater, after one abandoned start.  

Leading the pack of the final race of the MDI Longboard Regatta Aug. 3 is Otto Smith, 11, along with first-place winner Carlo Montesano, 15, and Nicholas Kennedy, 14. These competitors lift their rudders and extend their sails as they race downwind.

Competition remained solidified as the wind picked back up, and Otto Smith, 11, took the lead while sailing to the windward mark. Then, neck and neck with previous race winners, Smith was able to gain ground once again, sailing downward toward the leeward mark, and finishing third.  

“I felt like I could win,” Smith explained at the awards ceremony. “I saw the other boats out of wind and I had wind and I was much faster.”  

As many Teras struggled to catch speed in the final minutes of the regatta, a scream could be heard from boat 4013 exclaiming, “I have wind!” 

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