CASTINE — The 20th annual Welles Cup regatta opened last week with the Mount Desert Island High School Trojans sailing to a 3-1 lead over the George Stevens Academy Eagles after the first round of the event that ends the Down East high school sailing season.
The concluding Round 2 of the team racing regatta was scheduled to be sailed today (Wednesday) afternoon in Southwest Harbor.
Last week, the first two races were sailed in a brisk westerly which was shifty enough to force GSA Coach Tom Gutow and MDI Coach Wells Bacon to make repeated adjustments to the windward-leeward-windward course. The wind softened somewhat for the final two races of the day.
In team racing, each school puts three boats on the water, and each boat earns the number of points equivalent to its place in the 1 through 6 order of finish. The team with the lowest aggregate score wins the race.
MDI won the first two races, sweeping the top three places in each, 6-15.
In the third race, the Eagle boats finished first, fourth and fifth to win 10-11. In the final, MDI won 8-13.
If the Trojans win the series this week, it will be the third year in a row and the 12th time that the Trojans have taken the Welles Cup back to MDI, but as securities lawyers say, past performance is no guarantee of future success.
Last year, MDI was down 2-1 after the first day of racing and came back to win the regatta 3-2. In 2013, GSA led 4-1 after the first day of racing, but after the second day, they went home on the short end of a combined 9-6 score.
The Welles Cup honors “Admiral” Ted Welles, founder of the Oceanus Institute in Southwest Harbor. His efforts in the late 1980s were largely responsible for establishing a sailing program at MDI High School that is generally considered to have formed the first high school sailing team in Maine
However GSA finishes in the Welles Cup, Gutow is pleased with the way the Eagle sailors have performed this year.
“The season has been a good one with lots of improvement for many of the GSA sailors,” Gutow said in an email last weekend. “Competitively, we have had a tough go of it as we have had numerous sailors with illnesses and were unable to compete in some of the larger regattas.”
Despite those problems, Gutow was optimistic about the team’s future.
“At the New England-wide regattas, we see we have some great potential, with strong sailors who can be very competitive with another year or two of experience,” he said.