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The 2020 Wooden Boat Series

by Classic Yacht Owners Association 1 Sep 15:09 BST
2020 Wooden Boat Series © Alison Langley

On August 1st, the 2020 Wooden Boat Series concluded its trifecta of events with the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta preceded by the Castine Classic Yacht Race, and the Camden Classic Yacht Regatta. Held in Maine amidst a global pandemic, the organizers and sailors planned for months to carry the tradition of the summer racing series and adhere to the strict local safety guidelines. The Eggemoggin Reach Regatta has served as the cornerstone of the series since its inception in 1985 successfully offering the opportunity for talented yachtsmen and women to display their athleticism and passion for wooden sailing vessels.

This year's series began on July 30th, with the Castine Classic, a 19.6 nm course race from Castine to Camden. The course sees the boats fown the Elsbourough shore past Robinson Rock, and finally into Camden. This year, Botin 55, Outlier served as the scratch boat of the fleet making swift work of her journey to Robinson Rock. As described by Steve White, "she got to Robinson Rock, turned the corner putting the spinnaker up and went right into Camden, finishing." The race soon became defined by the weather however, as the rest of the fleet were met with a large thunderstorm going through the area upon reaching the halfway mark to Camden. The wind direction shifted entirely, leaving the fleet in virtual stagnancy until a breeze came up and allowed them to finish the race. "It was terrific to be able to do a regatta in such an odd time," says CYOA President and local race organizer Steve White.

On July 31st, boats began the Camden Classic Yacht Regatta which serves as the feeder race from Camden to Brooklin. The race began in a period of very light wind which did not increase for three to four hours. Camden Regatta organizer Dennis Gunderson remarks,

"The breeze was a little lighter than some would have wanted, but we were still able to get some races off. We had moments of really light air, but then moments of fifteen-plus knots which was very nice."

Castine Classic frontrunner Outlier again took an early lead, sailing to the top of North Haven until an abrupt change in wind stopped her. The rest of the fleet was able to catch up before the race was eventually shortened with a finish in Stonington. This year served as Gunderson's first as organizer, although he has participated for many years. "It was exciting to be able to organize an event that I so admire and have been a sailor before. It has always been one of my favorite days sailing. Getting it off was a success."

Lastly, the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta began on August 1st on time at 11am with 66 boats divided among six starts. Contrary to the previous two days, the regatta began and finished with clear skies and great weather. A light morning northerly converted to the southwesterlyseabreeze, contributing to what White describes as "the perfect eight to twelve knots." Serving as the conclusion to the 2020 Wooden Boat Series, the ERR "was just a really great event, and I think everyone just felt the excitement of being able to race in Maine," as described by White.

For organizers and participants alike, the Wooden Boat Series has always offered the opportunity to experience classic wooden boat competition on the pristine Maine waters. This year presented the unique challenge of planning an event during Covid-19. Gunderson states, "It was important for us to have an event so that people could take their mind off of the stresses of everyday life for at least one or two days of sailing. Yet at the same time, it was essential to take all precautions and not be reckless. It was important that we put a lot of trust and faith in the event community. We had a very positive response from that." This year's event contributed to the Wooden Boat Series' legacy sportsmanship, athleticism, artistry, and of course, a love for classic wooden boats.

Results can be found at www.classicyachts.org/schedule.

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