which is fastest?

Racing in Maine’s varied mid-summer weather and tides rewards a variety of boat types and hull shapes. Why do certain designs work better than others in specific conditions? Read on.

The classic racing season in Maine is short and sweet. Until a few years ago, classic and Spirit of Tradition boats had to pack it all into three days, Thursday through Saturday of the first weekend in August—the Castine Classic, the Camden-Brooklin “feeder” race, and the venerable Eggemoggin Reach Regatta. A few years ago, the Camden Classics Cup joined the party with two more days of racing on the last weekend of July, and this year the Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club (BHYC) added a classic element to its annual regatta by inviting vintage, Classic, and Spirit of Tradition boats to sail in their own divisions the week before Camden Classics. A very nice spread of racing in the sweet spot of a Maine summer.

Here’s our quick run-down of this year’s events except for BHYC which we couldn’t make but heard a lot of good things about.

The Camden Classics Cup was weather blessed. A super-flat Friday morning belied the promised brisk Nor’wester but a little patience paid off. By 1:30 the fleet was rail-down, some boats reefed, as a shifty and puffy breeze dropped off the Camden hills onto West Penobscot Bay. Only the briefest, occasional sprinkle marred the dark and stormy horizon and wind-lashed white caps. The breeze blew all night, and into Saturday morning, but by race time, the clear weather was having its effect and the sea breeze was putting up a fight. The day kept decent breeze until the afternoon, but not without the occasional soft spot, as the conflicting breezes wrestled between south and northwest, eventually averaging out at westerly. The fleet of 90 boats reveled in the conditions—everyone had enough power most of the time.

The following weekend things were less delightful, weather-wise. Thursday’s Castine-Camden race began in a drizzle and an uncharacteristic light northerly, turning the typical long beat to Robinson Rock into a run. This would have been fun if it had held, but soon the breeze dropped and the rain fell. Front-runners were lucky enough to find a wind line that kept them moving. Much of the fleet simply sat and watched their wet spinnakers drag in the water. Read on.