Breezy Diamond Island Regatta raises money for maritime museum

Photo by Rik Carlson
Spinnaker boats and ‘JaM’ competitors head downwind toward Diamond Island during the 2018 Diamond Island Regatta.

By TIM ETCHELLS

A light rain fell early on Saturday as boats and their sailors gathered at Point Bay Marina in Charlotte for the sixth annual Diamond Island Regatta.

It was a cool, overcast, blustery morning, with a stiff wind from the north blowing down Lake Champlain. The automated weather station on the race’s namesake, Diamond Island, registered steady winds of 15 knots with gusts over 20 knots.

The rain stopped right about the time that folks gathered for breakfast under the Royal Savage Yacht Club tent at the marina. Most of the sailors were wearing Diamond Island Regatta T-shirts, many with their boat name printed on the back. T-shirt sales were one way the club raised money for the race’s beneficiary, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Ferrisburgh, just a few miles down the lake from Point Bay. The club also held a raffle, and sales of race photographs will add to the collection for the museum.

The final numbers aren’t in yet, but the club is hoping the amount raised will match the $1,000 donated in each of the last few years.

Photo by Rik Carlson
Boats head north from Town Farm Bay in Charlotte, Vt., heading toward the windward mark off Essex, N.Y., right after the start of the 2018 Diamond Island Regatta.

The race itself, which has become a favorite of Lake Champlain sailors, began just after 11 a.m. at the start/finish line in Town Farm Bay, just south of the marina. The course took competitors northwest, into a stiff breeze and three- to four-foot waves, to a mark off Essex, N.Y.; south to Diamond Island off Ferrisburgh, past Split Rock and the Palisades to the west and Thompson’s Point and Kingsland Bay State Park to the east; and then back north to the finish.

The fastest time for the 9.5-mile course – touching parts of the lake belonging to two states and several different towns – was recorded by Corbeau, a 40-foot Farr 400 sloop from the Valcour Sailing Club that finished in one hour, 14 minutes and 32 seconds.

Competitors were divided into two general categories: those who sailed with spinnakers and those who sailed only with jib and mainsail (JaM).

Boats came from the local Royal Savage Yacht Club (RSYC), Lake Champlain Yacht Club (LCYC) in Shelburne, Malletts Bay Boat Club (MBBC) in Colchester, the Valcour Sailing Club (VSC) in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and the Point au Fer Sailing Club (CPFC) near Rouses Point, N.Y. Twenty-six boats registered for the race, but a few were non-starters due to the weather; 22 boats started and finished, in six different classes.

Fourteen boats finished in the four spinnaker classes, A through D, and eight in the two JaM classes, A and B. The classes were determined by each boat’s rating under the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet system, which ranks boats based on their speed potential and is used for most sailing competitions on Lake Champlain. Winners are determined based on corrected time, with the faster boats “giving time” to the slower boats.

The six class winners received trophies at the awards ceremony, held during the club’s annual Lobster Fest dinner. The trophies were historic replica deck prisms from the maritime museum’s gift shop, with custom settings created by Erik Cooper of M//E Design in Burlington.

Here are the finishers in each division:

  • Spinnaker A: 1. Odinn, Kjell Dahlen, VSC. 2. Dunder, John Thouron, LCYC. 3. Corbeau, Jeanne Pierre Turgeon, VSC. 4. Polar Express, Donald Duley, VSC.
  • Spinnaker B: 1. Lift Ticket, Samuel Pratt, MBBC. 2. Alchemy, Dana Bolton & Mark Damico, LCYC & MBBC.
  • Spinnaker C: 1. Sundance, Tom Glynn, LCYC. 2. Muse, Doug Friant, RSYC & LCYC. 3. Talisman, Les Velte, LCYC. 4. It Wasn’t Me, Branwell Lepp, RSYC.
  • Spinnaker D: 1. Osprey, Thomas Porter, RSYC. 2. Li’l Bot, Benedek Erdos, RSYC. 3. Dragonfly, John Beale, RSYC. 4. Twig, Fritz Martin, RSYC.
  • JaM A: 1. Spirit, Steve Koch, RSYC. 2. Kinsale, Robert Finn, LCYC. 3. Salsa, Sean Linskey, RSYC. 4. The Avengers, Jocelyn Duteau, CPFC.
  • JaM B: 1. Mackinac, Tim & Betsy Etchells, RSYC. 2. Respite, Peter Chornyak, RSYC. 3. Raven, Wendy Friant, RSYC. 4. Blew Sky, Chip Kaupp, RSYC.

Complete results are online at: rsyc.org/2018-diamond-island-regatta-results/.

For racers and club members, the day began and ended under the yacht club’s tent at the marina, starting with a pre-race breakfast and skippers’ meeting and wrapping up with the awards ceremony and Lobster Fest. About 90 people attended this year’s dinner.

“Our thanks go to all those who sailed and everyone who attended the Lobster Fest for their support of the club and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum,” said Susan DeSimone, yacht club commodore, at the evening event. “And kudos to Point Bay Marina and the many (Royal Savage Yacht Club) volunteers who made the day’s events possible.”

At the morning breakfast, DeSimone told sailors about the club’s decision to run a certified Clean Regatta, helping educate and mobilize sailors to protect the world’s lakes and oceans. The club used a sustainability plan developed with the help of Sailors for the Sea, an organization promoting ways to improve the health of the planet’s waters. One result: the club collected 200 pounds of compostable waste over the course of the day. DeSimone also noted that co-host Point Bay Marina is a certified Vermont Clean Marina.

RSYC’s race director Wendy Friant thanked Dale Hyerstay and Keith Kennedy from the Lake Champlain Yacht Club who headed up the race committee. She also noted that Royal Savage member Al Martin provided his powerboat, the Nancy Ann, as the Diamond Island Regatta committee boat.

Mark boats, which helped the race committee set the windward mark off Essex and the starting and finishing mark in Town Farm Bay, were driven by RSYC member Jim Moody and Steve Pond, who brought his classic wooden 26-foot powerboat, a 1967 Lyman, down from Burlington. Pond is president of the Lake Champlain chapter of the Antique and Classic Boat Society, and a recently retired Lake Champlain ferry captain.

At the awards dinner, the maritime museum’s archaeological director, Chris Sabick, gave a lively presentation on the history of the schooner Royal Savage, the club’s namesake. The Royal Savage served as Benedict Arnold’s flagship during Revolutionary War battles with the British on Lake Champlain.

Tim Etchells is a member of the Royal Savage Yacht Club.

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