Photo by Mary Alice Carmichael: Class II start-Abigail, Dagger, Aegir
I’ve served on race committee for the IHYC Classic Yacht Regatta on and off since 2012, but this is the first time I’ve noticed a hipster millennial among the competitors. With a long, square-cut beard and a rail-thin physique, he looked right out of Brooklyn central casting. What was he doing at a classic yacht regatta?
Maybe he’d come to celebrate a battle with nature. Winds were 15-20 knots out of the south, and the fetch across the Sound created three to four-foot swells. These were ideal conditions for the powerful yachts built in the 1930s: Scott Franz's Ticonderoga of Greenwich, built in 1936 and 72 feet in length, and IHYC member John Melvin’s Black Watch, a 68 ft custom yawl, built in 1938. The sight of these yachts as they powered through the seas showed their true character—not antique vessels preserved for their beauty, but formidable racing machines, ideally suited to their environment. Ticonderoga had her best Classic in years, finishing second across the line, just five minutes behind Black Watch. The Concordia yawl Phantom won the event overall, taking the Frank Bowne Jones trophy by correcting out just over three minutes ahead of Black Watch.
Photo by Mary Alice Carmichael: Nor’easter tackles the waves. Note the traditional crew uniforms.
Commodore Fogarty’s Cadenza was first across the line on the short course, a bittersweet victory, as this is Cadenza’s last race as an IHYC boat. Commodore Fogarty is donating her to Mystic Seaport. He received a special award after the regatta to recognize his contributions to classic yachting, and a salute from the race committee as he crossed the finish line.
Photo by Mary Alice Carmichael: Commodore Fogarty and Cadenza receive a salute as they cross the finish line
Perhaps sailing celebrates a new kind of climate “wokeness,” with Greta Thunberg sailing across the Atlantic to upbraid politicians at the United Nations, and millenial sailors eschewing carbon-consuming craft for wind-powered excitement. There were certainly many smaller craft ready to tackle the elements, with a fleet of ten thirty-foot Shields battling it out on the same 14 nm course as the largest vessels, right across Long Island Sound. By all accounts these sailors, used to sailing short windward-leeward courses, were exhilarated by the challenge. One praised the course as “square,” which in baby-boomer usage means “uncool,” but to sailors means “right into the wind”, and therefore a tough but fair sailing challenge. Larchmont Yacht Club's Lady won this battle between the Shields, with Katherine second and IHYC’s Circe in third.
Photo by Mary Alice Carmichael: Shields Start
I don’t know, but perhaps the millennial sailor was on one of the catboats, some of which, at 18 ft, were the smallest craft in the regatta. The catboats showed their sturdiness, handling the waves with ease. Even the smallest catboats finished well inside the time limit. Surf City Yacht Club's Whiskers finished first overall in the catboat division, a remarkable performance for an 18 footer competing against larger boats.
Photo by Mary Alice Carmichael: The largest competitors after their start
Or perhaps it was the party after racing, long a famous event in sailing circles. This is the tenth year that Commodore and Shelia Graves have run the IHYC Classic Yacht Regatta. Shelia Graves received congratulations from sailors who had competed in this year’s other classic yacht regattas, including Eggemoggin Reach, the Opera House Cup and the Newport Classic. They all said that they enjoyed the IHYC Classic the most. I don’t know if the commodore or Shelia spoke to the millennial hipster sailor, but I ran into him near the bar, not long after The Uninvited had started a set. He was wearing a batik shirt and a slightly stunned expression. He caught my eye and said: “This regatta rocks!”
By David Seabrook, photos by Mary Alice Carmichael. Mary Alice would like to shout out two giant “thank yous” to Reinhardt Olson and Greg Neumann for not only offering their motor boats for the CYR, but also for driving the photographers out into the Sound for several hours under challenging conditions. They got us exactly where we needed to be, in spite of some of the heaviest wind and surf in the Classic’s 10 years! David passes on the commodore’s thanks to the indomitable race committee crew and to the sterling staff members, both ashore and afloat, who enabled us to produce this special event.