COMMENTARY: More than 6 hours of memorable racing

Published on July 28th, 2013

Edgartown Yacht Club held its first race around Martha’s Vineyard Island in the summer of 1938, and is continued today as the ‘Round-the-Island Race. This year’s edition, held on July 20, provided quite a ride for the 62 teams that took on the 52.25 nm race. Class winner Doug Curtiss tells the tale onboard his J/111 Wicked 2.0  

What a race it was!!

Not only did we secure a first place in PHRF A Class by three minutes corrected in this six hour race, but went toe to toe with the One Design 35 for most of the day.  Did I mention some great sailing with gusts to 30, and top speed of 18.6 knots for Wicked 2.0?

The day started well with a spinnaker start and run to the leeward mark off Cape Pogue.  Making the turn South for the reach down the Muskeget Channel between Chappy and Nantucket, we were two boat lengths behind the 1D 35.  Wind was a steady 18 to 22.

We separated for most of the reach, but rounding the Sea Buoy and turning to the West, a J/120 came out of nowhere to take the lead.  We were 3 boat lengths behind the 1D 35.  Everyone settled onto the rail for the 2 1/2 hours to the can off Squibnocket.  Slowly, ever so slowly, we reeled in the 1D 35.  Heading into a Southwest ocean swell, with freshening breeze, Ted and then Gary ground em down.

Everyone on the rail was hiking like we were in a buoy race with one last mile to the windward mark… only this was 19 miles of ocean!  No more than 3 boat lengths had separated us for the fetch down the whole South Shore. When we rounded the Squibby can, we were 20 feet ahead.   We had gained approximately 120 feet in the last 19 miles against our sparring partner.

Both bore away to the Sea Buoy at Devil’s Bridge, Gay Head.  Wind is gusting to 25 with big swells on a reach. The 1D 35 used their maneuverability and every trick in their bag to try and get by Wicked 2.0.  They could not pass to windward, so they set up on a wave and would try to surf by to leeward… but no dice.  Rounding the buoy at Gay Head, there was still less than a boat length separation. But we had shortened the course by 25 nm on the 1D 35.

We would need every second of that handicap, as the 1D 35 took advantage of their downwind speed and took off on the spinnaker run down Vineyard Sound toward the finish line.  The wind was now gusting over 30 with a steady 22 to 26 on the wind gauges.  Both boats playing the adverse tides through Lucas Shoals and Middle Ground, jibing into the beach to get out of the current and then jibing back out into Vineyard Sound.

It was a great real estate tour of the North Shore of Martha’s Vineyard, but no one was looking in this breeze. The speedo was topping out at 18.6 knots! The J/120 would soon fall back, with the 1D 35 pulling far ahead with their square top main and big kite.  But then disaster…broaching and a blown chute, followed by two more knockdowns that we could see.

Rounding the can at West Choppy, we killed the kite for the reach to the finish.  Passing Vineyard Haven and Oak Bluffs, we saw the most wind of the day, making 13 and 14 knots on a close reach with full main and number 3 jib.

Wicked 2.0 crossed the finish with corrected time about 3 minutes ahead of the J/120 and 7 ahead of the 1D35 after more than 6 hours of memorable racing.

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