They Go ‘Round and ‘Round in Edgartown
Published on July 25th, 2015
Located seven miles off the coast of Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard has long been known as an idyllic summer destination despite being accessible only by air or boat – which naturally posed no problem for the hundreds of sailors who made the trek to the eastern end of the island for Edgartown Yacht Club’s 2015 Edgartown Race Weekend in Edgartown, MA.
Over three perfect summer days, competitors had a full schedule with ‘Round-the-Buoy Races on Thursday and Friday, July 23-24, and the historic ‘Round-the-Island Race on Saturday, July 25. On the social side of things, Friday evening’s Mount Gay “Jump-Up” party – which followed the awards presentations for the ‘Round-the-Buoy Races – was a highlight of the weekend.
Following the lead of his father and uncle who raced at EYC in the ‘80s, Brian Crowley brought his brother Gene Crowley and cousin David Crowley to race his Sabre 426 Fidelis in the ‘Round-the-Buoy Races. Explaining that they had sailed with the elder Crowley’s when they all were teenagers, the trio recounted climbing through the club windows to be part of the EYC festivities which was then off-limits for under-aged crew.
Representing Megansett Yacht Club in the PHRF Non-Spinnaker Class and marking the third year competing, the Crowley clan was animated in their enthusiasm for the event and for resuming the family tradition. “We’ll be back,” said Brian Crowley.
Following a different lead was the Navy crew on Tenacious being skippered by Midshipman Jackson Niketas, which won the final two races of the six-race buoy series to finish third in PHRF B. “You change crews twice a year and sail for about six months together,” said Niketas who explained that the crew is selected at the beginning of the season when the regatta schedule is planned out.
The rising senior first did the EYC race weekend two years ago as a crew, and commented on the conditions for this year’s buoy races: “It’s been tough racing; it was really light breeze, especially today. It was tough tactically to keep the boat out in front, but we were able to do that.”
Niketas, who grew up in Birmingham, Alabama, and had never sailed before attending the Academy, went through a selection process to be selected skipper: “There are more people that want the position than there are positions available. I was very blessed to get the opportunity and it’s been very good so far.”
When asked how competing fits into the Navy’s overall program, Niketas explained: “One of the things that the Navy wants to get out of any extra-curricular activity that we do is decision making under pressure. A lot of times in sailing there’s not the exact right decision to make, there’s a lot of different options and you don’t know the exact turnout; so sailboat racing, it’s very closely related to what I think we’ll see out in the fleet and I think it’s very beneficial. This crew has been together about five months now. We’ve made several position shifts throughout the season, but I’d say we’re in about the best spot we could be at and everybody is just fine-tuning their jobs now.”
Niketas and the Tenacious crew made some good decisions during Saturday’s Round-the-Island Race: finishing first in PHRF C to win the Venona Trophy for the PHRF Spinnaker best finish on corrected time, as well as the Cook Award for the best finish among service academy yachts.
First held in the summer of 1938, EYC’s ‘Round-the-Island Race covers 56 nautical miles, with the 68-strong fleet passing the island’s most distinguishing features, including seven lighthouses and the cliffs of Gay Head.
Making its racing debut, and coming home the winner with the shortest elapsed time, was Richard Cohen’s Foggy. The 74-foot German Frers-designed sloop, launched less than a month ago, was an attention grabber as she circumnavigated Martha’s Vineyard to collect the Concord Cup.
Report by Jan Harley, Media Pro International