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A Little Bit of Everything in Edgartown

Published on July 30th, 2016

Edgartown Yacht Club’s three-day Edgartown Race Weekend 2016 (July 28-30) proved to be a solid test for the mix of friends-and-family teams who raced side-by-side with high-profile racers during two days of inshore ‘Round-the-Buoy Races that was followed by the ‘Round-the-Island Race in Edgartown, MA.

Weather conditions ran the gamut from sunshine and a nine-12 knot southwesterly breeze on day one, to drenching rain and blustery conditions on day two, and, finally, light air for the start of the 57-mile counter-clockwise race around Martha’s Vineyard.

The 12-strong crew on Oakcliff Sailing’s Ker 50 Temptation, with Arthur Santry at the helm, included two well-known racers: Dawn Riley in the pit position and navigator Suzy Leech. Riley, the 1999 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, explained that eight of the 12 crew were experienced sailors, and, with the remaining four being relatively new to sailing, Edgartown Race Weekend covered all the bases by offering both high-performance inshore and offshore racing.

While neither Riley or Leech had sailed the event previously, Riley explained that after two days of the ‘Round-the-Buoy Races, the ‘Round-the-Island Race gave “the newer sailor a little more time to absorb what is happening; they get a chance to do trimming, to drive, and to get into different positions.”

Two years ago, the skipper of Uncle Joe recruited Luke Leafgren, a Wisconsin transplant now living in Cambridge, Mass., and Dubliner Peter Denham, who also now lives in Boston, to sail the ‘Round-the-Island Race. While Denham had grown up sailing in Ireland, Leafgren had learned to sail in Boston’s Community Boating program and had only sailed about 12 times on the Charles River. With no real experience, Leafgren was given the role of navigator, while Denham was on the helm.

“We tried to cross middle-ground, this sandbar out there, and Peter followed me blindly,” said Leafgren. “We ran aground up on the northwest corner of the island. We were surfing; had the spinnaker up and went from 11 knots to zero.” Leafgren explained that although he had limited sailing experience, “the skipper on Uncle Joe is really passionate about bringing people into sailing and he takes people on who haven’t learned much and puts us into positions where it stretches us. We had a great race, ran aground and it’s a memory that will always stick with us.”

For this year’s ‘Round-the-Island Race, the friends are racing on Mark Fitzgerald’s Baltic 35 Tonga with a crew of eight. “Most of the crew have done the ‘Round-the-Island Race before,” said Denham. “We’re ready; we’re not going to run aground.”

Cam Tougas of Marion, Mass., a rising senior at the University of Rhode Island and captain of its Keelboat Team, entered Kanga, a Peterson 34 for the ‘Round-the-Island Race as practice for the upcoming fall sailing season.

“This was the first time we have done the race,” said Tougas who explained that it was the team’s second distance race of the summer and that two more were planned around Buzzards Bay before the summer is over.

“We really liked the race, we got a little bit of everything except for heavy air. Every wind angle and some areas with a lot of current and some areas with no current, so we always had a different strategy depending on where we were. We were able to do many sail changes which was great practice, along with sets and douses which is exactly what we need to work on. The wind changing made us work quickly and we had to be spot on. Since this was a long race for us, I really believe it was it was a great team bonding experience, which was awesome. Edgartown Yacht Club welcomed us in with open arms, and we can’t wait to do it next year!”

Full results from Edgartown Yacht Club’s Edgartown Race Weekend are online at:

Source: Jan Harley, Media Pro Intl.

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