Grateful for the opportunity

Published on August 7th, 2020

The day dawned bright and clear, and sadly wind-free. On August 7, young sailors coming from all over the south coast of Massachusetts began rigging their boats for Plymouth Yacht Club’s annual Junior regatta in Plymouth, MA.

The lack of wind surprisingly was not foremost in their minds; they were dialed into the contagious energy that heralds a regatta start. Their excitement was further amplified by the fact that, despite being held in August, this was first regatta of the season for most of the competitors. Sailors in the 420, Optimist Champ and Optimist Green were excitedly prepping their boats with coaches as the 12:00pm staggered harbor start time approached.

COVID-19 regulations had already forced cancellation of most regattas in their area (Cape Cod and in Southeastern Massachusetts). However, as restrictions began to lift, PYC’s Jr. Sailing Committee chair Ned Joyce gave the green light for the club to host its 15th annual Junior regatta.

He executed a plan that leveraged both the club’s ample lawn area and a nearby public beach to safely host a one-day, invitational event for over 90 sailors. That number of competitors seemed incredible, given that any racing, even just “for-fun”, had not been possible just weeks prior.

At the helm of the regatta planning, Program Director Hayley Reifeiss worked with local officials and Plymouth Harbor Master Chad Hunter to design then implement protocols, ensuring that sailors’ activities on land and on the water complied with all safety mandates.

The day went smoothly as a result, thanks in large part to competitors embracing the additional rules, especially mask-wearing. Sailors had just one issue: the sad but necessary elimination of the famous PYC regatta post-race cookout.

As sailors took to the water, the wind managed to breathe out occasional puffs up to 3-4 knots, shifting SW to SSW off the land. This created challenging conditions when coupled with Plymouth harbor’s rapid tides. This challenge also extended to the race committees and support boats, who reset starting lines and marks repeatedly, and threw out at least one race on the 420 line after a shift transformed the windward stretch into an easy reach.

Despite only being able to complete two races, the 420 line had plenty of excitement, with a tie for first place between competing teams from Hingham Yacht Club: Ethan Burt/Sam Ackerman and Griffin Beaulieu/Sam Schuwherk.

Hingham dominated the 420 fleet results, taking 5 of the top 8 finishing positions. The Sperry brothers, Sam and Finn from New Bedford Yacht Club, came in a close 3rd, scoring just one point behind the tied top two scores. Another sibling duo, Paige and Lauren Joyce from Plymouth, placed 6th after two tight races against Tom Rogers and Charlie Comeau from Cohasset, who placed 7th.

With 30 boats from six different clubs, the PYC regatta’s 420 line was the largest any junior regatta had yet seen in the area during 2020 (Southeastern MA, Cape Cod and the Islands).

On the 21-boat Optimist Champ line, the competition was just as fierce, but only for second place. White fleeter Travis Greenburg from Satuit boat club walked away with the win in all 4 races, usually followed by Blue fleet’s Eliza Corral from New Bedford Yacht Club, who came in 1st for her fleet, 2nd overall with 12 points.

Hingham Yacht Club grabbed the next 5 overall finishes, with Hadley Reed in 3rd with 16 points, and Will Matthews taking 1st for Red fleet, 5th overall.

Plymouth’s own Josh Neilson tied for 7th overall. Despite the low and shifting wind, several savvy Optimist sailors quickly adapted to the conditions to drastically improve their scores during the day, like Hingham White fleeter Daniel Burns, jumping from 18th to 8th overall in the last two races.

The trend for ramped-up results was most notable on the 13-boat Optimist Green line, where Plymouth sailor Jaan Hunter’s three races ranged from last place, to 11th, to first place. Grace Goodwin from Beverly Yacht club edged out teammate Claire Vergoni to take 1st place. Beverly Yacht Club snagged 3rd and 4th places as well, only to be halted by Mary Conroy of Plymouth in 5th.

The Green Fleet’s wind was perhaps the most challenging of all starting lines that day, being the most sheltered. However, none of the sailors seemed at all phased by the conditions, displaying only enthusiasm and excellent sportsmanship.

It was overall an incredible day, and as sailors departed they all expressed gratitude for the opportunity: to race, to see friends from other clubs (at a distance), and to savor that special thrill only generated by regatta competition.

For final results, click here.

Source: Robin Gaynor

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