Cheating at Charitable Event Is Sad

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Editor,

Our 54-foot Jeanneau, the Mary-Ellen, competed in the Coral Bay Yacht Club’s Thanksgiving Day Regatta this past weekend. Competing in the 40 foot and over cruising class, the Mary-Ellen sought to defend its title as reigning class champion. With 20 knots of breeze (and in view of the crew of Silver Cloud perfectly positioned to view the Mary-Ellen’s performance on the initial tack off the starting line), the Mary-Ellen quickly jumped into a substantial lead over its competitors who literally fell out of sight. No surprise here. The Mary-Ellen was a good 10 feet longer than any other boat. The Mary-Ellen under jib and main breezed by nearly the entire field and was never passed except by a handful of PHRF racing yachts flying spinnakers. We crossed the finish line believing we had won the race. 

To our great chagrin, we learned at the awards ceremony that we had taken third place! A 40-ish foot boat called the Endymion, a boat we had left far behind by the time we reached the most windward mark, had somehow won. Cheaters? Careless sailors? With no one watching the marks, it appears they skipped a second reach around Flannagan’s Island. It turns out the second place boat, Simone’s Voyage, followed Endymion around the course (they admitted as much to us) and in doing so similarly skipped the final outbound leg. The result: a third place finish for the Mary-Ellen.

The matter was brought to the attention of the race committee which was powerless to contradict the word of the apparent cheaters. The crew of the Mary-Ellen decided that in view of the charitable purpose of the event a fuss was not appropriate. Still the crew came away very disappointed. You can be sure if we see the Endymion again we will be sure to watch her closely. We hope that the Yacht Club stations observers next year at some or all of the marks.

Howard J. Silverman, MD, JD
SV Mary-Ellen
Sapphire Marina, St. Thomas