S/V Liberty angles for position at the starting line on the second day of the Coral Bay Yacht Club’s annual Thanksgiving Regatta. Liberty, owned by Robin Clair-Pitts, was captained by Thatcher Lord for the race. She had the fastest time on the course of all vessels, finishing in just over three hours and twenty-three minutes. Liberty also won the 40-foot and over traditional class.
Sails dotted the horizon in Coral Bay harbor over two days last week as more than 30 vessels took part in the Coral Bay Yacht Club-sponsored 26th Annual Thanksgiving Regatta on Friday and Saturday, November 23 and 24.
This year’s regatta was raced with a fellow Coral Bay sailor in mind and heart, Steve Dawes. Dawes, who lived aboard his monohull Equity and raced in numerous local regattas, passed away this year and the Thanksgiving regatta was raced in his honor.
Eight traditional gaff-rigged boats led the fleet on Friday as the race got underway with clear skies and a steady breeze. The St. John-built cowhorn Calabreeze, owned by John Costanzo, maintained bragging rights in the 35-feet and under gaff-rigged class. Ushuaia held off Elinor Louise and Breath to take top honors for gaffers over 35 feet.
Competitor fierce among the single-handed racers. Although it was a close finish, Zephyr overtook F-Stop to finish first in the single-handed 30 feet and under class. Tiger Maru once again sailed across the finish line first in the single-handed 30- to 40-foot class. Levana, the single-handed vessel over 40 feet to race that day, took top honors in her class as well.
The wind picked up on Saturday morning and a steady 15- to 20-knot breeze was blowing by the 11 a.m. start.
Once again traditional boats were out in force for the regatta — at least for the start of the race. Calabreeze and Woodwind collided in open seas and, while no one was injured, both returned to harbor.
Taurus, Elinor Loiuse and Penelope also retired without completing the course. That left Buxom II as the sole traditional boat under 40-feet to finish the race — winning her class.
Liberty, with a stellar crew of local sailing buffs and captained by Thatcher Lord, easily sailed to the win in the 40 foot and over traditional class. Liberty was also had the fastest finish over the course by any vessel in the regatta.
Zephyr once again beat the fleet in the Cruising I class for boats 30 feet and under. Maineac came out on top in Cruising II, boats 30 to 40 feet and Endymion sailed to victory in the Cruising III class for boats 40-feet and over.
Competition was close in the PHRF class with J Walker edging out Tiger Maru and Top Gun for first place.
Silver Cloud, 100-foot more than 100-year-old vessel which sits at the mouth of the harbor, also won its class — the E Class for captain Eliot Hooper.
There were a few scary moments on the water when Sonny, a spectator yacht from Newport, Rhode Island, lost its mast. Luckily no one was injured and the vessel was able to make its way back inside the harbor.
Skinny Legs was packed for the much-anticipated awards ceremony on Saturday evening where Hudson and Hoo Doo Cats kept the crowd entertained and Mary-Pat Brown was the lucky raffle winner of an inflatable dinghy and engine.
Liberty owner Robin Clair-Pitts, a driving force in the formation of the St. John Kids And The Sea program and still one of its staunchest supporters, was awarded a prize for Liberty’s winning performance and a dozen roses from Today’s Flowers.
Peter Muilenburg captain of Breath was the first winner of what will be an annual award handed out at each Thanksgiving Regatta, the Steve Dawes award, given to the person who most embodies the spirit of the regatta and the spirit of Coral Bay sailing.
“It was a tough choice,” said race committee co-chair Dick Burks about selecting the recipient of the first annual Steve Dawes award. “We were looking for the person who most exemplifies the spirit of the race. Peter has been here since the beginning and had participated in every race.”
“There were a lot of great people to choose from and it was not easy to pick one,” Burks added.
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