Holmes Hole Sailing Association boats head out to West Chop in year's final race.
by David Lott
Special to the Vineyard Gazette and MV Times
The Moffett Race, run the first Saturday after Labor Day, has been the traditional season-ending race for the Holmes Hole Sailing Association. But with beautiful fall weather and eager skippers on hand, that tradition has been firmly scuttled.
Last Thursday eight boats came to the line for the 11th and final race of the Fall Racing Series. Missing from the group was the Alerion 28 Penelope and skipper Mo Flam who had secured their names on the Schwarz Cup the previous week.
A fall champion having been declared notwithstanding, skippers who still had boats in the water jumped at the chance to have yet one final go around the traditional harbor triangle course.
It was a beautiful night with a 4:45 start so as to get in before sunset. Was it that long ago that races started at 6 pm? A gentle 8 mph breeze from the WSW pushed the fleet along from the West Chop buoy aboard a flooding tide to East Chop and in.
A typical summer start, often more than 20 boats would come to the line.
Phil Hale made sure that his J/100 Tango made the most of the outing, arriving at the start with a newly cleaned bottom and easily out-sprinting the fleet to an easy 8-minute cushion and the win. Roger Becker, whose C&C 24 lives for light-wind days, guided the red-hulled boat and its voluminous jib to second. Commodore Jerry Goodale took third in his Pearson 31, Stormalong.
Former commodore Dan Culkin was at the helm on Magic Time, a Vineyard Vixen, and captured fourth ahead of the Cape Dory 25 Sandpiper and skipper Ernie Mendenall. Finishing sixth was David Lott on Avanti, a Cape Dory 270.
Two boats did not finish, one of which was Lagoonah, a Columbia 32, which stopped to pick up some lobster for the after-race pizza.
'One of the Best Ever'
Commodore Goodale remarked with pride after the race that the sailing season had been 'one of the best ever.' With more than 20 HHSA races, plus three Vineyard Cup races, Around the Island Race, Moffett, 11 Fall Series races and other events, an energetic boat could have sailed in nearly 40 races.
"Our cup runneth over," said Goodale. Two days later the first big storm of the winter roared in and thoughts immediately turned to next year.
For more HHSA information, go to www.HolmesHole.org.