The Hog Island Racers gathered at Pam Kirk’s “Island Echo” home in New Silver Beach in North Falmouth to celebrate 50 years of racing and award the series trophy to the 2020 winner.
Pam has been an integral part of the series for many of those years, hosting the tea multiple times, a long stint as race committee and cheering on many members of her extended family who have participated in the sailing. Her contribution is unmistakable and greatly appreciated.
The weather more or less cooperated with the plan for a safe, outdoor event. At 10 AM, just as people were arriving, a light drizzle started to fall, but the temperature was relatively mild and the showers passed before long, giving way to a brightening sky.
In 1970, Sloat Hodgson and Dr. Paul Magnuson started Hog Island as a small post Labor Day competition among friends in West Falmouth Harbor. Dot Magnuson and Margo Harley served as race committee in the early days. Beginning in 1971, the sailor who accumulated the lowest number of points over the seven-week series was awarded a trophy at the end of season party, “The Tea.” The Launch Boy Trophy, first presented to Penny Hare in 1971, was, according to Sloat, “a grand silver inlaid loving cup that started life in 1919 as the first-place prize in a squash tournament.” Sloat referred to himself as the launch boy, hence the name of the much-coveted award.
Over the years, the fleet grew and sailors from other harbors joined in. In its heyday, the Hog Island races sometimes surpassed the NEBCBA championships in participation numbers. More recently, the fleet has settled into a smaller, more consistent group, but regardless of size, the series has an enduring character that brings sailors back year after year. There is a deep sense of community, fellowship and, for many, family fun. Skippers who are racing now were often crews for their parents or aunts and uncles when they were young. The next generation of sailors is now crewing for them, and this group was truly impressive, enthusiastic throughout the series despite some very long races (over an hour), some very blustery conditions and some very “animated” skippers giving them direction. This bodes well for another 50 years of Hog Island racing! Here’s to Ben and Jamie Fallon, Lucia Yoder, Lila and Angus Kirk, Eva and Max Kirk, Patrick and Fiona Coen, Katie and Claire O’Connor, Oliver Strickland, Reed and Sage Wadlow, and Isabella and Hunter Grayson.
Jancy Grayson crewed for her dad in one race, but she also made the transition to skippering with her brother Hunter as crew in three of the races. She was one of 25 different skippers to participate in the series this year. While that number is somewhat lower than past years, almost half of those sailed five, six or all seven races to qualify for the trophy. Mike Jackson, Mike O’Connor, John Coen and Chris Timson sailed every week. Jim Kirk, Karen Fallon, Ted Grayson, Steve Kirk, Matt Strickland and Todd Drescher made six of the races, Lou Yoder and Fred Seeley five. It was especially wonderful to have Matt Strickland and Mike O’Connor join in this year. Matt grew up sailing at Chapoquoit. His dad is a past commodore, and Matt was an instructor at the club. This was the first time he was on Cape for the series. Likewise, Mike hadn’t been able to participate in Hog Island racing for many years because of his duties as the Harvard sailing coach. In this strange COVID time, these are some of the silver linings.
An additional benefit to Mike racing this year was that instead of being in a beetle cat, his wife, Jane, was out in “Osprey” assisting in numerous ways as mark boat, launch service and safety crew. The race committee was very grateful for her help each week.
Special thanks are also due to Mike Jackson for all the work he did representing the Chapoquoit Associates to ensure a safe and fun series, and to Jonathan Harley and Doug Shearer for providing a boat and other Chapoquoit Yacht Club equipment for the race committee’s use. The races couldn’t have happened without Scott Handler who arrived early each Sunday, prepared the whaler, blew up the buoys, drove the boat and sighted the finish line—not such an easy task this year because of the many close finishes.
It’s hard not to take photos of Hog Island even if you have dozens already. The colorful sails are just so compelling, but Emily Ferguson captures stories within the race and has been chronicling the series for many years. Thankfully, one of her photos accompanies the article each week.
With thank yous and statistics addressed, the meeting turned to the standings and the presentation of the trophy. It was a competitive year with only Tim Fallon winning more than one race in the series. Tom Kirk came in first in the only race he sailed. The other first place finishers were Mike Jackson, Mike O’Connor, Dan O’Connor and Chris Timson. The skippers with the five lowest scores were within a few points of one another, but no matter how the calculations were made, best of five, six or seven races, Chris Timson was the winner and was presented with the Launch Boy Trophy.
The Season Order of Finish:
1. Chris Timson
2. Steve Kirk
3. Three-way tie: Ted Grayson, Karen Fallon and Mike O’Connor
6. Mike Jackson
7. John Coen
8. Jim Kirk
9. Matt Strickland
10. Lou Yoder
11. Todd Drescher
12. Fred Seeley