The Hog Island fleet was fortunate to sail all seven races of the series again this year. Despite the steady march through fall and away from summer, the weather on the last Sunday, October 25, still offered a pleasant morning on the water. Early in the day, a stiff wind from the north and temperatures in the 40s made it feel quite chilly. As boats gathered thick, gray clouds hovered around the edges of the harbor, but overhead there was blue sky and a lot of sunshine to provide warmth. The tide was low and still ebbing at race time, but there was plenty of room in the upper part of the harbor where adequate water could be found.
As was the case several times this season, the forecast was for wind from the east-northeast but in West Falmouth, all flags indicated that it was blowing out of the north-northwest, with gusts that were decidedly westerly. Given experience from past weeks, the race committee was inclined to trust the turbine and assume that the wind would not abruptly swing to the right before the course could be established. Accordingly, it set up a straightforward triangular course with only the start and finish being somewhat irregular. To make a long first windward leg up into Oldfield Cove, the start would be in South Cove. However, because of the extremely low tide and the recent drama of beetle cats heading downwind through “the chute,” as Sloat Hodgson called it, the leeward mark was not deployed behind the starting line but instead up at the mouth of South Cove. The middle mark was out near Big Pier. After rounding the course twice, the fleet would finish between the committee boat and the pin on the right side of Oldfield Cove.
Fourteen boats made their way down into South Cove. The start was uneventful except for the usual pin adjustment. The boat end of the line remained slightly favored as the wind fluctuated during the sequence, but the right side of the course was limited anyway at such low tide because boats still had to get around the point and into slightly deeper water in the middle of the cove. Once there, the fleet spread out wide and skippers called for rights as they crisscrossed their way toward and into Oldfield Cove. Steve Kirk was first to the mark followed by Dan O’Connor and Ted Grayson. The Fallon family came next, Tim and Jamie in Pippin just ahead of Karen and Ben in Reminder.
After passing by Vantage Point on the second leg, the first three boats sailed along in a triangular formation. Steve at the front point, Ted to the left and Dan on the right just behind. Shortly before reaching the mark, Tim caught up with them and was able to sneak ahead of Ted around the second mark. Chris Timson passed Karen to round out the first five heading back up the channel toward the leeward mark.
Passing close to Little Pier the sailors were able to hear words of encouragement like “Go faster!” from the spectators gathered there, but despite the advice, the third leg didn’t yield many changes in position.
As the fleet began its second circuit around the course, the wind seemed less certain of its direction; it wandered from west to east through north and back again.
So strategies confirmed the first time around might or might not hold true in the second. Approaching the windward mark on port tack, Tim and Dan arrived before Steve, who was coming in on starboard. Several skippers who had managed to “ooch” past the first time had to take an additional tack this time. The first time around the course, the third leg was a reach but this time, the fleet was met with a more easterly breeze after rounding the middle mark. This made it necessary to tack out away from the shore before rounding the curve at Jackson’s beach and only when nearing Little Pier could the skippers let their sails out again.
With his victory Sunday, Tim turned out to be the only skipper to win a second race this season. Though there had been a lot of position shuffling during the race, there were no wild finishes this week; it was all very orderly and socially distanced. After crossing the line, competitors made a loop around to thank the committee and wish each other well, and most boats headed off to the town dock for hauling. A few made plans to sail back to their home ports.
Weather permitting, an outdoor version of the Hog Island Tea will be held at Pam Kirk’s “Island Echo” on Sunday, November 1, at 10 AM, when the Launch Boy Trophy will be awarded. In a year of a more consistent participation and multiple first-place finishers, the season winner is not yet obvious.
1. Pippin, Tim and Jamie Fallon
2. Irish Rover, Dan and Katie O’Connor
3. Lyra, Steve, Eva and Max Kirk
4. Serenity, Ted and Isabella Grayson
5. Chris Timson
6. Mike Jackson
7. Reminder, Karen and Ben Fallon
8. Winsome, Jim and Angus Kirk
9. Brendan, Mike O’Connor and Lila Kirk
10. Lisdoonvarna, John and Patrick Coen
11. Lazarus, Matt and Oliver Strickland
12. Alotto Gale, Todd Drescher
13. Rover, Jancy Grayson and Brian McLaughlin
14. Fred and Richard Seeley