Diamond Island Regatta raises $1,000 for Maritime Museum

Third annual race, sponsored by Royal Savage Yacht Club and Point Bay Marina, draws a record 26 boats

CHARLOTTE / FERRISBURGH, Vt. — A record 26 boats, hailing from Canada to southern Lake Champlain, took part in the third annual Diamond Island Regatta on Saturday, August 22. The benefit sailing race, sponsored by the Royal Savage Yacht Club (RSYC) and Point Bay Marina (PBM), raised more than $1,000 for the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMM) in Ferrisburgh, Vt.

The race, beginning just after 11 a.m., took competitors north from the start in Town Farm Bay to a mark off Cedar Beach in Charlotte, south to Diamond Island off the Ferrisburgh shore, and then back to the starting line. The fastest boats covered the 8-mile course in just over an hour and a half, on a near-perfect Vermont summer day, with blue skies and a light but consistent north breeze.

The day began and ended under the RSYC tent at the marina, starting with a pre-race breakfast for racers and club members and wrapping up with the awards ceremony at the club’s annual Lobster Fest dinner. At the ceremony, RSYC race director Doug Friant and LCMM executive director Mike Smiles thanked all of the competitors, Point Bay Marina and the two dozen RSYC volunteers for helping to make the day’s events possible. Friant also made a point of thanking Dale Hyerstay from the Lake Champlain Yacht Club (LCYC), who brought a committee boat and race crew down to Town Farm Bay.

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Boats in the ‘jib and main’ class head upwind, with Camel’s Hump in the background, during the Diamond Island Regatta on August 22. — Brandon Johnson photo

Entry in the race was free, with most of the money for LCMM raised through the sale of donated items from sponsors, including duffle bags, Diamond Island Regatta hats and LCMM pint glasses. Additional money will come from sales to competitors of photos of their boats taken by race photographer Brandon Johnson.

In the race itself, competitors were divided into two general categories, those who sailed with spinnakers and those who sailed only with jib and mainsail (JaM). Boats came from the local Royal Savage Yacht Club, Lake Champlain Yacht Club in Shelburne, Malletts Bay Boat Club (MBBC) in Colchester, Valcour Sailing Club (VSC) in Plattsburgh, N.Y., and elsewhere on the lake.

There were 17 boats in the four spinnaker fleets, A through D, and nine in the two JaM fleets, A and B. The fleets were determined by each boat’s rating under the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) system, which ranks boats based on their speed potential and is used for most sailing competitions on Lake Champlain. Winners are determined based on corrected time, with the faster boats “giving time” to the slower boats. The six fleet winners this year, receiving trophies at the awards ceremony:

  • Spinnaker A: Odinn, a J-111, sailed by Kjell Dahlen, from the VSC, with a corrected time of 1 hour, 32 minutes and 19 seconds
  • Spinnaker B: Boomer, J-29, Jack Wallace, LCYC, 1:37:10
  • Spinnaker C: Sundance, Pearson 37, Tom Glynn, LCYC, 1:43:34
  • Spinnaker D: Mashnee, Buzzards Bay 30, Jan Rozendaal, RSYC, 1:39:10
  • JaM A: It Wasn’t Me, J-105, Branwell Lepp, no club listed, 1:52:51
  • JaM B: Mackinac, Pearson 32, Tim and Betsy Etchells, RSYC, 1:50:33
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Spinnakers flying, the fleet heads south toward the eponymous Diamond Island in the race on August 22. — Brandon Johnson photo

The first boat to finish the race, with the fastest elapsed time of 1:29:48, was Corbeau, a Far 400 from VSC, sailed by Jean Pierre Turgeon. First to finish in the JaM fleet, in an elapsed time of 2:04:38, was Lepp’s It Wasn’t Me.

On corrected time, Boomer in Spinnaker B and Mackinac in JaM B were repeat winners from last year’s regatta.

Complete results can be found here: http://rsyc.org/2015-diamond-island-regatta-results/

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The reward at day’s end for the sailors and club members was the annual Lobster Fest and awards dinner in the RSYC tent at Point Bay Marina. — Brandon Johnson photo

Host Royal Savage Yacht Club (rsyc.org) is named for the schooner Royal Savage, which served as Benedict Arnold’s flagship during Revolutionary War battles with the British on Lake Champlain. Point Bay Marina is a full-service marina on Thompson’s Point Road in Charlotte (pointbaymarina.com).

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Feeding Frenzy

Hundreds of seagulls descended recently on the last bit of ice on Hawkins Bay, along the southeast shore and at the entrance to Little Otter Creek. The reason could be found in and around the ice: thousands of dead or dying alewives. The small invasive fish often have die-offs in the spring, as they move from colder, deeper water to warmer, shallower parts of the lake.

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Alewives littered the ice and floated in the frigid water of the bay just off shore.

Snapshot: Town Farm Bay

So that was easy. After having a death grip on the bay for months, the ice departed after two warm, sunny, breezy days this week. The water is still frigid — 35 degrees — but it seems like boating season can’t be too far behind.

Snapshot: Spring on the Wing

As March winds down and April approaches, birds are making their return. While the frozen lake is something of a deterrent for many waterbirds, we’ve still got flocks of Canada geese — above, over Kingsland Bay State Park — snow geese, seagulls, robins, ducks of all kinds, European starlings, red-winged blackbirds, and wild turkeys making frequent appearances.

Snapshot: Open Water

You can now find a bit of open water around the edges of Lake Champlain, including the strip shown above, along the eastern shore of Kingsland Bay. There is a growing gap in the ice where Little Otter Creek and Lewis Creek empty into Town Farm Bay and Hawkins Bay. There, you’ll now find some big rafts of ducks and geese, double-crested cormorants, seagulls, even a great blue heron or two. Snow on the ground each morning for the last couple of days has made it seem like winter will never let go, but waking up to the sound of waterbirds reminds us that spring will, eventually, arrive.