Winds push American Eagle to victory

Story quoted from the Gloucester Daily Times

Nature yesterday gave a gentle push to the racing schooners, filling sails with dry northnorthwesterly winds that allowed swift turns on the Mayor’s Race and satisfied sailors to praise the course and bow to their good luck.

“I have nothing to complain about,” said Sam Hoyt of the American Schooner Association, of the 21st annual Gloucester Schooner Festival, that included the races for large and small schooners yesterday and races for a series of smaller classed on Saturday.

“The race committee,” he added, “finally got the race course right.” Yesterday’s course was shortened from previous years.

Hoyt said the course and conditions were so ideal, “we all should have gone around two more times.”

He and others who worked and stood on decks during the midday regatta outside the Dog Bar breakwater effused over the weather: A thin breeze in the morning stiffened into 7 to 10 knots of perfect racing wind by the time a cannon shot at 11 a.m. set the schooners off in a twice-around course of a bit more than five miles.

“The stress is killing me,” smiled Harold Burnham, lounging aboard the Chrissy. Burnham built three of the racers ‘ the Thomas E. Lannon, the Lewis H. Story and the Fame.

With Capt. John Foss at the wheel, the American Eagle made the second turn 100 yards ahead of the Lettie G. Howard and went on to capture its second straight Esperanto Cup for the larger schooners.

Adventurer, under captain Mark Faukstick, captured the Ned Cameron Trophy for small schooners.

Except for a school of baby bluefin tuna, the audience was moving nearly as fast in smaller boats that bounced along outside the course. The tuna seemed unknowing that the annual regatta was occurring on all sides of them as they tore into a school of baitfish, breaking the surface to shine their sides into the sun.

All other eyes were on the contestants. Mike Rutstein, owner and captain of the Fame, the third-place finisher in the race for the Cameron Trophy, called the event “fabulous, by far the best Schooner Festival.”

Rutstein, too, praised the tighter course. “It’s stimulating to have all the boats in sight,” he said.

Marty Krugman, who spent the racing day aboard the Gazela, a giant from Philadelphia that overlooked the younger, more sprightly, competitors like the venerable eminence that it is, chose the word “beautiful” to describe the event.

“Each year we celebrate the marine heritage of Gloucester,” said Krugman, who promised to have the Adventure, the winner 14 years ago and undergoing a rebuilding, back in the race by 2007.

“Ten years of hard work to save that boat” will be rewarded, he said. When it’s back, he added, it will be “good for the next 150 years.”

Mike Costello, executive director of the Cape Ann Chamber of Commerce who organized the first Schooner Festival 21 years ago, smiled when he said that this year “all are uniformly happy about the way the day went.”

He was echoing and echoed all expressed views. Only the baby tuna kept their thoughts to themselves, but could fairly be understood to have had a fine time, as well. They were jumping, it seemed for joy.

Photo credit: Arlene Taliadoros.