Quissett Yacht Club Round The Bay Race

September 11, 2021

On Saturday September 11, Quissett Yacht Club hosted the 69th annual Round The Bay Race.  This year there were 20 competitors from clubs around Buzzards Bay.  The race is a pursuit race, meaning that boats start at different times to accommodate their performance differences.  In theory, this should result in all of the boats finishing together and the first one over the finish line being declared the winner without need of math calculations.

The bay was fairly quiet as the boats gathered outside of the harbor, the wind was from the Northwest at around 10 knots.  It was forecast to swing to the Southwest around noon and build to 10 – 15 knots.  However, the bay offered a bit more wind than predicted and competitors saw up to 25 knots of wind out on the racecourse, making for a sporting ride.

The Race Committee took the forecast and the conditions into account and set a great course that sent the fleet upwind to the middle of the bay to the “BB” buoy which lies approximately halfway between the entrance channel to New Bedford and Robinsons Hole (between Naushon and Pasque Islands), and then downwind to a bell buoy approximately 1 ½ miles south of Cleveland Ledge Lighthouse, and then back to the finish line off of Quissett Harbor.  The whole course measured out to about 20 miles.

Boats began to start at noon, with Shadowfax (skippered by Sandy Williams) leading the way.  Several starts were highly contested including the J/105 class and the J/120 class.  By 1:30 in the afternoon, all of the boats were on the course and headed upwind in a building breeze.  Most competitors opted to sail out to the right hand side of the course to take advantage of the outgoing tide, though there were some who tucked in a bit closer to the Elizabeth Islands to get some relief from the waves.

At the windward mark 2 of the J/105’s (Sterling, skippered by Mark Lindquist, and Hardtack skippered by Matt Schmitt) were leading, with some of the bigger boats closing in.  Two Cherubini 44’s (Silhouette skippered by David Caso, and Geraldine skippered by Jason Shohet) found the upwind weather suited to their more classic designs and were near the top of the fleet at the turn mark.

As the fleet turned downwind, the speeds increased and the boats fairly flew toward the leeward mark.  It took a couple of gybes to get there, but speeds were high across the racecourse.  Jon Burt’s Lola saw speeds above 10 kts for long stretches throughout the leg.

Once the competitors arrived at the leeward mark, they found that the wind was steadily above 20kts for the tight reach back to the finish, and the teams had to make choices about the best sail plan to carry to the finish line.

In the end Kinship, skippered by Tom Seldorff was able to overtake the two J/105’s who had held the lead since the windward mark for the win.  Mark Lindquist (Sterling) was 2nd overall, and the first place Racing Division boat, and Matt Schmitt (Hardtack) was 3rd.  The finishes were close as would be expected for a pursuit race, with just more than 5 minutes separating the top 5 boats after 4 hours of racing.  Well done to all of the competitors!