Debutante Skipper Wins First MDI Luders Invitational

Julie Bracken, in her first turn at the tiller of the beautifully restored Spirit, won the three-day MDI Luders Invitational in Southwest Harbor, Maine, by one point over fleet secretary Dave Folger and his teenage daughter Liana in the vintage Voodoo. The Folgers in turn beat fleet newcomer and big-boat veteran Thomas Chase in his recently imported Grace by one point. The September 7–9 regatta was organized to commemorate the sixtieth anniversary of the first Luders Internationals, held in Bar Harbor in 1947.

Visiting teams from San Diego (Janet Callow and Brad Smith), from Chicago (Harold Hering), and from Frenchman Bay, Maine (Lawrence DeMilner and Kevin Snyder), had to settle for good lessons in boatsmanship in the exciting regatta, which was filled with plenty of rail-down, close-quarters, white-knuckle sailing. Although the protest room remained vacant during the regatta, the winner was observed putting in some time working on 360s and over-early restarts, none of which kept her from finishing at the head of the pack.

A considerable group of others were not so fortunate (or skilled) and acquired last-place penalty points for not observing the red gong off Cranberry Island on their way to the leeward mark in race 2. Perhaps the unluckiest moment came on the last downwind leg of the last race. While prerigging for the spinnaker run, Triad’s crew did not notice their spin sheets trailing in the water. Murphy’s law required the lines to hook on a lobster pot, and fleet captain Alec Goriansky, who had been first at the windward mark, was brought to a dead stop while the rest of the fleet whizzed by, amazed at the sight.

While the organizers are doubtless still catching their collective breaths, the visitors were unanimous in their praise and their encouragement to make this a regular event. A number of other Luders owners and former owners had hoped to participate, but were ultimately unable to attend. But interest in this kind of event is definitely there.

All voiced congratulations to fleet vice captain Tom Rolfes and the two Daves (Folger and Schoeder), with valuable help from Nanette Schoeder and Liana Folger, in the crafting of the clever and attractive trophies. The social schedule and hospitality were warmly appreciated by both guests and fleet members and their crew and families.

Last, and most warmly, participants expressed enormous thanks to the RC’s Homer brothers and their helpers for the many, many hours they spent bouncing around on the water waiting for the crazier than usual wind patterns to settle (or not) into something that would allow them to line up a course.

A footnote on the Luders revival on MDI, which began 5 years ago: a total of 18 boats were out on the course over this summer, up from 12 in 2006. Another 4 L16s are currently racing around the island on Frenchman Bay. It is hoped that several more boats in the neighborhood can be coaxed out to the line next summer. The rapid increase in L16 numbers and their huge successes in mixed-fleet regattas have brought the classic boat back to the forefront of competitive sailing on MDI. The surge of interest in the sleek racer has stimulated a Maine boatbuilder Morris Boatworks to consider starting up production of new fiberglass L16s (last U.S. production was in the early 1970s).

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