Are these things we call sailboats really capable of some independent existence, or only such existence as we imbue them with? This was a question I was asking myself one August morning as I scrambled onto the tiny afterdeck of a certain 52-foot Olin Stephens–designed yawl named Dorade and prepared to hoist her mizzen spinnaker in place of her smaller flat-cut mizzen staysail. We had just turned the third mark, a fairway buoy at the mouth of West Penobscot Bay in mid-coast Maine, in that day’s New York Yacht Club Cruise Squadron Run and now found ourselves surrounded by similar personalities.
Immediately behind, coming on strong, was Rugosa, a 59-foot Herreshoff New York 40 yawl, built in 1926, winner of the 1928 Bermuda Race, now owned by Halsey Herreshoff and originally designed and built by his grandfather Nat back near the turn of the previous century. Just behind her was Siren, a Stephens–designed 45-foot New York 32 sloop built in 1936. And there up ahead was mighty Sumurun, a gorgeous 94-foot ketch built by William Fife of Fairlie, Scotland, back in 1914.
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