Conjuring the Wind

The stage is set, the actors assembled, the weather perfect, but the star of the show-the breeze-is conspicuously absent. We're in the middle of a dazzling collection of wooden boats, some fully traditional (read: old and cherished), some spirit of tradition (read: traditional styling with modern rigs and underbodies), others lovingly restored to their previous grandeur after
Author:
Publish date:
saip_0910_01_z+eggemoggin_reach_regatta+view



The stage is set, the actors assembled, the weather perfect, but the star of the show-the breeze-is conspicuously absent. We're in the middle of a dazzling collection of wooden boats, some fully traditional (read: old and cherished), some spirit of tradition (read: traditional styling with modern rigs and underbodies), others lovingly restored to their previous grandeur after years of neglect. The fleet is varied, but all the owners and crews in the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta (ERR) share several common bonds-namely, that the boat they are sailing is made of wood and has white sails and that love of a bygone era of sailing has drawn them to Brooklin, Maine in early August, for the 25th running of this now-classic regatta. It's a regatta that differs from most: acres of gleaming brightwork and no egos.

The stage is set, but the missing star needs to arrive-quickly.
I glance over at the race committee boat, where a crewmember is jumping up and down atop the cabinhouse in a bright red shirt. Instead of marking the countdown sequence with flags, RC crewmembers wear different colored shirts (white for the 10-minute warning, blue for the 5-minute warning and red for start), "just in case the starting guns misfire." Elegant, but not nearly as elegant as the 76 graceful beauties ghosting around us onboard Jim and Norie Bregman's 62-foot schooner, Metani. After an extensive refit, the Bregmans moved aboard full-time in 2007 with their daughter, Nikki, who, now at the ripe age of 10, is big into traditional boats, wizards, magic, and computers. Now, two years later, the Bregmans have cruised most of the Caribbean, have sailed back to the U.S., and are now taking in the sights and delights of DownEast cruising, using the occasional classic-boat regatta as waypoints toward a future of more sailing, raising their inquisitive daughter, and maybe, just maybe, returning to their former realities of law careers. But, judging from Jim and Norie's love of sailing and living a life less traveled, there's no need to rush into the future when the present is as spectacular as life aboard.

"That's a blue shirt," says Jim from the helm. "Five minutes to our start."

We're flying Metani's mainsail, main staysail, staysail, and genoa, all of which hang listless, unfilled by the thin catspaws that seem far away and far from filling in. I try trimming the main a bit, but quickly realize that my action is futile: you can't trim what isn't drafting.

A modest current is running with us, propelling us along at roughly 2 knots. Jim uses this momentum to approach the line just as a crewmember with a red shirt appears on the upper deck of the race committee boat and starts to jump around enthusiastically. A gun fires, and Metani drifts across the line, theoretically on starboard tack. We'd be in clear air, but that would involve a big "but."

Minutes burn as class after class begins the slow drift past Torrey Island, with Contary Island off their starboard bows. I glance into the pilothouse to see 10-year-old Nikki engrossed in a wizardry book. Three minutes later she appears in the cockpit, her face aglow.

saip_0910_02_z+eggemoggin_reach_regatta+wooden_boats
saip_0910_03_z+eggemoggin_reach_regatta+sail



"I'll cast a wind spell," she proudly declares. "That should bring up the wind." I smile at her innocence and recall that decades ago I too believed that a simple spell could solve real-world problems. We can use any help we can get right now.

Three minutes later Nikki arrives back on deck, a blue sticky note in hand. She quietly walks to the mainboom, pastes the spell on it, and cruises back to the cockpit, where she takes a seat next to her dad.

And then the wind picks up.

It's slow to fill at first, but within two minutes of the spell's arrival topsides, I can feel Metani's sailplan powering up as a faint gurgling noise attests to water flowing past her transom. A few more minutes elapse and the sails are pulling, the SOG is approaching 5 knots, and by golly we've got a sailboat race on our hands. I exchange a quick look with Nikki; she gives me a small I-told-you-so smile, proof that good thoughts pay dividends when it comes to realizing dreams.

"Let's hoist the gollywobbler," Norie suggests. "The breeze is perfect for it here." The big off-wind sail is passed abovedeck through a glass-and-teak hatch, and soon it's adding serious pull. Jim heats up in the lulls and bears off in the puffs, keeping the sails filled and the boatspeed hot. A glance around reveals that we're holding our own against the other contenders in our gaff-and-schooner class.

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more