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Forty years ago, there were no classic boat races in Maine. Then, in 1986, Steve White, and Frank Hull of Brooklin Boat Yard started the Eggemoggin Reach Regatta (ERR). Thirteen boats participated in that first event, which led to two more regattas that now make up a three-regatta Wooden Boat Series.

In 2015, Lyman-Morse created the Camden Classics Cup at the old Wayfarer Marine facility in Camden, to run the week before the Wooden Boat series. And last year, the Shipyard Cup Classics Challenge became the first of the events on Maine’s Classic Yacht Owners Association Challenge Series, combining powers with the 48-year-old Boothbay Harbor Yacht Club Regatta, to race the weekend before the Camden Classics Cup. Now, every summer, a fleet of classic boats make their way up and down the Maine coast to participate in many, if not all five regattas.

On day one of the Camden Classics Cup regatta, a bowman keeps an eye out for traffic as boats position themselves for the start. Everybody wants to win, but avoiding collisions is more important.

On day one of the Camden Classics Cup regatta, a bowman keeps an eye out for traffic as boats position themselves for the start. Everybody wants to win, but avoiding collisions is more important.

But the Camden Classics Cup and its organizer, Lyman-Morse, had a bit of a launch party in 2022 with the newly refurbished Lyman-Morse waterfront location opening just days before the regatta start to welcome 93 boats to the starting line on Western Penobscot Bay. The race included four large wooden schooners and many of the varnish-laden beauties that grace Maine’s waters for most of each summer. A youth race attracted 63 kids from 10 clubs and the regatta again raised $15,000 for LifeFlight of Maine for a 6-year total of $75,000.

During the two days of racing, Mother Nature provided ample challenges. Day one started out with a steady breeze but ended with dark skies, rain and no wind, forcing some of the races to become a no finish. Day two brought 15 to 20 knots of wind or more, keeping the sailors on their toes.

The crew aboard the gaff-rigged schooner Narwhal raises the fisherman staysail as they beat upwind. The 63-footer was built in 1999 in Port Townsend, Washington, to a 1937 L. Francis Herreshoff design.

The crew aboard the gaff-rigged schooner Narwhal raises the fisherman staysail as they beat upwind. The 63-footer was built in 1999 in Port Townsend, Washington, to a 1937 L. Francis Herreshoff design.

The no finish on day one didn’t ruin the experience for Aja Digirolamo of Camden, who served as navigator on one of the yachts. “I love being here,” he said about the regatta. “It brings more diverse boats and a lot of the Newport crowd into the area.” He also praised the more contemporary Lyman-Morse facilities that replaced the old Wayfarer Marine structures. “It’s very well done,” he said. “It’s not just another white building.”

Lyman-Morse President Drew Lyman lost the first race aboard his LM46 to the newest LM46, which has a performance package, but that did not dampen his enthusiasm. “What a scene for our first year having this facility,” he said. “Every year it seems to get bigger and bigger.”

Zemphira, a 76-foot cold-molded sloop designed by Stephens Waring Yacht Design and launched by Brooklin Boat Yard and Rockport Marine in 2005 as Goshawk, flies her spinnaker.

Zemphira, a 76-foot cold-molded sloop designed by Stephens Waring Yacht Design and launched by Brooklin Boat Yard and Rockport Marine in 2005 as Goshawk, flies her spinnaker.

Lyman said the other boat was beating them until they hit a hole. But he wasn’t sore about losing, even though the other LM46 crew had secretly added a handicap to his boat before the race. “They filled our port water tank before the race,” Lyman said as he laughed at their prank. 

This article was originally published in the October 2022 issue.

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