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Destination – Nantucket Race Week

Race Week is a draw for thousands

Race Week is a draw for thousands

Nantucket Race Week is an eight-day experience that marshals much of the island community for a week of regattas, awards ceremonies and parties. The races provide sport for all experience levels, from young dinghy sailors and families in the household knockabout to grand prix racers at the top of their profession. The racing begins Saturday, Aug. 12, and

culminates with the annual Opera House Cup Regatta for classic yachts Sunday, Aug. 20.

Legendary America’s Cup sailor Gary Jobson is honorary chairman of Nantucket Race Week and has been instrumental to the success of the event. “Sailing needs good wind and big boats to be exciting, and Nantucket has plenty of both,” says Jobson. “We are honored to have some of the country’s top sailors participating in racing clinics and the Celebrity Invitational, and look forward to some great competition on the water.”

The genesis of Nantucket Race Week was 33 years ago, when island sailors created the Opera House Cup Regatta for classic wooden boats. Over the years the Opera House Cup has grown into the grand dame of classic yacht regattas, with vessels ranging from the diminutive Dragon to the majestic J Class sloops, and always with a healthy number of noble 12 Meters.

Several years ago the Nantucket Yacht Club decided to host a 12 Meter Regatta as a prelude to the Opera House Cup. Participants included not just the classic woodies, but also such America’s Cup legends as Courageous and Intrepid. A few years later a handicap race was added to include the other big boats moored in the harbor. A critical mass of sailing activity was forming on the island, so these popular events were combined with races in the very active International One Design fleet, the intense summer sailing competition for juniors, the traditional one design races, and a new event — the IOD Celebrity Invitational, where some of the country’s top sailors team up with local teams to race International One Designs. All are part of Nantucket Race Week.

Race Week co-chairman David Poor is an avid IOD sailor and won the 2005 Celebrity Invitational. “The teamwork and camaraderie on the water is just terrific,” says Poor. “We had a great crew and were fortunate to have Chris Larson as our guest tactician. The IOD fleet is very strong, and I’m looking forward to this year’s challenge.”

Poor says he anticipates more than 1,100 sailors and 200 boats for this year’s Race Week, along with several thousand spectators and party-goers. It’s hosted by the island’s two yacht clubs, the venerable Nantucket Yacht Club and the new Great Harbor Yacht Club, and benefits Nantucket Community Sailing, a non-profit organization that provides affordable public access to sailing and water sports. In addition to sailing instruction for youth and adults, the organization offers scholarships to year-round island youth, sponsors and coaches Nantucket’s high school sailing team, provides free equipment and instruction through local outreach programs, runs informal sailboat races for all levels, and teaches adaptive boardsailing and rowing clinics for disabled athletes.

“Race Week and the Opera House Cup are our biggest fund-raising events, and we are grateful to the participants, the community, the yacht clubs, and our sponsors for their support of our sailing programs,” says Community Sailing executive director Nick Judson.

One of the group’s missions is to provide a progression of sailing opportunities. “I am proud to see that mission carried out when a child starts learning to sail in an Opti at 7 years old, progresses up to racing in 420s on the high school sailing team, and then comes back during college as one of our sailing instructors,” says Judson. “Who knows, maybe someday we’ll be able to grow our own Olympic medalist.”

For more information, call Nantucket Community Sailing at (508) 228-6600, or visit .

Schedule of events

• Aug. 12, 13, 16, 19: One Design Series (local one-design fleets: Rainbow, Marshall Cat 18, Indian, Alerion, Rhodes 19, and International One Design)

• Aug. 14-15: Youth Regatta, Laser Series, Nomad Team Racing

• Aug. 15: Race Around the Harbor

• Aug. 17: Race to Nantucket (from Hyannis)

• Aug. 17-18: IOD Celebrity Invitational, 12 Meter Regatta

• Aug. 18-19: Sail Nantucket Regatta (PHRF)

• Aug. 20: Rainbow Fleet Parade, Opera House Cup Regatta