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Race to Maine, then stay a while

The Down East Challenge overnight race takes boaters from Marblehead to Rockland

The Down East Challenge overnight race takes boaters from Marblehead to Rockland

After what was called a “marginally successful” turnout last year, organizers of the Down East Challenge — an overnight single- and double-handed sailboat race from Massachusetts to Maine — are hopeful that this year’s running will draw even more competitors from New England.

“We’re hoping that by the Rockland Yacht Club teaming up with the Marblehead Yacht Club (as sponsors), we can breath new life into the race,” says Doug Pope, a race organizer. The Down East Challenge kicks off Aug. 4 from Marblehead, Mass., and wraps up about 130 miles north in Rockland, Maine, on Aug. 5.

Pope, who owns Pope Sails and Rigging in Rockland, says he helped revive the Down East Challenge last year after it wasn’t raced the previous season. “We want to see an expansion of shorthanded racing in New England,” he says. “We also want to make sure there is a point-to-point race long enough to be a qualifier for the Bermuda One-Two race.” ( )

Boats competing in the Down East Challenge will be broken into a cruising class (non-spinnaker) or a racing class (spinnaker). The classes will then be categorized by single-handed, double-handed and fully crewed divisions. The single-handed division will be a qualifier for the Bermuda 1-2.

“There aren’t many point-to-point races and this one will get you to PenobscotBay,” says Pope, who is 48. “Once you’re here, you might as well have a little cruise before you head home.”

The last day to sign up for the race is July 31, Pope says. Entry fees are $75.

Pope says he hopes at least 15 boats will compete in this year’s race.

“This race might be just the thing to get someone involved who has always wanted to sail to Maine,” he says. ,