Portland Hosts Maine’s Largest Regatta Ever

I’ve heard it said that the attention span of kids between 8 and 15 years old is decreasing as modern technology, especially hand-held devices, increases. This wasn’t what I witnessed during the USODA 2013 New England Championship, held August 5-8 at SailMaine in Portland!

I saw three hundred-plus, focused, highly skilled, and determined young sailors trying to finish at the top of the regatta to score a spot in the tryouts for the USODA New England Championship, a qualifying regatta for the National Team Trials to be held next spring. The racers sailed hard and long during the three-day event and competed in 36 individual races.

A whopping three hundred and ten Optimists were entered, making it the largest sailing competition ever held in Maine waters. Racers came from all around the United States, as well as Canada, Bermuda, and the Virgin Islands. The annual event takes place in a different New England location each year, and SailMaine was honored to be involved in hosting this event.

Of course, executing an event of this size was complicated and involved plenty of volunteers. To help manage the many details, SailMaine partnered with Portland Yacht Club and other yacht clubs and enlisted 100-plus volunteers to assist during the three-day event.

The sailors, parents, and coaches were treated to warm, sunny weather, varying wind conditions, flat seas, and world-class race committee work led by principal race officer Anderson Reggio. The team of volunteers from local sailing clubs was managed by Portland Yacht Club member Dr. Timothy Tolford, from Falmouth.

Watching 310 Optis race and 36-plus coach and support boats chase the Optis in Portland Harbor was a spectacular site! The race course was busy, and the starting line so crowded you could barely see the Race Committee boat!

Congratulations to all the racers! For scores and media coverage, click here to visit the 2013 USODA New England Championship web site.

— Story and photos by Ann-e Blanchard
Portland Yacht Club, SailMaine, and GMORA volunteer