By Tim Etchells, Contributor

Two days of blue skies and (mostly) fair breezes welcomed Lake Champlain’s best sailors back to Town Farm Bay for this year’s Diamond Island Regatta and its new partner, the Split Rock Race.

Hosting the two-day event—with the Diamond Island Regatta (DIR) on Saturday and the Split Rock Race (SRR) on Sunday—were the newly renamed Diamond Island Yacht Club (formerly the Royal Savage Yacht Club) and Point Bay Marina on Thompson’s Point in Charlotte.

Lil’Bot, sailed by Benedek Erdos, heads downwind during the Diamond Island Regatta on Aug. 14. Lil’Bot, representing Diamond Island Yacht Club, finished first in the Spinnaker C Class in the DIR. — Photo by Joe Gannon

Lil’Bot, sailed by Benedek Erdos, heads downwind during the Diamond Island Regatta on Aug. 14. Lil’Bot, representing Diamond Island Yacht Club, finished first in the Spinnaker C Class in the DIR. Photo by Joe Gannon.

Twenty-six boats competed in Saturday’s DIR, and 14 took part in the SRR on Sunday morning. Boats came from up and down the lake to compete over the race weekend. Sailors hailed from, among other places, the Diamond Island Yacht Club (DIYC) in Charlotte, the Lake Champlain Yacht Club (LCYC) in Shelburne, the Mallets Bay Boat Club (MBBC) in Colchester and the Valcour Sailing Club (VSC) in Plattsburgh, New York. Both races are part of the Lake Champlain Championship Series, a season-long competition that determines annual bragging rights in five classes, three Spinnaker classes and two JaM (Jib and Main) classes. The races are scored using the PHRF (Performance Handicap Racing Fleet) system, so boats with different speed potentials can compete against each other.

Polar Express, a Henderson 30 from VSC sailed by Chris Duley, was the first to finish in the Diamond Island Regatta, also winning Spinnaker Class A on corrected time, while Spirit, a Pearson Flyer owned and sailed by Steve Koch of DIYC, took both line honors and first place on corrected time for the JaM Class A. The next day, Odinn, a J-111, also from VSC and sailed by Kjell Dahlen, took line honors in the SRR but ended up in second place behind Jeff Hill’s Foxy Lady, who won Spinnaker Class A on corrected time.

Spirit, from Diamond Island Yacht Club and sailed by Steve Koch, was the top finisher in Jib & Main A Class in the Diamond Island Regatta on Aug. 14. — Photo by Joe Gannon

Spirit, from Diamond Island Yacht Club and sailed by Steve Koch, was the top finisher in Jib & Main A Class in the Diamond Island Regatta on Aug. 14. Photo by Joe Gannon.

But perhaps the biggest winner was the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum (LCMMM), for which the DIR is a benefit event. After last year’s event was pared back because of COVID-19—no pre-race breakfast, no Lobster Fest dinner, no T-shirt sales or fundraising raffle. All those traditional features of the weekend returned for 2021, and the participants stepped up bigtime, with the club raising a record number of dollars for the museum. Previously the club has subsidized proceeds and donated $1,000 each year to LCMM. Early returns this year indicate the breakfast, raffle and T-shirt sales will make it possible to top that number significantly for 2021.

On Saturday morning, sailors gathered under the DIYC tent at Point Bay Marina for the breakfast and a skippers’ meeting before heading out to Town Farm Bay for the race. Saturday’s Diamond Island Regatta was sailed on a 10-mile course, starting in Town Farm Bay between Ferrisburgh and Charlotte, sailing north to a turning mark off Charlotte’s Cedar Beach, heading south to Diamond Island, and then back north to Town Farm Bay for the finish. The race began in a lovely north wind and ended in a dying breeze for some of the later finishers.

After a day of racing on Saturday, racers, club members and guests were treated to the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum’s show on “Prohibition in Vermont,” which at the last minute was presented remotely (a reminder that COVID-19 is still with us). Awards were given to the winners of each of the five classes, raffle prizes were drawn, and about 100 people turned out for the Lobster Fest dinner, also under the open-sided tent.

On Sunday, the inaugural Split Rock Race was sailed in a stiff north wind, between 15 and 20 knots. The boats competed over a similar course to Saturday’s, but a bit longer, just under 13 miles. The wind and waves on the broad lake north of Split Rock made for a rollicking windward leg to a mark just south of Sloop Island off Charlotte, followed by a fast downwind leg to Diamond Island, and then another beat back to the finish in Town Farm Bay.

Muse, representing both Diamond Island Yacht Club and Lake Champlain Yacht Club, flies its spinnaker during the Diamond Island Regatta on Aug. 14. — Photo by Ramsey Hazbun

Muse, representing both Diamond Island Yacht Club and Lake Champlain Yacht Club, flies its spinnaker during the Diamond Island Regatta on Aug. 14. Photo by Ramsey Hazbun.

Both races were overseen by DIR/SRR Race Director Wendy Friant from the committee boat, the Lord Nelson Tug Rosie, owned and captained by Will Patten. DIYC volunteers were supported again this year by LCYC, which loaned race management equipment to DIYC for the event. And dozens of other DIYC volunteers worked tirelessly, on and off the water, to make the weekend possible.

In addition to the club and Point Bay Marina, other sponsors who contributed to a successful two days of racing, socializing and fundraising for the museum included Helly Hansen’s Church Street store in Burlington, the Hinesburgh Public House, The Old Dock in Essex, New York, Barkeaters in Shelburne, and West Marine and FastSigns in South Burlington.

Here are the top finishers in each class on Saturday and Sunday:

Diamond Island Regatta, Aug. 14

Spinnaker A Class

  1. Polar Express, Henderson 30, Chris Duley, VSC
  2. Odinn, J-111, Kjell Dahlen, VSC
  3. Foxy Lady, J-105, Jeff Hill, LCYC

Spinnaker B Class

  1. Chicken Dinner, J-70, John Beal, DIYC
  2. Enki, C&C 99, Cindy Turcotte, MBBC
  3. Unity, C&C 99, Bob and Robin Turnau, LCYC

Spinnaker C Class

  1. Lil’Bot, Santana 2023-R, Benedek Erdos, DIYC
  2. Osprey, C&C 33 MkII Thomas Porter, DIYC-LCYC
  3. Joyride, J-30, Lennart Lundblad, MBBC

Jib & Main A Class

  1. Spirit, Pearson Flyer, Steve Koch, DIYC
  2. Exit Strategy, O’Day 35, Jerry and Sharon Henrichon, DIYC
  3. AJA, Ericson 33, Michael McGrath

Jib & Main B Class

  1. Blew Sky, Catalina Capri 25, Chip Kaupp, DIYC
  2. Bandolero, Nonsuch 26C, Pat Furr, DIYC
  3. Mackinac, Pearson 32, Tim and Betsy Etchells, DIYC

Split Rock Race, August 15

Spinnaker A Class

  1. Foxy Lady, J-105, Jeff Hill, LCYC
  2. Odinn, J-111, Kjell Dahlen, VSC
  3. Muse, J-37c, Doug Friant, DIYC-LCYC

Spinnaker B Class

  1. Enki, C&C 99, Cindy Turcotte, MBBC
  2. Rum Butter, C&C 41 MkII, Ted Castle, DIYC

Spinnaker C Class

  1. Osprey, C&C MkII Thomas Porter, DIYC-LCYC
  2. Lil’Bot, Santana 2023-R, Benedek Erdos, DIYC

Jib & Main A Class

  1. Schuss, J-30, Cameron Giezendanner, MBBC
  2. Slingshot, J-30, Fritz Martin, DIYC
  3. Pas de Deux, Pearson Flyer, John and Joni Huling

Jib & Main B Class

  1. Dragonfly, J-24, John Beal, DIYC
  2. Mackinac, Pearson 32, Tim and Betsy Etchells, DIYC
  3. Bandolero, Nonsuch 26C, Pat Furr, DIYC

Full results can be found on the Diamond Island Yacht Club’s website: Diamond Island results for 2021 and Split Rock Race results for 2021.