Solsidan is Etchells Atlantic Coast Champion
Written by Ralph Carpenter, former FC, Fleet 27, Casco Bay, ME
With the exception of the nearly 200 lobsters eaten on Saturday night, everyone else attending the 4th Annual Lobster Bowl regatta had a great time. The Lobster Bowl is all about Drinking, Eating Lobster, and Sailing Wicked Fast, and all three were accomplished with great fanfare at the event hosted in Falmouth, Maine by Portland Yacht Club and Etchells Fleet27.
Regatta chair and Fleet 27 captain Chris Morin’s head was spinning when – on Sunday night – he realized the 29 competing crews drank 2-1/2 kegs and 25 cases of locally micro brewed beer donated by Rising Tide, Baxter Brewing, and Shipyard; ate 15 pizzas supplied by Flatbread; over 100 pounds of steamer clams; 50 pounds of burgers and dogs…AND the 200 lobsters. His wife and faithful crewmember Becki claimed after racing Saturday that she has NEVER sailed so fast in an Etchells as she did Saturday.
The event, which also served as the North American Etchells Class Atlantic Coast Championship, was sailed in 4 races on Saturday. The winds varied from 12 to 20 knots from the Northwest and the offshore breeze was very shifty and variable. Many seasoned veterans likened it to lake sailing, but it was lake sailing with big tidal currents. The strong Northwest winds continued to build through Saturday night and the race committee headed by PRO Jimi Cullum was unable to get off any races on Sunday in breezes over 30 knots.
After finishing Saturday’s 4 races and making a quick swing by the Beverage boat for a cold Shipyard for the sail back to the club, all competitors were abuzz with how difficult the conditions were, but also pleased in how much fun they had competing in the large fleet. The fleet varied widely from Etchells hull #3, the oldest Etchells still being competitively raced, up through newer 1300 vintage boats. The fleet featured EIGHT driver/skippers who were under 30 years of age as well as veterans who have been racing in the class for years. One thing all competitors shared was a love of the class, a friendly competitive spirit, and huge smiles on their faces.
The overall regatta champion was Solisdan, skippered by Jonathan Forsberg out of Kensington Maryland. The boat was co-skippered and driven by 23 year old Alex Ramos, with Paul Murphy serving as tactician. They ended the day with 2 bullets, a second and a 4th, to hold a commanding lead over former Lobster Bowl winner and long time Etchells sailor Rob Hitchcock – sailing with Timo Platt and everyone’s favorite bar owner, Ben Newman from Marblehead. Sitting in 3rd was 27 year old Matt LaLumiere sailing Etchells hull #105, Cash Money, a boat he purchased for $1.00 and then meticulously restored to racing shape. Sailing with Matt was Peter Levesque, Abby Rohman, and Colin Smith. It is a testimony to the class to have two boats in the top 3 being driven by sailors under 30 years of age.
In the Heritage Division, the local boat affectionately known as “Number 3”, owned by Daniel Brouder with Michael McAlister, Carter White, and Bowdoin College sailor Chester Jacobs serving as crew, took home the top honors. The Heritage Division is open to boats with hull numbers 900 and below still sailing with the boats original keels. 17 of the 29 entrants qualified for the division showing the class that older Etchells are alive and well=loved and come to Portland, Maine to compete. They raced to win the coveted Dave White perpetual trophy.
Every participant was thrilled when the trophy was won by a boat that had Dave’s son Carter aboard as crew. Second in the Heritage Division were first year Etchells sailor Matt Blake and crew on Vixen, closely followed in third by Todd LaLumiere, in the black boat, Black Sheep. It is always fun when father races against son, and both finish 3rd!! Another winner was visiting skipper Jeff Nehms who travelled to the Lobster Bowl from Miami. For the first time Nehmo had the opportunity to sail with his brother in an Etchells along with his long time friend and former world champion, Ezra Culver. Nehmo mentioned many times how unique and special this event was and how happy he was to sail in it with his brother as crew. Hopefully they will be back again next year!
The final award presented on Sunday was the Generations award presented by long time Etchells racer, Pat Stadel, to the youngest competitor, Audrey Morin, 17 year old daughter and driver of her family’s boat, More Cowbell. Over 60 years separated these two, once again showing that the Etchells is a class for all ages, sailing ability, male or female. All you need to bring is a love of the boat, enthusiasm, a smile, and a competitive spirit, and you are welcome at the Lobster Bowl.
Once again, the Lobster Bowl has to be judged a big success. It truly was a weekend of great fun, an opportunity to see old friends and make new ones, and compete on the beautiful waters of Casco Bay Maine in the fresh fall breeze, against Etchells sailors young and old, male and female.
Thanks to the 11 sponsors, PYC, Regatta Chair Chris Morin and his committee for a terrific event. We hope all this year’s competitors will be coming back next year and hopefully bringing other Etchells lovers as well.