Strong winds and rough seas at the Junior Regatta in Padanaram Harbor

Jul 7, 2019

It was certainly not smooth sailing on the waters of Buzzards Bay during the New Bedford Junior Regatta.

Hundreds of young sailors from across New England faced high winds with gusts up to 25 knots and rough seas during the two-day regatta on July 6 and 7. Locally, Dartmouth sailors from the New Bedford Yacht Club were among those racing, as well as sailors from across the South Coast. 

For many sailors who have competed before, it was one of the toughest regattas in recent memory. The conditions were so unusual for the event, only 47 of 66 sailboats in the 420 fleet completed all five races held on Saturday. On Sunday, winds and waves were high but died down a bit after the first few races.

“The wind was blowing over 20 knots though the morning, and my sails were going crazy,” said sailor Eliza Corral, of Dartmouth, who raced in the Optimist Blue fleet. “During the day it did die down.” 

For Corral, her first race of the morning was her biggest challenge. 

Dartmouth’s Peter Herlihy, who placed eighth in the Optimist fleet, said the wind gusts were a particular challenge.

Others, like Dartmouth skipper Camilla Murray and crew Conrad Gilchrest, embraced the ever-changing conditions and used them to their advantage. The Dartmouth sailors competed in the 420 fleet. 

“Everything was constantly changing — the wind speed was fluctuating, the wave sizes were varying,” Gilchrest said. “We were quick to adapt to it. The first to notice the changes the fastest do well.” 

Conditions made capsizing mid-race a very real possibility, and indeed many struggled to keep their sailboats afloat during the early hours of the races. 

“The biggest challenge is probably not capsizing,” said O’pen Bic sailor Brooke Adam, of Dartmouth, who admitted she did capsize on Saturday, but successfully avoided it during Sunday’s races.

Other top finishers from the New Bedford Yacht Club include Thomas Walker and Korina McMillan in fifth place and Charlie Fairfax and Mira Herlihy in eighth place in 420s; and Jacob Mikutowicz in second place in the Optimist Green.