Casco Bay Interclub Regatta,
for the Guy P. Gannett Trophy
The original Interclub Regatta format was a friendly competition between members of the Casco Bay Yacht Clubs. To expand upon the original format and welcome sailors from non-traditional Yacht Clubs, we would like to welcome all Sailing “Unions”to race. This would include members of Yacht Clubs, Marinas, Sailing Programs, and One-design Fleets having a physical presence within the geographic boundaries of Casco Bay.
Prior to World War II the “Interclubs” were the highlight of the racing season. They were sponsored in alternate years by the Mere Point YC and the Merriconeag YA with a Saturday race held at one club and the Sunday race at the other. The alternate year was sponsored by the Portland YC and the Centerboard YC. The post war period found sailing and racing in the doldrums. The Gannett Publishing was approached and the Guy P. Gannett Trophy was contributed for recognition of the winning club of the “Interclubs”. Racing waxed and waned over the next half century from over 100 boats entered in over a dozen classes including Juniors to its final demise as a PHRF only weekend in 2006. As part of the Portland Yacht Clubs 150thAnniversary, it was proposed to rededicate and resurrect the Casco Bay Interclubs into a more inclusive racing event for all sailors within the confines of Casco Bay. more history here
The format this year is a little different. In an effort to get more racing for everyone and recognizing that many sailors crew on multiple boats, we have divided up the weekend. On Saturday join us for PHRF and large keel boat one design. (36.7’s for example) The day will probably start off with an around the buoy race that is windward/leeward in design and then a more creative course. On Sunday join the local One Design fleets (Etchells, J24s, J80s) and One Design dinghies (Lasers, Optis, 420s).
Social events planned for Saturday evening, depending on the status of the COVID 19 pandemic.
Casco Bay Interclub Regatta History
The Guy P. Gannett Trophy was awarded each year to the Yacht Club located in Casco Bay winning the greatest number of points in the Inter-club Regatta.
Prior to World War II the “Interclubs” were the highlight of the racing season. They were sponsored in alternating years by the Mere Point and the Merriconeag Yacht Clubs with a Saturday race held in one Club and the Sunday race at the other. The alternate year was sponsored by the Portland Yacht Club and the Centerboard Yacht Club.
Well over one hundred entered the two day races. Lightnings were the only one design sailing craft in the area at the time and they were allotted a special class. The balance of the fleet was divided into the small open, medium open, and large open classes. There were no two boats alike and they ranged from a sailing canoe up to modern deep water craft. The handicap system was somewhat by rule of thumb and the race committees job was not one to be desired.
The post war period found sailing and racing in the doldrums. In an effort to revive the old rivalries the Gannett Publishing Co. was approached and asked to contribute a permanent bowl to be known as the Guy P. Gannett Trophy. Mr. Gannett graciously agreed to do this and also assured the committee that his papers would publish pictures and articles to help publicize the event.
The first race was held at the Mere Point Yacht Club in 1948 and was won by the host Club. The series was a success and the Casco Bay Interclubs have been a highlight of the racing calendar now for many years. At the present time (1966) the active participants are the Portland Yacht Club (present holder of the trophy), Harraseekett Yacht Club, Mere Point Yacht Club, Orrs-Baileys Yacht Club, and Centerboard Yacht Club. 1
By 1950 a second one design class was introduced to Casco Bay. The Turnabouts entered the Interclubs shortly thereafter and quickly grew to a class of over 20 boats, most of which were skippered by adults. These chubby 10 footers continued racing one design through the 1977 season being replaced by the Widgeon the next year. The Explorer Class raced for the early half of the 1960s, The MORC division for keel boats ran from 1963 until 1979 when PHRF seemed to take over. The Ensign Class began in 1965 had a 15 year run while the Rhodes 19 Fleet joined in the 1970s, The Laser Class in 1974 and J/24s in 1979.
Changing demographics say a decline of small one design classes and youth sailors as was decried in an article by Larry Woodward in the July 27, 1985 Portland Press Herald. Woodward, interviewing Vice-commodore Bud Singer who “laments the loss of the roots of the competition, which began in 1948 as a friendly competition among young sailors aboard small boats. ‘they used to race Turnabouts, Widgeons, and Lasers, but now it’s become another CBSA weekend regatta,’ Singer said. ‘Even when the big boats started to compete, we’d have two lines – one for the big yachts and another one for the one-design racers. Part of the problem today is that there isn’t a common small boat among the clubs to form a one-design Class.’” “But regardless of the size of the boat or the talent of the crews, the Casco Bay Interclub Regatta will be two days of fun” finished the report by Larry Woodward.
One-designs continued a while longer, We lost the Ensigns, Rhodes 19s, Lightnings, Widgeons and Lasers in the early 80’s leaving only the J/24 through the early 90’s. The big boats continued until 1994 when the Interclubs took a hiatus until a short revival occurred from 2004 to 2006.
A sampling of local sailors who made their mark participating in the Interclubs include Hank Parker, Gardner Brown, Douglas Coleman, Frank Parker, Bill Poole, John Robinson, Dougald MacDonald, Stuart MacDonald, Tony Parker, Win Fowler, Merle Hallett, Art Haskins, Ann Parker, George Huettle, Jan Pederson, Rick Tonks, Jerry Baker, Ned Harding, George Tonini, Dave Burgess, Del Damboise, Gary Blenkhorn, Frank Adshead, Dick Debevoise, Dick Bowen, and many others.
2019 would be the 50thyear of racing for the Guy P. Gannett Trophy awarded to the winning sailing union in Casco Bay.
1. Portland Yacht Club Yearbook, 1965-66, pg.61.
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