BELFAST — The 13th annual Come Boating! regatta kicked off Aug. 16 at 10:30 a.m. with a crowd lining the edge of the Boathouse as emcee Muriel Curtis, of Station Maine, gave bystanders a running commentary on the many boats jumbled on the waters, a feat made more difficult by her admission she didn’t have a full list of boat names during the competition. Curtis could be seen getting updates via telephone throughout the race.
Participants in last Friday’s event were a mixture of locals, and others, some traveling from as far as New York, to paddle in the event, which saw different heats race 3 nautical miles from one end of the bay to the other, on a course marked by buoys. Even before the race began the contestants were left to struggle — often in vain — to maintain a straight line, with Curtis noting, “It’s like herding cats, it’s not that they’re [the boats] uncooperative, just that the sea will push you around.”
The crowd was subdued as the boats first began the competition, but the pitch grew as the race continued, ending with rowdy yells, led largely by the yodeling-wail of the emcee.
Men’s team boats competing in this year’s Come Boating! Regatta included: Malcolm G/Come Boating!, Mike Jeness Snr./Team Saquish, Belle Fast/ Come Boating! and Siren Song/Gloucester team. Women’s team boats included: Selkie/Come Boating!, Interceptor/Saquish Mixed Team, Gannet/Gloucester team and Nurumbega/Lake Champlain team.
The Red Jacket, a youth vessel out of Station Maine, was joined by two four-oared boats, Gunning Dory and Whitehall Gig, both out of Stuyvesant, N.Y. Single vessels included Betsy Rockwell, Summer Roberts and George Hill. Three kayaks rounded out this year’s participants, including Ray Worth and Leslie Gregory. Much like the vessels in use, the results were varied.
“Some boats dance across the water, but others are made for harder work,” Curtis told the crowd.
At the end of the race the Malcolm G took top honors completing it in 32 minutes, followed by the Mike Jeness Snr., which finished in 34 minutes. Just one minute behind was Belle Fast, which finished third with a time of 35 minutes.
Greg Stafford, who was a paddler on Belle Fast, said the hardest part was, “Waiting for it to start. Once we started going, it was fabulous.” Stafford said he got involved in paddling after watching the event for a number of years before a friend told him “he could get me into one of the boats - the rest is history.” He said with a smile, “This year’s competition was even better than usual because we had some fierce competition.”
Ron Rege of Team Saquish, from Plymouth Mass., agreed this year was a great competition. “We come up every year,” he said. “But this year the conditions were great – a little windy, but the water was calm.”
Erica Thoms can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.