ROCKLAND — The Rockland Apprenticeshop hosted the 2019 Becton Cup Regatta on Oct. 12. Named in honor of Jean Becton, winner of the 1936 and 1946 Maine State Sailing Championship, this fall regatta tests the meddle of young women sailors from around the state.
This year’s Maine Girls’ Doublehanded Championship included nine teams— five that traveled from their home waters of Sail Maine in Portland— from Cape Elizabeth, Yarmouth, Portland and Greely high schools. The other four teams were from Isleboro, Rockland/Apprenticeshop and Lincoln Academy.
The event had not been held for the last two years, so there was much pent up demand from the girls, many of whom have had their eyes on the trophy since a young age. The Race Committee included head coach Pat DiLalla and long-time high school sailing volunteers Peter Clapp and Ken Pride who expertly managed eight races to create a full-day regatta. Mother Nature provided a range of conditions, starting from a strong morning breeze at 10-15 knots, with occasional higher gusts, to the more moderate afternoon wind of 8 -10 knots. The NNE wind direction allowed the racing to take place in the northeast corner of Rockland harbor, out of traffic and wave action. The strong morning conditions allowed for longer courses, many of them triangular, providing the chance for the teams to challenge one another on many points of sail—upwind (windward), downwind, and reaching—not often the case in regattas.
Teams do not have to travel with their boats in this kind of racing. Instead The Apprenticeshop (the hosting team) makes its fleet of 420s available for the teams—two sailors to a boat. Boats are swapped after two races and ensures that no team has an advantage due to gear. By the end of the day each team of sailors will have sailed in four different boats.
Rockland was new racing territory for at least a third of the fleet. The morning racing results strongly favored the local racers, with Isleboro and Rockland teams doing well. Morning race starts were tightly competitive, and the Rockland team faced a special challenge when its hiking strap broke just after the start of race one. This intrepid team of Ella Ryan and Nicole Pendleton held their own, taking a third place. The race was won by the skilled Isleboro #2 team of Sophie Lau and Pia Gibson. The Lincoln Academy team of Ella Beauregard and Harden Carleton finished second. Three more races were held over the course of the morning, with the Portland #2 team of Ella Duncan and Hazel Johnson sailing a terrific second race and capturing second place. The third race of the day also showed the talents of Rylee Sienkiewicz and Olivia Briton, Isleboro #1 as they took a first place. Rockland sailors Ella Ryan and Nicole Pendleton blazed past the rest of the fleet and took first place in the last morning race—race 4.
The afternoon racing seemed like a whole new event. The veteran sailors Ella Beauregard and Harden Carleton (Lincoln Academy) won the first two races of the afternoon. The wind had dropped a fair bit, so the races were slightly shorter in the afternoon. By the seventh race many of the teams were flagging, but the Portland 1 team of Neddie Clews and Valyn Magensea stole the finish line to get their first win of the day. By the eighth race many teams just wanted to be done—including home course sailors Ella Ryan and Nicole Pendleton, whose afternoon racing had not gone as well as the morning. But smart tactics and perseverance brought them a second place in race eight. And while Lincoln Academy maintained their stellar sailing, the racecourse full of 9 boats all showed incredible resilience, sportsmanship, and seamanship.
In fact the boats that were new to the area, and new to team racing, like sailors Danika Hluska and Meg Wolerson from Greely, gave the day their best, as did Daisy Brewer and Sabina Coroi from Yarmouth, and Kayla Christi and Tess Straw, from Cape Elizabeth. Jean Becton would have been proud of ALL these young women out in the wind, water, and waves, in pursuit of smart and strong sailing.
When the full day’s scores were tallied Lincoln Academy had won the top spot and the right to take home the Jean Becton Cup. Second place went to Isleboro 2 team (Sophie Lau and Pia Gibson), and third place went to Isleboro 1 team (Rylee Sienkiewicz and Olivia Briton). Isleboro is coached by Mike Horn, whose team, like many of the others, includes juniors and other non-seniors, so we expect to see many of these young women on the water again next fall hoping to bring home the Becton trophy for the top Maine female sailors.
The hosting venue, The Apprenticeshop (apprenticeshop.org), is a Rockland nonprofit whose mission is to provide a community space for teaching sailing, boatbuilding and seamanship: hands-on experiences that enhance individual lives.