The local Ensign class from Mattapoisett Fleet 76 had an excellent showing at this year’s regional regatta. Fleet 76 regally races every Tuesday night in Mattapoisett Harbor during the months of June, July and August. The Ensign class is one of the largest full keel one design classes in the country. The Mattapoisett Fleet 76 is a relatively new fleet for the organization, but it is one of the fastest growing fleets at present time. On Tuesday nights, one might see as many as 10 boats on the race course, and as you move around the harbor, you could see an additional five or six boats. The average age and condition of these boats vary; most boats are over 40-years old and many of them have been brought back to pristine condition. Although the Pearson Company who originally built the Ensign is no longer in existence, there is a new company – Ensign Spar – that is currently building new boats and thus keeping the class alive.
This is only the second year in which local boats actually traveled outside the harbor to compete in regional events. Last year, three boats made the trip to Niantic, CT, with the top boat finishing in 6th place among the 20 competitors. This year, regionals were located in Newport, RI, as part of the Sail Newport One Design Regatta. The regatta itself had over 200 boats entered. Mattapoisett Fleet 76 had six boats entered, doubling our last year’s number. This year, the Ensign line had a total of 19 boats competing, making it one of the largest divisions in the regatta. The competition arrived from the local Newport, Rhode Island, Massachusetts and Connecticut areas and as far away as New Jersey. This was very impressive considering all the newer sports boats out there. It was nice to see these old, classic design boats still being active.
Fleet 76 worked well together supporting all the boats that traveled. Five went via the tow method behind two larger boats and one boat traveled by trailer. All six boats were in Newport harbor Friday night awaiting the Saturday races. The big talk among the group at Friday night’s events was the prediction for light wind and how we were going to adjust. The Fleet had been racing all year in very windy conditions on Tuesday nights. This group from Mattapoisett was hoping to show the Ensign class that we might be new to this organization, but as a group, we are all improving and can be a threat to some of the old timers.
Saturday’s races started with a delay start waiting for the wind to fill in. The Ensign line was just north of the Newport Pell Bridge. Four races were run on Saturday, with the first two having an outgoing tide and the last two experiencing the tide change as well as the wind continuing to build throughout the day. The wind prediction was a little off and the wind filled in very nicely for Saturday, with which the Mattapoisett boaters felt very comfortable. On the race course on Saturday, we saw a few of our boats in the top finishers. The highlight of Saturday’s races was the last race in which Brou Ha Ha (Steve Clark #1008) took first place and One Love (John Mello #1125) was second, forcing Nightwind of CT to a third-place finish. This was a big moral victory for both boats, as Nightwind has been the top finisher in the past two regional championships and proved to be there again this year.
Sunday’s races saw winds in the 20s, with gusts even higher. It felt like a typical Tuesday night in Mattapoisett. Entering Sunday races, Odyssey (Rick Warren #2001) was sitting in second place with a very consistent day of racing on Saturday of nothing below a fifth place finish. Brou Ha Ha was in fourth place, but had an inconsistent day of racing and was carrying an 11th place. With the thought of a minimum of two races being run on Sunday, Brou Ha Ha was looking forward to drop that 11th place and move up on the leaderboard. One Love was in 5th place after Saturday and was still within striking distance of placing in the top three. Sunday’s race results did little to change the leaderboard. Odyssey pulled off two second places and held off the local favorite, Challenge, from Newport, RI by one point to finish in second place overall. Odyssey becomes the first boat from Fleet 76 to earn honors.
Black Ice (Phil Warren #304) was competing in its first regional event and they found themselves getting better with every race and finished with an amazing seventh place over all. Not Trying (Kai Srisirkul #863) and Hydra (Jason Dubreuil #1335) finished 14th and 15th respectively in their first regional regatta. With a total of four Fleet 76 boats in the top seven places, people are talking about what’s going on in Mattapoisett. The Ensign Class Organization is looking for Mattapoisett Fleet 76 to host the National Ensign Regatta in the summer of 2016.