Sailors duel on lake to benefit museum

KJELL DAHLEN’S ODINN heads downwind during the 2019 Diamond Island this past Saturday. The 37-foot-long Odinn finished the 15 nautical-mile course in less than two hours and was the first boat to finish and won the Spinnaker A fleet. Photo by Ramsey Hazbun

COMPETITORS ROUND DIAMOND Island after the first leg of the 2019 Diamond Island Regatta Saturday afternoon on Lake Champlain. Photo by Buzz Kuhns

THERE WAS PLENTY of action rounding the mark near Sloop Island and heading back south to Diamond Island, during the Diamond Island Regatta on Lake Champlain this past Saturday. Photo by Buzz Kuhns

BOATS HEAD NORTH under spinnakers this past Saturday afternoon on the second leg of the 2019 Diamond Island, which runs out of the Royal Savage Yacht Club. Photo by Buzz Kuhns

BOATS HEAD UPWIND across Lake Champlain during the Diamond Island Regatta on Aug. 17. Photo by Ramsey Hazbun

FERRISBURGH/CHARLOTTE — Over the past seven years, the Diamond Island Regatta, co-sponsored by Royal Savage Yacht Club and Point Bay Marina, has become a weekend-long celebration of sailing and lake-wide camaraderie unlike any other event on the Lake Champlain Championship Series schedule.

Twenty-six sailboats competed in the seventh annual Diamond Island Regatta this past Saturday, Aug. 17, at Point Bay Marina. The day started with a breakfast for sailors under the Royal Savage Yacht Club (RSYC) tent, where there was a buzz of anticipation as competitors looked out at Town Farm Bay, where a steady southerly breeze was kicking up white caps.

Following a captains’ meeting under the tent, the race itself began just after 11 a.m. at the start/finish line in Town Farm Bay, south of the marina. The course took competitors southwest, into a stiff breeze and two-to-three-foot waves, to the eponymous Diamond Island; north to a mark just south of Sloop Island off Charlotte; back south to Diamond Island; and then back to the start. The race committee took advantage of the steady southerly breeze — 12 to 15 knots all day — to send sailors off on the longest course among the many available, at more than 15 nautical miles.

Competitors were divided into two general categories, those who sailed with spinnakers and those who sailed only with jib and mainsail (JaM). Boats came from Vermont, New York and Canada, including the local Royal Savage Yacht Club, Lake Champlain Yacht Club (LCYC) in Shelburne, Malletts Bay Boat Club (MBBC) in Colchester, and the Valcour Sailing Club (VSC) in Plattsburgh, N.Y. Twenty-six boats started and finished, in six different classes.

Odinn, a 37-foot-long J-111 from the Valcour Sailing Club, had the fastest time for the course, finishing in one hour, 54 minutes and 53 seconds. In addition to being first to finish, Odinn won the hotly contested Spinnaker A fleet.

“RSYC runs a great race, and the Diamond Island Regatta is a premier part of the LCCS,” said Odinn’s owner Kjell Dahlen. “The crew and I enjoy coming to Royal Savage Yacht Club and Point Bay. The hospitality is wonderful, and they make us feel welcome. It’s a beautiful part of the lake, and the conditions were just perfect this year.”

Seventeen boats finished in the four spinnaker classes, A through D, and nine in the two JaM classes, A and B. The classes were determined by each boat’s rating under the Performance Handicap Racing Fleet (PHRF) system, which ranks boats based on their speed potential and is used for most sailing competitions on Lake Champlain. Winners are determined based on corrected time, with the faster boats “giving time” to the slower boats.

The six class winners received trophies at the awards ceremony, held during the club’s Taste of the Islands Dinner the night of the race. The trophies used replicas of deck prisms from the whaling ship Charles W. Morgan, built in 1841, and were designed and fabricated by Treehouse Hardwoods & Millshop in South Burlington. Top finishers in each division were:

• Spinnaker A: 1. Odinn, Kjell Dahlen, VSC. 2. Polar Express, Donald Duley, VSC. 3. Souvenir, Craig Meyerson, Mooney Bay.

• Spinnaker B: 1. Lift Ticket, Samuel Pratt, MBBC.

• Spinnaker C: 1. Rogue, Walt Marti & Gene Cloutier, LCYC. 2. Unity, Robin & Bob Turnau, LCYC. 3. Stratos, Tris Coffin & Tim Moody, LCYC.

• Spinnaker D: 1. Osprey, Thomas Porter, RSYC. 2. Joyride, Lennart Lundblad, MBBC. 3. Raven, Wendy Friant, RSYC.

• JaM A: 1. Talisman, Les Velte, LCYC. 2. Etoile d’Argent, Cynthia Audet, LCYC. 3. Spirit, Steve Koch, RSYC.

• JaM B: 1. Mackinac, Betsy & Tim Etchells, RSYC. 2. Salsa, Sean Linsky, RSYC.

Complete results can be found online at


Many of the sailors were wearing Diamond Island Regatta T-shirts with their boat name printed on the back. T-shirt sales were one way the club was using to raise money for the race’s longtime beneficiary, the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Ferrisburgh, just a few miles down the lake from Point Bay. The club also held a raffle with donated prizes from the Maritime Museum, Point Bay Marina, the Hinesburg Public House, Vermont Sailing Partners and West Marine.

The final numbers aren’t in yet, but the club is hoping the amount raised for museum in 2019 will match the $1,000 donated in each of the past few years.

The day ended under the RSYC tent at the marina, with the awards ceremony and the inaugural Taste of the Islands Dinner, with a Caribbean theme. About 90 people attended this year’s dinner.

Race director Wendy Friant and former commodore Susan DeSimone described RSYC’s efforts to run a certified Clean Regatta, helping educate and mobilize sailors to protect the world’s lakes and oceans. The club used a sustainability plan developed with the help of Sailors for the Sea, an organization promoting ways to improve the health of the planet’s waters. RSYC’s co-host, Point Bay Marina, is a certified Vermont Clean Marina. DeSimone reported that race organizers collected two large containers of compostable material and another container of recyclable waste, with just one small trash container.

Friant thanked Dale Hyerstay and Keith Kennedy from the Lake Champlain Yacht Club, who headed up the race committee. “We just couldn’t do this without them,” she said.

She also noted that RSYC member Al Martin provided his powerboat, the Nancy Ann, as the Diamond Island Regatta committee boat.

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