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Mary Day beats Columbia's handicap to win 43rd annual schooner race

By Beth A. Birmingham | Jul 08, 2019
Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham The schooner Mary Day passes the tip of the Rockland Breakwater July 5.

Rockland — Fourteen Windjammer schooners sailed from Gilkey Harbor in Islesboro to the finish line at the Rockland Breakwater Lighthouse in the 43rd Annual Great Schooner Race July 5.

This year's race came down to the wire as the historic Columbia, racing for the first time and in a class of her own, was placed in the Windward Class, competing against the bigger boats in the Maine Windjammer Association fleet.

Although Columbia crossed the finish line first, the Mary Day was declared the winner, finishing just 19 minutes and 16 seconds later -- under the Columbia's 20-minute handicap -- to take home the Great Schooner Race Cutty Sark Award.

In keeping with tradition, Mary Day’s captain, Barry King, was presented with the trophy and the coveted “Eat My Wake” flag, both given to the first Maine Windjammer Association boat to cross the line.

"It was an amazingly exciting finish," Marti Mayne, PR, events and content manager for the Maine Windjammer Association, said.

"With boats ranging from 48 to 141 feet, and the two oldest windjammers in America racing against newer, sleeker ones, it was a race filled with skill, luck and who caught the wind first," she said.

"Throughout the race, the schooner Mary Day was in hot pursuit, but Columbia pulled ahead and was first over the line," she said. "The Maine Windjammer Association’s Race Committee kept careful track of elapsed time from the start."

The only casualty of the race was that Capt. Mike McHenry's chase boat, Retriever, suffered an overheated engine and was unable to get local media out to capture the end of the race as usual.

Also claiming bragging rights on the water were:

Flying Jib Class: first place, Olad, captained by Aaron Lincoln, out of Camden; and second place, Actress , captained by Hans Vierthaler, out of Belfast.

Coaster Class: first place, Stephen Taber, captained by Noah Barnes, out of Rockland; second place, Lewis R. French, captained by Garth Wells, out of Camden; and third place, Grace Bailey, captained by Christopher Trandell, owned by Ray Williamson, out of Camden.

Leeward Class: first place, Heritage, captained by Doug and Linda Lee, out of Rockland; second place, J&E Riggin, captained by Jon Finger and Annie Mahle, out of Rockland; and third place, Ladona, captained by J.R. Braugh, out of Rockland.

Windward Class; first place, Mary Day, captained by Barry King, out of Camden; second place, Columbia, captained by Seth Salzmann, owned by Brian D’Isernia, out of Panama City, Fla.; and third place, American Eagle, captained by John Foss, out of Rockland.

Additional awards were given for seamanship and navigational skills:

The Spirit of ’53 Award, recognizing great seamanship during the Great Schooner Race, went to the Windjammer Angelique, captained by Dennis Gallant, out of Camden.

The Boyd Guild Award, named after the colorful Capt. Boyd Guild and recognizing tenacity throughout the race, went to the three-masted Victory Chimes, captained by Sam Sikkema, out of Rockland.

The Belle of the Ball Award, recognizing the “best dressed” boat, went to Schooner Boyd N. Sheppard, captained by Katie McKinlay, out of Rockland.

The Maine Windjammer Association will host the annual Maine Windjammer Parade past the Rockland Breakwater Friday, July 12, from 2 to 4 p.m. This event provides closeup views of the entire fleet.

Capt. Jim Sharp of the Sail, Power & Steam Museum will narrate the parade over a public address system at the lighthouse.

Hosted by the Maine Windjammer Association, the Great Schooner Race features North America’s largest fleet of traditional windjammers. Many of the participating schooners are National Historic Landmarks, while others were built in the last century specifically for the windjamming trade.

Courier Publication reporter Beth A. Birmingham can be reached at 594-4401 ext. 125 or via email at

43rd Annual Great Schooner Race
(Video by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The Angelique makes its way past spectators on the Rockland Breakwater July 5. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Spectators for the 43rd Annual Great Schooner Race line Rockland Breakwater July 5. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
A spectator captures the schooners as they pass the end of Rockland Breakwater July 5. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Although first to the finish line July 5, the historic Windjammer Columbia placed second, as Mary Day's time was logged just under the 20-minute handicap. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Prime viewing of the 43rd Annual Great Schooner Race July 5 could be had on one of several leisure boats in Rockland Harbor. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Heritage rounds the bend. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Spectators abound at the end of Rockland Breakwater as the schooners make their way into the harbor July 5. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Catching a breeze on Penobscot Bay. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Lewis R. French enjoys a spin around Rockland Harbor July 5 after finishing the 43rd Annual Great Schooner Race. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Spectators come and go during the 43rd Annual Great Schooner Race July 5. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Several schooners get ready to breeze by Rockland Breakwater July 5. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Posing for a group photo. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
The Heritage, right, and Angelique. (Photo by: Beth A. Birmingham)
Participating captains gather at the captains' meeting aboard Victory Chimes prior to the 43nd Annual Great Schooner Race July 5. (Courtesy of: Maine Windjammer Association)
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