The Castine Yacht Club scaled things down from its usual sail races when it held the 23rd annual Lord Nelson model boat race on July 29.
Open to children of all ages who belong to the club or are enrolled in the junior sailing program, the only rule is that the entry be no larger than 4x4 feet.
While some of this year’s boats pushed those limits, others were much smaller. Some boats had one sail; some had three, and some, alas, tried to sail without a keel and bobbed aimlessly in the water, as the current took them where it would—which was usually beneath the dock.
The event wasn’t as much about winning as a chance for folks of all ages to gather for conversation and a cookout, and to view the variety of boats—from last-minute construction with garbage bag sails to patriot-themed décor to feats of modern kitchen-table engineering.
“This is one of my favorite yacht club activities,” said Marianne Lee. “My grandkids have been doing this for years and years.”
Bag-piper Will MacArthur heralded the race with a short tune played from the clubhouse deck. Racers took their marks, the cannon sounded and around 20 boats were off, with a gentle push from the dock. With a good headwind and a steady current, the boats, somehow, sailed off in opposite directions, with one fleet aiming for the pilings banking the Water Street homes and a smaller, seemingly swifter fleet on course for the yacht club shore.
As the boats floated where they would, attention turned to the hotdogs, hamburgers and potluck fare, until a shout was raised: Christopher Ciano’s monohull The Cod hit the Water Street pilings first, winning two trophies, first finish and first monohull finish.
“He made the effort, he thought it out and he did it himself,” said father Bob Ciano, who retrieved The Cod by reaching into the water from a neighboring yard.
Junior sailing master Maggie Hynes handed Ciano, a Castine resident, his trophies. “Take them home,” she said. “And bring them back next year.”