Diamond Island Regatta supports maritime education

Twenty-six boats competed in the Diamond Island Regatta to benefit Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Saturday. Photo by Brandon Johnson
Twenty-six boats competed in the Diamond Island Regatta to benefit Lake Champlain Maritime Museum Saturday. Photo by Brandon Johnson

Taking the yacht out at Point Bay usually leads to a nice cruise through Kingsland Bay, Converse Bay, Barn Rock, or Basin Harbor, home of the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, but Saturday, competitors gathered to race.

Royal Savage Yacht Club hosted the Lake Champlain Championship Series event, The Diamond Island Regatta, at Point Bay Marina in Charlotte on Aug. 22.
It was a designated day-race for the LCCS Cannon Series and one of the optional races for the LCCS Champlain Series.

The Diamond Island Regatta benefitted the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. Mike Smiles, Executive Director of the museum, said the event brings in about $2,000 annually for educational programing at the museum.

This was the third annual regatta. It’s free of charge to sailors, but all proceeds generated from donations and sale of event hats, duffle bags, shirts and glasses goes directly to the museum.

Smiles said the wind was modest, but supportive of the cause. “A regatta is a recreational sailing competition of vessels from 18-feet to 44-feet in length, and they usually do a triangular course depending on the wind conditions,” he said.

Doug Friant of South Londonderry helped organize the race. “It was a big group effort to pull of this race, and now all we need is good wind,” he said before the event. “Winds are light and variable, a little bit from the north, we are hoping for 5 knots from the north, which is enough to sail.”

The Lake Champlain Maritime Museum supports educational programming through school partnerships all year round, and also brings history to life for thousands of people through traveling exhibit, The Lois McClure, a replica 1862 canal schooner.

The Lois McClure has been at Perkins Pier in Burlington this summer and will leave on a five-week journey to Waterford, NY, this week, where she will undergo restoration work before embarking on her next educational journey.

Vergennes Union High School students will have the opportunity to learn the craft of building remotely operated vehicles for the museum this fall. Smiles said they depend on the highly technical robotic cameras to manage the 370 shipwrecks in Lake Champlain.

“Our organization is responsible for the cultural heritage of Lake Champlain on behalf of the state of Vermont and New York,” Smiles said. “Having students understand the robotics, the modern technology of discovery, matched with traditional boat building skills, and traditional maritime skills, creates an appreciation for stewardship for lake Champlain for future generations.”

Regatta founder Wendy Friant of Charlotte said she’s been racing since she was a young girl, and supporting the museum was her mission in helping to create the regatta three years ago.

Winds did eventually pick up, and 26 boats competed. “It’s a fantastic thing getting out on the water and away from everything,” Wendy Friant said. “When you need to get away from your world, it’s a nice world to step into.”

For complete race results visit http://rsyc.org/2015-diamond-island-regatta-results/.

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