Panerai Corinthian Classic Yachts regatta lights up waters off Marblehead, Nahant – Wicked Local North of Boston

Posted: Friday, August 19, 2016

This past weekend marked the running of the 12th consecutive Corinthian Classic regatta sponsored by Panerai, which brought up to 55 boats to race and celebrate the beauty of traditional wooden yachts and classic designs.

Visiting yachts came from as far away as Germany, and included the famous Sparkman and Stephens Yawl “Dorade,” which won first place in the Corinthian Classic Division and best overall among the Panerai divisions.

The two days of racing included a 17-mile course to Gloucester followed by a 14.5-mile course off Nahant the following day. With yachts like the 12-meter “Valiant” on the course, as well as a variety of “classic plastics” from Cal 40s to Alerions, it was a pursuit race format that was meant to even out the fleet over the course of the race.

“This is a late summer tradition here in Marblehead and our signature event at the Corinthian Yacht Club,” said Tim Dittrich, former commodore of the CYC and one of the event organizers, along with Bruce Dyson of Marblehead.

The weather over the two days offered more consistent winds on Saturday while Sunday, during the race towards Nahant, there were pockets of good breeze but sailors had to hunt a little harder for them.

Although challenging, it bode well for Corinthian best overall winner “Agila” an E33 class yacht designed and sailed by famed local sailmaker Robbie Doyle.

“We were part of the spirit of tradition class and, for that reason, we converted our square top sail to a gaff top. We love the long 8-mile beats and my son-in-law was at the helm. Because of the breeze, there were a lot of beats, but we had a great overall performance and a great time together,” Doyle said.

Another well-known Marblehead classic was the 12-meter “Valiant,” sailed with a full crew and helmed by Tyler Doyle of Marblehead. Valiant is the 1970s Sparkman and Stephens 12-meter and won first place in the Grand Prix division.

“The winds were tricky and although the first day, we went right after the start and realized that it was not going to work for us, on Sunday we set the course and seemed to get it right every tack,” said Valiant owner Gary Gregory. “It was a great event overall.”

The regatta included the yacht Tilly XV that came all the way from Germany to sail in the classic yacht circuit. Tilly XV is a 1912 sonderklasse gaff sloop built in Germany for Prince Heinrich Von Preussen (Kaiser Wilhelm II of Prussia’s brother).

Sonderklassen are the “special boats” that are among the very rare type of wooden boat from the early part of the 20th century.

A team from the Sandy Bay Yacht Club in Rockport raced in the classic Swan class and particularly enjoyed Saturday’s race to Gloucester as they held local knowledge and felt it helped their overall performance.

“There were pockets of wind and holes that we had to pick our way through the shifts. People who did well today figured that out,” said Charlie Clark, a Cape Ann resident.

One of the unique aspects of this regatta is that Panerai, an Italian watchmaker, continues to partner with the Massachusetts non-profit “Sailing Heals,” which takes cancer patients being treated at Mass General Hospital and the Lahey clinics and their caregivers out for a day of sailing.

On the Friday before the regatta, Panerai and Sailing Heals took patients out for a sail on the yachts Galavant, Valiant and Wild Horses.

Wild Horses is over 70 feet long and is part of the W-Class. That class’ concept is to rejuvenate classic yacht sailing. The owner of “Wild Horses,” Donald Tofias is a Massachusetts native with strong ties and admiration for the history of yachting in Marblehead.

“We love coming here because of the history of the major yacht clubs and the overall yachting history, which is such a huge interest for me,” Tofias said.

“What I believe is that Marblehead’s yachting history was one of great innovation and development. Many of the earlier racing yachts were not always built to last, but they were built for innovation,” Tofias added. “Marblehead was a great center for that back in the day.” 

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