Casco Bay via the MS Regatta
Maine sailors have no shortage of regattas in which to challenge themselves from Memorial Day to Labor Day, whether they choose to participate in the J-24 circuit through their local yacht club or else take part in overnight races like the one in early August from Portland to Monhegan Island and back. But without a doubt the most popular yacht race in Maine (in fact, it's the biggest one-day regatta in New England) is the annual MS Regatta on Casco Bay. Open to everyone from weekend cruisers to finely tuned racing crews, this race has raised three million dollars for multiple sclerosis research since it was started twenty-six years ago by Merle Hallett, the owner of Handy Boat in Falmouth. And while Hallett has handed the running of the regatta off to others in recent years, he's still inspiring yacht racers by standing at the helm of his forty-foot sloop Scaramouche. "Merle is kind of an icon in the sailing and racing circles around Portland," remarks Tim Reilley, who races his thirty-five-foot sloop, Cordelia, on Casco Bay. "With the creation and ongoing support for the MS Regatta, he has brought yacht racing to many folks who never would have tried it. He's precisely why I started racing."
The MS Regatta will be held this year on August 16. For more information contact the Maine chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society (800-344-4867). Yachts are always looking for crewmembers - for openings contact local yacht clubs or check out the "crew wanted" listings in Points East, a free monthly magazine available at chandleries, marinas, and restaurants along the coast.