Buffalo area sailboat racers were accompanied by a replica of the schooner America on Sunday as they competed in the 21st annual Queen City Regatta.
In a break with tradition, the event, along with Saturday's Mayor's Cup race, were scheduled to coincide with Buffalo's first Waterfest, a two-day celebration that drew thousands to the waterfront for music, food and waterside attractions.
While landlubbers took in the sights Sunday, 55 sailboats raced on three- and six-mile courses in the Buffalo harbor for the Queen City awards.
On Saturday, the boats raced courses of 17 and 13 miles from Point Abino, Ont., to Buffalo for the Mayor's Cup.
Both events were sponsored by the Buffalo Yacht Club.
First-place finishes won Jim Stuart, of Lady Victoria, a special Buffalo statute from a representative of Mayor Masiello. The award, which will be given annually, cited Stuart's boat for its overall performance.
"We blew everybody away," said Stuart, describing his racing weekend, which included first boat over the finish line among the main and jib competitors. "She's definitely a light-air boat," added Stuart, who finished at least 10 minutes ahead of the second-place boat.
On Sunday, the racers were challenged by light air and oscillating winds, which required Chuck Chilcott, race manager, and Dick Sinnott, skipper of Happy, the committee boat, to change the course twice.
By the second race on Sunday, winds picked up slightly but hovered around 10 knots with overcast skies. On Saturday, a 10-knot westerly wind helped the boats return to Buffalo.
The event was changed this year so that the boats returned to Buffalo on Saturday with course racing Sunday in the Buffalo harbor. In past years, the course racing was in Abino Bay on Saturday with the boats returning to Buffalo on Sunday.
"This was the best ever," said Debbie McElwain, co-skipper of Stinger, a C & C 29, a veteran of 14 Mayor's Cup regattas. "It was so clever of the organizers to team up with Buffalo Rocks."
McElwain who finished second in the Mayor's Cup and first in the Queen City, described Sunday's racing as, "perfect. The race committee knew what to do.
"They set the course and then twice reset the course (to accommodate changes in the direction of the wind). They made it pleasurable."
For Paul Battin, skipper of Frolic, a J-30, the course changes made the difference. "We appreciate the fact that the committee boat was changing the courses to give us true windward beats," said Battin, who took first-place honors in his fleet Sunday. "That's when we made all of our time."
Organizers said the yacht club will decide whether to make the regattas a permanent part of the Waterfest.
"Anything we can do with Waterfest and boost racing is what we should do," said Sinnott. "There are advantages of doing it both ways," said Bob Dobmeier, race chair. "The yacht club will make the decision."
For Tom and Lissa Davis Tepas, regatta co-chairs, success was in attracting 55 boats.
The Waterfest festivities, including America's visit to Erie Basin, provided "the nice touch" that made the regatta a success, said Tepas.
Sunday's Queen City Regatta results:
JAM A: first, Rich Oldham, About Time; second, Mike Kovach, Waltzing Mat; third, Rex Koeppen, Dominique. JAM B: first, Jim Stuart, Lady Victoria; second, Mike Zuchowski, Assailant; third, Joe Zappo, Hideaway II. JAM C,first, Carl and Debbie McElwain, Stinger; second, Ray Massey, Dashing Wave; third, Joe Cultrara, Moody Blue. PHRF A, first, Tom Lewin, Giddy Up; second,Doug Oak, Quixotic; third, Dick Aubrecht, Kintama. PHRF B, first, Team Farmelo, Bald Peanuts; second, Don Seitz, Seitz-Seer; third, Bill Markel, Rude Awakening. PHRF C, first, Paul Battin, Frolic; second, Jim Christensen, Skybird; third, Merrily Kuhn, Wild Card. PHRF D, first, Ed Weiss, Salsa; second, Bill Graf, Waldo; third, Rick Hensel, Hypertension. PHRF E, first, Rick Lenard, Quick Getaway; second, Don Brennan, Kelly Meg; third, Bob Blow, Wyldewind.
Saturday's Mayor's Cup results:
JAM A, first, Kevin McCarthy, Argy Bargy; second, Rick Oldham, About Time; third, Mike Sendor, Benchmark. JAM B, first, Jim Stuart, Lady Victoria; second, Mike Zuchowski, Assailant; third, Joe Zappo, Hideaway II. JAM C, first, Ray Massey, Dashing Wave; second, Carl & Debbie McElwain, Stinger; third, Mike Brady, Sea of Hope. PHRF A, first, Tom Lewin, Giddy Up; second, Doug Oak, Quixotic; third, Bob Gradwell, Kewero. PHRF B, first, Team Farmelo, Bald Peanuts; second, Don Seitz, Seitz-Seer; third, Bill Denall, Match Point. PHRF C, first, Jim Christensen, Skybird; second, Bill Bredenberg, Wench; third, Paul Battin, Frolic. PHRF D, first, Art Carey, Mad Cow; second, Bill Graf, Waldo; third, Tom Romano, Joy Ride. PHRF E, Jim Deal, Jenanemil; second, Bob Blow, Wyldewind; third, Rick Lenard, Quick Getaway.