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Mayor’s Cup: Boat Races and More Along Lake Champlain

Some circled like sharks around the starting line, creating a zigzagging pattern in their wake. The anticipation from shore was heightened a thousand times more on the water, up close to the churning, sleek ships that would sail for glory that day. A steady breeze guided the 36-foot long boat through the glistening waters of Lake Champlain as it made its way down the lake from the Plattsburgh Boat Basin. Manned by an eight-person crew led by a veteran of the Mayor’s Cup Regatta race Ed Trombley, The Odinn was a powerful contender for the sailing event on the Adirondack Coast. Trombley, who taught himself…

Mayor's Cup Plattsburgh

Some circled like sharks around the starting line, creating a zigzagging pattern in their wake. The anticipation from shore was heightened a thousand times more on the water, up close to the churning, sleek ships that would sail for glory that day. A steady breeze guided the 36-foot long boat through the glistening waters of Lake Champlain as it made its way down the lake from the Plattsburgh Boat Basin.

Manned by an eight-person crew led by a veteran of the Mayor’s Cup Regatta race Ed Trombley, The Odinn was a powerful contender for the sailing event on the Adirondack Coast. Trombley, who taught himself how to sail as a teenager, has raced in every single Mayor’s Cup. “I remember when they came up with the idea,” says Trombley, “and it was just sort of a loose thing that they did, but it was really, really popular.”

Every July since 1978, the waters of Lake Champlain fill with sailboats eager to assert their sailing prowess and claim the title of Mayor’s Cup Regatta winner.

“The last leg we were not winning and we had to try to gamble, we had to try to do something a little bit different and we did and it paid off, we got ahead enough to win.”

There are three classes of boats, which consist of the Racing Division, Cruising Division and Multihull (Portsmouth) Division. According to the Mayor’s Cup website, “In the Cruising Division, there are no colorful spinnakers; it has four classes. In the five classes of the Racing Division, competitors use a larger sail inventory, including spinnakers. The Portsmouth Division has two classes for catamarans.” The winner of the Cruising Division receives The Rotary Cup trophy, and the Mayor’s Cup goes to the overall winner of the Racing Division.

The 2014 race was a little different.

Mayors from both Plattsburgh and Burlington had a friendly wager; whoever lost would have to participate in the other city’s polar plunge on the beach during the winter months. The main competitor against Trombley turned out to be a Burlington boat. “It was very close the whole race, right up to the end,” says Trombley. It takes competitors roughly 10 miles to sail the racecourse as they start at the Plattsburgh Boat Basin and sail within view of Clinton Community College on Bluff Point. A good breeze can make all the difference in who wins. “A lot of times I expect a really light day where you just kinda bob around, but no, we had a great day. There was a solid breeze the whole time; it wasn’t a lot but it was plenty,” says Trombley. “It was just beautiful.”

Kjell Dahlen, who has been involved with the Mayor’s Cup since 1979 and the Regatta Chair since 1992, says that the race brings together numerous participants from several states, including Vermont, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut and New Jersey. The race brings in competitors from Canada as well. “The Mayor’s Cup Festival helps put Plattsburgh on the map and offers free family fun,” says Dahlen. There are various other activities happening, like face-painting and musical performances during the weekend-long summer event, which is sponsored by the Sunrise Rotary Club and the City of Plattsburgh.

“As of this moment, plans for July 10 is a local band called Strange Brew performing from 7-9 p.m.,” says Sandra Geddes, promotions and special events coordinator. Local artists The Gibson Brothers, who are internationally known, are set to play July 11 at 8 p.m. Trombley says one of the reasons he lives in Plattsburgh is to take advantage of the lake and the mountains by hiking in winter and sailing during summer.

“It’s why I live here so the racing goes along with it,” says Trombley. “It’s always been the biggest race on the lake. There are some other really good ones, some very established ones, and I’m part of those too, but the Mayor’s Cup has kind of a special ring to it. It started in Plattsburgh, it’s a Plattsburgh race, and there’s a lot of pride there.” Whether a sea-lover or a landlubber, a traditional boat race for a city’s pride will have you cheering and eager to see who claims victory.

Issue 5: Summer/Fall 2015

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