By Carol McCracken (Post # 1,197)
Paul Simisky was checking the Instructions before the Skippers’ Meeting last night at the annual HMS Harborfest Kick-off when mhn.com met him. A Parkside resident, Simisky will be skippering his 22 ft. Ace of Spades in todays race. Ace is one of the smallest boat entries, if not the smallest. He has three crew members on board with him. Prior to that he had skippered on friends’ boats, but decided last year to sail it with his own crew. “I guess that we are fighting for last place in our class,” Simisky said to a friendly competitor – just then the Skippers’ Meeting was called into session…
Prior to the Skippers’ Meeting at the Portland Complex, Bill Newberry, Principle Race Officer told mhn.com that 58 boats signed up to race in the Regatta. During the 2000 OP-SAIL, 120 boats signed up for the Regatta. On many occasions, there have been over 100 participants, but in recent years the number has declined. Newberry thinks the reason is that racing has fallen off because it is so time consuming. “People have so many other things to do,” he said. Others also attribute the decline to the poor economy. Each boat is asked to donate $500. to the MS Society. Often companies pay that bill as is the case with Simisky’s boat. In other instances, the crew raises the money to gain entry into this highly visible race. For the second time, ‘Frances,’ docked at the Maine State Pier, will lead the Parade this morning. “We have to have a distinctive yacht for the Committee Boat. A boat that really stands out. ‘Frances’ is that yacht,” Newberry said.
Merle Hallett, 84, the founder of the Regatta attended the Skippers’ Meeting at the Portland Complex. One of the best racers around, once again he’ll be on ‘Scarmouche’
with his sons serving as crew. Hallett grew up on Munjoy Hill. He lived at different addresses on the Hill and his father owned a grocery store on Melbourne Street. “I came from very humble beginnings,” he said.
Lots of food was available at the charity kick-off at Portland Yacht Services. Nancy Cerny, chef/owner of the CVC Catering Group assisted in the procurement of food, donating her time to help in the preparation of heavy hors d oeuvres stationed around one of the historic buildings at 58 Fore Street. Cerny and her husband also supplied four bartenders for the event. Juliana Tonini, a commercial real estate agent was instrumental in recruiting companies to either donate or provide food at whole sale prices for the charity event.
A ticket to participate in the auctions costs $20.