Hallett’s Regatta Raises Record $$ for MS Charity

Kit Watson, Claire Watson, 10, and Merle Hallett, All Aboard “Too Elusive” at Handy Boat Service for MS Regatta Today.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 1,499)

The largest yacht in the field of sixty-one yachts is not always the one to win.  “Too Elusive,” the 80 ft. yacht owned by Kit Watson, is an example of that.  Winds in Casco Bay were moderate, maybe 10-15  knots, which was fine for smaller boats in the race, but not so much for a super-yacht like “Too Elusive.”  Merle Hallett, founder of the Regatta and his wife and daughters sailed on “Too Elusive” as friends of Watson,  a nephew of Tom Watson, the founder of IBM. The Hallett 34 ft. yacht, Scaramoche, (scoundrel)  was not launched this summer, so it made a perfect pairing.  “Merle was my first mate,” quipped Watson at the end of the race at the Handy Boat Service dock.   The Watson family has a long history of involvement at Handy Boat Service, Falmouth.  They winter in Connecticut and summer in Camden.

The annual event began last night with a silent auction at Portland Yacht Services at the bottom of Munjoy Hill.   At auction were 350 items, more than ever before.  The highlight of the auction  was a diamond necklace donated by Springer’s Jewelry. It was estimated that auction brought in $47,000, about $20,000 more than last year; due largely to the matching funds provided by the Kit Watson family.  This afternoon MS authorities anticipated that the Regatta that concludes on Sunday with a 5K race and the Tugboat Muster from Maine State Pier, will generate over $100,000. for the MS Charity, a record breaking amount of money.

Hallett, 85, started the MS Regatta 32 years ago.   He grew up on Munjoy Hill and lived with his mother on the Hill until he was 25 years old.  “She finally kicked me out,” he said laughing.  “But it was a cheap way to live.”  His father was a grocer on the Hill with  a store on Merrill Street.   “I wanted to be a test pilot, but boats got in the way,” he said. Jody Cady, another former Munjoy Hill resident, has played a vital role in the MS Regatta for many years.  For the last 13 years, she has voluntered as MS Regatta Fleet Coordinator, although she has crewed on a race boat for longer than that.  This year she crewed on a Racing Division 1 boat, Tamarack.  The boat is owned by Bob Kellogg, long-time yard manager at Handy Boat.  This year Tamarack came in first in her Division.

Following the Regatta, captains and their crews were treated to a lobster dinner on the waterfront.  Preparations were made for possibly 300 guests for dinner.  Annie O’Dea of the cruising boat by the same name said:  “It was a beautiful day for a good cause.  Quite a party!”

An award ceremony followed.