50th Annual Westport River Beetle Cat Race

50th Annual Westport River Beetle Cat Race

Steve and Kate Kirk - winners of the 50th Annual Westport River Labor Day Beetle Cat race.


WESTPORT — Westport MA has a wonderful tradition of excellent Beetle Cat racing. Racers in Westport face not only a competitive and knowledgeable group of skippers and crew but also must contend with fast moving currents and ever shifting sand bars as they navigate this scenic estuary. This season’s race was no exception.

Nine boats lined up on the beach at the Spindle Rock Club on the west side of the river. A light southerly breeze dictated a counter-clockwise triangle. After a close start, Santolina sailed by Doug and Beth Spicer found their way to the upwind turning mark first and headed off downwind toward the west end of Cherry and Webb beach. Mark and Sarah Edwards in Whereas and Steve and Kate Kirk in Cricket (borrowed from the Beede family) were following close. Playing the current and fickle breeze in the lee of Corey’s Island, the Kirks sailed an end-a-round and took the lead heading to Crack Rock. With the tide low, and the current still racing out, Cricket took a safe path back to the main channel while Whereas and Santolina chose to attempt an inside passage along the marshes. Both boats ran aground and crews had to scramble out of the boats to push off into deeper water. It turns out the short-cut didn’t help and Pollywog sailed by Heather and Jillian Hawes came from fourth place to grab a close second to the first place Cricket at the final turning mark. Apparently the Kirks in lead boat Cricket just nicked the turning mark and in completing their 360 penalty circle found the Hawes sisters close on their heels. A fierce tacking duel ensued and remained extremely close ending in a true photo finish with Steve and Kate Kirk in Cricket prevailing for first place. Heather and Jillian Hawes took a close second and Mark and Sarah Edwards, winners of the 2011 Labor Day race and organizers for the 2012 event, took third.

As winners of the 2012 Westport River Labor Day Race, Steve and Kate Kirk also win the responsibility to organize and run the 51st annual race in 2013. We hope more boats will turn up and share in the fun.

Thanks are extended to the Spindle Rock Club of Westport for the use of their committee boat and to Dave Balfour and Jim and Grace Stevens for volunteering to manage the start and finish.

Submitted, Mark Edwards, Whereas
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