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Sharon Bell of Stonington, the top woman racer in a Dyer Dhow Derby over the weekend at Mystic Seaport, leads a 22-boat women's fleet toward the windward mark. Bell, facing strong competition, won two of three women's races on a boat donated to the seaport by the Mystic Corinthians, of which she is a member. | (Helen Jankoski / Special to The Sun)
Men's division sailors race downwind in tight formation during the 64th Dyer Dhow Derby at Mystic Seaport. The seaport's more than 50-boat fleet has been donated over the years by yacht clubs, groups and individuals. | (Helen Jankoski / Special to The Sun) Megan Gimple of Pawcatuck skippers a boat named in memory of Mystic veterinarian Lisa Antinoph. Also raced at Mystic Seaport Saturday by Megan's parents, Tori and Matt, the 'Lisa da Vet' boat was the overall winner of the 64th Dyer Dhow Derby and therefore will host the 65th event, which is the Seaport's thank-you to boat donors. Megan placed second in the junior division. | Helen Jankoski / Special to The Sun 
Dyer Dhow Derby sailors and race committee crowd Mystic Seaport's north dock Saturday afternoon during the 64th Dyer Dhow Derby hosted and run by the Maxwell family of Stonington and Noank, winners of the previous Derby. The 9-foot dinghies started their races between the end of the dock and an inflatable pin. | Helen Jankoski /| Special to The Sun Shouts of

Small vessels and spirited competition at the Seaport

MYSTIC — Sailors at the Dyer Dhow Derby at Mystic Seaport jokingly say they want to come in second. Why? Being first means they’ll have to host the following year’s event and run its dozen or so races.

But on the water Saturday afternoon, first-place avoidance seemed to have been thrown to the wind as competitors sailed hard to win.

Fine weather and an 8-knot Dyer-size breeze sent juniors, women, men, pairs and quarter-ton boatloads around a triangular racecourse on the Mystic River.

The invitation to an afternoon of racing fun is Mystic Seaport’s way of thanking yacht clubs, groups and individuals who have donated 9-foot sailing dinghies to its community and youth sailing program over the years.

Saturday’s fleet included two new boats: Arrow, a Dyer given to the Seaport by family and friends in memory of Bruce Lockwood of Groton Long Point, and a refurbished boat named Gowrie that was adopted by the Gowrie Group, an insurance agency with offices in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The well-attended 64th Dyer Dhow Derby was hosted by the previous event’s Maxwell family winners from Stonington and Noank. Participants included a cadre of young Mudratz sailing group members who boosted junior participation and brought along additional racing parents.

A boat dedicated two years ago in memory of Mystic veterinarian Lisa Antinoph was the event’s overall winner, sailed by Tori and Matt Gimple of Pawcatuck and their daughter Megan, 14, who attends Pawcatuck Middle School.

“While we’re members of Stonington Harbor Yacht Club, we chose to sail Lisa’s boat because she was a dear friend,” said Tori Gimple, noting that Megan and Lisa’s daughter, Danshi, are good friends.

“We’ll get Danshi to come up (from Virginia) for the derby next year. By then she’ll be 12,” commented Tucker Bragdon of Stonington. He said that he and and his wife, Sandy, would help with next year’s event hosting.

Top finishers and their boats were as follows:

Juniors: Evan Spalding, Pawcatuck, Indian Harbor Yacht Club boat, first; Megan Gimple, Pawcatuck, Lisa da Vet, second; Dylan Flack, Stonington, New York Yacht Club, third. (All Mudratz.)

Women: Sharon Bell, Stonington, Mystic Corinthians, first; Jan Michaels, Mystic, second; Whitney Peterson, Guilford, Conn., Gowrie, third.

Men: Peter “Peb” Bergendahl, Noank, Ram Island Yacht Club, first; Carl Fast, Noank, Lisa, second; Bruce Avery, Noank, Watch Hill Yacht Club, third.

Pairs: Brandon and Lily Flack, Stonington, Wadawanuck Club, first; Carol Connor, Stonington, and Vicki Field, Noank, Eddie Maxwell, second; Matt and Megan Gimple, Pawcatuck, Lisa da Vet, third.

The quarter ton division was won by the three Gimples, followed by a New York Yacht Club team, second; and a Wadawanuck Club team third.

Dedicated along with Gowrie prior to the derby, Arrow will be the last new boat accepted, as the Seaport has run out of storage space, according to Hallie Payne, supervisor of community sailing and overnight programs and director of the Conrad Camp.

Payne was in charge of the Seaport side of the derby along with assistant supervisor Brooks Saglio, assisted by staffers Andrew Tobin, Megan Frayne and Andrew Houlihan. Heading the Maxwell family hosting were sisters Carol Connor, Vicki Field and Martha Clapp.

Trophy glasses and Ted Hood books were presented to winners and juniors during an awards ceremony following post-race chili and cornbread.

Helen Jankoski lives in Pawcatuck and writes a weekly sailing column for The Westerly Sun.

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