The Yacht Elf and the Return of Gentlemen’s Racing to the Bay

The Elf at the Downrigging Weekend in Chestertown on Oct. 30, 2010.

Walking around the docks in Chestertown this past weekend, I was pleasantly surprised to run across the Elf, the oldest small yacht in the country. She was originally built in 1888, and was recently completely restored by Rick Carrion and the Classic Yacht Restoration Guild (CYRG), who, coincidentally, was one of my teachers in high school. I hadn’t seen the yacht since her restoration was completed and she was releaunched. In fact, the last time I saw her, she was still in relative pieces in Carrion’s barn in Earleville, MD. It was nice to see the 30-ft. vessel finished and in the water for a change.

The Elf during her restoration in Earleville back in 2002.

Over the years, I had written a few articles for both The Mariner and Nor’easter Magazine about the yacht and the effort to restore her. I even attended a benefit crab feast for the CYRG one year that featured what still are the tastiest crabs I’ve ever picked, right out of the Bohemia River. I spent some time catching up with Carrion, docked as the Elf was right beside the Kalmar Nyckel, making her actually look tiny in comparison. Of course, the dock itself looked tiny with the 140-ft. long, 100-ft. tall vessel parked there. He told me about the next big thing involving the Elf now that she’s had a couple years in the water under her belt; a recreation of the Gentlemen’s Yacht Races of the 1880s, the era in which she was originally launched.

It’s going to be called The Elf Classic, and is scheduled to go off on May 21, 2011. The race will travel from the Eastport Yacht Club to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels. According to Carrion, the race will not be a simple, line the boats up at a starting point and go kinda thing. It will begin on shore, with the boats at anchor. Competitors will row from shore to their waiting vessels, make sail for the destination, anchor and row back ashore to the finish line. The finish for the race will actually be a signature on the race log at the Tolchester Bandstand on the museum grounds. A true throwback to the way things used to be.

Before her new decking was in place.

Anyway, Carrion and the CYRG are looking for yachts to take part and sponsors to help support the event, the Elf and the museum. If anyone out there is interested, you can visit the Guild’s website here, or email elf1888@earthlink.net.

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