The Homes Hole Sailing Association
In 1976, a group of sailors from the Vineyard Haven Yacht Club saw a need for a different venue for sailing than that provided by the one design racing provided by the club at that time. The idea was to provide a less formal, more inviting form of racing for those less competitive in nature and for all levels of sailing experience, not just those raised in the yacht club environment. Any sailor with a boat not less than 15 feet overall and able to pay the $8 dues was welcomed. The schedule was set for a triangular course within the chops for morning and afternoon races every other Sunday. By 1978, 35 boats had registered and each sailor brought whatever level of competitiveness to the race as he chose. To keep it simple, spinnakers were not allowed and the triangular course was used exclusively. Frank Jewett, together with Pat West, Hugh Schwarz, Harry Jones, Tom Hale, Tom Mendenhall, Joe Low, Hank Scott, and Bud Haven were at the core of the group by 1980.
To establish handicaps for the boats in order to allow for the diverse fleet, Frank Jewett averaged times recorded for the triangular course over the years. Although the handicaps were a matter of interest for most of the sailors the focus of the group was always on the sailing rather than the competition. Two divisions were established to allow the high performance designs to compete with each other separate from the smaller and cruising boats. Adding 3 Sundays of rendezvous races to the schedule in the early 80's really required the sailors to gain some skills. When Harry Duane took over the handicapping in the late 80's, more attention was paid to the vagaries of the current's impact on the times. Still, the regular attendees, ever fluctuating in numbers, focused not on the results but rather the blue skies and waters of the Vineyard Sound.
During the 90's, the average boat in the fleet grew in size and the members expressed interest in adding more races to the schedule which would test their skills racing in the currents of the sound. Harry Duane designed 3 courses now called the "Sound" races which are about 10 miles long and give the larger boats a chance to strut their stuff. Throughout the last decade, the schedule has included 13 Sunday races, a third of which could be "Thrown out" when scoring for the season's awards.
As the Soling one design fleet attendance slowly ebbed at the Vineyard Haven Yacht club, Club members who were also sailing with the HHSA, hoped to get VHYC members sailing with Holmes Hole by initiating "Thursday Evening races." The VHYC had a couple of Sonars available for its members and the grill was made available to the HHSA sailors after the short informal races. This venue has become very popular and many members of the VHYC have become aware of the HHSA racing program because of these Thursday Evening races. Since the 1980's, the VHYC has made their committee boat, the Vigilant, available with captain to the HHSA for a very reasonable fee and together, the two clubs provide the largest regular adult sailboat racing venue open to all on Martha's Vineyard.
Around 2015 the Thursday Evening races have been included in the scoring for the season's championship. 6 Alerion 28 express boats have joined the fleet and have become regular racers all season long. The fleet continues its trend towards faster boats but as always, boats of any description have been welcomed and continue to be competitive thanks to the unique rating system. In 2020 the Covid pandemic required an adjustment to the post race gatherings but that did not dampen the enthusiasm for the racing. The fleet raced as one division. 2020 ushered in the H-12 one design fleet which will continue into 2021 with an increase in expected participation. A review of the "Results" web page will give those interested a good rundown of the recent seasons' fun.