WADMALAW ISLAND — By noon Sunday, the typical spectator fleet, for which the Rockville Regatta has become recognized, had thinned.
Around 50 dedicated boats lined the Bohicket Creek shoreline watching the Sea Island One Design (SIOD) fleet harness winds of 8 knots and maneuver through the brisk creek currents.
“We can actually see the race today,” James Island Yacht Club Commodore Pete Ferrara said, speaking to the absence of spectator boats that would usually obstruct his view.
Sea Island Yacht Club Commodore Grayson Carter estimated there were in excess of 8,000 in attendance on Saturday, which was, “a lower turnout than in past years,” he said.
Without a significant floating party at which to marvel, the focus of the Rockville Regatta turned to the SIOD nine-sailboat competition.
“These guys are definitely the featured fleet,” Carter said, motioning to the SIODs that were jockeying for position in the first of two races Sunday.
At stake Sunday was the coveted Daniel Ellis Memorial Trophy, which is awarded to the top SIOD sailor of the summer.
“It always comes down to the final race at Rockville,” said Carter.
Last year’s trophy winner, Stephen Haynsworth, took the first SIOD race on Sunday, yet as Carter predicted, it would all come down to the season-ending race.
The last race started with the sailboat named Flounder, captained by Hank Hofford, taking an early lead. The boat jetted out of Bohicket Creek and into the Edisto River, where it was first to reach the weather mark — an orange buoy that signified the halfway point of the race.
As the race headed back down Bohicket Creek, Cygnet II, captained by Drew Lisicki, overcame Flounder despite a broken tiller that his boat had suffered prior to the race.
“If he keeps this up, he might have to stick with that thing,” race manager Joe Wilson said of Lisicki’s jimmy-rigged sea clamp tiller that he was using to steer his boat.
Although Lisicki had won the final SIOD race, the race for the Daniel Ellis Memorial Trophy was still in play as the eight remaining SIODs fought the current en route to the finish marker.
Suddenly, Carter broke character. “Come on, Colonel! Come on, Colonel!” Carter shouted as his friend and fellow skipper Stan LaRoche guided his boat—Marcheta—toward the finish.
“If Stan were to finish better than fourth place, he would most likely win the award,” Carter explained.
“He’s had a great summer and really deserves this.”
Five minutes passed and still no other boat had crossed the finish.
“This river racing has such strong currents,” said Wilson. “It’s one of the reasons for the few number of boats (40) in this regatta,” he added as he watched four boats stalled out just meters from the finish.
Finally, Flounder and then Marcheta caught consecutive puffs of wind and pushed past the finish marker.
“Yes! Yes! Yes! Do you know what just happened? We won the Ellis!” LaRoche shouted.
And with that finish, a summer of exciting regattas in Charleston came to a satisfying close.
ROCKVILLE REGATTA RESULTS
SIOD Class: 1.Ernest Grimbal 31; 2. Stan LaRoche 12; 3. Drew Lisicki 17.
Moth Class: 1. Frickie Martschink 15; 2. Rutledge Young 24; 3. John Siegling 25.
Y-Flyer Class: 1. Donald Parker 17; 2. Bob Turner 13; 3. John Skinner 10.
Sunfish Class: 1. Woody Norwood 13; 2. Randall Stoney 8; 3. Charlie Frasch 4.
E-Scow Class: 1. Walter Prauser 8; 2. Jim Holder 27; 3. Peter Hamm 44.