Star Island Regatta Revives Historic Gosport Race
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Written by Star Island Corporation
Gosport_regatta 1873 (c) Portsmouth Athenaeum / Star Island CollectionISLES OF SHOALS

Star Island Corporation and the Piscataqua Sailing Association (PSA) announce the return for the 2010 sailing season of a race first held 137 years ago, known then as the Gosport Regatta. (Continued below)

The regatta, to be renamed the Star Island Regatta, is expected to become a premier fixture of the regional sailboat racing scene and draw competitors ranging from one-design J/24s to large cruising yachts hailing from ports between Marblehead and Portland. This year the regatta will be held September 19. In subsequent years it will run mid-June. 

The race will begin in the Piscataqua River basin and end in Gosport Harbor at Star Island. The M/S Thomas V. Laighton will serve as spectator boat following the race from start to finish, and provide color commentary by experienced sailors for the enjoyment of all aboard.

"The Isles of Shoals Steamship Company is very pleased to be resuming full passenger service to Star Island in 2010," said Captain Jeremy Bell. "The Star Island Regatta is a great way to celebrate the close of the conference season and the renewal of the ISSCO ferry service." 

After the race, sailing crews will join the "afterguard" and spectators on Star for an awards reception and traditional New England clam bake hosted in the turn-of-the-century dining room of the Oceanic Hotel. "We are thrilled to be bringing this traditional sailing race back to Star Island and the Oceanic Hotel," said Star Island CEO Victoria Hardy.

According to Images of America: Isles of Shoals the original Gosport Regatta was organized by John Poor, president of the Stickney and Poor Spice Trading Company, for the grand opening of the Oceanic Hotel on Star Island in 1873. More than 50 boats participated in the race, which was won by the famous yacht America. "We will be celebrating the 400th anniversary of the John Smith discovery of Star Island in 2014 and the Star Island Regatta will play a central role in our planning for the occasion," said Ms. Hardy. 

"Our Association is very excited to join with Star Island in bringing such a traditional and high-profile regatta back to the New Hampshire Seacoast ," said PSA president Kevin McCoole.

"Sailboat enthusiasts appreciate tradition and being a part of something historic. And, the Isles of Shoals have a special appeal to all boaters in this area." The PSA serves the sailing community in the Seacoast by organizing a weekly schedule of races through the summer, plus special weekend regattas. Its mission is to expand awareness of, education about, and participation in the exciting sport of sailboat racing. Boat ownership is not a requirement for membership or participation and anyone interested in crewing on a boat is encouraged to join.  

Star Island Corporation was established as a non-profit corporation in 1916 to hold and administer Star Island and its historic properties for religious, educational, and kindred purposes. From the late 1890’s until 1916 Oscar and Cedric Laighton owned and operated the hotels on Appledore and Star previously visited by some of the most prominent artists and writers of their day including Childe Hassam and Nathaniel Hawthorne. Some of the cottages on Star date back to the 1700s, the fishing village era of the former Town of Gosport. Conferees and those on personal retreat enjoy a 19th century experience with 21st century amenities. All meals are served family-style in the Oceanic dining room and nightly chapel services begin with a traditional candle-light procession. For more information visit the website at www.starisland.org or contact the Portsmouth offices at (603) 430-6272.

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