Field Trip: Racing Waters

By Kimberly Uslin




It’s a revival nearly 60 years strong. Skipjack racing, a once popular sport on the Chesapeake Bay, fell out of fashion after the Great Depression and with the decline of traditional fishing boats. But in 1959, a few Deal Island boat captains and members of the Deal Island-Chance Lions Club decided to float this idea of a race again as a way to connect the community with its heritage, says Bill Sailer, the Lion’s Club secretary and a race supporter. The tradition took off and each year since then, the Lions Club has sponsored the race and a festival which are held over Labor Day weekend. The oldest boat in the contest, the Rebecca Ruark, was built in the 1880s, and if you miss seeing her on Sept. 4, she will likely be back in the water at the Choptank Heritage Skipjack Race in Cambridge on Saturday, Sept. 23. This race is “a photographer’s dream,” says Karen Hyman, docent for the skipjack, Nathan of Dorchester. The best view is from Long Wharf Park at High and Water streets in Cambridge. “There are only two skipjack races left in the state of Maryland,” Hyman says. Don’t miss your chance to watch one of them this month. Deal Island Skipjack Race, Monday, Sept. 4, Deal Island, a three-hour ride from Baltimore, dealislandchancelions.org; Choptank Heritage Skipjack Race, Saturday, Sept. 23, Cambridge, skipjack-nathan.org/Events/currentrace.html

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