Museum Honors Dark Harbor 20 Owners with Baker Award

Dark Harbor 20s racing off Islesboro, ME. Photo Credit: Antelo Devereux, Jr.

Dark Harbor 20s racing off Islesboro, ME. Photo Credit: Antelo Devereux, Jr.

Mystic Seaport Museum announces it honored the Dark Harbor 20 class owners with the William A. Baker Award. The award is given to promote the awareness and appreciation of fine examples of one-design classes or boats of like kind, and to foster faithful preservation and restoration, and encourage their continued use.

The owners are being recognized for their effort to preserve and maintain a significant class of American sailing craft.

Antique and classic boat organizations throughout the country typically present awards for the preservation of wooden boats. As a rule, these awards are presented to individual owners or vessels, recognizing some superlative aspect of the work that has been done to keep them up, maintain original status, or examples of fine craftsmanship.

The William Avery Baker Award is unusual in that it is presented to a class association or group of owners. The purpose is to recognize the people and communities that do the bold, arduous, and often expensive work of keeping a large group or class of vessels actively sailing.

Dark Harbor 20s racing off Islesboro, ME. Photo Credit: Antelo Devereux, Jr.The Dark Harbor 20 was designed in 1934 by yacht designers Olin Stephens II and his partner, Drake Sparkman, in response to a request from members of the Tarratine Club of Dark Harbor in Isleboro, ME, for a new sloop for club racing. The resulting boat is a narrow, fin-keel hull with long overhangs and a Bermudan rig. The first batch of 16 boats was built by George Lawley in Neponset, MA, during 1934-5. The design proved to be a success, both on and off the racecourse. The boats are fast, easily driven with particularly good windward performance, and easy to handle.

A second batch of five boats joined the fleet after World War II. All but one of the original Dark Harbor 20s are still sailing, and in 2006 a fiberglass version was added to the class. The new boats were designed and engineered by Sparkman & Stephens to be identical in all relevant aspects to the wooden boats to ensure fair competition.

“The owners of the Dark Harbor 20s are to be commended for their dedication to authenticity and active use of the class. That so many of the inaugural fleet are still sailing is a remarkable accomplishment and yet there is room for a next generation to continue the class for the future,” said Steve White, president of Mystic Seaport Museum. “We are proud to honor the Dark Harbor 20 owners for their continued effort to allow future generations to sail and enjoy these fine boats. As Camden was my childhood home, I had the opportunity to sail the DH20s, loving them all”

The award was presented at a ceremony at the Tarratine Club July 30.