|Prepping for the race: Island Lark's green-shirted crew steps the aft mast.|
Several times each summer, residents of the eastern Chesapeake Bay are treated to the sight of their beloved log canoes. Whether it's on the Miles or the Tred Avon Rivers, the experience is always a wonder, as these graceful craft dodge one another in search of just the right wind…and the finish line! Visually, there's not a more glorious sight on the Bay than the Chesapeake Bay log canoe.
Originally adapted from Native American dugout canoes, these boats were once the waterman's workhorse, carrying fish and oysters back to market. As fresh catch called for a speedy return to shore, taller masts and larger sails were added to the motor-less canoes. At the turn of the twentieth century, more than 7000 log canoes worked the bay; today about 20 are still in existence. As their commercial use declined, the canoes were adapted for racing as sport.
Today, the legacy of log canoe racing continues at the Miles River Yacht Club in St. Michaels, Maryland, which is known as "The Home of the Log Canoe." From June to September, log canoes can be seen racing on the river.
A Le Mans-style start was used for many years in most types of motor racing and required the drivers to run across the track when the start flag dropped to their cars which were parked on the other side, climb in, start the car, and drive away to begin the race. Such starts were very unsafe, with drivers possibly rushing the process of fastening their safety equipment. As a result, they are no longer used in any motor sport except for endurance motorcycle racing.
A Le Mans start variation called a "land rush start" is used at short course off-road races where the vehicles start lined up side-by-side on a wide part of the track. However, unlike the true Le Mans start, engines are already running and the drivers are already sat behind the wheel, wearing their safety belts when the starting signal is displayed.
- The race must occur at a springtide - a greater than average tide occurring during the new and full moons - or as close to high water as possible.
- Each boat is positioned side by side no further than ten feet apart, pointing out towards open water.
- Each boat must set an anchor out in seaward.
- A crew member can only set the anchor as far out as he can wade close to the shore
- The stern needs to be secured to the shore with another anchor
- The crew readies the rig by stepping the masts, but no sails can be raised.
- A horn or gun sounds the start.
- The skippers' "walk" (land rush) to their boat from about 30 yards away.
- The skipper grabs the stern anchor
- Once the skipper is aboard, the crew may raise sails and pull on the bow anchor.
- All right of way rules exit when departing the cove.
|Tad DuPont setting the bow anchor.|
|Getting into position #4 before stepping our two masts. I'm standing amidships on Island Lark.|
|I'm balancing on Island Lark's boards, looking to help step the fore mast.|
|With both masts ready, we rig the sails and booms.|
|Waiting for the start and for Ebby DuPont, our skipper, to jump aboard.|
|The skippers line up and wait for the staring horn.|
|The skippers are off and walking (running is not allowed!)|
|Ebby jumps on board, attempts to turn Lark into the wind while we reign in the anchor line |
and raise the sails while we balance the boat so it doesn't capsize .
|Sails hoisted and Island Lark is racing.|