Memorial Day weekend is traditionally the official start of summer on Nantucket. And based on the number of people strolling along Main Street and driving around town, summer is indeed here when Nantucket's year-round population of 10,000+ swells to 50,000-60,000. It's interesting to watch the transition from sleepy small town to full-fledged summer vacation destination with all the good and bad things that accompany it. I look forward to seeing friends who will be arriving within the next few weeks and catching up on what's transpired in their lives over the winter and spring since they left the island in the fall.
Memorial Day is also when the Figawi race to and from Hyannis and Nantucket takes place, filling Nantucket Sound with hundreds of sailboats. According to the official Figawi website, http://www.figawi.com/, the tradition started in 1972 when four sailors started out from Baxters Boathouse in Hyannis to race their sailboats to Nantucket. That race would be the first of the Figawi Race Weekends, and the beginning of what has become a Cape Cod tradition.
What was then organized as a "fun race to Nantucket" soon became an annual trip across Nantucket Sound. Senator Edward Kennedy is an avid sailor and had been a regular Figawi participant and race winner until this year. There were rumors that he'd be heading over to Nantucket on his sailboat but it appears that he's only going to be sailing close to home off shore in Hyannisport near the family compound due to health concerns. UPDATE on Monday, May 26: According to the local Inquirer & Mirror, Senator Kennedy took the ferry across Nantucket Sound from Hyannis and sailed in the final leg of the Figawi today. The Associated Press said that he has won the Figawi contest twice and that in this race, Kennedy's time was 1 hour, 54 minutes, good for second place in his five-boat division. A total of 38 vessels competed in six divisions over the 19.7-mile course, AP added.
For the first time since the end of summer last year, the Nantucket harbor was packed with boats, this time, however, of a smaller size. We only spotted one sizeable yacht this weekend but know that they'll be arriving soon. Here's some video we shot with our new camera on Saturday after the Figawi racers had arrived for the day. For a more complete look at Figawi action, go to http://nantucketwaterfrontnews.blogspot.com/. Marty has some good shots on his blog.