NEWS-_Sandpiper_racingThis weekend, Duxbury bay will be filled with a large fleet of small sailboats all battling each other to claim victory in the first national championship for the Marshall Sandpiper catboat class.

On Sept. 6-8, the Duxbury Yacht Club will host the inaugural Marshall Sandpiper national championships and 25 boats are expected to participate, with some racers coming from as far away as Florida and Texas.

The 15-foot Sandpiper catboat has been a fixture on Duxbury waters for at least two decades, although the Cape Cod catboat has been around New England since the mid-nineteenth century. Built by Marshall Marine of South Dartmouth since 1972, Sandpipers are equipped with a gaff-rigged sail and are very stable with a shallow draft that is perfect for the tidal waters of Duxbury bay.

Geoff Marshall, owner of Marshall Marine, will be participating in the three-day regatta, and he’s excited the event will take place in Duxbury. According to Marshall, the regatta was originally scheduled to be held in New Jersey, where there are many Sandpiper fleets, but last October’s Hurricane Sandy wiped out much of the New Jersey shore and threw plans for the event into jeopardy. When the Duxbury Yacht Club offered to host the regatta, Marshall jumped at the opportunity.

“Duxbury has an active group that’s been racing Sandpipers for 25 years now and outside of New Jersey, it’s one of the largest fleets of Sandpipers,” said Marshall.

Barnegat Bay, New Jersey, boasts the largest number of Sandpiper fleets, Marshall said, but there are also fleets in Rhode Island, two in Florida, and one forming in Nantucket.

Marshall Marine has been building Sandpipers for over forty years and their purpose has always been as a pleasure/ day-sailboat but over the years, their popularity as a one-design racing boat has taken off.

“From a marketing stand- point, it’s hard to fix them as a race boat but they actually perform quite well,” said Mar- shall. “They are a stable boat that people of all ages and abilities can sail well.”

With the growth of the class as a racing fleet, the time was right to organize a Sandpiper class association and be recognized as a one-design fleet by US Sailing. This happened in December, said Marshall.

To become a class association, the organizers had to pull together a set of class rules, as

different fleets have different sailing rules, said Marshall. With the rules finalized, “it seemed natural that we do a Sandpiper national regatta,” he said.

“I’m quite excited to par- ticipate in it,” Marshall said. “I think it’s a great step forward for the class and I think it’s a whole other way for people to enjoy their boats and enjoy the camaraderie of sailing.”

Charlie Adams of Marshall Marine is co-coordinating the race with Forrest and Jessica Williams of the DYC. He will be running the races with Forrest Williams and is expecting a high level of sailboat racing.

“With the significance of it being the inaugural championship event, there will be some good competition up here,” said Adams. “To have at lease 25 boats for the first championship event is a pretty good start. We’re excited to have Duxbury host this up here in our neck of the woods.”

One of America’s oldest yacht clubs, the Duxbury Yacht Club has been hosting regattas since its inception in 1875, but this national championship is special because it is the very first one of its class in a fleet of boats that has been racing on Duxbury waters for decades, said Jessica Williams, of the regatta committee. To this end, she has planned an unusual regatta party – an evening cookout on the flats at low tide in the middle of Duxbury Bay.

“The way we approached it is that it’s an important thing for the DYC because we haven’t hosted a regatta of this caliber in some years,” she said. “So we’d like to make it memorable and what could be more memorable than a party on the flats? It’s a dinner, Duxbury style.”

The regatta is open to any Sandpiper catboat and registration will take place Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Practice races may take place in the afternoon and the first Sandpiper Class Association annual meeting will commence later that evening.

On Saturday the races take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sunday from 12-3 p.m. For more details, visit sandpipernationals2013.com.