Capt. John Price Wins 54th Annual Skipjack Race & Festival - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Capt. John Price Wins 54th Annual Skipjack Race & Festival

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(Picture: Madeleine Colonna) (Picture: Madeleine Colonna)

DEAL ISLAND, Md.- A 42-foot-long Chesapeake Bay skipjack has come out on top in the 54th Annual Skipjack Race & Festival, which was held for the iconic Chesapeake Bay oyster fishing boats.

Capt. John Price sailed skipjack Ida May to her win in the Monday morning race. Built in 1906, Ida May is one of the surviving traditional Chesapeake Bay skipjacks and a member of the last commercial sailing fleet in the United States, according to the Maryland Historical Society.

The first skipjack to complete the course is named the winner and any boat that does not finished the race by noon, is assisted back to the harbor.

The boats are the last sail-powered fishing fleet in North America. Most are nearly a century old and many are owned by nonprofit groups, but still dredge for oysters as part of educational programs.

Standing along the coast of Deal Island was Capt. Kermit Travers, 76, of Cambridge, who is one of the first African American skipjack captains on the Eastern Shore.

"It was hard, it was hard," said Capt. Travers. "Working on a skipjack is never easy."

Capt. Travers has sailed on the H.M. KrentzLady Katie, and Ida May.

"When I was out there, I felt like I was at home," he said. "I just put everything in it."

The festival is a homecoming for Capt. Travers. Boaters travel from all over to see the historical boats at sea, according to organizer Bill Sailer, of Deal Island. 

"It's a family affair," said Sailer. He added, "all of the kids come down, dogs come down as well. You can see them [dogs] all over the place, and everybody seems to enjoy it."

Some visitors, like Bob, of Pennsylvania, were blown away.

"We don't do this in New Jersey, and you don't do this in Philadelphia. So if you are there, this is a nice breath of fresh air."

Joe Tucker, of Pennsylvania, said he had the best seat in the house. He comes just about every year. 

"Imagine what's it like to live on the water everyday and to be a fisherman," said Tucker. "Those boats have been doing that for a 100 years, which is a lot of history there."

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