A hop, ‘skipjack’, and jump into Delmarva’s backyard, races gain national attention
DEAL ISLAND, Md. – As many community members across Maryland celebrated Labor day, one tradition in particular is actually gaining national attention. A 62 year old tradition graced Deal Island once again, the skipjack races, featuring skipjack boats designated as Maryland’s State Boat. “This is a true water men’s community and it shows,” says Katarina Ennerfelt, a watermen who participate in the races.
We’re told, the races and festival gives people a chance to admire the remaining fleet and celebrate authentic Chesapeake heritage. “These boats are 100 plus years old which means you have to be really careful what kind of stresses you put them under,” says Ennerfelt.
Ennerfelt tells us, her husband worked from sun up to sun down to get their boat ready for the race. She says, sailing on the boats for them is like sailing through history, and the competition is just a way to get the boats ready for oyster season. “Every boat is special, every boat is different, some of them are heavier some of them are lighter, some can come head up in the wind and some of them cannot head out in the wind.”
Although it takes a lot of work to keep these boats up to date and ready to sail, we’re told seeing people enjoy the festival, the water, the boat races and of course the Island itself, is what really makes it all worth it. “It’s such a unique thing for all of North America and it’s right here in our backyard,” says Ennerfelt.
The skipjack races are also being highlighted by, ABC’s Good morning America. “We wanted to come to the small towns to really shine a light on those small local communities that keep the country running,” says ABC correspondentA , Janai Norman.
Norman tells 47 ABC, Deal Island is the latest stop in the rise and shine series. She says they’re going to states all across the country to learn about the local heritage and community, and Deal Island seemed like the perfect place to capture the essence of Maryland. “Just talking to different people and seeing what life is like for them, so I think that’s the best part of it,” says Norman. She adds, “To share their excitement and to be able to share that with America, is what I’m looking forward to the most.”
We’re also told the skipjack boats are the only ones in the northern hemisphere, making them pretty unique.
You can watch the Rise and Shine segment on Deal Island Tuesday morning, on Good morning America.