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Castine Man Skippers A Family Heirloom To Victory 

A man from Castine is smiling big these days after winning this year’s Maine Retired Skipper’s Boat Race. However there’s a lot more to the story behind the vessel that carried him across the finish line.In Castine, you would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t heard of Eaton’s Boat Yard and the story about owner Ken Eaton and his grandfather’s boat, the Fidelio. “The earliest memory is the day they came here late October,” says Eaton. “My Dad and a few others sailed it from Canada in a screaming northwest gale. That was the first memory I have. I was about 9-years-old.” He remembers watching as a wide-eyed boy while his grandfather, Mace Eaton, raced the Fidelio in the 1960 Maine Retired Skippers Boat Race in Castine, winning that race 50 years ago. “He would never let me go,” recalls Eaton. “But I remember the last year he raced, I just got my drivers license and I was down the back shore on the other side of Castine. He was in the lead and I knew he had it.”Then in 2008, a very familiar boat just happened to make a stop at Eaton’s. “Two years ago, the boat was here with a different owner and I just mentioned the fact that when I turned 65, it would be 50 years since he raced and wouldn’t it be fun to just try and do that over again.”With the support and encouragement of his friends and family, Eaton went ahead and entered the 2010 Maine Retired Skipper’s Boat Race, as the captain of the Fidelio. The same boat his grandfather skippered to victory here 50 years ago. “Well just before we got to the finish line, I looked over my shoulder behind me and young George Martin said don’t look behind you, look ahead because we got this race. And when he said that I knew we had it.” Ken Eaton had skippered the Fidelio to an improbable victory, covering the 12 miles in just over 2 1/2 hours. It was a moment he says his grandfather would have enjoyed. “Oh he’d be pleased. He knows I told you I went up to the cemetery and asked what do you think about this? He knows.” Eaton says he’s looking forward to defending his title next year at the 60th running of the Maine Retired Skipper’s Boat Race.