Jessica investigates when a wealthy yachtsman is murdered two days before a big race, and the daughter of his rival is charged with the crime.



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Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Bill Richards
John Vandervelt
Captain Ned Larkin
Kyle Kimball
Alana Kimball
Sheriff Mort Metzger (as Ron Másak)
Admiral Len Spalding
Anne Larkin
Steve Gantry
Matthew Saks ...
Crew Member
Ronne Troup ...
Process Server
Curtis Blanck ...
Tommy Larkin


Shortly before a sailing race which can qualify for the world cup in New Zealand, captain Ned Larkin is knocked down in the Cabot Cove marina, wounded in the leg by a masked man, and his boat Free Spirit damaged, according to him by millionaire industrialist Kyle Kimball, captain of the Buccaneer. Jessica is embarrassed, given her sailing ignorance, to be asked as honorary commodore of the prestigious ocean race. Kimball's presumed skipper (crew chief) Steve Gantry gets cash from him and reports Larkin was difficult. Kimball's ex Anne, Larkin's daughter, now Larkin-man Bill Richards's partner, steps in as captain of the Free Spirit and asks deputy Deputy Andy Broom as skipper. Shortly after he resisted Gantry's attempt to blackmail him into giving him a $50,000 loan, Kimball is found dead from a blow on the head, Anne arrested, causing another replacements parade. Sheriff Mort Metzger and Jessica investigate. Written by KGF Vissers

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Crime | Drama | Mystery





Release Date:

28 April 1996 (USA)  »

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


This show is the first of four to run in the program's long-established Sunday night time slot. CBS programming head Leslie Moonves had moved the show to Thursdays in an obvious attempt to kill it, which he did - but the shows he tried on Sunday drew catastrophically low ratings. With the May "sweeps" ratings period coming up and the CBS affiliated stations screaming for his head, he gave in and attracted what viewers he could get. See more »


References Singin' in the Rain (1952) See more »

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User Reviews

"Regatta Is Gone, They Heard ~ It's Drifting Out to Sea ~ Bodies Aren't Prone to Swim Away"
5 May 2010 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Steve Forrest and Andrea Parker share one of the most tender scenes between guest stars throughout the "Murder, She Wrote" series here in their jail-room segment with their reconciliation between a widowed father overly-possessive of his only daughter, whose decision has caused a four-year estrangement. But the well-directed scene is abruptly curtailed by a sloppily-inserted commercial break.

At any rate, the race is on to select Cabot Cove's entry for the U.S. finals (in San Diego) for the World's Cup Race (in New Zealand) in boating competition.

Ned Larkin (Steve Forrest) owns and captains "Free Spirit" along with his crew, which includes Steve Gantry (Rick Rossovich) and Bill Richards (Dwier Brown).

Industrial millionaire Kyle Kimball (John Getz) owns and captains his "Buccaneer" with John Vandervelt (Christopher Buchholz) as his Designer. John also designs his own craft, "The Netherlander," in tribute to his Dutch heritage and for the purpose of a Holland team to sail in a future regatta.

But trouble looms as a thug assaults Ned Larkin on his dock one night, causing an ankle injury, for which Doctor Seth Hazlitt (William Windom) prescribes a bone resetting with cast and a hiatus from sailing, to Ned's disappointment.

Admiral Len Spalding (Martin Milner), an old sailing buddy of Frank Fletcher and, of course, Jessica Fletcher (Angela Lansbury), appoints Mrs. Fletcher as honorary commodore of the local regatta, which she maintains must go on to boost community morale and commerce.

And so, Jessica contacts Anne Larkin (Andrea Parker), Ned's estranged daughter, who has relocated to Newport, Rhode Island, to deliver the baby of her father's rival, Kyle Kimball, who didn't tell Anne that he was married until after the baby was on its way, and so neither Ned nor Kyle has ever seen the now-four-year-old Tommy Larkin (Curtis Blanck).

Sheriff Mort Metzger (Ron Masak) and Deputy Andy Broom (Louis Herthum) investigate the assault of Ned, as Deputy Andy discovers a brass bearing, which Jessica links to the missing ornament upon the watch of Steve Gantry, which lands Steve in Mort's jail and off of Ned's payroll although he is still on Kyle's payroll as a double agent to sabotage Ned's "Free Spirit," or at least until Kyle and Steve have a falling out when Steve demands $50,000 to blackmail Kyle for knowing who has ordered Steve's assault on Ned.

Alana Kimball (Kate Hodge) approaches her millionaire husband, Kyle, infuriated that Kyle refuses to co-sign her bank loan of $10 million to purchase a sting of boutiques while he freely spends $50 million on his boat collection. Kyle tells Alana that if she's considering divorcing him to gain the $10 million, to remember their pre-nuptial agreement which leaves her with no claim to his fortune.

Anne Larkin decides to arrive in Cabot Cove from Newport upon receiving Jessica's message that Ned has been injured and unable to sail in the regatta. She expresses doubt that her father would want to see her or Tommy, and so she leaves Tommy with their dear Aunt Louise and considers the need for herself to captain "Free Spirit" as she is determined to beat "Buccaneer" and Kyle, once and for all. (Tommy somehow appears soon afterward, however.)

Bill Richards is especially pleased that Ann Larkin has decided to return and to take charge of "Free Spirit," as she has won various competitions with either all-female crews or all-male crews, and he also expresses romantic notions in her direction, and Anne and Bill are both pleased to recruit Deputy Andy as their teammate, as Andy has also succeeded on winning boat racing teams, so Bill and Andy serve as the good guys amid all of this other negativity.

At a reception to kick off regatta festivities, Anne is served with a subpoena to appear in a courtroom battle for custody rights of Tommy, which sets the stage for Mort to arrest Anne on murder charges once a body is discovered, an event which she claims that she knows nothing about even though evidence has been planted in her room, which Mort has obtained a warrant to recover.

In the hopes of clearing his long-lost daughter of the rap, Ned confesses to bludgeoning the victim with a trophy, but this doesn't wash, as the murder weapon this time around would be the door of a safe which is shoved when the victim reaches inside, during this "Race to Death."

A goof can be seen in this episode with the setting sun over the open water, which happens how often in Maine, facing the Atlantic, which would lie to the east?

The cast is rounded out by Cathy Susan Pyles as Safe Technician, Ronne Troup as Process Server, Vincent J. McEveety as Security Guard, Matthew Saks as Crew Member, and Danny McCoy Jr. as Freddie Huff.

This episode represents the most recent appearance to date by Matthew Saks, and one of the most recent appearances to date by film and television star Martin Milner.

This also marks the the second of two "MSW" performances each for Dwier Brown, John Getz, Vincent J. McEveety and Matthew Saks, the third of three for Danny McCoy Jr., and the fifth of five "MSW" guest roles each for Martin Milner and Steve Forrest.

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