Annapolis, MD – Sunday delivered the Chamber of Commerce conditions that making sailing off Annapolis in October so enjoyable.
Due westerly winds that ranged from 12 to 18 knots with gusts even stronger made for some thrilling racing on the Chesapeake Bay and brought a rousing conclusion to the seventh annual Annapolis Fall Regatta.
Participating teams had to be on their toes at all times as shifty winds that rolled through the course with wild fluctuations in velocity brought “breeze on” situations that could cause boat- and sail-handling issues.
Ramrod and Extreme2 handled the high winds best among the one-design classes while Rattle ‘n’ Rum and Sitella showed the most consistency among handicap entries. It was a tiring day on the water as organizers with the Storm Trysail Club-Chesapeake Station completed three buoy races on Sunday.
“It was really a glamour day out there,” Ramrod skipper Rod Jabin said. “You saw today why this is the best time of the year to go racing on the bay. The wind was howling, but it was sunny and warm. I think the whole fleet had an awful lot of fun and got in a great workout as well.”
Jabin steered Ramrod to a pair of bullets and a second place on Sunday to close out an impressive performance in the Farr 30 class. Those results, combined with winning the distance race held on Friday, gave the Annapolis boat the overall victory in Farr 30 class, which was contesting its North American Championship.
“Our team has been together a long time and that is a big advantage,” Jabin said. “We had solid boat-handling at mark roundings and made smart tactical calls.”
Jabin particularly highlighted the contributions of Annapolis-based professional Chris Larson as tactician and renowned Australia pro Darren “Twirler” Jones as strategist. Those two combined to trim the main and assist in other areas as Ramrod sailed with a crew of six instead of the usual seven. Harry Scott trimmed the jib while John Dolan (pit) and Jason McShane (bow) completed the crew.
“It certainly helps to have two of the best sailors in the world aboard,” Jabin said. “Chris did a great job of making sure we were going in the right direction while Twirler knows these boats really well. They are experts on setting up the boat as far as rig tension and sail shape.”
Longtime Storm Trysail Club member Dick Neville served as principal race officer for the Annapolis Fall Regatta, which attracted 20 boats in four classes. Action got underway on Friday with a 22-nautical mile distance race that took the fleet on a nice tour of the Chesapeake Bay and featured some reaching legs.
Dan Cheresh, owner of C&C 30 class winner Extreme2, thoroughly enjoyed the distance race that was held in a southerly breeze of 9 to 15 knots.
“I haven’t been a fan of distance races in the past, but I now stand corrected,” Cheresh said. “It was a fun, interesting course and I really enjoyed the scenery here on the Chesapeake Bay.”
Storm Trysail Club utilized a scoring gate at the midway point of the distance race, which effectively produced two results for Friday. Ramrod and Extreme 2 both got a point for rounding the scoring gate in first place then also secured the overall victory earn another point and a half. Because the distance race was weighted, second place was worth three points.
Veteran pro Mark Mendelblatt called tactics on Extreme2, which posted a superb 1-2-1 score line during Sunday’s windward-leeward portion of the regatta. Boat captain Dave Shriner was the other pro aboard while Pauly Atkins (mast), Bryn Bachman (pit), Petey Crawford (trimmer), Nick Ford (foredeck) and John Wallace (trimmer) comprised the rest of the crew.
“We had really greating racing in challenging conditions. There was a lot of boat-on-boat action and a lot of lead changes,” said Cheresh, a resident of Saugatuck, Michigan. “I thought the downwind speed we displayed was outstanding. We were able to claw our way back from behind in a couple races. I’m just proud of the team for staying focused and refusing to give up.”
Rattle N Rum
Skipper Mike Beasley had his GP 26 named Rattle ‘n’ Rum screaming around the course on Sunday. The sportboat had its bow lifted entirely out of the water while planing downwind under oversized spinnaker.
“It was pretty wild out there today and we were sailing on the edge at times,” said the Annapolis resident and owner of Beasley Marine. “We learned a little more about how the boat goes in heavy air. As the day went on, we got the rig tighter and tighter.”
Joe Gibson of True North Yachting trimmed the jib and called tactics while Kate Chaney handled the main on Rattle ‘n’ Rum, which won every race in the ORC sportboat class. Mark Sims worked the pit while son Fletcher was on the foredeck. Joanna Haaland did the runners with Ridge Turner at the mast.
“We have a very talented crew that works well together. Everyone is sharing information and bouncing ideas off each other,” Beasley said.
Neville set a course just south of Thomas Point Light on Sunday with the windward mark located at the mouth of the South River. Beasley said it was extremely shifty at the top mark because of the way the wind funneled out of the river while the tide was also influential on that end of the course, which started with 1.4 nautical mile legs that were later shortened to 1.2.
Skipper Ian Hill sailed Sitella to first place in ORC class, which drew six boats ranging from 38 to 47 feet. Sitella, an XP44 that previously earned overall victory in the Storm Trysail Club’s Down the Bay Race, had a first and a couple seconds on Sunday after finishing third in the distance race.
“We were over early at the start of the distance race so that wasn’t the best way to begin the regatta. We wound up sailing pretty well on Friday and were fortunate to come back and get third,” Hill said. “Today was an an absolute blast and a real challenge for the crew to get around the corners. This is the first windward-leeward racing we’ve done with the boat so it was a real learning experience.”
Mark Wheeler was aboard as navigator while Martin Casey served as tactician on Sitella, which edged Baby Bella by 2 ½ points for the series. R.J. Dimattia, Jimmy Hardesty and Mia Dull teamed to trim the jib, main and spinnaker. Sam Nubert, Sean Henry and Chuck Eberwine shared foredeck duties while Chris Korpman worked the mast. Chad Wilkins was in the pit with Austin Meinke as the floater.
Baby Bella, a Dunning 42 owned by Jim Grundy of Horsham, Pennsylvania, led wire-to-wire in the distance race and also won the final buoy race on corrected time. A failure to finish the opening race on Sunday prevented the New York Yacht Club entry from securing class honors.
“The Dunning 42 was a very well-sailed boat and we really had to push hard to keep pace and save our time against her,” Hill said.
Neville held the entire fleet at the dock on Saturday due to high winds. Regular gusts that measured in excess of 35 knots did not diminish over the course of the day and racing was cancelled as a result.
The Storm Trysail Club-Chesapeake Station would like to thank SpinSheet Magazine and Landfall Navigation for its sponsorship of the Annapolis Fall Regatta. For complete results of the 2016 Annapolis Fall Regatta, please click on the following link: