The schedule for the opening day of the Cadillac Columbus Cup regatta called for 12 races yesterday. By the end of the day four races had been sailed, and the rest of the schedule had been abandoned.
The first flight of races was started on schedule on the Chesapeake Bay off the mouth of the Patapsco River in what New Zealand skipper Russell Coutts called great sailing conditions," with New Zealand matched against Team Baltimore.
But before New Zealand and Team Baltimore could finish their match, the wind went flat, and the race committee abandoned the race.
While New Zealand and Team Baltimore matched tactics, the United States team, led by Larry Klein of San Diego, completed its race and lost to Spain. However, that race, too, was nullified by the race committee.
Four hours after the first start, the race committee did start and complete a series of races. In the series, New Zealand beat Team Baltimore. Spain beat the United States team, Denmark beat Brazil and Japan beat Sweden.
"We got in one set of races," chief Judge Arthur Wullschleger said. "We tried another, but the wind shifted 70 degrees and we called it."
"It was too bad, really," Coutts said. "It would have been nice to get three in and have a little cushion later in the week."
The regatta is planned as a round-robin competition among the yachts representing Baltimore and seven countries, with the boats with the top four won-lost records seeded in semifinals and finals later in the week.
"Getting in only one race means that the race committee has lost a little flexibility," said Kin Yellott, skipper of Team Baltimore, "and the racers will be pressed to sail, perhaps, in rougher conditions later in the week."
A special weather statement by the National Weather Service last night Indicated that a weak cold front from the west would combine with the remnants of tropical storm Klaus and move rapidly northward, producing periods of rain and possibly strong winds today.
Given the problems yesterday and the possible weather complications today, there is a chance that the regatta may be unable to complete its round-robin schedule.
And that's what happened here last year," Coutts said. "In the end, they found they couldn't complete the round-robin, so they just went on the best records to that point."
Last year, the race committee was prohibited from moving the race course inside the Key Bridge. This year. the committee can move inside if conditions seem to warrant it.
Last year, toward the end of the regatta, the wind off the mouth of the Patapsco was patchy, while the wind inside the mouth of the river seemed steady. Yesterday, conditions were similar, but the race committee elected not to move into the river.
There was a fair amount of grumbling along the piers as the boats returned to the docks well after dark last night after 10 or more hours on the water and one race to show for it.
"The course was too far out there," said Eric Smith, who sailed in the regatta yesterday. "It's too far too go out, too far to come in, and there was no wind once we got out there.
The race committee gave no indication last night that it would move inside the river today. With the remnants of Klaus due to blow through. it may not be necessaty.
Flight 2: Spain vs. New Zealand, United States vs. Team Baltimore, Denmark vs. Sweden, Brazil vs. Japan.
Flight 3: Team Baltimore vs. Spain; New Zealand vs. United States; Japan vs. Denmark, Sweden vs. Brazil.
Flight 4: Sweden vs. Team Baltimore, Japan vs. New Zealand, United States vs. Denmark, Brazil vs. Spain.