The annual Michelob Cup Regatta drew 23 two-member teams from the local region to the waters of the Chesapeake off West River for two days of challenging racing Saturday and Sunday.
The event, traditionally a rousing season finale for Star sailors, was hosted by the West River Sailing Club (WRSC) and sponsored by Katcef Brothers Distributors/Michelob.
Early weather forecasts warned of the possibility of strong winds as Hurricane Lili moved up the coast, scaring off the substantial out-of-town contingent of sailors who usually swell the fleet to 30 to 35 teams.
Conditions for the regatta did prove demanding, but for the opposite reason. Light winds on Saturday resulted in the completion of only a single race, and uneven breeze on Sunday made that day's second race a tricky contest of patience and premonition.
Prevailing despite the difficult conditions was Andrew Menkart, a New Jersey skipper and WRSC member who often uses the club as a home base.
Menkart and crew Chris Rogers were the overall winners in a flawless but hard-fought run of three straight aces.
"Nobody ever led at every mark," said Annapolis sailor Steve Kling, who placed third in the event with Scott Berg as his crew. "It was pretty mixed up out on the course."
Kling said that a planned second race was abandoned after the first arduous contest was completed because of frustratingly light air of about 2 to 6 knots on Saturday. But, he said, things looked much better on Sunday.
"On Sunday we started about 10:30," he said, "and we had pretty good air for the first triangle course -- about 14 knots. But then the breeze died away."
As the fleet bobbed and waited for new wind, he said, "a little something came in dead out of the north, but it died away again before the starting sequence was even over, so that was abandoned."
After another frustrating wait for wind, "an easterly of about 4 to 8 came in," Kling said, "and that held pretty much until the last half of the last beat, when it died again. It took about a day to sail that last beat.
For two beautiful days on the water, it was pretty terrible sailing."
The regatta, like most Star class events, was scored using the Olympic points system. Kling and Berg edged Elliott Oldak and crew John Porter out of third in the series by a margin of 0.4 points. Under the more familiar club-racing low-point scoring system, Kling and Oldak would have tied on points, although Kling's second-place finish to Oldak's best-race third and his having beaten Oldak twice in three races would have given third to Kling and Berg.
The novice trophy went to Star fleet newcomer Mark Bryfogle of Fairfax, Va., who placed ninth in his first attempt at the regatta.
About 40 local sailors were in on the world-class match-racing action off Sparrows Point last week.
They sailed as team members or owners' representatives in the Cadillac Columbus Cup Regatta, which began in earnest last Wednesday and ran through Saturday.
Team Baltimore, skippered by Kin Yellott, included Paul Murphy, Executive Committee chairman Mark Fischer, Dave Decker, Crew Committee chairman Courtenay Jenkins, and Jim Brady, while Mike Hobson, Emitt Smith and Linda Stearns joined Larry Klein on Team USA.
Bruce Nairn, Dobbs Davis, Dave Krebs and Steve Pennington sailed for New Zealand's series-winning skipper Russell Coutts. And on second-place Team Denmark under skipper Valdemar Bandolowski were Peter Gleitz, Will Keyworth, Budget Committee chairman John Pica, and Todd Olds.
Also sailing under foreign banners were Makoto Namba's Team Japan members Mike Powers, John Aras, and Yachts Committee chairman Mark Myers; Brazilian skipper Marcos Soares's crew of Tom Wohlgemuth, Columbus Cup Foundation chairman Bill Beale, and Dave Van Cleef; Bob McKay, Rob Pennington, Jim Michie, Peter Carrico and Noel Schwab with Swedish skipper Pelle Petterson; and Jim Allsopp, Woody Brumfield, Dave Scott and Logistics Committee chairman Doug Silber with Spanish helmsman Antonio Gorostegui.
These teams rotated from boat to boat through the three-day, six-race preliminary round robin, and again for Saturday's best-two-of-three finals sailed between Coutts and Bandolowski for first place and Klein and Namba for third. Staying aboard their assigned J/44s to sail with a variety of teams were owners' representatives from the local area: Bob Muller on Norwood Davis's Prima; Penn Alexander joining former Delaware Gov. Pete duPont and his son Ben on Glory; Jonathan Swain on Ken Meade's Renegade; Kurt Lowman on Len Sitar's Vamp; and Bob Keil joining Ben Michaelson on Quintessence.
"I think being the owner's rep is the best deal out there, because you get to sail with so many different teams," Muller said. "All the skippers and their crews were pretty good, but no team I sailed with set up the foredeck the same way. It was interesting."