Sailors know that the Chesapeake Bay wind gods can be fickle, and last weekend the mercurial spirits proved it once again when they stayed home from a potentially terrific day on the water.
After two glorious weekends of sailing in fresh breeze under sunny skies, the Annapolis Yacht Club's annual sailing classic, the venerable Fall Series that began the last weekend of September, came to a grinding halt in its third and final week. Saturday's breeze was insufficient to start a race for the more than 100 IMS, PHRF A and B, and J/29 teams competing, leaving these racers with a truncated two-race series.
Sunday attracted a slightly larger group of entrants in PHRF C, MORC, and cruising one-design classes for J/30s, J/24s, Pearson 30s, Alberg 30s and Cal 25s. The race consisted of an 11-mile Olympic course for the J/24s and '30s, Pearsons and MORC sailors, and a shorter seven-mile version for the others.
The Sunday group also was plagued with light and variable wind, but was able to get through its final event despite a radical 90-degree wind shift midway through the race.
"It not only shifted to the right, but then it filled in from the right, so the guys on that side really hammered the poor guys on the other," said Tom Wohlgemuth, of Chesapeake Rigging, who was sailing with winning Alberg 30 skipper Bill Wallop on Cannonball.
"The shift didn't affect us too much because we were on the second reach leg by the time it hit and it was just a matter of getting the spinnaker down and putting the jib up. We all kind of stayed in the same respective positions, but for the Js out in front of us, boy, it was a massacre. What a mess!" Wohlgemuth said.
Wohlgemuth did take special pleasure in watching J/24 fleet newcomer Russ Deane take first out of the 36 starters in that class by a substantial margin after hitting the shift correctly.
Deane is the new owner of Wohlgemuth's old boat, Juice. Wohlgemuth said he was very pleased to see Deane doing so well with the boat after only a few races in this tough, competitive class.
A single protest was filed in the IMS III class, which could have a significant impact on that class' winners. It has been scheduled for reopening, but otherwise results in the Saturday fleet can be considered final.
The Sunday fleet results are still only provisional; that is normally the case at AYC and many other clubs, which wait for about a week after any race, regardless of whether protests have been filed. But no protests were scheduled to be heard so these results were most probably final as well.
Because of the shortened series, an unbreakable tie for first popped up in the J/29 class, where both Paul Andersen on Posse and the Lipshinn Syndicate on The Fish racked up a first and a second. With identical scores as well as points, and only two races to work from, neither team beat the other.
The "big winners" in the Saturday fleet -- winners of two of AYC's physically largest and most impressive-looking trophies -- were Norfolk sailor Seward Lawlor and Annapolitan Dave Dodge.
Lawlor won the 54-boat overall PHRF A & B fleet to earn a plaque on AYC's Chesapeake Trophy with his performance on his appropriately-named Peterson 43 Chesapeake.
Dodge topped out a 63-boat IMS overall fleet with his IMS II-winning Tripp 36 Privateer and will see his name added to the Viking Trophy as a result.
Both trophies, large glass-encased models of sailing vessels, are prominently displayed near the entrance of the club.
AYC FALL SERIES III
PHRF-C (17 starters): 1) Triple Dee III, Peter Driscoll, Beallsville, 1:26:47 c.t.; 2) Crazy Ivan, Jeffrey Harris, Edgewater, 1:29:06 c.t.; 3) Desperado, Ranzenbach Syndicate, Annapolis, 1:30:40 c.t.; 4) Lee Way, David Lee, Edgewater, 1:30:54 c.t.
MORC (13 starters): 1) Frog Legs, Paul Awalt, Ellicott City, 2:04:48 c.t.; 2) Uhu, D. Steffen, (address unavailable), 2:05:41 c.t.; 3) Bravo!, Denny White, Arnold, 2:05:43 c.t.
J/30 (18 starters): 1) BeBop, Bill Rutsch/John Aras, Washington/Annapolis; 2) Valkyrie, Ron Peterson, Annapolis; 3) Summer, Thayer duPont, Rockland, Del.; 4) Gunsmoke, Michael McGuirk, Bel Air.
J/24 (36 starters): 1) Sail No. 21889, Russ Deane, Annapolis; 2) Sail No. 4031, midshipman Eric Roetz, USNA; 3) Ghost, R. Wilkins, (address unavailable); 4) Street Gang, Mark Donovan, Baltimore; 5) Blood Sweat & Tears, Rick Bowe, Washington; 6) Dream Girl, Russell Potee, Arnold.
Pearson 30 (nine starters): 1) Conatus, Rick Warren, Annapolis; 2) Rising Star, Steve Coe, Annapolis; 3) Blam, George Hughes, Annapolis.
Alberg 30 (nine starters): 1) Cannonball, Bill Wallop, Annapolis; 2) Sundance, William Chambers, Fulton; 3) Gretchen, Alan Schreidtmueller, Silver Spring.
Cal 25 (six starters): 1) White Cap, Timothy Bloomfield, Chevy Chase; 2) Callipygian, Myron Miller, Arnold; 3) Alice May, Michael O'Toole, Vienna, Va.
AYC FALL SERIES OVERALL
IMS Fleet Overall (63 entries): 1) Privateer, Dave Dodge, Annapolis, 2.75 pts. (1-2); 2) Merrythought, Jack King, Fairfax, Va./Annapolis, 5.75 pts.