While more than 80 of their smaller cousins battled it out off the mouth of the Severn River in the annual J/24 East Coast Championships, a fleet of 15 J/29s was working toward the J/29 North American Championship title down by Thomas Point Saturday and Sunday.
Among their numbers were three teams from the Southern Chesapeake and three from farther afield -- New York, New Jersey, and North Carolina -- as well as a strong Baltimore-Annapolis-Eastern Shore contingent. The regatta was managed jointly by a race committee team from the Severn River Yacht Club in Annapolis and the Fishing Bay Yacht Club of Richmond, Va.
There were two short races Saturday morning while the light wind held, and another two later in the day when it filled in again, and a strenuous two-race heavy-air series on Sunday.
The Eastern Shore team of John Thompson and Pat Shannahan and their team on The Simpsons emerged with the North American Championship title, three points ahead of the Annapolis/Edgewater team of David Lewis and Fred Salvesen on Mirage in second.
Although Thompson and Shannahan are a relatively new J/29 team, they have been performing strongly this year, but had not beaten the Mirage team previously this season. The Lewis/Salvesen combination has been a successful one for many years, and Mirage is this year's J/29 class Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association High Point winner.
"It was light air in the beginning," said Salvesen, who also was a principal regatta organizer. "We went out and got two bullets right off the bat, but then it got kind of mixed up in the fleet, and we weren't winning again until the end. There was a lot of good, tight racing."
Although Lewis and Salvesen picked up a third bullet in the final race, to match the three-ace string turned in by Thompson and Shannahan, their "keepers" in the six-race, one-drop series were a third and a fourth, as opposed to The Simpsons' paired seconds.
With the 720 rule in effect, Salvesen explained, the sailing was very clean as well as highly competitive, with only one premature starter (Salvesen and Lewis, who restarted correctly and placed sixth in that race), and a single protest resulting in a disqualification.
Along with first-class racing and excellent on-the-water work by the Race Committee, Salvesen said, a highlight of the weekend was a Saturday night party at the Annapolis Shore Sails loft.
"I think the guys from out of town, especially, had a real blast this weekend," Salvesen said.
In addition to trophies to the top five teams, special awards also were presented following Sunday's racing, including a Most Consistent Performance trophy to New Yorker A.J. Southard on Plain Jane, a Best Mark Rounding award to Annapolitan Paul Andersen on Posse, and a Most Improved Performance prize to Forestville sailor Jack Keniley on Dilemma, whose first-race finish in the series was an 11th, while his best finish was a second.
Light winds and cool temperatures, along with lots of competing events on the bay last weekend, reduced this year's IMS Halloween Fun Regatta by half of last year's turnout. But for the skippers and crews of the 18 boats that participated, it was an entertaining event.
The event was organized and sponsored by IMS of the Chesapeake and organized by North Sails Chesapeake, who provided Jim Allsopp's Ichiban as committee boat and Jonathan Bartlett as Race Committee Chairman, as well as the post-race party site.
This year's regatta consisted of two short windward-leeward contests near Thomas Point on Saturday. The four-boat IMS I and nine-boat IMS II classes sailed on a 2.95-mile course, while the four IMS III contenders used a nearer windward mark and sailed a 2.27-mile course.
"Everybody had fun, even though there wasn't much wind and the races were pretty short," said Bartlett, adding that unlike past years, where a crew costume contest has been a key element in the fun, the sailors did not dress up for the event.
"Debbie Springer from our office won the costume award," Bartlett said.
"Nobody else dressed up, and she had a really clever costume. She walked around all day dressed as a tea bag."
"It was a fun regatta," said IMS class spokesman Jeff Scholz. "We tried a new format this year, with the little boats going around the first windward mark and the bigger boats going around a farther one, and I think it worked very well. We had about 20 percent of the class members show up for the regatta."
Scholz said the committee started the first race around 10:30 a.m., and all of the boats were finished within an hour, but that as the wind was dying, the second race, which started at noon, took about 1 hours.
"We were going to wait around for a third race," Scholz said, "but we decided to go ahead and can the race at 2 o'clock, go in and party."