In heavy air over chilly water, the local J/22 fleet conducted its first Turkey Bowl Regatta last weekend, with nine teams taking part in the two-day, five-race event.
Facing a mixed fleet in terms of experience aboard the little keelboats, Annapolis co-skippers Todd Olds and Jim Brady swept the event with an unbroken string of aces.
Sailing with their team beefed up to four both days, Olds and Brady were assisted both days by Charlie Kunda, with Tim Mowry on Saturday and Jack McDonald on Sunday rounding out the crew.
"It was a fun two days on the water," Olds said. "We had fairly short windward-leeward courses, and the winds were quite heavy. We were seeing at least 18 in the puffs on Saturday and a pretty steady 15 to 18 on Sunday, so we sailed four of the five races without spinnakers. I think that was a real learning experience for a lot of people, using the jibs downwind and using the (spinnaker) poles on them."
The race committee made the call on limiting the use of spinnakers in the interest of safety, said Fleet Captain Kip Koolage.
"On a J/22, it's pretty easy to go overboard," he said. "We were basically just out there to have fun, so competition was secondary to having fun, and of course secondary to the safety factors out where we were, in the mouth of the river pretty far from shore. And anyway, one guy sailing without a spinnaker is just as limited as the next guy sailing without one."
Olds said Brady, who is the reigning J/22 world champion, drove the boat for the first two of Saturday's races, while they shared duty in Sunday's two contests.
"Saturday we had pretty comfortable leads," Olds said. "Sunday in the first race we were over early at the start, but we rerounded and got around the windward mark first."
It was the regatta's final competition that proved the most exciting, Olds said, as he described swapping leads back and forth several times with Annapolis sailor Jim Hayes and his team before working to the top of the pack in a series of correctly played wind shifts.
"That race was pretty close," Olds said. "It was a good one."
Hayes, who had been penalized as a premature starter in the day's first race, fell to third before reaching the final finish line, while Baltimore sailor Shane Zwingleberg pulled into second, so that these three teams' finish order in the last race perfectly duplicated their final regatta standings.
"It was great to get nine boats out there for the first time for this regatta," Olds said. "I'm really looking forward to next year. A lot of thanks have to go to Paul Mikulski at Crusader (Yacht Sales) for organizing a good event. There were even some newcomers to the class who haven't been out sailing 22s over the summer, and we were lucky with the air temperature and the breeze. It really wasn't too cold."
The regatta included a Saturday evening party thrown by Mikulski and his wife, Joyce Williams, and trophies were, appropriately, large, medium, and small turkeys for first, second, and third places.
"I thought it was a good time," said Koolage, who gave up racing his own boat to do race committee duty for the event. "I was surprised to get that big of a turnout this time of the year for something we put together on pretty short notice. Paul really did a great job pulling it all together and making it work."
The local J/22 fleet, which numbered only five last year, swelled this year to 17 boats, meaning that more than half of the members were on the line for the Turkey Bowl.
J/22 Fleet 19 also is conducting a new Frostbite series beginning Saturday, Dec. 8, and running into March. Racing originally was scheduled on an alternating Saturday-Sunday schedule, but has been changed to a Saturday-only series to accommodate those J/22 sailors taking part in the Annapolis Yacht Club's Sunday Frostbite series.
Dates for the J/22 Frostbite series are Dec. 8 and 15, Feb. 9 and 16, and March 9 and 16, with starting sequences beginning at 11 a.m. near Horn Point in the Severn River. Three short windward-leeward-windward races are planned for each day's racing.
For more information on the J/22 fleet or the new frostbite series, call Koolage, 263-1212 (office) or 757-4681 (home), or Mikulski, 269-0939 (office) or 974-8307 (home).
* Winter is a fine time to learn new boating-related skills, since many of us are taking a break from the water in favor of staying warm.
Anne Arundel Community College's continuing education department offers an exciting program of technical and professional classes, co-sponsored by the Marine Trades Association of Maryland. It has applicability primarily for those in the marine trades, but also has many solid options for non-professionals interested in learning to repair and maintain their own vessels.