The Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association's annual general meeting traditionally includes the election of officers to guide the 1,700-member organization.
This year's meeting, conducted Dec. 1 at Essex Community College, saw a number of familiar faces advance in the ranks and the addition of some new ones.
Replacing outgoing President Bruce Johnson is 1990 Executive Vice President Dave Blessing.
A resident of Alexandria, Va., Blessing is an International 5-0-5 sailor based out of the West River Sailing Club in Galesville. He also often serves as a crew member on his friends' J/27 to learn big-boat sailing and to improve his ability to understand and respond to Handicap and Cruising One-Design Division concerns.
Blessing joined the CBYRA Executive Committee several years ago when he became One-Design Division chairman. He also has served as secretary and treasurer. Of his new role as president, he said: "The main thing I want to be is accessible. I want people to be able to call me if they have a beef or a problem or a suggestion about how to do things better."
An engineer with the Navy Department, Blessing began sailing in his native Seattle with an old Snipe. When he came to the Washington area in 1970 with the Navy, he bought an old 5-0-5, which he sailed out of the old Washington Sailing Marina on the Potomac River. He was introduced to racing in the mid-' 70s by a WRSC member who recruited him to that club's 5-0-5 fleet.
Blessing said his goals for the coming year include improving race reporting and awareness of the season-long competition for High Point, increasing the amount and kinds of information in the CBYRA newsletter, the Traveler, and improving services for the One-Design Division sailors, including working to improve the Olympic Classes Regatta for one-designs in May.
"I want to do what I can to increase excitement about this whole process," he said.
Moving up from treasurer to the key position of executive vice president is Arnold sailor Tom Curtis, who is especially familiar to Region II racers for his many successes with his Olson 34, Pegasus, racing in PHRF-A. Curtis is a member of the Magothy River Sailing Association and has been active in CBYRA for many years. His past offices in CBYRA include several terms as Cruising One-Design Division chairman.
Former Secretary George Culbertson of Timonium, who races in Region I in PHRF-C as skipper of Red Streaker out of the Glenmar Sailing Association, is next year's treasurer.
Jean Kluttz of Fairfax, Va., a past commodore of the Shearwater Sailing Club and co-skipper with her husband, Howard, of their Rogers 32, NoGutsNoGlory, becomes secretary.
Tom Closs Jr. of Annapolis, a member of the Annapolis Yacht Club and co-skipper with his father, 1959-1960 CBYRA President Tom Closs Sr., of their Oyster 43, Fun, has moved on from serving as Region III vice president the last two years to become the U.S. Yacht Racing Union delegate from CBYRA. A highly experienced offshore and bay racer, Closs has been actively involved with the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron's Offshore Program for a number of years and is president of Electronic Marine Inc. in Annapolis.
Fellow AYC member Wayne Bretsch of Olney is the new Region III vice president. Bretsch, who is active on the Race and Protest committees at AYC, is a consistently strong performer in IMS III with Interlude.
Taking over the Region II vice presidency is Gibson Island Yacht Squadron Race Committee Chairman Claude Engle III.
AYC J/24 sailor Dave Scheidt of Annapolis is continuing as Cruising One-Design Division chairman, while West River Sailing Club Star class sailor Steve Kling of Annapolis will remain One-Design chairman.
Annapolitan Bill Torgerson of the Severn Sailing Association will stay on as Junior and Youth Representative, but the Handicap Division chairman, who will come from the ranks of the IMS Class, has yet to be named.
Founded in 1914, CBYRA is the fourth-largest of the yacht racing associations that make up the U.S. Yacht Racing Union. It consists of more than 70 member clubs and more than 50 handicap, cruising one-design and one-design classes, covering a geographic area including parts of New Jersey and Pennsylvania, as well as Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and northern North Carolina. Its headquarters are at 612 Third St. in the Eastport section of Annapolis.
A non-profit service organization, CBYRA is the regional governing authority for sailboat racing on the Chesapeake Bay and surrounding areas, just as USYRU is on a national level. It is supported primarily by annual dues from individual members and member sailing and yacht clubs.
The primary goal of CBYRA is the promotion of fair yachting competition by supporting standard yacht racing and measurement rules and by coordinating racing schedules and regattas for the Chesapeake Bay area.