Chances are most racing sailors have been using their winter weekends for other pursuits than keeping themselves, their crews, and their boats in top competitive trim.
Of course, hard-bitten frostbiters are out there, but even those chilly series have ended or are closingout well before the start of the official racing season with the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron Spring Race on April 27.
For sailors whose skills have gotten rusty, who want to train newcrew or try out racing as newcomers -- without the pressure of knowing performance counts toward High Point scores -- or who just want tohave relaxed fun, the Rhode River Boat Club's 1991 Spring Series offers a solid opportunity for all of this.
"It's a terrific event for tuning up and training crew, and it's also good for people who don't have very much experience racing but want to try it in a low-pressure atmosphere," said RRBC's David Hoyt. "We always have a great time and find that it's really valuable as a tune-up, too."
The series,which will consist of three to five races over three Saturdays, April 6, 13 and 20, is open to all yachts over 19 feet, which meet PHRF Class 5P requirements and have bow and stern pulpits and lifelines. Organized as a preseason warm-up regatta, the RRBC Spring Series is notsanctioned for High Point by the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association.
Race organizers hope to be able to complete two races on each of the first two Saturdays, with the fifth and final race set for the last week of the series. Courses will be set in the area between the Old Severn River Bridge, Hacketts Point C"1", and Tolley Point, using government marks.
PHRF splits for the event, as well as assignment of any one-design start times, will be announced at the skippers' meeting at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 6, at the Severn River Yacht Clubat Mears Marina in Eastport. Trophies will be awarded on series scores at a post-race party following the final event on April 20 at SRYC.
Scoring for the series is different from most regular-season sanctioned events, and will be done on a high-point basis. In each race,each boat will receive one point for starting, one point for finishing and one point for each competitor beaten. Bonuses of 0.3 for first, 0.2 for second and 0.1 for third, also will be applied.
Under the rules for this event, which are similar to many conventional frostbiting regulations, crews must be made up of at least three people, and must wear float coats,USCG-approved life jackets, or exposure suitswhen out of the cockpit, or if the Race Committee displays a signal requiring all crew to do so.
Spinnakers, bloopers, mizzen staysails, spinnaker and whisker poles will not be allowed, and no sail changes may be made after the start, except for lowering or reefing.
Sailors can register for the RRBC Spring Series by sending a completed standard CBYRA entry form, along with the $15 registration fee, to Race Committee Chairman, RRBC, c/o Herb Taylor, 1701 Saxony Place, Crofton, 21114 (phone 721-6077).
RRBC prefers that entries be mailed in time to be received by April 4 and discourages late entries, but will accept late entries up until 8:50 a.m. the day of the skippers' meeting.
For an even more exciting personal preseason tune-up, sailors who feel up to the unique demands of single-handed racing should mark their calendars for Sunday, April 7, the date of the first Annapolis-to-Thomas Point Single-Handed Challenge Race.
The race, still being organized by a group of sailors headed by J/22 racer Michael Higgins of Annapolis, will be open to all PHRF-eligible boats of any size.
The six-mile course will take the fleet from a starting line off Trident Light at the Naval Academy out to the green marker (C"75") off of Thomas Point Light and back to Trident Light. Both spinnaker-class and non-spinnaker-class starts are anticipated.
"For the first time we're not going to make it extremely formal," Higgins said. "We'll probably just use standard PHRF ratings, because we don'twant to get too technical for the first race."
Higgins explained that interest was already strong among his fellow J/22 sailors, and in other classes such as J/24s.
"I know there's a demand for this kind of thing," he said. "There's really been a lot of interest. Thereare 10 to 15 boats already committed for it, and there could be a chance that two J/44s will be doing it, too."
Higgins added that safety will be a serious consideration, as well as the enjoyableness of the event.
"It's going to be about 50 percent fun and 50 percent competitive racing, but safety is a really big factor, especially since the water is still pretty cold in April," he said.
With these concerns in mind, Higgins said that plans for the race are still somewhat loose and will be formalized at a competitors' meeting later this month at a date and time to be announced.