Now that it's daylight longer, it's time again for weeknight racing.
There's action on the water every night but Monday for those who just can't get enough, but Wednesdays are still the biggest for localclub racing.
The Annapolis Yacht Club's Wednesday Night Series begins this week, with registration starting at 4 p.m. and the skippers' meeting at 5 p.m., before the first race.
This series is the longest running and by far the largest of the weeknight events and draws 100 or more boats. It is divided into about 10 classes to accommodate both handicap sailors and cruising one-designs, at the starting area off the Naval Station in the Severn River on Wednesdays.
Although the series initially was intended as a relaxing way to fine-tune racing skills or even try out racing as a newcomer, the AYC Wednesday Night Series has developed a mystique of its own. Some of the competitors take it so seriously you'd think it was a major championship.
Most are out for fun, though, and things tend to be more casual than during a weekend race. Family members who don't normally go along with the weekendwarriors -- and novice crews looking for a little extra experience -- often join the hotshots, and the social aspects of the evening are as important as the racing.
Of course, most people know that the finish of an AYC Wednesday Night Race is one of the most unique and often exciting sights in the area, and it's almost as much fun to watchfrom the shore as it is to be a part of it on the water.
The finish draws the fleet up into the narrow confines of Spa Creek until theboats cross the line in front of AYC -- and just short of the Spa Creek Bridge. It's close quarters and often very dramatic as the racersweave through the Annapolis Harbor anchorage.
The AYC Wednesday Night Series is so popular it has evolved into an invitational event for AYC members and skippers from Severn Sailing Association and the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron, to keep the numbers down to a semimanageable level.
Many crew members -- out of offices in Washington orBaltimore early on Wednesdays to make the start, swapping their business suits for shorts as the boats pull away from the dock.
Handicap classes with starts in the series include PHRF, IMS, MORC and Racing; CODs include Alberg 30s, Pearson 30s, J/30s, J/24s, and, new thisyear, J/22s.
Post-race videos of the action are shown at both AYCand Marmaduke's Pub in Eastport, where the sailors gather afterward.
Down on the West River, there's another popular Wednesday Night Series, sailed out of Galesville's Pirate's Cove restaurant through October. Since these races start and finish at the restaurant, they're also very good for spectators as well as racers. The races conclude with a congenial social hour and videos afterward at the restaurant.
This is a PHRF series, and information/registration packages are available at Pirate's Cove.
Another healthy Wednesday Night Series runs up near the mouth of the Magothy River, where race organizers boast they never have had to call off a race for lack of wind. This year's series begins Wednesday.
Managed in five four-week segments -- with a concluding two-week segment -- by the Magothy River Sailing Association, the Cape St. Claire Yacht Club, the Gibson Island Yacht Squadron and the Potapskut Sailing Association, the series has starts for PHRF and J/22 sailors. Like most weeknight events, these races aregreat for practicing for the weekends and training new crew, as wellas a lot of fun.
New this year will be special recognition for the best female helmsman in the final two-week series, as well as a newCorinthian award to the most consistent skipper who was out of the silver.
The Rock Creek Racing Association also has a popular Wednesday Night series, sailed out of the mouth of Rock Creek around government marks in the Patapsco.
RCRA offers starts beginning at 6:45 p.m. for three PHRF divisions, including non-spinnaker, and often has the evening's results available at the social hour at the Maryland Yacht Club immediately after racing.
Entries are limited to RCRA members, but since it's a club with very low annual dues, that's no handicap for anyone wanting to race in the series.
For information on RCRA, call Commodore Mike Romey, 255-5038.
Thursdays, it's J/22 and J/24 one-design racing off Annapolis, starting on May 3. The skippers' meeting and sign-up is set for 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Annapolis North Sails loft, but late entries will be accepted any time duringthe series.
This is a training-race series, with two to three races on very short windward-leeward courses each evening, followed by informal socializing.
The series is open to members of the local J/22 and J/24 fleets. J/24 sailors should contact Tim Mowry, 268-8897, and J/22 sailors call Kip Koolage, 757-4681.
On Fridays, for thosewho still want more, or are strictly in it for fun, there's the popular and entertaining Eastport Yacht Club Beer Can Series.
Nancy Noyes is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association and has been racing on the bay for about five years. Her Sailing column appears every Wednesday and Sunday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.