Shearwater Sailing Club's second annual Chesapeake Tour Double-Handed Race -- for two-person crews sailing boats 29 feet or larger -- wasa fast and furious contest in brisk and chilly northeasterly winds on Saturday.
Two classes of seven boats each competed, with the largest boats in Class I sailing a 32.9-mile course, and the smaller boats in Class II sailing a 22.2-mile course. Courses for both classes were set around government marks between the Bay Bridge and West River, on both sides of the bay.
With 14 starters, the fleet was a bit smaller than last year's total of 18, but competition was high-caliber nonetheless, as several of the area's most experienced and successful racers took part.
TheClass II finish came down to the wire, with only 30 seconds between the first and third finishers' corrected times. The top two, Peter Scheidt's Argo and Bill Chambers' Sundance, both Alberg 30s with identical handicaps, finished only eight seconds apart in both real and corrected time.
Scheidt, sailing with his son, David, as his teammate, won the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association's annual High Pointtrophy in the Alberg 30 class in 1986 and again in 1989, while Chambers won that top award in 1990, duplicating his 1973 win. The friendly Scheidt-Chambers rivalry has roots going back far beyond last Saturday's race.
"He (Chambers) and my dad have quite a rivalry going on right now," said Dave Scheidt. "Bill Chambers had a little better boat speed most of the race, but we were faster in the corners. It wasquite a race. It's always rewarding to inch out an archrival."
Scheidt said the wind ranged from about 10 knots to close to 20, but for most of the race it was in the 12- to 15-knot range.
But, he added, "It was a lot of wind for an Alberg, doublehanded, especially on the first spinnaker leg. It was a pretty close reach, and several of the boats broached. We put our boom in the water a couple of times, but we never really broached. That's pretty scary with just two of youon board, because there isn't a lot you can do about it."
Scheidtsaid that Argo and Sundance changed leads several times during the race, and were never more than about 100 yards apart. They came down to the last two legs, a spinnaker reach from Hacketts Point to a beam reach from can "7" in the Severn River to the finish line.
Scheidtsaid, "They rounded Hacketts about 50 yards ahead of us, but both ofour spinnakers went up at about the same time. They did a gybe set, and we did a bear-away set. Then when we gybed back, we gybed inside of them and got an inside overlap. We came up to the mark at "7" bow-to-bow in kind of a game of chicken, seeing who was going to hold hischute longest.
"My dad was determined that even if it meant goingway too far past the mark we were going to hold our spinnaker longest, because the last leg to the finish was a close reach with no way to pass anybody."
Scheidt said that he and his father had been primarily concerned with beating Chambers, and had assumed that BeBop, a J/30 sailing in their class that had taken a huge lead early in the race, would win their class.
"We really weren't thinking of it as aPHRF race, but more like a one-design race with Chambers," he said. "We didn't know we'd won the class until they came up to us at the dock and told us."
Scheidt said it was his first experience in a competitive double-handed race, but one that he was eager to repeat. "Itwas great," he said. "We'll definitely be back next year."
In conditions ranging from light and fluky to a serious northeasterly blow, 29 teams took part in this year's Rhode River Boat Club Spring Series.
The non-spinnaker preseason tune-up series was sailed in the Severn River on three consecutive Saturdays between April 6 and 20.
Two races were sailed on each of the first two Saturdays, with afifth contest on the final day. Starts were for Tritons, PHRF-B and PHRF-C.
In a departure from regular-season low-point scoring practices, RRBC officials used a high-point system of scoring. In each race, each boat received one point for starting, one point for finishingand one point for each competitor beaten.
Additional bonuses of 0.3 for first, 0.2 for second and 0.1 for third, also were applied. Those boats that were registered but did not start in any one particular race were not counted in the total scores of the other competitors.
In the largest of the three classes, the 12-boat PHRF-C division,Bill Sutton on his J/24 Swag cleaned up his competition with an unbroken string of five bullets in the series.
His record was nearly approximated -- although for fewer points because the class was smaller -- by Ron Peterson on his J/30 Valkyrie, whose PHRF-B finishes were1-1-2-1-1 in the series for 47.4 points.
In the third class, a one-design start for Tritons, class winner Eleanor Holmes on Sea Deuce fought her way up from behind, taking over Jack Hayes' early lead on Winsome to win by the narrowest margin in the series, 3.5 points.
Chesapeake Tour Double-handed Race results