It's official. The full-boogie racing season has started, and from here through October, a big-boat regatta or two is scheduled in this area just about every weekend.
Although frostbite series and preseason warm-ups of various kinds have been sailed on local waters over the past few months, most racing sailors have taken the winter off andare just now starting up again for the 1991 season.
Saturday marked the first in a long series of races and regattas sanctioned by the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association toward the annual High Point championships in Handicap and Cruising One-Design classes.
The Naval Academy Sailing Squadron's traditional season-opening Spring Race featured 106 boats sailing in nine classes on a 10.1-mile, five-legged, windward-leeward course.
It was a good day for racing and a good day for Naval Academy sailing, too. In addition to playing host for excellent competition and a convivial awards ceremony and party at the Robert Crown Sailing Center, the academy's Offshore Sailing Team also did very well in its various classes, showing what disciplined preseason practice can do.
In actuality, a lot less winter rust was evident than might be expected, with tight finishes-- often measured in mere seconds in real or corrected time -- more the rule than the exception throughout the good-sized fleet.
"The sail handling and boat handling that we saw during the race looked pretty good," said Race Committee Chairman Mark Murphy.
"The wind was pretty steady out of the south," he said, explaining that average wind speed for the race was about 8 knots. "It was supposed to be strong and steady all day, but as the (last-to-start) J/24s were finishing their second leg, there was a big hole at the leeward mark, and apparently there was wind up above but not down on the water where the '24s were.
"When the big (first-starting) IMS I boats with their tall sticks on their fourth leg came barreling down on them, it made us a little nervous, but it all worked out."
Murphy said that aftera rush of closely grouped finishers, "there was a gap after the leaders inPHRF B and IMS II, which I guess was caused by the hole at the leeward mark, but then it picked up again pretty steadily."
The first group of finishers started with Ben Michaelson's J/44 Quintessence, over the line two hours after starting but only two seconds ahead of the Academy's Frers 49 Morning Light, skippered by Mid. Tom Fugelstad.
Michaelson corrected into third in IMS I, while Morning Light, scratch boat in the class, fell to fifth after correction, but Mid.John Grierson's team on Cinnabar, the academy's Sparkman & Stephens 49, floated up to second in this hotly contested class.
The class was won by Bill Steitz and his team on Baltic 43 Dancer, who finished23 seconds behind Cinnabar -- and only a minute behind Michaelson --but corrected to the top by about three minutes.
Navy teams dominated the IMS II class with their closely matched Navy 44 McCurdy and Rhodes-designed sloops. Mid. Bob Bruce's team on Vigilant was over the finish line second in this class, less than a minute behind BFSS & W Syndicate's Frers 38 Yellow Jacket. It handily saved its time over the Frers to take first, closely followed by Offshore teammates aboard Mid. Pete Young's Swift.
The two other Navy 44s in this class, Mid. Garron Morris' team on Lively and Mid. Rob Glenn's team on Flirt,finished in the middle of this 12-boat class after a virtual neck-and-neck finish with several other sailors. Less than three minutes corrected time separated the first-place finisher from the sixth.
In the 10-boat MORC class, Bob Muller introduced his newly acquired challenger, Stingray, to non-frostbite spinnaker competition and came away a winner.
Muller was first to finish in this class by a sufficiently substantial margin to hold first place by morethan two minutes, even after owing second-placer Bob Dunning on Skylarkin nearly seven minutes. Below that, however, it was another close contest, with justover two minutes corrected time between second and sixth place.
NASS Spring Race results
IMS I (10 starters): 1) Dancer, Bill Steitz, Pittsburgh, Pa./Annapolis, 0:41:51 c.t.; 2) Cinnabar, Mid. John Grierson, U.S.N.A., 0:44:55 c.t.; 3) Quintessence, Ben Michaelson,Annapolis, 0:46:21 c.t.
IMS II (12 starters): 1) Vigilant, Mid. Bob Bruce, U.S.N.A., 0:39:10 c.t.; 2) Swift, Mid. Pete Young, U.S.N.A., 0:40:23 c.t.; 3) Yellow Jacket, BFSS & W Syndicate, Annapolis, 0:40:33 c.t.
IMS III (6 starters): 1) Farrocious, Talbot Wilson, Annapolis, 0:35:48 c.t.; 2) The Knife, Mack Latz, Atlantic City, N.J., 0:37:45 c.t.; 3) Interlude, Wayne Bretsch, Olney, 0:42:06 c.t.
PHRF A(14 starters): 1) Chesapeake, H. S. Lawlor, Norfolk, Va., 1:51:03 c.t.; 2) Moonlighting, Thomas French, Annapolis, 1:55:45 c.t.; 3) Sundog, Paul Parks, Baltimore, 1:56:19 c.t.