It may have been cold and damp, but conditions over the weekend wereexciting for racing, with plenty of wind to speed the fleets in the two-day Annapolis Yacht Club Spring Race.
Saturday's event drew 72starters to compete on a 12.6-mile windward-leeward course in PHRF Aand B, three IMS splits and a J/35 one-design class.
Although the wind was starting to lighten by the time most of thefleet was on the fifth and final 2.5-mile windward leg, stiff early race breezes between 15 and 20 knots made short work of the race despite the complications caused by unusually big waves and a strong current.
All but two of the 67 finishers had crossed the line within three hours of their starts, and one boat, PHRF A contender Gem, a Briand 50 sailed by a team from St. Mary's College, handily made the circuit in just over two hours.
Despite falling to second place by about a minute and a half on correction to Seward Lawlor's Serendipity43 Chesapeake, the Gem team did a real horizon job on the PHRF A fleet. It finished more than 11 minutes ahead of Chesapeake and 14 minutes ahead of third-place Destination, a Frers 46 sailed by Ken Klotz and his team.
With a large group of finishers in this class crossing the line between 20 and 30 minutes behind her, Gem was nearly a full leg ahead of most of her class as she took the gun.
"It was goodconditions for that boat, I think," said St. Mary's waterfront director Mike Ironmonger.
"It was a boat speed race. The wind was not overly unpredictable, and that 50-footer kind of liked those conditions. We were really concerned about being able to get that boat up to speed, but it's a sailboat like any other sailboat, and it turned out to be easier to handle than we thought."
Ironmonger was pleased with the performance of his student team.
"They were green last spring, and we had a few problems at the leeward mark, but generally they're great -- they know their jobs and they don't run around the boat and do everybody else's," he said.
"It was good big-boat conditions, though. We were beating against an ebb current, and that always makes it tough on the smaller boats. We'll see what happens when the breeze goes light."
On Sunday, 80 teams braved the rain when the PHRF C and MORC sailors took their turn, joining six cruising one-designclasses on the course. The J/30s, J/24s, Pearson 30s and MORC sailors completed a 10.1-mile, five-legged windward-leeward course, while the PHRF C racers, Alberg 30s and Cal 25s sailed a three-legged 6.1-mile version.
Sunday's 10- to 12-knot breeze was challenging both physically and mentally, with frequent wind shifts that often were hardto predict, and blustery gusts alternating with some light-air lullsdown to about 6 knots.
One of the largest classes that day was MORC, with 15 starters. This class, always known for spirited competition regardless of the size of the starting fleet, has been swelling slightly over the past few weeks.
Sailors of MORC-eligible boats 30 feet and under have been testing the waters and getting into serious preparation for the rigors and excitement of Fishing Bay Yacht Club'supcoming MORC Internationals, set for June 24-28 in Deltaville, Va.
Sunday's racing gave many of them plenty to think about and provided ample opportunity for checking out the competition when the class corrected into a tightly packed finish, often with margins of only seconds between competitors.
After crossing the line fourth, however, Steve Podlich and his team aboard Mace corrected into first by nearly three minutes. The boat, one of the most recent donations to the Naval Academy's sailing program, is a custom-built G&S 25 that Podlichintroduced to the local fleet only eight days earlier in the SailingClub of the Chesapeake's Spring Race.
Mace finished 3:46 behind the gun, which went to Paul Awalt and team on Frog Legs, Awalt's custom Nelson-Marek 30. As scratch boat in the MORC fleet, Frog Legs owed Mace more than 10 minutes and fell to fifth on correction.
AYC Spring Race
Saturday, May 18
IMS I (8 starters): 1) Quintessence, Ben Michaelson, Annapolis, 1:12:53 c.t.; 2) Dancer, Bill Steitz, Pittsburgh, Pa./Annapolis, 1:14:51 c.t.; 3) FlyingColors, R.E. Michel Jr., Glen Burnie, 1:18:22 c.t.
IMS II (10 starters): 1) Crescendo, Stephen Hiltabidle, Annapolis, 1:16:52 c.t.; 2)Yellow Jacket, BFSS&W Syndicate, Annapolis, 1:17:09 c.t.; 3) Driven,Michael Duncan, Washington, 1:20:26 c.t.
IMS III (12 starters): 1) Uh Oh, C.R. Smith Jr., Annapolis, 1:17:48 c.t.; 2) Gaylark, Kaighn Smith, Bryn Mawr, Pa., 1:18:46 c.t.; 3) Contraire, SWWGO Syndicate, Eldersburg, 1:20:39 c.t.
PHRF A (16 starters): 1) Chesapeake, H.S. Lawlor, Norfolk, Va., 2:01:28 c.t.; 2) Gem, St. Mary's College, St. Mary's City, 2:02:51 c.t.; 3) Destination, Ken Klotz, Morganville, N.J./Annapolis, 2:06:43 c.t.
PHRF B (15 starters, protests pending): 1) Goldfish, Donald Zinn, Annapolis, 2:08:55 c.t.; 2) Fast Track, John & Karen Yeigh, Annapolis, 2:11:32 c.t.; 3) Vitality, Richard Altman, Baltimore, 2:12:12 c.t.