This year's MORC International Regatta, presented by MORC Station 70and the Fishing Bay Yacht Club at Deltaville, Va., over June 24-28, provided five days of challenging racing.
The 44-boat fleet from across the U.S. and Canada included at least 16 teams based in Anne Arundel.
A combination of windward-leeward and Olympic courses with a 24-mile race and a 45-mile race added up to the full seven-race complement for the series, which took place in a variety of Southern Chesapeake conditions ranging from brisk and breezy to flat calm.
The fleetwas dominated by Gran Prix sailors, with final overall honors going to Gran Prix A winner Mark Beck of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, and his team,including designer Alan Andrews on his Andrews 30 Risky Business.
Beck pushed Gran Prix B winner Ron Kluwe and the California boys on his N/M 25 Easy Go out of the top slot by a quarter-point margin after spending all week working to erode Kluwe's early-series lead and narrowly won the series after acing the three final races.
Wind and weather conditions ran the gamut, starting with the pre-regatta arrival of a cold front Saturday complete with thunder squalls to drench sailors still arriving in Deltaville by boat and those trying to weighor measure in. The squalls caused the cancellation of Sunday's scheduled practice race.
Monday brought the sunshine that would last the rest of the week, along with a stiff northeast breeze that died before the end of the day's second race.
The first race in the morning featured the strongest wind of the regatta, with gusts occasionallyreaching into the 20s and making life difficult for some crews that hadn't sailedtogether before. Before the end of this eight-mile, windward-leeward, twice-around course, however, the wind began to lighten.
The second race had to be shortened to 11.5 miles, but the time limit still expired with only 11 boats (including all of Gran Prix A and four of the seven Gran Prix B boats, who shared the first start of the sequence) able to finish. Nearly all of the other boats with starts five to 10 minutes later than the Gran Prix contenders were stranded.
Tuesday's event was a fairly easy, medium-distance race, sailed in 4- to 8-knot wind that shifted from northeast to southeast. After a short weather leg, the course ran up to Wolftrap Light and back, with a finish in the mouth of the Piankatank River.
Wednesday's long-distance race up to Smith Point Light and back again also was sailed in winds shifting from a light northeasterly to a southeasterly of about 8 to 10. This race went hands down to Production B overall winner Na-Na-Li, an Abbott 27 sailed by Canadian Jim Norris, in first overall, and ultimately top production boat in the fleet with a sixthin the final overall standings.
Thursday's racing was the best ofthe week, with race five finishing in a dying southerly that happilycame back strong for the first time all week for the next start and remained at a fairly constant 8 to 12 knots for the duration of the sixth race.
By then all crews were well-practiced, so the action atthe marks was fast and exciting. Race five was an Olympic course andrace six a windward-leeward, 2 1/2 times around, both with one-mile weather legs.
Friday's race was a repeat of Monday's second, but this time the race was shortened to two legs. The Race Committee called an early expiration of the time limit on the water while at leastfour boats were anchored or drifting within 50 to 200 feet of the finish line, and only eight boats had been able to finish.
Those who could not finish before each race's time limit expired were scored one point more than the number of boats that did finish in time, instead of the more common DNF score of one point more than all boats competing. This unusual rule produced startled reactions from some sailors after Monday's second race and Friday's series-ender, but probably hadlittle or no effect on the final outcome.
Despite the heavy Gran Prix presence at the top of the overall fleet, several other competitors posted impressive results in their individual classes.
Chief among them was local sailor Dean Mulder, teamed with Haarstick Chesapeake sailmaker Jim Cullen, on Mulder's S2 9.1 Slick, an older past High Point winner Mulder acquired and began campaigning earlier this year. He put a lot into pre-regatta preparation, including completely redoing the bottom of the boat and outfitting it with a full new suit of sails.
Slick's performance earned Mulder the nickname "Bullet Man," because the team aced every race in the A Production class exceptthe final contest, when Mulder and Cullen, like most of the competitors in the fleet, could not finish the course in the dead air and adverse current.