Despite a dying breeze on the 10-mile windward-leeward course set between Hart-Miller and Pooles islands on the Chesapeake yesterday, all but one of the 79 starters in the first of the three races of Northern Bay Race Week got over the finish line in good order.
"We were lucky," said race committee chairman Larry Martin. "It was light and real shifty, especially toward the end, but it held and we got it all in."
Racers are competing in four PHRF-rated handicap classes and a J/24 one-design division, with the biggest and fastest sailing in the 17-boat PHRF-A group. Of this group, the winner in yesterday's contest was Paul Parks on his J/35 Sundog, who was first over the finish line by nearly three minutes, which held even after correction.
In addition to Parks and his wife Cathy, the Sundog crew #F consisted of Tim Mangus, Tee Thieler, Rob Simkins, Scott Haerbig, Bob Cornelius, Mark Goode and George Barnes.
"We were about five seconds late for the start, but we were at the right end of the starting line, since the pin end was pretty heavily favored," Mangus said. "That was very critical."
As they headed up the first of three windward legs, Mangus and Thieler explained, only Larry Lehner's C&C 37XL Patriot was ahead of them, and Sundog rounded the first mark in second place.
For George Culbertson and the crew on his PHRF-C winner Red Streaker, the secret to success came much later in the race as the wind was dying.
"It was a great day," Culbertson said. "The winds started about 10 knots and faded down to less than five. Those who went west on the last upwind leg made out. We played the shifts, which were as much as 15 degrees, but you had to take them even when the wind was light. Our biggest success was on the last beat when we went west and caught a little bit fresher air."
Racing continues today and tomorrow.