Feast and famine as far as the wind was concerned made the Sailing Club of the Chesapeake's annual Ted Osius Memorial Regatta an especially memorable one this year.
The 50-boat handicap-division fleet that competed on Saturday was down from last year's 76 starters.
But competition was no less spirited, as racers worked their way around a 12.5-mile, five-legged windward-leeward course in an 8- to 10-knot southerly breeze against a strong flood current.
Sunday's cruising one-design armada of 82 boats was nearly as strong as last year's fleet of 86 and had a far more difficult time of things as windsslewed around in the unstable air, while the winds changed radicallyin speed and direction.
The later finishers and those still working their way north to get home after finishing a course similar to that used Saturday were slammed by a sudden, violent squall with high winds estimated at 40 to 50 knots and driving rain.
"The race was all but finished when it hit," said Race Committee member Joe McGeady."There were a few of the slower classes like the Cal 25s, the Tritons and the Albergs still on the course, but they managed their boats very well.
"One of the mark boat's crew positioned at the leeward mark was overheard commenting that after observing more than a few 'Keystone Kop' spinnaker take-downs it was gratifying to see all the remaining participants on the course manage their craft in a seaman-likemanner through the course of the storm, with some finishing under storm jib alone."
Saturday's winner by the biggest margin was the partnership of Steve Stunda and Tink Chambers on their Beneteau 42 Bucentaur when the team topped the 12-boat IMS II class by a margin of nearly 4 1/2 minutes on corrected time after getting the gun to boot.
"We've had the boat going pretty well this year," Chambers said. "Idon't think there was any magic out there for that race. We just sailed the boat well. We've been having a good season.
"We put a lot of work into the boat, tuning the rig and all that, over the winter, and the benefits of that seem to be showing up. And the IMS rule seems to be working, showing that a well-sailed production boat can be very competitive in the class."
Chambers said that the team'searly lead came from anticipating a slight wind shift as well as impeccable crew work.
"There was a little bit of a left-hand shift on the first beat," he said. "We were out there to the left planning on that, so when it came in it helped us out. We stayed to the middle and to the right on the other beats to keep out of the current. And we've got a really good crew so it all adds up."
In Sunday's fleet, Bill Wallop and his crew on Cannonball took top honors in the 12-boat Alberg 30 class, and were over the finish line just before the storm hit.
"The storm came about 10 minutes after we had finished," Wallop said. "The first five boats made it over the line before it really got bad. We got our genny down, but we had some trouble getting the main furled because the storm came on us so fast. We were fortunate that we didn't have to handle it while we were still racing."
Wallop said that the race was difficult enough even before the really bad weather.
"We had lumpy, choppy seas, and the wind varied from not enough to pretty good," he said. "We had quite a bit of flood (current) all day, so we went right to avoid the current, but there was less wind over there, so the two factors sort of canceled each other out."
Wallop and his crew were second at the first windward mark, but gained the lead by four or five boat lengths as they ran downwind on the next leg and held their lead through the rest of the race.
"We had super crew," he said. "We didn't have any mistakes. It was just an ordinary warm summer day until the storm came up, but it was fun."
Theregatta concluded with a Sunday-afternoon awards party after the storm had blown over on the Severn River-view lawn at the home of Nancy Osius, widow of the regatta's namesake. The annual party is widely considered to be one of the nicest sailing socials of the season, and as usual proved very popular.
Over the past seven or eight years, the Ted Osius Memorial Regatta has become one of the local area's premier sailing events.
It is a wonderful and fitting tribute to the memory of Dr. Theodore G. Osius, a past commodore of the Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, a dedicated physician, and a skillful, well-liked and respected sailor who earned the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association's Alberg 30 High Point trophy five times between 1972 and 1982.
Nancy Noyes is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association and has been racing on the bay for about five years. Her Sailing column appears every Wednesday and Sunday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.