Last Saturday, it was time again for the Magothy River Sailing Association's 15th annual Race to Baltimore, co-sponsored by the Harbor Hospital Center, with the Rock Creek Racing Association's Baltimore Harbor Raceback on Sunday completing the weekend.
About 70 boats sailing in five PHRF splits and classes for Multihulls, MORC, Alberg 30s and Tritons completed the 17.6-mile course from a midbay start south to Baltimore Light, north on a long spinnaker leg to the Forward Craighill Channel Light, back down to buoy "21" in the middle of the Upper Craighill Channel, and up the Patapsco to the finish line just shy of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.
Following the opulent bull roast and dance on the hospital grounds Saturday evening, an equivalent number made the start on Sunday fora 7.85-mile lightning-bolt-shaped race in the Patapsco from the previous day's finish to Rock Creek Light, across the river to buoy "9" in the Brewerton Channel and then on to a finish at buoy "21."
For the second weekend in a row north of the Bay Bridge, Paul Parks of Shady Side and his team made his J/35 Sundog live up to its nickname of"Get-the-Gun-Dog, Number-One-Dog" with back-to-back PHRF-A bullets and the overall performance Gull Trophy, awarded by the Hospital Center, for Saturday's race, as well.
Bob Putnam and his team, on his new J/30 Better Mousetrap, topped the PHRF-B fleet coming and going with his own pair of aces. Dennis Rice, on his J/22 Accomplice, did thesame to the PHRF C-2 class, and Multihull winner Buck Beaver on his Condor 30 Leading Lady repeated his matched set of bullets from last year's races.
For two-way MORC winner Gary Meyer and his team on his Soverel 27 Plum Fun, Saturday's victory was especially sweet.
"I can die a happy man because I finally beat (Paul Awalt's) Frog Legs," Meyer said.
"I love that boat. It's outstanding, beautiful and very fast, and I'm just happy to have beaten Paul once."
In the weekend's fluky air, Meyer said close attention to the wind shifts -- and the sailing instructions and course signals -- were important to success.
"It seemed like every time we tacked we were on the right side of the shifts," Meyer explained. "On Saturday, when everybody inthe A and B fleets kind of stalled down there by (buoy '21'), we were able to find a little wind and stay with it, and we ended up passing some of the B boats. It was just one of those things."
On Sunday, in conditions he described as "fluky, but good, strong wind most ofthe time," Meyer said a number of competitors in most classes must have misread the course signals on the committee boat at the start. Incombination with using the original information on the race rather than the amendment available at the Saturday evening party, they failed to cross the finish line when they left "21" to starboard rather than to port as signaled with the red letter at the start, and headed for a finish farther south at Baltimore Light.
Adding to some sailors' confusion was the low-profile finish-line committee boat, which was visually obscured somewhat by a fishing boat near the middle of the line, Meyer said.
"Azure should have won that race," Meyer said,"but he left the mark to starboard instead of finishing and just kept on sailing by. We passed the mark on the wrong side, too, but then we stopped, turned around and finished the race."
A traditional highlight of the weekend racing is the Saturday night party at the hospital, which this year raised more than $4,000 for the renovation of the HHC Pediatric Wing, in addition to providing good times galore forthe sailors and their friends.
MRSA race to Baltimore
PHRF A (16 starters): 1. Sundog, Paul Parks, Shady Side, 2:45:33 c.t.; 2. Thunder, Michael Hartung, Cherry Hill, NJ, 2:49:44 c.t.; 3. Witch, GlennRobbins, Severna Park, 2:52:28 c.t.
PHRF B (9 starters): 1. Better Mousetrap, Robert Putnam, Greenbelt, 3:12:24 c.t.; 2. Rude Awakening, Chuck O'Malley, Annapolis, 3:20:02 c.t.; 3. Seraph II, David Littlepage, Severna Park, 3:22:48 c.t.
PHRF C-1 (14 starters): 1. Namu,Gordon Rowse, Glen Burnie, 3:31:30 c.t.; 2. Zig-Zag, Edward Hatch, Pasadena, 3:36:35 c.t.; 3. Bang, David Gendell, Arnold, 3:37:38 c.t.
PHRF C-2 (4 starters): 1. Accomplice, Dennis Rice, Timonium, 4:02:51 c.t.; 2. Finesse, Baxter/Becker Syndicate, Chevy Chase, 4:03:01 c.t.; 3. Finnegan's Wake, John O'Brien, Pasadena, 4:09:20 c.t.
PHRF Nonspinnaker (5 starters): 1. Elusive, Richard Joklik, Gaithersburg, 4:10:45 c.t.; 2. Scaramouche, William Goodman, Severna Park, 4:12:32 c.t.; 3. Albar II, Allen Keiser, Baltimore, 4:20:13 c.t.
MORC (5 starters): 1. Plum Fun, Gary Meyer, Severn, 2:03:43 c.t.; 2. Frog Legs,Paul Awalt, Ellicott City, 2:07:58 c.t.; 3. Bravo!, Denny White, Arnold, 2:55:50 c.t.
Multihull (6 starters): 1. Leading Lady, Buck Beaver, New Cumberland, Pa., 4:30:32 c.t.; 2. Frisky, Margery Ware, Bethesda, 4:41:53 c.t.; 3. Kimberly Anne, Chris Adams, Chester Springs, Pa., 4:54:09 c.t.