It's still the biggest, and plans are well under way to make it the best ever. Annapolis Race Week, under the overall auspices of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association, is set this year for Saturday through Monday, Aug. 31 through Sept. 2.
Race Week chairman Howard Kluttz says he expects a similar turnout to last year's 200-plus boats, making Annapolis Race Week once again the largest multi-class, multi-race keelboat event on the Chesapeake Bay.
This year especially, it's a be-there-or-be-square event not to be missed by any self-respecting handicap or cruising one-design sailor, with starts for four PHRF splits, three IMS divisions and MORC, aswell as J/35s, J/30s, J/24s, Pearson 30s, Alberg 30s, Cal 25s and Catalina 27s.
As it has been managed for the past seven years, the classes will be divided among two separate fleets, each with its own course area, and race management will be by seven individual clubs: Annapolis Yacht Club, Eastport Yacht Club, Magothy River Sailing Association, Naval Academy Sailing Squadron, Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, Shearwater Sailing Club, and West River Sailing Club.
Racing forFleet 1 (PHRF A and B, all IMS, J/35s and J/30s) will be managed by AYC on Saturday, MRSA/SSC on Sunday, and SCC on Monday, while Fleet 2(everyone else) events will be administered by NASS on Saturday, EYCon Sunday and WRSC on Monday.
"This is the 25th year we've had a Race Week, and it's going to be the best one we've ever had," Kluttz said as he described improvements to the successful format of the very recent past.
In addition to top-quality race management, under the overall direction of On-the-Water chairman Mark Murphy, shoreside events as organized by Shore Events chairman Bob Jett and his Sail Annapolis Committee also should be first-rate.
"The goal is to use all drop-mark courses," Murphy explained. "It's the third year we've had this format, and it's proven successful. The nice thing about it is that it's a unified event, with three days of good racing. It's self-contained, and a lot bigger than any one club would have the resources to put together, and people seem to have fun."
Each year the event has evolved and improved. Last year's was definitely the best todate, with more than 200 boats, three days of good cooperation from the wind gods, excellent race management headquartered at the Annapolis Yacht Club's lower-level Skipjack Lounge, and fine hospitality at Bert Jabin's Yacht Yard, which served each evening as party central.
This year's improvements on that outstanding formula include full-bore parties with food and beverages available all three nights instead of only on Saturday and Sunday, live music at the Saturday and Sunday night parties and a disc jockey Monday, and trophies awarded about 9 each evening, including the overall awards on Monday.
Primary sponsor for all this fun is Katcef Brothers Distributors/Michelob beer, while Bert Jabin remains the host at his Edgewood Road Yacht Yard.
"It will definitely be better than it was last year," Jett said. "And we'll have plenty of beer this time -- last year we ran out."
Jett said food concessionaires will be the Waterman's Co-op and the St. Mary's School Athletic Association. Food will be plentiful and reasonably priced, he added.
Also once again, we'll be awarding an Anne Arundel County Sun trophy to the skipper whose 1991 performance at Race Week is most improved over last year's.
The other special awards include the City of Annapolis Trophy for the overall Race Week winner, the Silhouette Trophy for the overall PHRF division winner, the Trig Bowl for best in IMS and the Healey Memorial Trophy for the overall COD winner.
It's time to get your crew together, get serious about honing your racing skills (AYC's Annual Regatta the weekend immediately preceding is an excellent opportunity to do just that), and turn in your entry for three days of excellent competition and fun on the water and ashore.
The Special Sailing Instructions and regatta information brochure will be available from CBYRA in about a weekfor those who don't want to wait until 7 a.m. the first day of racing to pick them up at AYC/Race Week Headquarters.
Sailors looking for boats to crew aboard or crew to join them for the event should remember CBYRA's crew-matching service. Potential crew list their experience and qualifications in a register and skippers can go to the CBYRA office and look through the listings to find a good match.
Volunteers also are needed, especially to help with hospitality functions such as selling tickets and dispensing beverages at the parties, Jettsaid. Hopefully enough people will help out that no one will need tospend more than an hour or two on a shift. Jett said that anyone whowants to help can call him at his office, 267-8178, or leave a message for him at the CBYRA office, 269-1194.
Don't miss out on this year's premier local event for big-boat racers. We'll see you out there.
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.