This year's Yachting Governor's Cup Race from the state's current capital to its first capital drew a fleet of 270 starters for a classicsummer overnight race in pleasant, manageable conditions.
The 70-mile chase went from Annapolis down the bay and up the Potomac, into the St. Mary's River to historic St. Mary's City. Eleven handicap divisions and three cruising one-design classes competed.
Breezes for the race, which began at 6 p.m. Friday in the mouth of the Severn and finished Saturday morning in front of the St. Mary'sCollege campus, were moderate southerlies. They shifted gradually toward the west as the wind speed built to a high of 18 to 20 knots during the night, and then lightened as the sun appeared.
First to finish, just before 3 a.m. Saturday, was Washingtonian Robert Muldoon and the team aboard his modified Santa Cruz 70 Donnybrook. Muldoon arrived about an hour and a half before the second boat from Annapolis, the Briand 50 Gem, one of St. Mary's College's own entries, racing inPHRF A-I.
Although Muldoon's elapsed time was just under 9 hours,he was about two hours off the mark in his quest to break the elapsed-time record for the race. That was set two years ago in an atypicalscreaming spinnaker reaching contest at 6 hours, 54 minutes by Jim Allsopp on Ichiban, a Holland 50. Because of the handicap rating Donnybrook carries, however, Muldoon fell to the bottom of his seven-boat IMS-I class after corrections.
In the closest competition of the race, Annapolitan Don Zinn and his team on his Heritage One-Ton Goldfish got the gun in the 32-boat PHRF B-I class at 6:47 a.m. and held onto their win by a mere three seconds over fellow Annapolitan Larry Kumins and his crew on his Contessa 35 PollyWannaCracka?.
That alsoearned them the coveted overall best-in-fleet Joseph Waldschmitt Memorial Trophy for topping the class with the closest time margins between first and fifth place.
"We stuck to the game plan," said helmsman David Zinn. "We wanted to sail the current, so we went right fromthe start and laid Thomas Point Light."
A short tacking duel withKumins resulted, as the boats repeatedly changed leads while workingdown the Western Shore toward Herring Bay before taking their only major hitch east toward the mouth of the Choptank.
"We went in to Sharps Island Light," Zinn said, "but we didn't quite make it, so we took a short hitch out, and from there it was straight on (southwest across the bay) down to Point No Point. Larry was right behind us, so we kept it up as high as we could, and I think we were pointing a little better than the rest of the boats.
"We overstood (the Potomac River mouth turning mark at) Point Lookout by about 100 yards, but Larry kept going a little farther than we did, which is where we probably made up some time on him. Then it was a reach to the next mark, and we popped the kite at the entrance to the St. Mary's River."
Despite having had to make an emergency headsail change after ripping their heavy No. 1 Genoa, the Goldfish crew was well in front as their fleet came into the St. Mary's River, but watched what had been a leadthe crew estimated at about 20 minutes erode in the dying breeze.
Aware that Goldfish owed Polly 3 1/2-minutes handicap over the 70-mile course, the Zinns worried about how close Kumins and the others intheir class were getting. They held that concern until the results were posted late Saturday afternoon, since they knew Kumins had finished within a couple of seconds one way or the other of shooting them in the back on corrected time.
"The sun started coming up and the wind went light and then it totally died at one point," Zinn explained. "The other boats were really catching up to us. We knew it was going to be really close, but we were actually kind of surprised that we won."
Zinn said a key to their success was teamwork. "The crew wasawesome," he said, adding that his brother Don Jr., who was navigator/tactician for the race, also deserved special credit for the win.
The Governor's Cup was first sailed in 1973, at the instigation of three St. Mary's graduates, and has continued annually since, routinely drawing fleets of about 300 boats and thousands of post-race revelers for the shoreside festivities at the college.
It is widely considered one of the premier overnight races in the nation and was named a few years ago by Yacht Racing & Cruising as one of the top 10 post-race parties in the sailing world.
St. Mary's College and the Southern Maryland Sailing Association continue to conduct the race, andYachting became its title sponsor last year. Also last year a southern leg was added, for boats racing from Hampton, Va., and this year that portion of the race drew 14 starters in a corresponding 74-mile northbound contest.
Yachting Governor's Cup Race results