Annapolis Yacht Club's Fall Series, a three-weekend event traditionally running from the last weekend of September through the second weekend of October, is always a big draw for boats from the Chesapeake Bay, but also for a large number from farther north.
In fact, otherthan the Chesapeake Bay's reputation for having the best breezes of the year in the fall, a major impetus for establishing the regatta series -- first sanctioned by CBYRA in 1940 -- was to provide local boats with the chance to race against large fleets and new competitors by attracting and offering the hospitality of good racing to visiting yachts typically starting to head south for the winter circuit from aNew England summer.
The series has continued ever since -- a highlight of the annual sailing season here as well as farther afield -- with some of the biggest single-class starts of the year and the toughest competition of the year.
The 1991 Fall Series got off to a slightly rough start last Saturday, when light, uncooperative winds made racing for the big-boat fleet of IMS, PHRF A and B, and J/35 sailors impossible.
However, the hordes crammed onto the lower deck of the Yacht Club for the Saturday evening all-fleet party were evidence that this event is as strong as ever.
Sunday's fleet of PHRF C, MORC, and Alberg 30s, Cal 25s, J/24s, J/30s, and Pearson 30s showed up on the starting linenear R '2' 110 strong and took off on a successful windward-leeward race.
The MORC, J/24 and '30, and Pearson 30 sailors used a five-lap version of the course for 10.1 miles, while the 'Cs, Albergs, and Cals ran only three legs for a 6.1-mile race.
Winner on the shorter course in the 18-boat PHRF C class was David Gendell of Arnold and his crew on his S2 7.9 Bang.
"It was a great race," Gendell said. "We got a nice clean start down at the pin end because it seemed to be favored, and got ahead fairly early."
Gendell explained that with the breeze about 15 knots and fairly steady, conditions for his boat and his team were ideal. Once they had the lead, they never gave itup.
"We got in the groove pretty well going upwind," he explained. "The left side seemed to be favored, especially on the first upwindleg, and the boats that went right on that leg didn't do very well at all. So, on the second windward leg just about everybody went left.We had a good spinnaker set and takedown, and everything went right."
On the longer version of the course, intense J/24 competition was once more the rule; that class swelled to 30 starters on Sunday.
Victory in this division went to Annapolitans Ben and Carrie Capuco and their team on Show Dog.
A relatively new sideline element of Fall Series is the annual J/44 Fall Championship Regatta. It combines the availability of AYC's IMS I-class racing with some short-course one-design work and a feeder race to Baltimore leading up to the Cadillac Columbus Cup Regatta. There, beginning Oct. 7, eight of the '44s will be used for competition between a top internationally-ranked group of match racers.
Although the first event of the J/44 Fall Championships -- the AYC Fall Series I race for the IMSers -- did not take place, three short windward-leeward races the next day have resulted in some potential cliff-hangers for the series, as the top four boats of the 10 in the series are separated by a very narrow margin.
Delaware Gov. Pete duPont's Glory team currently leads the series with a total of nine points for the first three of five scheduled events, all of which will be equally weighted. But visiting sailors LeonardSitar on Vamp and Jim Stanley on Capella VII are tied for second place, only three-quarters a point behind at 9.75 after each scored a first, a fourth, and a fifth.
Hot on all of their heels is Annapolitan Ben Michaelson and the team on Quintessence, in fourth with 10.75 -- less than 2 points out of first.
Next Saturday's AYC race and the following day's Race to Baltimore will decide the final outcome, but according to Mark Fischer, a regatta organizer and participant, the series could go to any of the eight boats racing Sunday.
"We hadabout 10 knots out of the south, a perfect breeze, sunny skies, justa perfect fall day for sailing," Fischer said, as he described the success of the day's racing. "The results were very spread out across the fleet, and people were pretty jumbled up on the results, which isgood. All of the boats finished each one of the races within one minute, so it was really close racing, with lots of position changes going around marks and going upwind."
AYC FALL SERIES I (Sept. 29)
MORC (18 starters): 1. Mirage, David Lewis/Fredrik Salvesen, Annapolis/Edgewater, 1:41:38 c.t.; 2. Breakaway, Joel Hamburger, Schnecksville, Pa., 1:42:39 c.t.; 3. Stingray, Robert Muller, Annapolis, 1:42:44c.t.; 4. Frog Legs, Paul Awalt, Ellicott City, 1:43:35 c.t.