The wind gods smiled on the Annapolis Yacht Club's Fall Series last weekend.
Virtually perfect conditions for first-rate big-fleet racing were created for both Saturday's J/35, IMS, and PHRF A and B sailors and Sunday's PHRF Cs, MORC and cruising one-design divisions.
For the Saturday fleet of 106 starters, it may have been the second week of Fall Series, but it was the first race of the event, sincethe previous week's race was canceled for lack of wind.
Dave Dodge and his crew on his Tripp 36 Privateer felt that Saturday's sailingmore than made up for the previous week's frustration when they pulled off a victory of nearly three minutes over rival Tripp 36 sailors aboard Vamp in the 18-boat IMS II class.
"We hit all the lifters and headers right," Dodge said. "Everybody was dialed in. It was a very uplifting feeling for the crew."
Dodge wasn't complaining, but he wondered why most of the fleet chose to head toward the right side of the 12.6-mile, five-legged windward-leeward course rather than outinto the deeper water on the left in the 10- to 15-knot southerly breeze.
"The current was ebbing," he said, "so we headed left out into the open water. Just about everybody else headed in to the right -- I really don't know why. We got pretty widely separated from them, so we tacked back onto port and went over toward them a way, but thenwe went back out again to stay in the current."
The victory was asatisfying one for Dodge, who admits to having an uneven season following win after win last year.
"We spent the early season learninghow to sail the boat in light air, which we really didn't have much of last year," he said. "We're hoping for medium air and up next week."
The 131-boat Sunday fleet now has a two-race series under its belt, and some interesting contests over and above the individual races are shaping up.
In the 39-boat J/24 class, the largest division in the regatta, a spread of only three points separates the top six boats, and next week's final race of the series will be hard-fought, especially among the top 10 contenders, all of whom conceivably have agood shot at the top of the heap.
The 21-boat MORC class is another case in point, with a single point the only separation between first and fourth so far.
Sunday's race was equally tight. Chuck O'Malley and his team on his Kirby 30 Rude Awakening topped out the class by a margin of only two seconds corrected time over Bob Muller and the team on his Nelson-Marek 27 Stingray after two hours of racing on the 10.1-mile five-legged windward-leeward course.
In northwesterlybreezes that faded into the upper teens from a pre-start range of 23or 24 knots, the course was set up into the Severn River, adding theneed to pay attention to land-induced shifts to the formula for winning.
"It was a pretty straightforward race," O'Malley said. "Stingray beat us to the first shift and jumped out in front of us, and most of the race we were in third or fourth position, just tracking him down. One thing that helped us was at the second windward mark, when we did a bearaway set and the two J/29s did a gybe set, and our course turned out to be better. We said, hey, we're in second, we can be happy with that -- just don't mess up.
"On the last leg, Bobby (Muller) came across us and we looked like we were pretty much dead even.Then he tacked away heading right and we tacked left, and it helped us work just enough inside him to cross him a quarter-mile from the finish. It was pretty tight."
O'Malley is currently ranked fourth overall after adding Sunday's ace to a first-race fifth.
"There area lot of talented people sailing there in MORC," he said. "I'd say we're in pretty good company up there with (the Lewis/Salvesen team's J/29) Mirage, which is always strong, always up there, (Joel Hamburger's J/29) Breakaway, which is doing really well this year, and Stingray, which was the top East Coast boat at the MORC Internationals. We're just hoping for one more really good race and then call it a season."
AYC FALL SERIES, RACE 2
Saturday, Oct. 5
IMS I (16 starters): 1) Iona, Mark Fischer, Ruxton, 1:18:15 c.t.; 2) Glory, Pete duPont, Rockland, Del., 1:20:16 c.t.; 3) Prima, Norwood Davis, (address unavailable), 1:20:41 c.t.; 4) Capella VII, Jim Stanley, Cumberland Fireside, Maine, 1:21:22 c.t.
IMS II (18 starters, protests pending): 1) Privateer, David Dodge, Annapolis, 1:22:11 c.t.; 2) Vamp, Vamp Syndicate, Annapolis, 1:25:20 c.t.; 3) Vigilant, Mid. Ken Reilley, USNA, 1:28:54 c.t.; 4) Crescendo, Stephen Hiltabidle, Annapolis, 1:29:05 c.t.
IMS III (14 starters): 1) Sugar, Brad
Parker, Annapolis,1:25:09 c.t.; 2) Moonshine, Jim Schneider, Salisbury, 1:28:14 c.t.; 3) Gaylark, Kaighn Smith, Bryn Mawr, Pa., 1:29:15 c.t.
PHRF A (26 starters): 1) Gem, St. Mary's College, 1:59:22 c.t.; 2) Chesapeake, Seward Lawlor, Norfolk, Va., 2:00:12 c.t.; 3) Full Cry, Robert Crompton, Coatsville, Pa., 2:00:30 c.t.; 4) Patriot, Larry Lehner, York, Pa., 2:01:41 c.t.; 5) Moonlighting, Thomas French, Annapolis, 2:04:21 c.t.