The 1992 Congressional Cup Match Race Series, set for March 20-26 out of Long Beach Yacht Club in California, will include on its list ofskippers Harwood native Terry Hutchinson, who cut his sailing teeth locally on the Severn River and Chesapeake Bay.
Hutchinson, who hopes to return to this area -- where his family still is based -- currently lives in Traverse City, Mich., and is associated with Shore Sails Great Lakes.
A two-time College Sailor of the Year while attending Old Dominion University in Virginia, he is a strong competitor with a growing reputation who has earned numerous important sailing titles, including this year's J/24 East Coast Championship in Annapolis.
Sailing with Hutchinson in the Congressional Cup regatta will be Moose McClintock, Ed Reynolds, Mitch Brinley, Bruce Lockwood, Ralph Fisher and Mark Snyder.
Selection as a skipper in the prestigious Congressional Cup is a signal honor and commonly has been considered an important step along the road to future America's Cup competition. Only about two years out of college, Hutchinson is one of the youngest skippers everselected for the event.
Hutchinson's invitation to participate inthe elite invitation-only Congressional Cup was the result of his victory last September in the Ficker Cup, another invitational match-racing event sailed in J/24s in California, in which he defeated noted U.S. match racer Larry Klein, 2-1, in the finals.
"It was pretty interesting, since we're both strong J/24 sailors and the Ficker Cup was sailed in J/24s. Larry beat me, and then he had to make a penalty turn for fouling me at the start, and he lost the second race, and then I won the third one," Hutchinson explained.
"I think that sailing is changing, and there is a lot of opportunity out there. If we have success at this, it will open up a lot of doors. It's all still pretty much up in the air, of course, but it's a great chance for us, and we're really excited about it."
The 1992 event, featuring a stellar lineup of skippers from around the world, is the 26th annual, and is widely considered to be one of the most important world sailing events before the America's Cup itself.
Among the other top-notch skippers who already have accepted invitations to take part in the Congressional Cup are San Diegan Klein, a past J/24 World Champion and former Rolex Yachtsman of the Year; U.S. Soling Olympic gold medalistRobbie Haines of Newport Beach, Calif.; J/24 and Soling World Champion John Kostecki of San Francisco; British America's Cup skipper, World Soling Champion, and four-time Olympic skipper Chris Law; and LBYC's Steve Steiner, representing the host club.
Rounding out the 10 crews will be top skippers from the Italian, New Zealand and French America's Cup challengers, since the Congressional Cup will be one of the last chances for these sailors to test their skills in one-on-onecombat before the Challenger Trial Finals.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Hutchinson said. "We'll be going out to California at the end of February for a week of practice in the boats they'll be using for the regatta. We have a really great crew, and if we can perform with the others in terms of boat handling, I think we'll have a chance.
"I'm really grateful to have Moose on the team to give me pointers on tactics, since he's done a lot of match-racing with Peter Isler, but I think my team racing experience in college will help, and I plan to use a pretty conservative approach."
The Congressional Cup was rescheduled from its traditional mid-March date to fill a break in the America's Cup Challenger and Defender Trials.
The nine-race series will take place in identical Catalina 37 sloops as it did last year, but a change for 1992 is the expectation that prize money will be awarded to the top skippers.
Regatta organizers say that while the details of sponsorship and prizes have not been finalized, the addition of these factors is a major step for the Congressional Cup, which is generally considered to be the grandfather of all other match racing events and a key regatta on the Omega Grand Prix of Match Race Sailing circuit.
North Sails Chesapeake, with its administrative headquarters and service facilities located in Annapolis, lost its Stevensville production loft on Thompson Creek Road in a disastrous fire early in December, but reopened a new production facility on Monday.
"We opened up two doors down from our old loft," said North Chesapeake head Jim Allsopp. "We rented 10,000 square feet from a lumber yard over there and fixed it up. We even put in a new raisedfloor about 3 feet high, which is pretty neat."
Allsopp said it will be about a year before all of the equipment that was lost in the fire can be fully replaced. The blaze was so intense that in additionto totally destroying the building and its lighter-weight contents it reportedly melted heavy equipment such as a drill press. But business now can continue much as usual after the month-long interruption.