With 35 boats competing in five classes over three Saturdays, this year's Rhode River Boat Club Spring Series, regarded by many as an important preseason tune-up experience for sailors whose skills may haverusted a bit over the winter, counted as a success.
For one team of sailors especially, it marked an important achievement, the successful result of hard work, concentration and practice, and a proud andexciting first-time win in a local series.
Riva sailor Mike Henderson and his crew of family and friends on Insipid sailed to the top of the nine-boat PHRF B class, which was perhaps the tightest and most competitive group in the regatta.
"We've all been sailing together now for at least a year and a half, although some of us have sailed together on other boats for longer," Henderson said. "We've finally started getting our act together, and learned the boat."
"That class was pretty much like one-design racing," said Race Committee Chairman Dave Scheidt, pointing to a mere 15-point spread in PHRF ratings among the group, which ranged from 168 to 183 and was made up by half of J/24s. "It was very tight."
The spring series began the first weekend in April and ran through Saturday,with two races each of the first two weekends and a single contest as a finale, for a total of five. The series was a challenging mix of heavy and light air, and periodically was marked by poor visibility in dense fog.
"The middle weekend and last weekend there was a lot of fog," Scheidt said as he described the difficulty of laying out a course in the narrow confines of the Severn River using government marks. "The only real windward leg I could find was out to Hackett's Point, and finding that can in the fog was half the battle."
Scheidtsaid Henderson was running two points out of first at the start of the last race, with Craig MacGibbon and the crew on his J/24 Gone WithThe Wind in the lead.
A second-place finish for Henderson, while MacGibbon took fifth in the last race, gave the series to the Insipidcrew by a point with finishes of 1-2-4-3-2.
"We had a good first day," Henderson said. "On the second day we had a good race and a poor race, so the last week we just tried to keep ourselves dialed in and keep our heads together. Any time we can beat J/24s we feel pretty good. We tried."
In other competition in the regatta, PHRF C winner J.C. O'Brien and the team on his Catalina 27 Finnegan's Wake were untouchable by the competition, acing all five races.
"Nobody else was even close," Scheidt said. "They were way out there in front. It was pretty spectacular."
The positioning of the top two in the mixed-up PHRF A division -- which covered more than 100 points in PHRF rating, including boats ranging from 54 to 160 -- was fairly clear from the start. Steve Kaminer and the crew on Predator were first with three aces, a second and a third, and Ron Peterson and team on Valkyrie were in second, with a bullet, a pair of seconds, a third and a fourth. But the fight for third was brutal.
Here the tie-breaker wentto Bonnie Schloss and the crew on Bear Boat, topping Steve Garman onRapid Transit.
"That was a very tight third," Scheidt said.
Inthe six-boat Triton class, for whom RRBC's spring and fall series are always exciting and competitive events, the winners were Chris Gordon and team on Sandpiper, with three bullets, followed by Eleanor Holmes and crew on Sea-Deuce, taking four seconds among her finishes, and Jasper Welch and his team on Traveller, with four thirds among his finishes.
New to the regatta this year was a field of Tanzer 22s from the Chesapeake Sailing School, organized for the event by CSS's Winston Kinard. The school was invited by RRBC as a means of encouraging newer sailors to join in bay racing following intramural work through CSS's Thursday night Tiller Club.
With four boats starting, only one trophy was awarded, to first-place winner Paul Noone of Gaithersburg.
RRBC Spring Series results
PHRF A (7 entries): 1. Predator, Steve Kaminer, Washington, 9 pts.; 2. Valkyrie, Ron Peterson, Annapolis, 11 pts.; 3. Bear Boat, Bonnie Sue Schloss, Silver Spring, 24pts.
PHRF B (9 entries): 1. Insipid, Mike Henderson, Riva, 12 pts.; 2. Gone With the Wind, Craig MacGibbon, Bowie, 13 pts.; 3. Blue Jay, Marcy Ridenour, Pa., 18 pts.
PHRF C (9 entries): 1. Finnegan's Wake, J.C. O'Brien, Pasadena, 5 pts.; 2. Airborne, Cary Garman, Centreville, 14 pts.; 3. Bakalava, Norbert Pasa, Annapolis, 18 pts.
Triton (6 entries): 1. Sandpiper, Chris Gordon, Chevy Chase, 8 pts.; 2. Sea-Deuce, Eleanor Holmes, Falls Church, Va., 12 pts.; 3. Traveller, Jasper Welch, Arlington, Va., 16 pts.
Tanzer 22 (4 entries): 1. Defender, Paul Noone, Gaithersburg.
Don't forget this weekend'ssecond annual Annapolis Spring Boat Show in the Annapolis Yacht Basin, sponsored by the Marine Trades Association of Maryland and the Yacht Architects and Brokers Association.