The Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association-sanctioned season of sailboat racing in this area officially began on Saturday with the NavalAcademy Sailing Squadron's annual Spring Race.
For some of the 115 starters in 12 classes of competition, including the new PHRF A-1 and A-2 divisions created specifically for Region III/Annapolis area events, the race was a rough beginning to the season.
It seemed that both sailors and the wind itself were a bit out ofpractice after their long winter's rest from racing.
Other sailors, notably those aboard several new boats on the scene -- including Peter Gordon's Farr 44 Gaucho, Butch Michel's Frers 50 Airwaves and Don Zinn's Capri 37 Infringer -- used the event as a chance to show theothers on the course what they will be up against as the season goeson.
Fluky wind conditions in a dying, radically shifting and veryuneven breeze made the 10.2-mile course a real test of persistence and creativity and skewed results in some classes crazily across huge spans of time. But the conditions also provided some extremely close finishes as well when more than half of the fleet came in to the linein a single group.
"It was a long day out there," said race official Jean Kluttz. "But in one nine-minute period, we finished 64 boats."
Annapolis sailor Steve Olinger and the crew on his J/29 Tops Optional were rewarded for hanging in there no matter how bad things looked with a gun and a corrected-time win by a margin of more than 12 minutes when they won their 10-boat PHRF A-2 class.
"Everybody gets lucky sometimes," said Olinger, who has owned and raced the boat here for just under a year. "The key was never giving up. It truly was a very fluky race."
The first leg of the race, which originally was set as an Olympic triangle, was more or less normal at the start, Olinger said, in winds which ranged from 8 to 12 knots at first, only to drop off about two-thirds of the way up the three-mile leg to the 4- to 7-knot range.
As the fleet rounded the top mark and headed out toward the wing, the first reach became a run, forcing a number ofjibes, while the second reach turned into a close-hauled windward fetch to the original leeward mark, where the wind died altogether.
The final leg, a beat due north along the Eastern Shore to a radically relocated mark, was the toughest in the spotty air. Successful sailors found that the closer to the Eastern Shore they went, the more wind there was, while those who went west toward the mid-bay were becalmed, Olinger said.
"Being in a good position after the first leg was critical, to take advantage of the shifts up the last leg," Olinger said.
"Tom French on Moonlighting was first around the mark, buthe found a big hole, and we literally sailed a great circle around him, just staying in the wind. Then Jack Keniley on Dilemma did the same thing to us, and he was in the lead, but toward the finish he couldn't decide which boat to cover, and we got by him again."
Host Navy's Varsity Offshore Team members also did well in the race, with top honors in IMS II nailed down by Mid. 1/C Chuck Cook of Fairfax, Va., and his crew on Flirt, and third taken by Mid. 1/C Jared East of Salinas, Cal., and his team on Vigilant.
In IMS I, Navy's Mid. 1/C Rob Schult of Severna Park and the crew on Insurgente took third.
Other sailors were not so lucky or smart. At least one boat formed a rather intimate relationship with a drop mark, snagging the mark's anchor line with its rudder and hanging up there for some time, as the mark-retrieval crew found out when it tried to raise the mark's heavily grounded anchor.
NASS Spring Race results
IMS I (6 starters):1) Gaucho, Peter Gordon, Annapolis, 00:17:21 c.t.; 2) Dancer, Bill Steitz, Pittsburgh, Pa./Annapolis, 00:19:12 c.t.; 3) Insurgente, Mid. 1/C Rob Schult, USNA, 00:21:59 c.t.
IMS II (10 starters): 1) Flirt, Mid. 1/C Chuck Cook, USNA, 00:21:19 c.t.; 2) Predator, Steve Kaminer, Washington, 00:22:12 c.t.; 3) Vigilant, Mid. 1/C Jared East, USNA,00:27:50 c.t.
IMS III (5 starters): 1) The Knife, Mack Latz, Atlantic City, N.J., 1:02:12 c.t.; 2) Where Egos Dare, Bill Price, Annapolis, 1:23:45 c.t.; 3) Uh Oh, Sonny Smith, 1:35:19 c.t.
PHRF A-1 (10 starters): 1) Airwaves, Robert Michel Jr., Baltimore, 1:54:11 c.t.;2) Infringer, Donald Zinn, Annapolis, 1:58:35 c.t.; 3) Constellation, Mid. 1/C Kyle Weaver, USNA, 2:00:52 c.t.
PHRF A-2 (10 starters):1) Tops Optional, Steve Olinger, Annapolis, 3:04:48 c.t.; 2) Moonlighting, Thomas French, Annapolis, 3:17:23 c.t.; 3) Bam, G.N. Smernoff,Annandale, Va., 3:17:53 c.t.
PHRF B (9 starters): 1) Flying Circus, Jervis Dorton, Columbia, 3:03:08 c.t.; 2) Crazy Ivan, Jeffrey Harris, Edgewater, 3:04:06 c.t.; 3) Hilite, Leonard Eastman, Annapolis, 3:06:36 c.t.
PHRF C (6 starters): 1) Finnegan's Wake, John O'Brien,Pasadena, 2:45:50 c.t.; 2) Haiku, W & P Scott, Baltimore, 2:48:17 c.t.; 3) Ragtime, James Stansbury, (address unavailable), 2:48:27 c.t.