It was a good weekend to be out on the bay, and the sailors in the annual Maryland Capital Yacht Club Invitational Regatta could hardly have asked for better.
Saturday's fleet consisted of 59 boats sailing in eight cruising one-design divisions ranging from Rainbows to Olson 30s. They took each other on in a variable northerly breeze over an approximate windward-leeward course around government marks from R'2' to Hacketts Point, to the southern end of the Measured Mile and Thomas Point and back again.
Veteran sailing champion Charlie Scott and his partner of numerous successful campaigns, Charlie Smith, pulled more than rabbits out their hats with their newly refurbished J/30 Houdini to win the day's largest division by a comfortable margin.
"We led at the first mark, but it was really close, maybe 15 or 20 seconds," Scott said. "It was a good beat up to Hacketts, in a typical northerly, kind of up and down in velocity and shifting just a little, not much.
"Then downwind it came in more northwesterly, and we all had to take our spinnakers down and genoa-reach to the mark."
Scott said that as the leaders of the 19-boat J/30 class came across the bay, he was able to gain a larger lead crossing through a group of boats from another class racing in the event.
"We opened it up on the reach," he said. "We had to sail through some Tritons, and that slowed us down some, but it slowed the guys behind me down even more."
A fast and furious final beat to the finish clinched it, Scott said, noting "We had a pretty healthy lead at the finish."
Scott said the J/30 class is one he's pleased to be in, taking his wife and children along as a family project, enjoying good one-design competition in a large fleet with some members of his old world-class crew while teaching his children to sail and having fun.
Sunday's 76 multihull, IMS, PHRF and J/35 sailors found sunnier skies and slightly less reliable air for their contest, although the building breeze still provided good competition.
After missing the gun by a mere 11 seconds as he crossed the finish line in that day's 13-mile windward-leeward race on the hip of Butch Michel's Frers 50 Airwaves, Annapolis sailor Marc McAteer and the crew aboard his Farr 40 Immigrant hammered the competition in their own nine-boat PHRF A-1 class -- and the rest of the PHRF fleet -- with a resounding victory by a substantial corrected-time margin.
"It was a fun day," McAteer said. "In the beginning, it was a bit of luck."
It didn't seem that way at first, however, as the clock ticked off the final stages of the starting sequence, and McAteer found himself in a difficult position.
"We got hammered at the start; I think we were last off the line," McAteer said. "Our plan was to go left, but it looked like everybody else's plan was to go left, too, so we got [squeezed] out and had no option but to go right. Right paid off."
Hunting and finding more breeze on the right side of the first beat near the Eastern Shore, the Immigrant sailors found themselves in third at the first mark and played a conservative but aggressive downwind run, sailing as low as possible without giving up speed.
"Then we stayed right on the second beat again, and most of the others went left again," McAteer said. "Right paid off again. There was a lot more breeze on the Eastern Shore."
McAteer said every time he tacked back to check in with the rest of the fleet, the up-and-down, very shifty breezes would run out, while the air close to the Shore when he tacked back to the right again was stronger and more consistent.
"It was pretty light at the beginning," he said. "But on the last leg the puffs were up to about 16 [knots], and it was averaging 10 to 12. It was a great day to be out there, beautiful temperatures, just a good day to be sailing."
MCYC Invitational Regatta
Rainbow (2 starters): 1. Ace of Spades, Peter Gookin, Arnold; 2. Glass Harp, Bob Mewhinney, Annapolis.
Cal 25 (8 starters): 1. Chicken Little, Charlie Husar, Annapolis; 2. Dominica, Jim Hobson, Annapolis; 3. Jumpin' Jack Flash, John Niemczuk, Glen Burnie.
Catalina 27 (11 starters): 1. Cheshire Cat, Francis Wright, Annapolis; 2. Chaos, Jack Graham, Baltimore; 3. Swell, Derick Lynch, Arnold.
Triton (6 starters): 1. Sea Deuce, Eleanor Holmes, Great Falls, Va.; 2. Sandpiper, Chris Gordon, Chevy Chase; 3. Overdraft, David Hoyt, Glen Burnie.
J/30 (19 starters): 1. Houdini, Charlie Scott/Charlie Smith, Annapolis/Cambridge; 2. Big EZ, Rodriguez Syndicate, Annapolis; 3. Tiger, Tom Donlon, Falls Church, Va.; 4. Valkyrie, Ron Peterson, Annapolis; 5. Peaches, Ron Plesser, Washington.
Olson 30 (2 starters): 1. Moon Lighting, Thomas French, Annapolis; 2. Think Fast, Albert Holt, Annapolis.
Laser 28 (5 starters): 1. Joe Cool, Joe Phillips, Annapolis; 2. Second Repeat, Brian Lees, Annapolis; 3. A Train, Bob Reeves, Annapolis.
Pearson 30 (6 starters, protests pending): 1. Results, Art Libby, Annapolis; 2. Mr. Hyde, Steve Bandy, Annapolis; 3. Constellation, Henry Starr, Silver Spring.