Severn River Yacht Club's annual fun race event, the pursuit-start format Bacardi Cup was a smashing success.
More than 80 boats turned up on Saturday for a merry seven-mile chase from Hacketts Point to Tolley Point, to the north end of the measured mile, and back to Hacketts in excellent breeze under sunny skies.
After registration, a list of start times, based on each boat's PHRF handicap, was issued to the participants, who ranged from seasoned racers with speed machines to family cruisers with little or no racing experience, sporting awnings and dodgers.
Boats with lower ratings/correction factors started after those with higher ones. Winning contestants had to pass those who started earlier without letting anyone else pass them. The final ranking was the finish order, without further adjustment.
The first starter, Don Frye's Triton Jubilant, went off promptly at noon, and the last, the Bulman/Scholz/Winston syndicate's Frers 38 Yellow Jacket, left the line more than 20 minutes later.
Sailing with my husband, Steve Voorhis, and friends Steve Barney and Colleen Kane aboard our J/24 Dilligaff, we were set to start at our assigned time, 12:09:14, 34th in the lineup, along with another J/24 and a Pearson 30.
With spinnakers, drifters, bloopers and other specialty sails prohibited in the event, the fleet jib reached down the first leg as positions already were changing from the starting order, though many early starters were still out front.
Gybing around Tolley Point buoy, we headed off on the downwind leg across the bay to our first big decision -- whether to go above or below a tanker anchored on the rhumb line.
We chose to go above, but as low to the tanker's bow as possible, only to come out from behind the anchored ship to see a fast-moving tug and barge combination roaring up the bay. Our evasive maneuver turned out to be expensive in terms of lost boat-lengths and positions.
Many top finishers, including the winning Cheers -- Tim Bowen's J/35 which started next-to-last, just 21 seconds in front of Yellow Jacket -- Jack Murphy's J/30 Mischief, and Jim Troutman's Beneteau 35 Anser, in second and third at the finish, went below the ship.
Hardening up from the mark to head for the finish, we planned to take the long port tack first, but as other boats that had tacked earlier began to settle in to weather of our hip, we took a series of hitches to stay in touch with them and avoid being caught on the outside of the left-hand wind shift we expected.
The bigger, faster boats, such as Steve Schaub's Farr 33 Contraire, Yellow Jacket, Bruce Bingman's and Taran Teague's J/27 Mischief and Chuck Bell's J/30 Beef Trust, had gotten too close and were able to roll us before the finish. Getting left on the last leg proved to be something of a salvation, and we were happy when we crossed the finish line 10th of the 79 registered boats that started.
Among those who held their own, the best from start to finish were Mike Higgins' Cal 29 Matinee in fourth, and Tom Walsh's Catalina 27 Four Little Ducks in fifth, both of whom were among the first 25 starters.
Afterward, sponsor Bacardi Rum provided a cookout at SRYC's headquarters at Mears Marina in Eastport for the participants. More the $1,200 was raised from entry fees to benefit the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels.
Hats off to all of the sailors who took part, and to event chairmen Charlie Jennings and Fred Gloss of SRYC, Bacardi Imports division manager George Avery, CBMM Director John Valliant, and everyone else who made the event so much fun.
We're already looking forward to next year.
1. Cheers, Tim Bowen, Bowie; 2. Mischief, Jack Murphy, Annandale, Va.; 3. Anser, Jim Troutman, Bethesda; 4. Matinee, Michael Higgins, Annapolis; 5. Four Little Ducks, Tom Walsh, Annapolis; 6. Contraire, Steve Schaub, Eldersburg; 7. Yellow Jacket, Bulman/Scholz/Winston, Annapolis; 8. Mischief, Bingman/Teague, Arlington, Va.; 9. Beef Trust, Chuck Bell, [address unavailable]; 10. Dilligaff, Voorhis/Noyes, Annapolis;
11. Crazy Ivan, Jeffrey Harris, Edgewater; 12. Orient Express, Rea Keech, Severna Park; 13. Smart Aleck, Charles Giuffra, [address unavailable]; 14. A-1 Express, James Perrie, Edgewater; 15. Lightning Rod, Steve Kenyon, Stafford, Va.; 16. Dilemma, Jack Keniley, Annapolis; 17. Panache, Tom & Mary Coan, Potomac, 18. Aft'rmath, C. Mitchell Dayton, Annapolis; 19. Fireworks, Stephen Judson, Gambrills; 20. Stingray, Rene Valliant-Muller, Annapolis.
Long courses, excellent race management and cooperative breezes gave this year's competitors in the Gibson Island Yacht Squadron's 55th annual J. Ruhlon Miller Chesapeake Bay Star Championship regatta a chance to test their mettle in conditions as close as possible to the standards of the Star Class International over the weekend.