Brisk winds and choppy waters set the stage for a bracing regatta

SAILING

September 06, 1992|By Nancy Noyes

When the tag end of Hurricane Andrew raced through town last Friday, it brought 30-plus-knot winds and very choppy seas and got the annual J/29 North American Championship regatta off to a wild and woolly start.

Challenging conditions continued even after the skies cleared Friday evening, and excellent heavy to moderate breeze held for the next two days. That allowed the 14-boat fleet to complete a record nine races before the regatta ended last Sunday afternoon.

Courses for the event, which was managed by Maryland Capital Yacht Club, were four-legged windward-leewards and a five-legged version in the final race on Saturday.

In an unusual turn of events, a tie for first place between Annapolis native David Moss and the crew on Inside Scoop and the visiting Hustler team of New Yorkers Tony and John Esposito remained unbroken at the series' end. Because the sailing instructions specified only comparing the numbers of firsts, seconds and thirds as the tiebreaker, the two teams will share the 1992 title.

"We were hanging on," Moss said. "On Friday in the first race it was blowing 20 -- but it was only a warm-up for the last race when it was up to 30 with gusts to 35."

There were plenty of gear breakdowns and torn sails plaguing virtually all members of the fleet in the wild and building air on Friday, but most of the competitors survived more or less intact to go on and race another day.

The exception was last year's CBYRA J/29 High Point and J.F. Healy overall cruising one-design trophy winners, the Lewis/Salvesen team and their crew aboard Mirage, who withdrew from the regatta after a first-race collision disabled the boat and injured one crewman.

Moss was among the many skippers who lost sails on Friday, irreparably shredding his 3/4 -ounce spinnaker in a nasty broach in the day's third and final race.

The fourth race that day was the deciding contest of the regatta, Moss said, describing a mark-rounding situation between Hustler and Inside Scoop in which he and his team were able to take advantage of a snarled jib on Hustler to gain the upper hand.

"They couldn't get their jib sheeted in," Moss explained, "but they tried to stuff us anyway. We had had a perfect take-down and stuck our nose inside their hip. Then they were rolled by at least two more boats."

The Hustler crew protested, but after a hearing that went on well into the evening, Moss was exonerated.

After misjudging the favored end of the line and a bad start in Sunday's first race, Moss and his crew clawed back up to finish eighth, knowing it would be their throw-out. But with a single contest to go and the title in the balance, the pressure was definitely on.

"The wind had come up a little, and we got in a match-race start with Hustler," Moss said. "We won the start, won the pin, got out left and took one tack back, and had the whole fleet to leeward. Coming back downwind we were actually able to increase our lead even more."

J/29 North American championships

1. [tie] Inside Scoop, David Moss, Annapolis, 18.25 (2-5-3-1-1-4-2- and Hustler, Tony & John Esposito, New York, 18.25 (1-1-5- [9]-3-1-4-2-2); 3. Breakaway, Joel Hamburger, Schnecksville, Pa., 20.75 (3-3-2-[WDN]-4-2-1-3-3); 4. Posse, Paul Andersen, Urbanna, Va., 24.75 (4-2-1-3-2-[9]-3-5-5); 5. The Simpsons, Thompson/Shannahan, St. Michaels, 36 (5-[7]-4-4-5-3-5- 4-6).

Nancy Noyes is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association and has been racing on the bay for about five years. Her Sailing column appears every Wednesday and Sunday in the Anne Arundel County Sun.

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