Last weekend's Region II Fall Series, co-sponsored by the Magothy River Sailing Association and Cape St. Claire Yacht Club, may have been light on breeze and participation, but it was heavy on competition.
After a long postponement waiting for wind that never materialized, Saturday's race was abandoned, but the seven teams that ventured out on Sunday for the day's two PHRF classes found breeze and challenges aplenty despite a light-air start.
"It was a fun day and a pretty good race," said PHRF C winner Craig Decker, who sailed his Elite 32 Sure Cure to victory in his five-boat class.
"The air was light at the start, but it built up pretty quickly on the first leg. The tide was really ripping out, and we were almost over the [starting] line early."
The course took the fleet from a start near Bodkin Point upwind (and down the bay) to Baltimore Light, then downwind nearly back to the start before sending them on a short, close reach to the finish line.
"As we got about halfway up the first leg the wind started really piping," Decker said. "Half the fleet went one way, and the other half went the other way. It was a choice between more current and less wind on the left and better wind and less current on the right. We picked the wrong side, and rounded the top mark in third behind [David Gendell's S2 7.9] Bang and [Lewis Miller's S2 7.9] Miller's Time."
Despite being several minutes behind his competition, Decker said, "On the spinnaker run dead downwind, there was really no boat in the fleet that could hold us off on that, so by the next mark we were still third around, but it was much closer and we probably had already corrected over Miller's Time.
"We took down the kites and went back upwind, and we powered over Miller's Time. We put up my new genoa from Sobstad, which had never been out of the bag before -- I'd never even seen it before -- and it was the most beautiful sail I've ever seen. We set the leads and just motored."
Although Gendell's Bang got the gun, Sure Cure was only 11 seconds behind and easily corrected into first.
"A lot of the credit for the bullet goes to Sobstad," Decker said. "And all the rest of the credit goes to the crew. I had Pete Rich and Bob Putnam calling tactics, and Mary Grealy did a phenomenal job on the foredeck, even though, to the best of my knowledge, she'd never done a dip-pole jibe before."
MRSA FALL SERIES
PHRF B (2 starters): 1. Caliente, Jim Schmicker, Annapolis.
PHRF C (5 starters): 1. Sure Cure, Craig Decker, Pasadena; 2. Bang, David Gendell, Arnold; 3. Miller's Time, Lewis Miller, Arnold.
Area sailors are making plans for late fall and winter racing, beginning when the regular season ends.
Open to any and all comers as a late-season finale is the Rhode River Boat Club's annual Fall Series, a three-Saturday affair running Nov. 7-21.
Sailboats over 19 feet LOA (length overall) are welcome, provided they have bow and stern pulpits and lifelines, and meet PHRF class 5P requirements, and have a minimum crew of three on board for every race. Those without valid PHRF certificates will be assigned a rating by the race committee.
Series organizers encourage those new to racing as well as experienced racers to take part in this non-spinnaker, just-for-fun event.
"It's a really good way to wind down for the season, or to try racing for the first time in a laid-back environment," said race committee chairman David Scheidt. "It's a lot of bang for the buck, too -- five races for $15, with free beer at the end. As far as boats go, generally speaking, if you're Coast Guard-approved, you meet the requirements."
In addition to spinnakers, mizzen staysails, balloon fisherman sails, bloopers, spinnaker poles and whisker poles are prohibited, as are sail changes after the start, although reefing and lowering sails is permitted.
The series will consist of three to five races of six to 10 miles in length, using government-mark courses in the Severn River.
Weather permitting, regatta organizers hope to get in two races each of the first two weeks with a single contest the final week. The regatta will conclude with a party for all participants at the Severn River Yacht Club at Mears Marina in Eastport, beginning about an hour after the last race of the series on Nov. 21.
The skippers' meeting, at which attendance is "strongly recommended" by race organizers, will be at 9 a.m. Nov. 7 at SRYC. Classes, starting times and divisions will be determined then.
Starts will be given for PHRF and any other one-design class with three or more entries requesting one.
For example, in the Spring Series earlier this year, starts were given for Tanzer 22s and Tritons as well as PHRF racers.
Entry fee for the RRBC Fall Series is $15, payable to RRBC and either brought to SRYC 15 minutes before the skippers' meeting or sent in advance to Race Committee Chairman, RRBC Fall Series, 2709 Thyme Dr., Edgewater, Md. 21037-1120.
For more information, call David Scheidt at (410) 573-1728 (home) or (301) 731-8894 (office).