Popular weeknight series are set to sail


April 18, 1993|By NANCY NOYES

In a few days, the sailboat racing season will begin in earnest, despite the fact that the first officially sanctioned High Point events are still two weeks away.

The popular sport of weeknight racing, a preoccupation from spring to fall in this area, is back for another year.

Weeknight racing gives sailors a chance to enjoy racing in a relatively relaxed atmosphere, to tune up for more serious weekend competition, or just to take a break in the work week and have some fun.

Weeknight series, most of which are on Wednesdays, can be found from the Patapsco to the West River, and each has its own style and substance.

Biggest and probably best known is the Annapolis Yacht Club's Wednesday Night Series, an institution dating back at least 40 years and the first of its kind in the region. It routinely draws upward of 125 boats, ranging from the biggest, baddest high-tech IMS warhorses to Rainbows. This series offers starts for about a dozen classes, including IMS, MORC, PHRF, Alberg 30, Cal 25, J/30, J/24, J/22, Pearson 30 and Rainbow.

The starting sequence goes on for nearly an hour in the Severn River near the mouth of Spa Creek and brings racing home to the city with a finish line up in Spa Creek in front of the club and the Eastport Bridge.

AYC's series, an invitational event for club members and members of Severn Sailing Association and the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron, begins April 28 with registration and the skippers' meeting at 5 p.m. at the club before the first starting sequence begins at 6:15.

The AYC Wednesday Night Series is constructed in two separately scored halves, with the First Half running through June 23, and the Second Half from July 14 through Aug. 25.

A little farther north, starting this week, is the younger and smaller, but no less vigorous, Wednesday night series jointly run by the Magothy River Sailing Association, the Cape St. Claire Yacht Club, the Gib

son Island Yacht Squadron and the Potapskut Sailing Association.

With courses set in the lower Magothy, where wind is generally available even when there's none on the bay, the non-stop series is divided into five mini-series of four weeks each, capped off by a special wrap-up short series in the fall, for six classes of racers.

Starts are provided for PHRF, MORC and PHRF Nonspinnaker, and entrants in this invitational series must be members of one of the sponsor clubs. Entry fee is $50 for all 22 races.

Another small but lively series for Wednesday-night sailors is the Pirate's Cove Race Club event, which also begins this week in Galesville.

Using courses set on the Rhode and West rivers, this series is for PHRF and PHRF Nonspinnaker and each race starts and finishes near its namesake restaurant. It also includes a lively finale after the finish, complete with videos of the racing.

For North County sailors who keep their boats on one of the many creeks off the Patapsco, the Rock Creek Racing Association's Wednesday night series is a convenient and fun option.

Like its AYC counterpart, the RCRA series begins on the 28th. Starts are offered for PHRF and Nonspinnaker, as well as a unique cruising class for people with non-race-ready boats and/or little experience racing that has been added this year.

In fact, RCRA is willing to assign an experienced skipper to the boat of anyone who is unsure of rules, start ing, and so on, as well as to provide ratings for those without one.

Race officials say they also will add dinghy or multihull starts if enough interest is shown.

The 20-race series will take place on courses that start near White Rocks and finish at the entrance of Rock Creek.

The series is limited to RCRA members, but membership is easy and inexpensive ($25 annually), and the series fee is $20.

Race Committee Chairman Frank Courtright, phone (410) 730-2301, or Secretary/Treasurer David Copley, (410) 255-9081, can help interested North County sailors get started in joining the weeknight racing fun.

But wait, there's more, for Tuesday and Thursday schedules, too.

Severn Sailing Association conducts a club-racing Tuesday night series for one-designs, which will begin May 4 for classes including Snipes and Lasers, but also possibly accommodating Thistles, 420s, Daysailers and International 14s as well as Stars or J/24s.

Final details are pending for this informal program, but a tentative start date has been set for May 4.

J/24 and J/22 sailors have their own night on the water on Thursdays, in a series sponsored by J/Boats Chesapeake.

This is short-course racing of a very intense kind, using three short windward-leeward courses each evening. A major goal of the series is to offer good training and practice opportunities in boat and sail handling.

Courses are set off Chesapeake Harbor in the lower Severn.

The series will run from May through August, with the skippers' meeting and registration at 6 p.m. on April 29 at J/Port at 213 Eastern Ave. in Eastport and the first race May 6.

Open to members of J/24 Fleet 8 and J/22 Fleet 17, the series costs $30 for four months of excitement.

Weeknight racing is a good way to get one's feet wet, to power up for weekend competition, and to take more advantage of our location on the Chesapeake Bay. Besides, it's just plain fun.

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