Chris Larson of Annapolis won the 1994 J/24 North American Championship in St. Petersburg, Fla., last month, topping the 42-boat fleet by an eight-point margin.
The win, Larson's first North American Championship in the J/24 class, comes after five top-eight finishes in as many years. In J/24s, Larson is the current European Champion, U.S. National (tactician), and placed second in the 1994 J/24 World Championships and the East Coast Championships.
The seven-race, no-throw-out regatta offered racers a full spectrum of conditions, including Tropical Storm Gordon's 25- to 35-knot winds resulting in high seas. Conditions gradually lightened through the regatta, until the air had decreased considerably by Race 6, leaving racers with huge wind shifts.
Racing was highly competitive, pitting Larson against his old rival Terry Hutchinson, a native of Harwood now living in Newport, R.I., and former Annapolitan Chris Snow, in Florida for the regatta from his current home in San Diego.
Sailing with Larson were Tom Hill, Gavin and Stuart Flinn, and Jon Rogers. By the end of the third day and fourth race overall, the team stood 3.75 points ahead of Hutchinson and Snow, who were tied for second.
As the last race got under way, Larson led at the first mark with Snow close behind him. At the end of the first downwind leg, Larson chose the starboard leeward gate, while Snow used the port gate, catching the first shift up the leg and going on to finish second in the race, while Larson and his team finished sixth.
A protest resulting from a mark-rounding incident in the sixth race ultimately cost Snow the regatta and the championship title. Snow was found to have fouled Brad Read at the first leeward mark and did not exonerate himself. Read's successful protest dropped Snow to fourth overall for the regatta, behind former Annapolitan Doug Clark.
J/24 North Americans
1. Chris Larson, 27.75 (1-2-5-4-2-8-6); 2. Terry Hutchinson, 35.75 (2-3-1-6-6-13-5); 3. Doug Clark, 53 (7-4-7-5-11-11-8); 4. Chris Snow, 62 (3-1-2-11-1-DSQ-2); 5. Brad Read, 63, (5-5-6-12-12-16-7).
Steve's Yacht Repairs expands
Ever since word got out that longtime operator Bob Turner had left the Annapolis Harbor Boatyard a couple of weeks ago, speculation had been running high as to who would take over the prime Spa Creek site at Yacht Haven in Annapolis. As of Thursday, the new operator is Steve Uthoff and his Steve's Yacht Repairs crew.
Steve's will keep its longtime shop facility at the Back Creek end of Third Street in Eastport, but now will have haul-out and winter and brokerage storage facilities, along with a 35-ton travel-lift and 10-ton crane and the added space of the small AHBY shop at its disposal.
Locals do well in Caribbean
As the West Marine Caribbean 1500 fleet arrived in St. Thomas last month more than 250 cruising sailors celebrated the completion of their 1,500-mile passage from Hampton, Va.
Among those who did particularly well were Melvin Black of Annapolis and his crew aboard his Beneteau 390 Sojourner, winners of Class 6; and Annapolitans Don and Lorraine Carren and their crew aboard their Valiant 40 Promise, first in Class 7.
The 60-boat, 10-class fleet was the largest yet for the event, now in its fifth year. The 1500 is a passage in company for sailors taking their boats south to wintering grounds in the islands.
On the passage, positions were shared during a twice-daily radio chat that kept the group in touch with one another and with expected conditions. After a stronger-than-expected blow in the Gulf Stream, the fleet experienced days of moderate northeasterly winds, making for an unusually fast rally.
Other local skippers with strong finishes included Bud Matteson of Pasadena, sailing his Lagoon 37 Cat'N Around to second in Class 1; and Hal and Helen Sutphen, well known for years of involvement in Naval Academy sailing, aboard their Pearson 424 Sea Duty, out of Norfolk, second in Class 8.