Slow is the word in Governor's Cup race Light winds hinder all boats in 70-mile test

OUTDOORS

August 04, 1996|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

ST. MARY'S CITY -- The 70-mile Governor's Cup sailing race from Annapolis to the first colonial capital of Maryland got off to a slow start Friday evening, and through the day yesterday competitors in the 179-boat fleet straggled across the finish line on the St. Mary's River.

Baltimore sailors won two of the 10 racing classes, with Willard Scott winning PHRF B-1 and Howard Stroterhoff winning PHRF B-2.

Racers said light winds kept speeds down throughout Friday night and yesterday, and by mid-afternoon, 20 boats were still racing.

"In past years, we have still had boats on the course this late," said race committee chairman Barbara Vosbury of Annapolis, who has been involved with this race since it started in 1974. "But I can't ever remember having this many boats out there this late."

In past years, the fastest of the fleet usually has arrived at the finish line off St. Mary's College before first light Saturday morning. This year, race organizers said, the 90-foot sloop Marina was first to finish about 7 a.m.

"This is the first year the first finisher finished in daylight," said Vosbury.

Dave Dunigan, who raced aboard Fatal Attraction, a Farr 39 from Norfolk, Va., that crossed the finish line about 7: 30 a.m., said the winds were adequate but the best logistics for the race were the exception rather than the rule.

"The guys who went to the Eastern Shore going down the bay made out big-time," said Dunigan. "Those who took the traditional western shore side didn't make out as well."

Vosbury said race tactics change as the boats enter the St. Mary's River, where positioning is crucial.

"The key to this race is getting to the junction buoy [near the river mouth] first and holding that position," said Vosbury. "The last seven miles up the river to the college is like race No. 2."

Other class winners were Bert Nye of Annapolis in Alberg 30, Renine John of Lancaster, Pa., in J-30, Jere Glover of Annapolis in multihulls, Paul Park of Shadyside in PHRF A-0, Andrew Wilson of Annapolis in PHRF A-1, Chris Croosey of Arlington, Va., in PHRF A-2, Jeff Hall of Annapolis in PHRF C and Spike Wineland of Galesville in PHRF D.

By noon yesterday, a few thousand sailors and family members were moving along the docks and walkways or napping on lawns or boat decks. A band was playing island music, and a lone dancer held the dance floor, close by a loudspeaker, rhythmically entranced by the music and the moment.

The aftermath of the Governor's Cup is a lawn party at St. Mary's College, which again has sole control of the race -- and post-race festivities.

Race organizers have tightened control of the race and the racers by strengthening eligibility requirements for the race and no longer providing free alcoholic beverages to racers.

A few years ago, Sailing World magazine ranked the regatta party as one of the 10 best in the country. By 1986, the Governor's Cup had an entry list of 470 boats, which racers and organizers thought was too large a field to handle -- on the water and off.

"It got to the point where the people were coming for the party, rather than for the racing," said one race organizer. "And when you get that many people racing down the bay at night, with

some of them unsure what they are doing, well, it gets a little crazy."

At 70 miles, the Governor's Cup is one of the longer races sanctioned by the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association, and the logistics of sailing the race are exciting.

"What makes this a great race is a combination of things," said Vosbury, who sailed in the inaugural race 22 years ago. "But night racing is really challenging. And with night racing diminishing around the bay, this is one of the few chances these racers have to experience it."

Pub Date: 8/04/96

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