Battling boats, tides, winds -- and kelp Chessie update

Whitbread Weekly Update

September 24, 1997|By Peter Baker | Peter Baker,SUN STAFF

Chessie Racing, the Baltimore-Annapolis entry in the Whitbread Round the World Race, has been sailing well during the first three days of competition, and for a short time shared first place with Merit Cup of Monaco.

For the most part, however, Chessie has been sailing in the upper half of the 10-boat fleet, struggling against light, shifting winds, foul tides and tangles of seaweed snagged on the boat's rudder and keel.

"If you're not hauling sails up and down, or hanging over the side trying to clear kelp off the rudder and keel, you're not trying hard enough," Chessie bowman Jerry Kirby said yesterday. "These boats are workhorses. It's been a complete mine field of kelp out there."

During portions of the 24-hour period ending at 2 p.m. (GMT) yesterday, Chessie had been racing closely with Silk Cut and Merit Cup, and in light airs was within three boat lengths. But Chessie skipper Mark Fischer reported having to slow the boat often to clear kelp from the underbody. Kelp on underwater appendages drastically slows the boat.

Pub Date: 9/24/97

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