Numbers lengthens lead over Chesapeake field

Two firsts and a third help Coutts' crew earn an 11-point advantage

May 01, 1999|By SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Skipper Russell Coutts and his savvy Numbers crew finished their domination of the nine-race inshore series of the Chesapeake Grand Prix yesterday with another masterful demonstration of the basics.

They started with good boat positioning and mixed fine crew work with superior boatspeed, something not easy to do in these identically matched 48-foot Reichel-Pugh-designed sailing boats. The results were two wins and a third-place showing, a performance good enough to stretch its lead over the George Collins-owned Chessie by 11 points.

"I think someone among us will likely be the winner in the next [America's] Cup," said skipper Ed Baird, whose boat Starlight moved up to fourth, as he acknowledged the intense competition in this regatta.

Coutts, whose team is the defending America's Cup champion, gives little away either on the water or in land-based conversation, and refused to take the bait, saying only, "In the last Cup we were never considered strong contenders."

As winner of seven of the nine inshore races that were held in Baltimore's Outer Harbor, Numbers will be presented the CAN (Cure Autism Now) Cup at the "Ship of Dreams, a Night of Stars" gala celebration to benefit the CAN foundation tonight.

Despite holding an 11-point lead in the series, Numbers' work is not finished; it must still compete in tomorrow's final distance race. The 20- to 30-mile contest starts at noon under the Bay Bridge, to coincide with the Bay Bridge Walk, allowing thousands to watch the action from above. The race, which is worth double points, will end later in the afternoon in Annapolis.

If Numbers were to drop out of the distance event and Chessie were to win, Chessie would wind up winning the Grand Prix title.

The only other boats to win in the inshore series were Chessie in the second race, when Numbers was penalized for a foul during some tight pre-start maneuvers, and Prime Outlets.

Prime Outlets was steered to victory in yesterday's second race by Annapolis-based skipper Terry Hutchinson. It was a very good day for Hutchinson, whose boat was 3-1-3 on the day and moved up to third in the standings.

Going into tomorrow's distance race, Chessie and Prime Outlets are considered the favorites to win the day, if not the regatta title.

Third-day results

(Boat/sponsor/skipper/scores/total)

1. Numbers/John Risley/Russell Coutts/1-1-5; 1-1-1; 1-3-1, 15

2. Chessie Racing/George Collins/Ken Read/2-2-2; 4-2-3; 2-5-4, 26

3. Prime Outlets/Peter Gordon/Terry Hutchinson/4-3-4; 6-5-2; 3-1-3, 31

4. Starlight/Jay Ecklund/Ed Baird/5-5-5; 3-4-6; 5-4-2, 39

5. Abracadabra/Jim Andrews/John Kolius/6-4-1; 5-3-5, 4--6-6, 40

6. Windquest/Dick and Doug DeVos/Doug DeVos/3-6-6; 2-6-4; 6-2-5, 40

*Abracadabra came in first in one race, so wins tiebreaker

Pub Date: 5/01/99

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