ST. MARY'S CITY - The big, fast boats won top honors in the 27th sailing of the Governor's Cup overnight yacht race over the 70-mile course from Annapolis to this historic campus town.
Annapolis-based Gaucho, a Farr-44 entered by Peter and Ian Gordon, took both overall and class honors.
Donnybrook, a 73-foot Santa Cruz turbo-sled sailed by Washington entrepreneur Jim Muldoon, was first to cross the finish line in 9 hours, 57 minutes, 26 seconds, but was handicapped into third place in class and fifth in fleet.
The Joseph Waldschmitt best-in-fleet trophy went to Allentown, Pa., sailor Jack Yaissle on a Farr-10-20 yacht, Aspire, for winning the most competitive class.
"It was great fun. It was fast, then there was last year," said Muldoon, who yesterday finished more than three hours behind his record time of 6 hours, 9 minutes for the course.
His heavily handicapped maxi-boat won overall last year when lack of wind and excessive heat forced most of the fleet to retire from the race.
Ed Tracey from Severna Park pulled out of the 1999 race at Pointlookout. "We had run out of water and beer," he recalled, finding what he described as "a little bit of redemption," from his second-place class finish on his yacht Incummucado, an Origea-36, yesterday.
The race started in light wind off the mouth of the Severn River on Friday evening and ended yesterday off the campus of St. Mary's College, which organized the event. The big boats, like Gaucho and Donnybrook, quickly separated from the rest of the fleet. On Donnybrook, Muldoon's strategy was simple: to hug the western shore and stay in shallow waters. This way he hoped to avoid the worst flow of an adverse tidal current and pick up some land breeze. At all costs he wanted to stay out of the bay's main channel.
"You get over into the main channel, which is 80-90 feet deep, and you get three times as much tide as you do over here," he said, sailing past Herring Bay. Below decks, navigator Kurt Lowman pored over the ground positioning data on his computer charts and studied the tide and weather movements.
"It's always a trick in this race to play the current and the rhumb line [the straightest line between compass points]," he said as the boat glided along. "In the right sailing conditions, this thing is blistering fast."
But the wind last night blew mainly from the south, forcing Donnybrook to sail close hulled for much of the race.
Tracking Donnybrook was Sjambok, a Reichel pugh-48 skippered by Rod Jabin, son of Annapolis boatyard owner Burt Jabin. Watching Sjambok's russet sails creep up behind in a period of comparitive calm, he said: "It's a difficult boat to sail, but with good people on board it is very fast. This [the light air] is their stuff."
But before Sjambok could make a real challenge the wind piped up, allowing Donnybrook to show the speed advantage of a longer water line in a real wind.
Racing down the eastern side of the shore was Sundog, a dyna flyer-40 with banker Paul Parks in charge. Looking over to them in the gathering dusk, Muldoon wondered aloud why they had chosen to go east, risking being sucked into the eastern bay or the Choptank river by the coming tide.
But Parks had his own strategy: to follow the rhumb line to his destination as closely as possible, waiting for a promised westward wind shift, it came. And he was able to overtake Gaucho sailing a more central course down the bay until light winds gave the advantage back to the Gordons' boat.
"You go as fast and straight as you can," said navigator Bobby Courneilus, one of four St. Mary's College alumni among Sundog's six-man crew. The other three were Clark McKinney, Joe Syzmanski and Donny Mcdougal, who helped to lay the foundation for the southern Maryland college's rise to a national college sailing championship level.
There were less than eight minutes corrected time between Gaucho and Sundog at the finish and less than two minutes between Sundog and Donnybrook. Most of the class winners yesterday sailed the west side of the bay. Eric Crawford of Oxford was lucky enough to get a wind shift in the west to send his yacht Restless, a Pearson Rhodes-41 reaching across the bay only to find another favorable change when he arrived on the eastern shore.
"With the wind being so shifty, being on the right side of the shifts was more important than the current," said Crawford a class winner yesterday, overall winner of the Governor's Cup in 1998 and winner of this year's Newport-Bermuda race.
Oakton, Va., sailors Mike and Willi McGare, co-skippers of Chardonnay, a Beneteau-42, found themselves dealing with an easterly shift when they expected the wind to move westerly. "Our strategy then was that we were making this stuff up as we were going along," said Mike McGare after winning his class yesterday and taking second overall. "Luckily, we made it up in a kind of right way."
The secret of the success of L'Outrage, a Beneteau-10 entered by Annapolis skipper Bruce Gardener, was the set of tankers anchored at the Severn's mouth. It told him the tide was still ebbing strongly to the south. This persuaded him to head east and into deeper water.
"We played the current for most parts," he said adding that he also used the "dark cloud theory."
"You look for those because that is where most of the wind is," said the class winner.
The race ended beside a replica of the dove the 17th century supply ship for the first English settlers in southern Maryland. The fleet's arrival here started a daylong party on the blossomed water-side campus where the race was created by three students in 1974.(Results, 9E)