For skippers in Anne Arundel County, a nautical homecoming sets sail today

August 02, 2002|By Stephen Kiehl | Stephen Kiehl,SUN STAFF

In what has become an annual homecoming for Anne Arundel sailors, the Governor's Cup Yacht Race will begin this afternoon with about 160 boats crowding the Annapolis Harbor and setting sail for St. Mary's City.

The longest overnight race on the Chesapeake Bay, the 70-mile Governor's Cup is a chance for the local sailing community to get together in its back yard and show off for friends.

"At the starting line, all those guys become our enemies," said Albert Holt of Annapolis, whose 33-foot boat is named Stalker. "We don't want to kill them or even see them get hurt, but we want to damage their egos."

The race is for serious sailors, but not professionals. With no prize money, the race attracts competitors with day jobs to finance their watery weekend pursuits. About two-thirds of the registered boats are based in Anne Arundel County, organizers said. Boats will set sail at 6 p.m. and, if the weather cooperates, finish tomorrow morning at Horseshoe Cove on the St. Mary's River.

St. Mary's College of Maryland will put on an all-day party tomorrow on the banks of the river with live music, food and dancing. Sailing World magazine called it one of sailing's 10 best parties, and it is free and open to the public. The music begins at noon and continues until 11 p.m.

The race's start boat, The Maryland Dove, will be open for free tours at the Annapolis City Dock on tomorrow and Sunday.

"This is the survival test of the season," said Matt Tove, 41. The Annapolis resident will lead a crew of seven about his 30-foot Ovation.

"It's what I call total heads-up sailing," Tove said. "There's no drinking for us at night. The crew needs to be visually aware at all times because of the commercial traffic going up and down the bay."

Night sailing presents different challenges from the daytime, sailors said. They must be able to read the visual lights on tugboats, use traditional navigation and deal with fatigue.

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