Chessie Racing, the Maryland entry in the 1997-98 Whitbread Round the World race, blew away its competition yesterday in the 21st annual Hospice Cup regatta sailed on Chesapeake Bay off Annapolis.
The sleek white boat with the sea monster curling along its hull, a last-minute entry, was caught in the pack of nine entrants at the start of its PHRF A0 class race but quickly surged ahead on the first leg of the two-mile-long windward/leeward course set near Thomas Point Lighthouse.
By the end of the first, downwind leg, Chessie was so far in front of the rest of its class, the only competition was for second place, eventually taken by Capricieuse II, skippered by Terry Unter.
"The race committee set a nice course. We had a good breeze. It was conditions we really liked," said Jim Allsopp of Chessie's crew.
While Chessie Racing took its class, the winner of the Hospice Cup trophy, awarded to the skipper who has performed the best over three years, remained undetermined because of protests.
Jean Kluttz of the race committee would not discuss the nature of the protests. "They haven't been officially filed yet," she said. And they won't be adjudicated until Thursday.
Dave Sliom, who finished second in PHRF C Class on Dancing Bear, his Omega 30, was in the running.
"It's really close and it all depends on the protests," he said as he waited hours for the final results with other racers and sponsors at a shore party at Oakland Hall, a waterfront estate south of Annapolis.
"But it was great wind conditions out there. We didn't get as good a start as we'd have liked, but once we got into clear air, we started to move out."
Sliom, who finished second in the previous three regattas, crossed the line only 15 seconds behind the winner in his class.
The winner of the Hospice Cup qualifies to sail in the National Hospice Regatta Championships off Annapolis in the spring of 2003.
Upwards of 100 boats in 14 classes began racing about 11:30 a.m. in southeasterly winds that blew more than 10 mph early and built throughout the day, creating a heavy chop on the water.
"It was great sailing," said Don Zinn, who was at the helm of Dr. Tripps, the PHRF B Class winner. "There was so much chop, we had the bow under water a lot. Our foredeck guy really got dunked. Sometimes, we couldn't even see him."
Zinn said his crew sailed a good race, taking the lead early and holding it throughout the race. "We rounded the first mark in first place, set out spinnaker and never looked back," he said.
The regatta, first sailed in 1981, is the largest charity regatta in the country and has raised nearly $5 million for Hospice of the Chesapeake, Hospice of the Capital Area, Hospice of Anne Arundel County and Montgomery County Hospice over the years.
It also has been the model for 18 other Hospice Cup regattas established throughout the country. Four more such regattas, including one in sailing-mad New Zealand, are being planned.
"This is an all-volunteer operation," said Terry Murray of the board of directors. "So many people have been touched by hospice that they want to come out and help."
The boats range from the highly competitive classes to the Hospice Class, with skippers who rarely race, but are "just sailing for the cause," Kluttz said.
Pleiades, a Sabre 402 with an all-female crew -- and a male dog on board -- crossed the line first in that class but came in second because of the handicapping system.
"We hit all the marks just right, fell behind another boat, pulled back ahead and stayed there to win," said skipper Vicki Saporta.
She won the Lovelace/Sneigon Trophy for the best performing boat in the Hospice Class with a caregiver aboard and Harriet Hankins, the caregiver, won the Allan C. Westcott Trophy for her role in the race.
"I was on dog patrol," said Hankins, who sails, but had never been aboard a racing yacht before yesterday. "It was fun, it was a lot of work, and they said I didn't panic too much."
The top finishers in each class and their skippers:
PHRF AO: 1. Chessie Racing, George Collins; 2. Capricieuse II, Terry Under; 3. Altair, Tom Johnson. PHRF A1: 1. Dame Blanche, Othmar Blumencron; 2. Promises, L&A Kumins; 3. Air Mail, T.C. Carrico. PHRF A2: 1. Bold, Midshipman Paul Kramer; 2. Dash, Midshipman Aaron Tyler; 3. Challenger, Midshipman Scott Scherer.
PHRF B: 1. Dr. Tripps, Don Zinn; 2. La Vitesse; Tom Neel; 3. Where Egos Dare, G.R. Zercoe. PHRF C&D: 1. Odyssey, David Shift; Dancing Bear, Dave Sliom; 3. Far Fig Newton, D&S Nielsen. PHRF non-spinnaker: 1. Shazam, John Driver; 2. Enigma, Stephen Kenyon; Soul, Coyer and Smith.
Hospice Class: 1. Dancing Bear, Andy Ulak; 2. Pleiades, Vicki Saporta; 3. Scrimshaw, Jerry Cully. Triton, 1. Sea Deuce, Eleanor Holmes. Cal 25: 1. Quintet , Mike Miller; Harlequin, Leo Surla. J105: 1. Rum Puppy, Jack Biddle; 2. Le Renard, Steve Phillips; third place has yet to be determined, pending a protest. MORC: Invincible, Gastreau/Lees; 2. Sheck Six, John G. Scott. Multihull: Salty Slug, Kyoshi Mizuuchi; Gemini 105, Neil Smith.