Boat race a highlight of festival

4-day event at the harbor ends on a sunny note

April 28, 2003|By Rebecca McClay | Rebecca McClay,SUN STAFF

The Inner Harbor was alive with the sounds of drum beats, jazz music and laughing children at the sixth annual Baltimore Waterfront Festival, a four-day event celebrating the Chesapeake Bay that ended yesterday on a sunny note after Saturday's dreary rain.

Among yesterday's highlights was the America's Cup 12-Meter Regatta match-up between yachts Courageous and Freedom, two America's Cup winners from Newport, R.I. Each yacht won one of two 35-minute races in the Patapsco River near Fort McHenry.

Courageous, which won the America's Cup in 1974 skippered by Ted Hood and again in 1977 skippered by Ted Turner, was captained yesterday by Matt Szala. Freedom, an America's Cup winner in 1980 skippered by Dennis Conner, was captained yesterday by Rob Oulletta.

"It was so beautiful to see them go by," said Hal Johnsson of Reisterstown, who was lounging in a lawn chair next to his wife along the Fort McHenry shoreline.

"The whole point of these races was to put on a show for the city of Baltimore," said Niccolo Porzio di Camporotondo, Courageous' skipper. "It's great to be down here because there's a lot of interest in Baltimore."

The yachts are scheduled to leave Baltimore on Thursday and sail to City Dock in Annapolis, where they will take part in the Maryland Maritime Heritage Festival. They will race each other Saturday and Sunday on the Chesapeake Bay.

At the Baltimore Waterfront Festival yesterday, children slid through a simulated storm drain at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's booth, swung T-balls at the Cal Ripken batting cage and attended plays and performances at the Chesapeake Family Fun Zone stage.

Onlookers enjoyed the warm weather, with highs in the low 70s, and cloudless sunny skies.

"There's good vibes, good jazz and great crabs," said Charles Shamwell of Washington, who was picking through a pile of crabs on picnic tables at McCormick and Schmick's Seafood Restaurant's stand. The restaurant sponsored an hourlong crab steaming and picking demonstration and then gave 120 crabs to the audience.

"I've been soaking in the sun, meeting great people, but this is the highlight," said Shamwell, as he waved a meaty crab claw. "I was here for a minute yesterday, but I couldn't move around because of the rain."

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