It's bumper-to-bumper for regatta fleet

Record 292 boats test wind in one-design racing

Sailing

May 01, 2004|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,SUN STAFF

The solitary Ancient Mariner would have had issues yesterday with the more than 1,400 sailors roaring across the Chesapeake Bay in the National Offshore One Design regatta.

Strong breezes out of the south powered a fleet of 292 boats - a record number of entries in a regatta of this type -competing on four courses from the Bay Bridge to Thomas Point.

Maryland sailors took first place in 11 of the 19 classes on the first of three days of competition. All classes completed three races in the NOOD, which is in Annapolis for the sixth time.

"We had some kinks to work out," said Karen Groner of Columbia, crew aboard her father's boat, which is in second place in the J/35 class, with eight entries. "It's still the beginning of the season."

Seas ran 1-2 feet, with winds starting at 8 mph and rising steadily through the day to 20 mph.

The most spectacular sight was the start of the J/22 class - with 81 boats the largest field - when skippers jockeyed for position before the gun. The line of boats, with white sails filled with wind, stretched one-third of a mile just south of the Bay Bridge.

"It was a little crowded, a little hectic," said Dobbs Davis, trimmer for veteran professional racer Chris Larson. "Everybody was keyed up. People were pretty aggressive out there and the current was pushing you back on the line."

But even as the fleet spread out, things were still hairy when the boats rounded the mark on the first leg.

"If you made a mistake at the windward mark and you had to jog around, the next thing you saw was a wall of 50 boats coming right at you," said skipper Ray Wulff.

Said skipper Simon Elliott: "You had to pick a hole and try to get through without hitting anybody."

Race organizers estimate that nearly all of the J/22 crews are using the NOOD as a tuneup for the world championship that will be held in Annapolis May 17-21.

Larson, an Annapolis resident and veteran of the Volvo Ocean Race, said it was the first time he had sailed a J/22 "in a long time. We have seven more days to practice before the worlds and we'll be fine.

"We were a little rusty, but it went pretty well," he said. "I wasn't too spooked [by the number of boats] because we were always looking at their backs."

This year's regatta broke a record set in 2001 at the Chicago NOOD, which had 285 entries. The large field translated into a large number of protests for the jury to sort through in the hours after racing ended.

The railing on Groner's J/35 was bent in a collision in the third race, but that was minor compared to the hole torn in the brand new No. 1 sail in the second race.

"We were in the lead when that happened," said Groner's father and the skipper, Peter Scheidt. "We had to go to the No. 3 sail and finished second, a boat length back. The third race, we won. It was a good day for the No. 3."

Annapolis is the third of nine stops in the North American tour, which started in February in St. Petersburg, Fla., and will end in September in Texas' Galveston Bay.

Today is what racers call "moving day," the time to rise from the middle of the pack or fall from contention. In several classes, the top three boats are separated by one or two points, meaning higher risk-taking by skippers and tacticians.

"We're going to be faster," said Elliott. "We'll have to go from aggressive to insane."

Day 1 Results

Top three finishers in each class:

Alberg 30 (seven boats): Rolph Townshend, Severna Park; Charles Currier, Annapolis; Lanny Helms, Columbia.

Beneteau 36.7 (nine boats): Garth Hichens, Annapolis; Wes Siegner, Chevy Chase; Tom Orlow, Levering, Mich.

Cal 25 (11 boats): Arthur Libby, Severna Park; Tim Bloomfield, Sherwood Forest; Charles Husar, Annapolis.

Cat 27 (13 boats): Julian and Jennifer Richards, Annapolis; Tom Walsh, Pasadena; John Ebell, Annapolis.

Etchells (15 boats): Gary Gilbert, Oakton, Va.; Sylvan Chaix, (unknown); Kerry Klingler, Larchmont, N.Y.

Henderson 30 (six boats): Liebel Brothers, St. Petersburg, Fla.; Jack Holt, Perrl River, N.Y.; Neil Rattan, Westport, Conn.

J/22 (81 boats): Scott Nixon, Annapolis; Kevin Doyle and Vic Snyder, Niagara Falls; Kenny Wolfe, Garland, Texas

J/24 (22 boats): Wataru Sakamoto, Wakayama, Japan; Mark Hillman, Bethesda; Peter Rich, Annapolis.

J/27 (6 boats): Douglas Davies, Stony Brook, N.Y.; Erik Fridley and Deke Johnson, Annapolis; Peter Johnson, Orchard Park, N.Y.

J/30 (13 boats): Bob Rutsch, Chevy Chase; Larry and Pat Christy, Annapolis; Chuck O'Malley, Annapolis.

J/35 (eight boats): Jim Sagerholm and Jerry Christoflel, Annapolis; Peter Scheidt, Highland; Charles Kohlerman III, Brookhaven, Pa.

J/80 (six boats): John Storck, Huntington, N.Y.; David Jannetti, Sag Harbor, N.Y.; Matt Baker.

J/105 (24 boats): Jay Corcoran, Annapolis; Cedric Salvesen, Annapolis; Jim Konigsberg, Fairfax, Va.

Melges 24 (14 boats): John Pollard, Torquay, Devon, U.K.; Bob Dockery, Longboat Key, Fla.; Joe Woods, Torquay, Devon, U.K.

Mumm 30 (15 boats): Dan Cheresh, Holland, Mich.; Fred Sherratt, Toronto, Ontario; Thomas Ritter, Bloomfield Hills, Mich.

Pearson 30 (five boats): Roy Lappalainen, Baltimore; Roy Ericson, Annapolis; John Blais, Hampton, Va.

Tripp 26 (nine boats): Michele Zinn, Annapolis; Mark Anstey, Arnold; George Benisek, Annapolis.

S/27.9 (12 boats): Bob Fleck, Alexandria, Va., David Nielson, Annapolis; Doug Frye, Spring Lake, Mich.

Star (16 boats): Kevin McNeil, Annapolis; Jock Kohlhas, Miami; Josh Phypers, Marblehead, Mass.

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