Sailors set sights on Bermuda Ocean Race out of Annapolis in 2006

On The Water

Watersports in Anne Arundel County

April 13, 2005|By Jamie Stiehm | Jamie Stiehm,SUN STAFF

It's more than a year away, but Annapolis-area sailing enthusiasts are already revving up for the 2006 Bermuda Ocean Race.

A skippers reception on a recent Saturday at the Eastport Yacht Club served as a lighthearted prelude to the weeklong event, scheduled to set sail from Annapolis on June 9, 2006.

It's 751 nautical miles to Bermuda, which can be a long, wet and rough slog. Then there's navigating the waters of the Chesapeake Bay - making this biennial bluewater race unusual because sailors have to contend with an "inshore" component before getting out to the "offshore" open ocean.

So, said spokeswoman Anne Sieling, it's already time to get a bit jazzed about the ocean race. Morale, zest and camaraderie must be sustained as people dig deep into their pockets, not to mention energy and time, to prepare for the next big adventure.

"This is something to do on the off-year," Sieling said yesterday, "while we catch our breath."

Another activity is scheduled this June, a ShortTail Regatta around the buoys on the Severn River.

Sieling said the ocean race to St. George's, Bermuda, started from the Eastport Yacht Club in 1976 - Sycamore Point, on the map - and has become known for its informality in the sailing community.

"We're extremely relaxed and low-key," Sieling said, noting the Newport, R.I., race to the Royal Yacht Club in Bermuda is considered more starched and fancy.

Rick Jackson, an Annapolis sailing enthusiast who knows the course, is chairman of the Bermuda Ocean Race Committee. "Now is the time to start planning if you are seriously considering entering the race," he said.

Thirty-nine sailboats - many with coed crews - sailed in last year's race. Organizers expect next year's number to top that because they are doing more vigorous public outreach to spread the word beyond Chesapeake Bay circles.

"We're advertising like never before," Sieling said. "We're out there."

As for Sieling, she made it to Bermuda once to see the race's finish. But, she confesses, "I didn't sail, I flew."

The entry fee is $650 and will increase to $750 Jan. 1. Information: www.bermuda oceanrace.com.

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