Stars On Deck For Annapolis Regatta

1,100 Sailors Will Compete In 21 Classes In Three Days


April 24, 2009|By Candus Thomson | Candus Thomson,

More than 1,100 sailors from around the world are in Annapolis for a three-day regatta that will decide local and regional bragging rights for 21 classes and serve as the tuneup for the J/24 world championships next weekend.

The National Offshore One Design regatta, which begins Friday and takes place at the mouth of the Severn River and in the Chesapeake Bay, traditionally draws the largest number of competitors in the nine-event series that stretches from coast to coast. This year, 265 boats have been entered, with more expected before racing begins.

"There is no favorite," said Brent Ellwood, coordinator of the J/24 Class, with 51 entries, the largest fleet. "There's probably 20 to 25 boats that have a chance to bring it home."

Tony Parker, a member of the host Annapolis Yacht Club, will attempt to defend his title against challengers such as Mark Hillman of the Severn Sailing Association, who placed third at last year's world championships, and Chris Larson, a four-time J/24 world champ and veteran of the America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race.

"To say you've got to be on the top of your game is the understatement of the year. One bad start, one bad tack, and before you know it, you've shot out the back of the pack," Ellwood said.

This year, regatta organizers have dropped three classes - Star, Mumm 30 and Melges 32 - while adding the Farr 30 and Farr 40 classes.

The J/22 Class has attracted 36 entries so far, many of them veterans of previous National Offshore One Design campaigns. Greg Fisher of the Eastport Yacht Club, who finished third last year, will attempt to regain the title he won in 2006 and 2007. Carol Cronin, a 2004 Olympian from Jamestown, R.I., and Chris Doyle of Kenmore, N.Y., last year's runner-up, are expected to challenge as well.

Local sailing legend Gary Jobson is considered the man to beat in the 18-boat Etchells Class, especially if he has Jud Smith, the master tinkerer, America's Cup veteran and 2004 North American champion from Marblehead, Mass., as a member of his crew.

"Gary's human," Etchells coordinator Chuck Conyer said. "He can drive the boat, but he can't do it all. But if Gary Jobson brings Jud Smith, he's going to be tough to beat."

Conyer also likes Allan Terhane Jr., who finished third last year; Jeffrey Siegal; and Robert Wray. Wray has as his crew Scott Nixon, a former America's Cup tactician, and Mike Wolfs, a silver medalist for Canada at the 2004 Olympics.

"Those first four are a half-step up. The rest of the fleet is pretty even," Conyer said. "It's very hard to beat a pro. They have to make a mistake for one of us mortals to beat them. If you like to collect pretty pewter cups, this isn't the class for you."

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