The biennial Annapolis-to-Newport Race will include new twists when the 35th edition of the sailboat competition begins next June.
Starts will be divided with the slower boats departing Friday morning, June 5, and the faster boats leaving the next day.
Classes starting Friday will sail a slightly shorter course that does not require rounding Chesapeake Light after entering the Atlantic Ocean. Grand prix classes, all of which will start Saturday, will cover the traditional 475-nautical mile course.
"Our goal is to get all the boats to Newport earlier and closer together," said Dick Neville, who has taken over as a co-chair with fellow Annapolis Yacht Club member Mark Myers. "We believe cutting the corner after exiting the Chesapeake Bay will enable the smaller boats to finish several hours earlier than usual."
Carrera, a Farr 60 owned by Joseph Dockery and skippered by Annapolis professional Chris Larson, set the Annapolis-Newport course record in 2001 — covering the passage in 42 hours, 56 minutes, 12 seconds. Rambler, a water-ballasted, 90-foot racing machine owned by George David of New York City, came up just under four hours short in its attempt to break the record last year.
Another change to the race is the addition of the Performance Cruising Class, which is designed to introduce distance racing to a different segment of sailors.
"By far the biggest untapped potential for distance racing involves cruising boats," Neville said. "There are many skippers of cruising boats that would like to do a great race like Annapolis-to-Newport but just don't know how to go about it. We will conduct seminars, provide instructional materials and perform other outreach activities aimed at encouraging and teaching these types of sailors to give offshore racing a try."
A new event website at annapolisnewportrace.com is under development.