The Annapolis-to-Newport Race is officially listed as being a 475-nautical mile passage. According to the race tracker, Phantom sailed a total of 480 nautical miles.
That is somewhat of an anomaly for a point-to-point distance race of this nature and was the result of solid routing, fortunate wind conditions and dedicated diligence on the behalf of navigator Jeffrey Feehan.
Phantom, an XP 44 skippered by Chris Schoen, certainly sailed an impressive race and cleaned up as a result. Phantom captured line honors among Saturday starters and placed first overall among the 19 boats racing under the ORC rating rule.
“I would say the key to our success was that we focused on everything. As a whole crew, we never allowed our attention or focus to slip one bit,” said Schoen, a resident of Larchmont, New York. “I thought our focus was even higher during the night when it’s tougher. I’m just extremely proud of how well the crew sailed the boat from start to finish.”
Phantom crossed the finish line of Castle Hill Light at 11:12 p.m. on Monday night with an elapsed time of 2 days, 12 hours, 12 minutes and 24 seconds. That was the fastest time in the entire 52-boat fleet and sets up Schoen and crew to possibly collect several trophies during Wednesday night’s prize-giving, being held at The Deck of Waites Wharf.
“It was a rough race out in the ocean, but we never let up,” Schoen said. “Any time someone was at the wheel, they were totally locked in and steering for speed. We were constantly trimming the sails and making sure we were sailing the boat to its full potential.”
Wes Bemus and Paul Van Dyke served as watch captains while Doug Miller (headsails) and John Mawe (mainsail) were the lead trimmers aboard Phantom, which claimed class honors in ORC B by almost exactly an hour on corrected time over the J/44 Glory that was campaigned by the Coast Guard Academy.
Schoen purchased the XP 44 brand new from X-Yachts and is beginning his second season of racing what would have to be described as a high performance-cruiser.
“This race has always been in my plans, but I wanted to make sure I had the right boat,” he said. “I’ve taken my time putting together the right crew and have been sort of meticulous as far as getting to know the boat and how best to sail her.”
“Considering this is the biggest race we’ve done to date, I’m quite pleased with the result,” he said.
Phantom only needed to tack twice after entering the Atlantic Ocean, riding a favorable wind shift all the way to Newport. It was a rough passage offshore with the fleet pounding into eight-foot waves almost the whole way.
Considering the prevailing conditions, Schoen was happy he went with the offshore package for the XP 44 that features a nine-foot keel. By contrast, the XP 44 SLY that finished sixth in ORC 1B has a 7 ½-foot draft.
“This race worked out real well for this boat and we maximized its performance,” Schoen said.
All agreed that Feehan, the navigator, was a taskmaster in terms of making sure each helmsman held the proper angle and did not allow the boat to drive down so much as five degrees.
Rikki, a Reichel-Pugh 42-footer owned by Bruce Chafee of Boston, was the fastest boat among the Saturday starters after the Mills 68 Prospector was dismasted. However, Rikki stayed inshore and wound up having to tack quite a bit, falling behind Phantom on approach to Block Island.
“We really didn’t realize how well we were doing until Monday afternoon around 2:30 when Rikki tacked behind us,” Schoen said. “Rikki had been way ahead of us coming out of the Chesapeake Bay.
As of 8 p.m. on Tuesday night, all boats that completed the course had arrived in port with Revenoc, a Sparkman & Stephens Yawl that was launched way back in 1946, the last to finish.
Annapolis-to-Newport Race class winners
ORC 1A: Ranger, Farr 40, Midshipman Hayden Kuzemchak, U.S. Naval Academy