Slush Fund scores overall victory in Spring Oxford

Slush Fund, a J/111 owned by Annapolis Yacht Club member Jim Connelly, received the Hinckley Trophy as overall winner of the Spring Race to Oxford.

Organizers with Annapolis Yacht Club will prefer to remember the 2019 running as the inaugural Spring Race to Oxford.

Truth be told, the debut edition was held last year and was a disappointment. Extremely light winds forced the race committee to abandon because the majority of the fleet could not complete the Chesapeake Bay portion.


Tred Avon Yacht Club still hosted a rocking party, but there were no finishers and no results.

What happened this year was exactly what Annapolis Yacht Club officials envisioned when they conceived the Spring Race to Oxford.


Northeast winds in the 10 to 14 knot range produced mostly downwind sailing and a pleasurable 27-nautical mile trip from Annapolis to Oxford for the nearly 60 boats in eight classes.

“Conditions were pretty much perfect. When you get the wind out of the northeast like that and have a run all the way to Oxford it is just wonderful,” said Jim Connelly, skipper of the J/111 Slush Fund.

Slush Fund reveled in the reaching conditions and wound up as overall winner with a corrected time of just over four hours under the PHRF rating rule. Connelly and crew took first place in A0/A1 class under both the PHRF and ORC systems, earning the Hinckley Trophy provided by the Spring Race to Oxford’s primary sponsors.

Connelly praised the reaching capabilities of the J/111 and said Slush Fund was able to carry the A2 spinnaker from the start off Thomas Point Lighthouse almost all the way to the turning mark at Black Walnut Point.

Slush Fund used the Code Zero asymmetrical for the Choptank River leg that was a broad reach before hoisting the No. 2 genoa for the beat up the Tred Avon River to the finish.

North Sails-Chesapeake professional Zeke Horowitz served as tactician aboard Slush Fund and worked with trimmers Ridgely Mackenzie (headsails), Sean Harr (mainsail) and Liam Harr (offside) to maximize performance at all times.

“I thought the crew executed all the sail changes flawlessly. Zeke did a great job of planning strategy in advance and the sails went up and down real fast at all the turning marks,” said Connelly, the helmsman. “Ridgely, Sean and Liam were constantly calling trim. That’s the kind of stuff that makes the difference in a distance race like this.”

Bryan Stout (pit), Danny Coffman (mast) and Brendan Guthrie (bow) completed the crew on Slush Fund, which also used the Chesapeake Bay current to its advantage.


“We developed a tight strategy for playing the current. There was a tide switch in the middle of the race and we had all the numbers figured out so we would know which headsail would be best for which legs,” Horowitz said. “This allowed us to minimize the sail changes and keep crew weight on the rail.”

Horowitz praised Sean Harr, the boat captain, for “doing a masterful job” of provisioning and ensuring all the lines and rigging were set up and tuned perfectly.

“It's easy at the end of a long race for the crew to get tired and take the foot of the gas, but we kept the pedal on the floor with hard hiking, accurate pressure calls and strong sail trim transitions,” Horowitz said.

“We were able to nip away a little more time as we hit a few shifts and crossed the line with a victory. What was truly special about the crew work on our team was our ability to balance the intensity of a challenging race with an emphasis on having fun,” Horowitz added.

Connelly rates the overall victory in the Spring Race to Oxford as the program’s top accomplishments on the Chesapeake Bay. Slush Fund captured class honors in the 2018 Boomerang Race and the 2017 Race to Baltimore.

“We’ve never had a sterling performance such as this,” the Annapolis Yacht Club member said. “This was one of those races when everything came together beautifully.”


Principal race officer Bobby Frey and the signal boat followed the fleet on the race course in order to monitor its progress and stay on top of changing conditions. Early forecasts of the wind dropping out did not materialize until later in the day after most boats had crossed the finish line.

Narrow Escape, a trimaran skippered by Annapolis resident Ben Corson, grabbed line honors with an elapsed time of 3 hours, 31 minutes and 17 seconds. Corson raced double-handed with crew Marta Hansen and was the only multihull competing in CHESSS.

“We got a clean start at the windward end of the line and were able to able get our spinnaker up and drawing almost immediately. This allowed us to pop out in front of the fleet. We sailed the whole race in clear air,” Corson said.

“These were ideal conditions for our boat because, like most multihulls, it is faster off the wind relative to its rating than it is upwind. I don't think the wind ever dropped below 10 knots for us and we had some puffs into the mid-teens.”

Narrow Escape, a Dragonfly 25 Sport, hit a top speed of 14 knots and was able to maintain optimum performance while staying fairly close to the rhumb line by jibing intermittently.

“We also tried to stay in deeper water whenever possible to make use of the favorable outgoing tide prior to turning into the Choptank,” Corson said.


Corson believes Narrow Escape is the first multihull to enter CHESSS race and credited the Chesapeake Shorthanded Sailing Society for accommodating.

Commodore Ed Cassidy and his team at Tred Avon Yacht Club threw another fabulous party that featured a live band, dancing and great food. Hinckley went above and beyond as lead sponsor by buying a round of drinks for each crew.

AYC Spring Race to Oxford

PHRF A0/A1 (11 boats)

1, Slush Fund, J/111, Jim Connelly, 4:00:30; 2, No Surrender, J/120, Rick Hanson, 4:01:50; 3, SeaBiscuit, Farr 30, Kevin McNeil, 4:04:26

PHRF A2 (12 boats)


1, L’Outrage, Beneteau 34, Bruce Gardner, 4:03:00; 2, Victorine, Columbia 32, David Conlon, 4:03:59; 3, Kalevala II, Grand Soleil 37, Tapio Saavalainen, 4:08:58

PHRF B (5 boats)

1, Nicole, Cal 40, Tom Campbell, 4:03:48; 2, USA 1162, J/80, John White, 4:04:08; 3, Flyer, Cal 40, Doug Abbott, 4:04:54

PHRF Non-Spinnaker (5 boats)

1, Shogun, Hinckley Pilot 35, Thomas DeMarco, 4:17:50; 2, Muskrat, Modified J/105, Nicholas Iliff, 4:23:30; 3, Gotcha, Beneteau 36.7, Paul Bellezza, 4:35:11

ORC A0/A1 (6 boats)


1, Slush Fund, J/111, Jim Connelly, 4:44:50; 2, SeaBiscuit, Farr 30, Kevin McNeil, 4:50:52; 3, SLY, XP44, Bob Fox, 4:57:16

ORC A2 (8 boats)

1, Kalevala II, Grand Soleil 37, Tapio Saavalainen, 4:55:13; 3, Monkey Dust, Tripp 33, Craig & Dotty Saunders, 4:59:49; 3, Victorine, Columbia 32, David Conlon, 5:08:47

ORC B (3 boats)

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1, USA 1162, J/80, John White, 4:49:31; 2, Nicole, Cal 40, Tom Campbell, 4:52:53; 3, Flyer, Cal 40, Doug Abbott, 4:54:28

CHESS (13 boats)


1, Narrow Escape, Trimaran, Ben Corson, 4:01:48; 2, Synergy, Farr 11.6, Jeff Halpern, 4:15:45; 3, Old Blue, Pearson 30, John Zseleczky, 4:18:16

CRCA Racer-Cruiser (5 boats)

1, Mischief, Grand Soleil 40, Peter Henry, 3:29:59; 2, Lady Grey, J/110, Joe Laun, 3:31:45; 3, Resolute, Tartan 3500, David Adams, 3:34:02

CRCA Cruiser (6 boats)

1, Alptr, Beneteau 37, Steve Hale, 3:42:56; 2, Nomad, Sabre 38, Seth Winnick, 3:49:33; 3, Celerity, Beneteau 473, Rick Lober, 3:55:01