The Annapolis area was well represented in the national-level Snipe competition last week.

Five of the top teams from the Severn Sailing Association Snipe Fleet were among 50 competing in the Snipe Midwinter Championships, which sailed out of the Clearwater Yacht Club over March 10 to 12.

The Midwinter regatta traditionally attracts excellent sailors from across the nation, Canada, the Bahamas and other parts of the world, and is well known for tough competition.

Racing the first day was called off when a front came through the area accompanied by strong breeze exceeding 30 knots.

The wind lightened a bit the next day, but windy conditions continued as three Olympic-course races were sailed in heavy left-over chop and stiff breeze the remaining two daysin the series.

Although overall victory in the six-race series went to Peter Commette of Miami, the SSA Fleet members all finished in the top half of the fleet, with Doug Clark and Scott Taylor fourth, Hal Gilreath and Lisa Foulke seventh, Bryan Fishback and Lorie Stout 12th, John and Karen Frye 21st, and Alex Stout 23rd.

"It was primarily a breezy series out in the gulf on open water," said Taylor. "It was fairly rough, so it put a premium on hiking hard, getting over waves and surfing off waves. The gulf this time of year is basically freezing, so all the people who thought they were getting away to warm weather in Florida were really in for a surprise."

Clark qualifiedfor the upcoming Snipe World Championships in Norway this summer when he and crew Margaret Podlich took third in the U.S. National Championships in Annapolis last July. The pair sailed very well, despite a serious breakdown in the boat in mid-regatta, but lost a tie-breaker for second in that series.

Taylor, sailing with his wife, 1987 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Susan Dierdorff Taylor, also placed in thetop 10 in that regatta, coming in seventh overall.

Clark, who serves as assistant director of the successful Naval Academy Intercollegiate Sailing Team, and Taylor, associated with North Sails Chesapeake, are both highly skilled sailors.

They began a serious Snipe campaign together this year and are seeking sponsorship assistance to help them make the trip to Norway for the World Championship. They can be assisted through the Fund for Chesapeake Sailors, c/o Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association, 612 Third St., Annapolis, Md. 21403 (phone 269-1194).

The Annapolis/SSA Snipe fleet is the largest in the world, with more than 75 members and 50 boats. Among its members are some of the finest sailors in the area, including a number of former collegiate All-Americans, national and international champions and Olympic-level competitors.

The class also is popular nationally and attracts highly skilled sailors, drawn by the excellent competition offered by Snipe sailing and the fun of sailing the spry two-person boats.

Intense Snipe competition is continuing this weekend at the Coconut Grove Sailing Club with the Don Q Regatta, ending late today.

Snipe Midwinter Championship Results: 1. Peter Commette, Miami, Fla., 8.25 pts.; 2. Ed Adams, Newport, R.I., 9.5 pts.; 3. Chris Larson,Clearwater, Fla., 17.75 pts.; 4. Doug Clark/Scott Taylor, Annapolis,26 pts.; 5. Craig Leweck, Mission Bay, Calif., 33 pts.; 6. Ian Brown, Canada, 35 pts. 7. Hal Gilreath/Lisa Foulke, Alexandria, Va., 38 pts.; 8. Jimmy Lowe, Nassau, 47 pts.; 9. Charlie Bustamante, Miami, Fla., 59 pts.; 10. Mike Toppa, (address unavailable), 59 pts.

One of the area's most valuable safety training opportunities, the annual Safety At Sea Seminar, co-sponsored by the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron and Sail Annapolis Committee of the Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce, is set for Saturday and Sunday, April 6 and 7, at the Naval Academy.

Designed primarily for offshore cruising and racing sailors -- and those with offshore ambitions -- the seminar also is usefulfor those who never leave the bay. Emergency situations can occur just about anywhere there are boats and water, and preparations and precautions should be taken by every prudent sailor.

The event consists of a basic session on Saturday and an advanced version on Sunday, with exciting and impressive on-the-water demonstrations at noon Saturday open to all seminar attendees. This year's special guest speakers both days include solo circumnavigator and author Dodge Morgan, expert oceanographers and meteorologists Dane Clark, and trauma surgeon Dr. David Gens.

Highlights of both days will include discussions and demonstrations of safety gear and equipment; valuable instruction on emergency procedures; hypothermia, nutrition and first aid; heavy weather and meteorology; and preparations for offshore passages and racing.

The on-water demonstrations will include the quick-stop technique developed by the academy to facilitate the recovery of someoneoverboard, the use of a life sling for short-handed recovery, and a Coast Guard helicopter rescue of a midshipman in a life raft.

Saturday's seminar will qualify participants for a USYRU certificate of completion, which may be of value in obtaining lower boat insurance rates from some carriers. Sunday's seminar will include small-group discussion periods in the afternoon for more detailed explorations of the topics covered.

Registration for either seminar is $40 in advance, or $50 at the door if space remains available. Special discounts are available for USYRU members who provide their membership number with their reservations. Fees include coffee, doughnuts and lunch.

Advance reservations are strongly encouraged by seminar organizers, who point out that both seminar days sold out last year. More than 1,500 attendees are expected this year, so there will be no guarantee that space will be available at the door.

For reservations or more information, contact the Sail Annapolis Committee, Greater Annapolis Chamber of Commerce, 1 Annapolis St., Annapolis, Md. 21401; or call 268-7676.

Nancy Noyes is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association and has been racing on the bay for about five years. Her Sailing column appears every Wednesday and Sunday in The Anne ArundelCounty Sun.

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