In pleasant, 12-knot southerly breezes under starry skies Saturday night, Pasadena sailor Craig Decker and his team on their Elite 32 Sure Cure successfully defended their 1990 win in the Potapskut Sailing Association's 38-mile Overnight Race.
"We went hard, hard right tothe Western Shore," Decker said. "It was what paid off for us last year, too, in the same kind of tidal conditions. We pretty much sailedthe same race we did last year."
Decker not only won his own eight-boat PHRF-C class, but finishedthe race even before many of the bigger, faster boats in PHRF-B, andcorrected ahead of even the largest PHRF A boats.
That put Sure Cure in an extremely strong position in the 35-boat fleet of PHRF, Alberg 30 and Pearson 30 sailors who took part.
The race began about 5 p.m. with a potential disaster for the Sure Cure crew. They tore their No. 2 genoa just before the start and had to duct-tape it back together on the deck.
Luckily, however, wind conditions were such that well over half of the race was downwind, and in 15 to 18 knots of apparent wind, Decker said, they were able to hang on in the crunchesby pushing the upper limits of their No. 1 instead of having to relyheavily on their emergency repair.
Sailing a kind of figure-eightcourse that went south from Baltimore Light to Sandy Point Light, northeast to the near north end of Swan Point Channel, northwest to theforward Craighill Channel Light, northeast again, farther up the bay, to the Poole's Island Bar Light, and southwest back to the startingpoint at Baltimore Light, Decker said that in his class few surprises were at the top end.
"On the first leg, the short leg down to Sandy Point Light, that mark rounding was the finishing order, too, at least for us, Pat Seidel and Bill Paul, which was pretty interesting after all those miles," he said.
Paul's Rebecca team and Seidel's Early Bird crew finished the race in second and third, respectively, in the class, but were several minutes behind Decker.
"We were lucky," Decker said. "We've got really good boatspeed downwind, and morethan half -- well, almost three-quarters -- of the race was downwind. It got a little hairy right at the end, on the last leg when we gotin behind Poole's Island.
"Pat Seidel really put the heat on us, and Bill Paul did, too. The wind had dropped off enough that the chopbecame a big factor for us. We had a little tangle with an oil tanker, and Pat Seidel had a little tangle with a barge, but none of that hurt us too much."
PSA Overnight Race results
PHRF A (6 starters): 1) La Chasseresse, Carl Geyer, Severna Park, 5:30:53 c.t.; 2) Madam X, Jerry Dowling, Berwyn, Pa., 5:34:30 c.t.; 3) Duckbill Charlie, Charles Ratcliff, Arnold, 5:37:09 c.t.
PHRF B (7 starters): 1) Seraph II, David Littlepage, Severna Park, 5:27:02 c.t.; 2) Encounter, Drew Dowling, Arnold, 5:37:09 c.t.; 3) Mountain Lion Eater, George Prout, Grasonville, 5:38:28 c.t.
PHRF C (8 starters): 1) Sure Cure, Craig Decker, Pasadena, 5:08:43 c.t.; 2) Rebecca, B. and C. Paul, Pasadena, 5:11:08 c.t.; 3) Early Bird, Patrick Seidel, Bel Air, 5:12:50 c.t.
PHRF Nonspinnaker (3 starters): 1) Capricious, Elias Poe, Baltimore, 5:59:02 c.t.; 2) Au Revoir, George Fox, Coopersburg, Pa., 6:01:45 c.t.; 3) Plum Fun, Gary and Janet Meyer, Severn, 6:17:26 c.t.
Pearson 30 (5 starters): 1) Knotbobs, Daniel Miller, Baltimore; 2) Mr. Hyde, Steve Bandy, Annapolis; 3) Hungry Eye, Jim Stoops, Annapolis.
Alberg 30 (6 starters): 1) Cannonball, Bill Wallop, Annapolis; 2)Argo, Peter Scheidt, Highland; 3) Gretchen, Alan Schreidtmueller, Silver Spring.
Despite hot and sticky temperatures ashore, the breeze out on the bay was perfect and the weather much more pleasant last weekend for the Severn Sailing Association's Spring II Regatta for J/24s, Solings, Tempests and International 5-0-5s.
Using very short Olympic triangle courses, three races were completed on Saturdayand two on Sunday, with near-perfect moderate breezes speeding the sailors around the courses both days.
In the 20-boat J/24 class, the 42-boat regatta's biggest division, the clear winners of the serieswere Peter Cramer and Bo McBee on Rainbo, with a straight string of bullets in the first four races. That left them room to be conservative and take things a little easier during the final contest on Sunday.
"It was a little bit luck, a little bit skill, and primarily a whole lot of preparation," said Cramer, as he explained his team's game plan to try for a top performance to qualify for one of the local/regional slots in next year's J/24 World Championships in Annapolis inOctober 1992.
"We realized that if we wanted to be competitive over the next year-and-a-half we needed new sails, so we went out therewith a brand-new suit of Sobstads," Cramer said. "Our bowman, John Dolan, did a lot of work in the last couple of weeks, on the bottom and on the deck layout, and all of that has really helped."
Starts and boat speed made the Rainbo team hard to catch, not only in the series, but in most of the individual races, too.
"There weren't a lot of right ways to go, because the courses were so short," Cramer said. "In all but one of the four races we won, we were first at the weather mark and led all the way around.
"In the last race, we had a really bad start, and there were only five boats behind us at the weather mark, which would have made us about 15th, but we got back up into ninth, which was really all just speed, what it takes on those short legs."
SSA Spring II Regatta results
J/24 (20 starters): 1) Rainbo, Peter Cramer/Bo McBee, Alexandria, Va./Lancaster, Pa., 12 pts. (1-1-1-1-9); 2) Riff Raff, Paul Borssuck, Annapolis, 18 pts. (4-3-4-3-4); 3) Bunky's Boat, Bunky Hines/Chip Carr, Annapolis, 26 pts. (3*-7-3-6-3); 4) Smooth Operator, Lewis Raley, Hollywood, 28 pts. (2-13-2-8-6); 5) Bangor Packet, Tony Parker, Washington, 29.75 pts. (6*-6-9-4-1).
Soling (8 starters): 1) Peter Gleitz, Annapolis, 3.75 pts. (1-1-1-1-1); 2) Thomas Davies, Annapolis, 13.6 pts. (2*-3-2-2-3); 3) John Harper, Great Falls, Va., 18 pts. (3-2-4-5-4).
Tempest (9 starters): 1) Rene de la Rie, Washington, 3.75 pts. (1-1-1-1-1); 2) Bob Glass, Bowie, 14 pts. (2-3-2-4-3); 3) Ray O'Hara, Alexandria, Va., 15pts. (6-2-3-2-2).
International 5-0-5 (9 starters): 1) Macy Nelson, Baltimore, 6.25 pts. (1-1-1-2-2); 2) Mike Purnett, (address unavailable), 11.75 pts. (2-4-2-1-3); 3) Alexander Meller, Alexandria, Va.,11.75 pts. (3-2-3-3-1).
Nancy Noyes is a member of the ChesapeakeBay 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 Arundel County Sun.