Last Saturday, it was time again for the Magothy River Sailing Association's 15th annual Race to Baltimore, co-sponsored by the Harbor Hospital Center, with the Rock Creek Racing Association's Baltimore Harbor Raceback on Sunday completing the weekend.
About 70 boats sailing in five PHRF splits and classes for Multihulls, MORC, Alberg 30s and Tritons completed the 17.6-mile course from a midbay start south to Baltimore Light, north on a long spinnaker leg to the Forward Craighill Channel Light, back down to buoy "21" in the middle of the Upper Craighill Channel, and up the Patapsco to the finish line just shy of the Francis Scott Key Bridge.
Following the opulent bull roast and dance on the hospital grounds Saturday evening, an equivalent number made the start on Sunday fora 7.85-mile lightning-bolt-shaped race in the Patapsco from the previous day's finish to Rock Creek Light, across the river to buoy "9" in the Brewerton Channel and then on to a finish at buoy "21."
For the second weekend in a row north of the Bay Bridge, Paul Parks of Shady Side and his team made his J/35 Sundog live up to its nickname of"Get-the-Gun-Dog, Number-One-Dog" with back-to-back PHRF-A bullets and the overall performance Gull Trophy, awarded by the Hospital Center, for Saturday's race, as well.
Bob Putnam and his team, on his new J/30 Better Mousetrap, topped the PHRF-B fleet coming and going with his own pair of aces. Dennis Rice, on his J/22 Accomplice, did thesame to the PHRF C-2 class, and Multihull winner Buck Beaver on his Condor 30 Leading Lady repeated his matched set of bullets from last year's races.
For two-way MORC winner Gary Meyer and his team on his Soverel 27 Plum Fun, Saturday's victory was especially sweet.
"I can die a happy man because I finally beat (Paul Awalt's) Frog Legs," Meyer said.
"I love that boat. It's outstanding, beautiful and very fast, and I'm just happy to have beaten Paul once."
In the weekend's fluky air, Meyer said close attention to the wind shifts -- and the sailing instructions and course signals -- were important to success.
"It seemed like every time we tacked we were on the right side of the shifts," Meyer explained. "On Saturday, when everybody inthe A and B fleets kind of stalled down there by (buoy '21'), we were able to find a little wind and stay with it, and we ended up passing some of the B boats. It was just one of those things."
On Sunday, in conditions he described as "fluky, but good, strong wind most ofthe time," Meyer said a number of competitors in most classes must have misread the course signals on the committee boat at the start. Incombination with using the original information on the race rather than the amendment available at the Saturday evening party, they failed to cross the finish line when they left "21" to starboard rather than to port as signaled with the red letter at the start, and headed for a finish farther south at Baltimore Light.
Adding to some sailors' confusion was the low-profile finish-line committee boat, which was visually obscured somewhat by a fishing boat near the middle of the line, Meyer said.
"Azure should have won that race," Meyer said,"but he left the mark to starboard instead of finishing and just kept on sailing by. We passed the mark on the wrong side, too, but then we stopped, turned around and finished the race."
A traditional highlight of the weekend racing is the Saturday night party at the hospital, which this year raised more than $4,000 for the renovation of the HHC Pediatric Wing, in addition to providing good times galore forthe sailors and their friends.
MRSA race to Baltimore
PHRF A (16 starters): 1. Sundog, Paul Parks, Shady Side, 2:45:33 c.t.; 2. Thunder, Michael Hartung, Cherry Hill, NJ, 2:49:44 c.t.; 3. Witch, GlennRobbins, Severna Park, 2:52:28 c.t.
PHRF B (9 starters): 1. Better Mousetrap, Robert Putnam, Greenbelt, 3:12:24 c.t.; 2. Rude Awakening, Chuck O'Malley, Annapolis, 3:20:02 c.t.; 3. Seraph II, David Littlepage, Severna Park, 3:22:48 c.t.
PHRF C-1 (14 starters): 1. Namu,Gordon Rowse, Glen Burnie, 3:31:30 c.t.; 2. Zig-Zag, Edward Hatch, Pasadena, 3:36:35 c.t.; 3. Bang, David Gendell, Arnold, 3:37:38 c.t.
PHRF C-2 (4 starters): 1. Accomplice, Dennis Rice, Timonium, 4:02:51 c.t.; 2. Finesse, Baxter/Becker Syndicate, Chevy Chase, 4:03:01 c.t.; 3. Finnegan's Wake, John O'Brien, Pasadena, 4:09:20 c.t.
PHRF Nonspinnaker (5 starters): 1. Elusive, Richard Joklik, Gaithersburg, 4:10:45 c.t.; 2. Scaramouche, William Goodman, Severna Park, 4:12:32 c.t.; 3. Albar II, Allen Keiser, Baltimore, 4:20:13 c.t.
MORC (5 starters): 1. Plum Fun, Gary Meyer, Severn, 2:03:43 c.t.; 2. Frog Legs,Paul Awalt, Ellicott City, 2:07:58 c.t.; 3. Bravo!, Denny White, Arnold, 2:55:50 c.t.
Multihull (6 starters): 1. Leading Lady, Buck Beaver, New Cumberland, Pa., 4:30:32 c.t.; 2. Frisky, Margery Ware, Bethesda, 4:41:53 c.t.; 3. Kimberly Anne, Chris Adams, Chester Springs, Pa., 4:54:09 c.t.
Triton (5 starters): 1. Overdraft, David Hoyt, Glen Burnie; 2. Sea Deuce, Eleanor Holmes, Great Falls, Va.,; 3. Sandpiper, Chris Gordon, Chevy Chase.
Alberg 30 (7 starters): 1. Lingin, Bruce Rankin, Annapolis; 2. Mustang, Joseph Credit, Baltimore; 3. Cannonball, Bill Wallop, Annapolis.
RCRA Baltimore Harbor Raceback
PHRF A (9 starters): 1. Sundog, Paul Parks, 1:26:49 c.t.; 2. Frog Legs, Paul Awalt, 1:29:16 c.t.; 3. Moving Violation, Samuel Owings, Annapolis, 1:30:42 c.t.
PHRF B (14 starters): 1. Better Mousetrap, Bob Putnam, 1:55:32 c.t.; 2. Stat, Mel Tockman, Baltimore, 1:36:34 c.t.; 3. Rude Awakening, Chuck O'Malley, 1:37:41 c.t.
PHRF C-1 (14 starters): 1. Sure Cure, Craig Decker, Pasadena, 1:34:40 c.t.; 2. Rebecca, Bill Paul, Pasadena, 1:37:23 c.t.; 3. Adios, Gregory Smith, St. Michaels, 1:37:34 c.t.
PHRF C-2 (5 starters): 1. Accomplice, Dennis Rice, 1:25:26 c.t.; 2. Desperado, Frank Courtright, Columbia, 1:32:04 c.t.; 3. Serene, Don Reynolds, Columbia, 1:34:47 c.t.
PHRF Nonspinnaker (5 starters): 1. Mischief, Mike Miernicki, Severna Park, 1:47:52 c.t.; 2. Elusive, Richard Joklik, 1:48:43 c.t.; 3. Albar II, Allen Keiser, 1:48:56 c.t.
MORC (3 starters): 1. Plum Fun, Gary Meyer, 1:20:00 c.t.; 2. Shadowfax, Brian Jones, Annapolis, 1:37:25 c.t.
Multihull (9 starters): 1. Leading Lady, Buck Beaver, 1:52:30 c.t.; 2. The Karis, Michael Ivy, Arlington, Va., 1:55:33 c.t.; 3. Kimberly Anne, Chris Adams, 1:57:37 c.t.
Triton (5 starters): 1. Pylasteki,Leb Brown, Silver Spring; 2. Overdraft, David Hoyt, Glen Burnie.
Alberg 30 (6 starters): 1. Mustang, Joseph Credit; 2. Cannonball, Bill Wallop; 3. Kittiwake, Cyrus Fishburn, Baltimore.
The team consisting of New Englanders Dave Curtis and Brad Dellenbaugh and Annapolitan Paul Murphy became the first Americans ever to win the SolingEuropean Championships last month when they topped an 83-boat fleet sailing on the Atlantic Ocean off La Baulle, France, in a seven-race series.
"We definitely have the ability to put things together," Murphy said. "Kevin (Mahaney) and his team spend more time at it and are a little better organized, so we have more ups and downs than theydo. But it was a really good regatta."
With a single race each day, Murphy said that conditions early in the week were light, but winds were medium-heavy for the final three or four days.
Second placein the regatta went to Swede Magnus Holmberg and his team, with third place going to German Joachim Schuman, fourth to Mahaney and his team -- including Annapolitan Jim Brady -- and fifth to Danish sailor Jasper Bank.
Mahaney and his team got revenge last week, however, when they won the 43-boat Soling North Americans on Lake Michigan at the Chicago Yacht Club in a series so successful they didn't have to sail the final race of the seven-race, one-throwout event.
Brady said the North Americans was "a very tough event," with serious competition from teams of top sailors led by John Kostecki, Larry Klein, Curtis and Gerard Coleman among the top U.S. competitors, as well as Canadian Hans Fogh and New Zealander Russell Coutts.
"The first two days, it was light to moderate and very shifty," Brady said. "In the third race, we were third going up the last beat and finished seventh.That's how shifty it was.
"We were still leading the regatta at that point, but only by a very small margin. Then, on the third day, we had big seas and 20-knot winds, and we won both races by a couple of minutes. We like it when it blows."
Mahaney's finishes of 2-1-7-1-1-1 made the team untouchable by the end of the sixth race.
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 columnappears every Wednesday and Sunday in The Anne Arundel County Sun.