While the big-boat sailors slogged their way down the bay for the Cedar Point Race last weekend, small-boat sailors had their own sets oflight-air blues when the Severn Sailing Association staged its annual Fall I and Fall II regattas.
The Fall I fleet, made up of International 14s, Lightnings, and Thistles, took to the water on Saturday,and the J/24s, Solings and Tempests occupied the Whitehall Bay course area on Sunday.
"On Saturday, we waited about an hour and a half for an easterly,which in Annapolis can be a pretty stable sailing breeze," said RaceCommittee Chairman Rob Bonney.
"It was shifty and not very dependable, tough conditions, but the powerboat chop was not as high as I might have expected."
Using short-legged Olympic triangle courses, one of which was truncated by a leg to a Gold Cup-type course when time and wind began to run out, the Fall I fleet completed two races inthe uncooperative air.
Bonney said that one of the day's most impressive performances was turned in by Thistle class winner Steve Nearing who, after winning the day's first race, went on to win the second contest by a huge margin.
"It was a real horizon job," Bonney said. "His second bullet was a real 'kiss 'em goodbye' kind of finish."
Sunday's fleet was somewhat luckier in terms of wind, but tricky tidal currents and heavy motorboat chop added to their light-air woes.
"We went out and had to wait for breeze for a while until one o'clock or so, when we got a start off in a very light southeasterly," said Naval Academy dinghy team coach Doug Clark, skipper of Dusty Work, who placed second overall in the J/24 class, a point behind Bo McBee and his crew on Rainbo.
"There was a lot of traffic, and a lot of waves on the course. We had a pretty good start, and rounded the top mark in first. I guess the thing about the first race was that thecurrent hadn't switched yet, and a lot of guys who didn't have a good start were forced to the right. We had more breeze and no current on the left, and we were able to spread out a little bit downwind."
Clark and his Dusty Work team took the gun in that contest and were ready to head out and try it again.
"By the end of the first race -- it took quite a while on an Olympic course in the dying breeze -- it was pretty evident we weren't going to have a third race, that it would just be a two-race series," he said.
"By the start of the second race, the southeasterly had died a little bit -- we probably started in 3-4 knots -- and the current was just starting to switch. Bo McBee wound up crossing tacks with us quite a lot. Then up the secondbeat we decided to split with him, which turned out to be the kiss of death, because we went out into adverse current.
"We got around the leeward mark, and we wanted to try to pass Bo so we split again, but Bo did a really good job staying out of the current and in the best breeze. (Stewart Spettel's) Latent Defect was in there ahead of us, and (Bill Sutton's) Swag got us right at the finish line. It got really light and lumpy and the fleet got spread out pretty quickly after the start. There really wasn't an opportunity to come from behind. It was good racing, though."
SSA FALL I
International 14 (5 starters): 1) Dick White, Severna Park, 2.75 pts. (1-2); 2) Lou Phillips, Pasadena, 4.75 pts. (4-1); 3) John Gebhardt, Annapolis, 6 pts. (2*-3).
Lightning (6 starters): 1) Doug Heussler, Annapolis, 3.75 pts. (3-1); 2) Joe Friebele, Cheverly, 3.75 pts. (1-3); 3) Simeon Coxe, Annapolis, 7 pts. (5-2).
Thistle (7 starters): 1) Steve Nearing, (address unavailable), 1.5 pts. (1-1); 2) Peter Hale, Annandale, Va., 7 pts. (5-2); 3) Bill Webb, Annapolis, 7 pts. (3*-3).
SSA FALL II
J/24 (17 starters): 1) Rainbo, Bo McBee, Lancaster, Pa., 3.75 pts. (3-1); 2) Dusty Work, Doug Clark, Annapolis, 4.75 pts. (1-4); 3) Latent Defect, Stewart Spettel, Alexandria, Va., 6 pts. (4-2); 4) Sail No. 4031, Willy Graves, USNA, 7 pts. (2-5); 5) Swag, Bill Sutton, Arlington, Va., 9 pts. (6-3).
Soling (4 starters): 1) Peter Gleitz, Annapolis, 1.5 pts. (1- 1); 2) Joe Van Gieson, Annapolis, 5 pts. (3-2); 3) Bruce Breiding, Washington, 6 pts. (2-4).
Tempest (8 starters): 1) Ray O'Hara, Alexandria, Va., 1.5 pts. (1-1); 2) Brigid O'Hara, Alexandria, Va., 4 pts. (2-2); 3) Dave Lavis, Arnold, 7 pts. (4-3).
* Denotes 20 percent penalty added to finish position.
Farther south, the West River Sailing Club staged itsannual Keelboat Regatta and played host to a fleet made up of 18 Stars and 8 Laser 28s for a two-day event.
Despite exceedingly light air on Saturday, a single short Olympic-course contest was completed,and the regatta rounded out with two races as scheduled in slightly better conditions on Sunday.
Competition throughout the fleet was close, as Star class winner Jonathan Bartlett topped his class by a mere half-point over rival Craig Coltharp.
The closest contest of all was between Laser 28 sailors Tom Price on Hyder-Ally and Bob Reeves on A Train. Their final tallies were only a quarter-point apart after three skillful and challenging races in the light stuff.
"We were supposed to start at 11, but we didn't start the first race until about 3 in the afternoon," Price said. "A little breeze came in, and we got a nice first part of a leg in at about 3 to 5 knots, and then it just died again down to nothing.
"Everybody lost concentration -- one minute you were winning, the next you were in last place. It was pretty clear that the boat that got around the windward mark was going to win, so on the last part of the leg we decided to get serious, and we got there first.
"Once we got around, we were off like a rocket with the tide, and got a nice margin between ourselves and thenext boat, Bob Reeves. We finished just under five minutes under thetime limit."
Price said that he and his fellow Laser 28 sailors took the advantage of being rafted together for the weekend to spend quite a bit of time comparing notes and sharing go-fast information.
"We had a little tuning-up session, and we all went over each other's boats checking rig tension, mast rake, jib leads, and all of that," he said. "A lot of people put some thought into retuning their rigs. And then we went out, and we finished third in the first race -- which just goes to show you. The racing was much closer, which was the intended idea. That kind of stuff is good, to try to get everybody going the same speed."
With Reeves leading the regatta by a point after taking first in Sunday's first race, Price and his team of Naval Academy ensigns knew they would have to win the last race.
"We hada little better wind on Sunday, around 3 to 5 knots," he said. "We got a real good start and basically managed to stay out in front. Since we had two firsts and a third, and he had a first and two seconds, we managed to win the regatta from Bob. It was light air, but it was fun."
WRSC Keelboat Regatta
Star (18 starters): 1) Jonathan Bartlett, Annapolis, 8.5 pts.; 2) Craig Coltharp, Stevensville, 9 pts.; 3) Gene Peters, Washington, 10.75 pts.; 4) Steve Kling, Annapolis, 11pts.; 5) Joe Roberts, Huntingtown, 14 pts.
Laser 28 (8 starters):1) Hyder-Ally, Thomas Price, Pasadena, 4.5 pts.; 2) A Train, Robert Reeves, Annapolis, 4.75 pts.; 3) Joe Cool, Joe Phillips, Annapolis, 8pts.
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.