This year's Magothy River Sailing Association Spring Race was sailed last Saturday by a fleet of 20 PHRF racers and a new six-boat Cruising class.
It was an exciting chase around the upper bay and into the Patapsco River to a finish in the McHenry Channel, capped off by an awards party at the Inn at Henderson's Wharf in the Inner Harbor.
All classes began the race at a starting line set northeast of Baltimore Light and finished in the Patapsco River upstream of Key Bridge.
The PHRF racers used a challenging 23-mile course that first sent them south to Sandy Point Light on a windward beat, followed by a long run downwind and up the bay to the forward Craighill Channel Light before heading southwest to a turning mark across the river mouth and up the Patapsco on a spinnaker reach to the bridge and the final run to the finish.
The new Cruising Class sailed 14 miles, heading away from the starting line on a more direct route up into the Patapsco to the finish line, without the southerly beat and long run north.
As a last-minute substitution aboard the Orion Syndicate's X-402 Madam X in the nine-boat PHRF-A class, I had a chance to relish the sweet taste of victory in good company, despite some sore early season muscles that followed.
With syndicate head Jerry Dowling at the helm and noted Annapolis sailor Paul Murphy as tactician, the Madam X crew had its game plan set before the start. They headed hard right in a 15- to 18-knot southerly on the first beat, to get west of a ripping northbound flood current of a knot or more in the deep water, hoping for what might be better breeze off a line of storm clouds along the Western Shore.
This move was the key to our success, because it gave us an early and substantial lead over the many who opted for the opposite side of the course -- and the current -- and kept us in good position against the two other boats who went west with us on that first leg.
As Madam X completed the beat with a series of short tacks just inshore of the current line, we rounded the first mark behind Butch Michel and the team on his Frers 50 Airwaves and followed them back out into the northbound current and up the bay on the next leg, ahead of Carl Geyer and the team on his Hunter 54 La Chasseresse.
Over the course of the long run north and the next two legs up toward Key Bridge, Airwaves was still within striking distance, but La Chasseresse slowly gained until she passed us as the wind dropped and then filled again to more than 20 knots.
Down the final run to the finish in lightening air, we anxiously timed the 14 1/2 minutes from Airwaves' spinnaker drop at the finish line, through La Chasseresse's finish some 11 minutes later, until our own, when we knew we had won. Airwaves owed us nearly half an hour and La Chasseresse about seven minutes on handicap correction.
In all, it was a good race in great conditions, except for a temporary hole near the finish line that proved frustrating for some racers who were becalmed within yards of completion.
Cruising-class sailors can look forward to another start just for them and a chance to join the racing fleet's fun in September's Queenstown Race, said MRSA event chairman Ron Conklin.
"It was the first time we've had a cruising class," he said, "and we are looking forward to doing it again, particularly on those races where we have a destination and some sort of raft-up or party afterward."
MRSA Spring Race results
PHRF A (9 starters): 1. Madam X, Orion Syndicate, Berwyn, Pa., 3:17:21 c.t.; 2. La Chasseresse, Carl Geyer, Severna Park, 3:20:17 c.t.; 3. Airwaves, R.E. Michel Jr., Baltimore, 3:31:34 c.t.
PHRF B (3 starters): 1. Elusive, John Clark, Severna Park, 3:38:01 c.t.; 2. Blind Luck, John Fowlkes, Annapolis, 3:39:29 c.t.; 3. Fusion, Tom Apple, Westminster, 4:05:04 c.t.
PHRF C (6 starters): 1. Accomplice, Dennis Rice, Timonium, 3:35:19 c.t.; 2. Airwaves, David Wiemer, Baltimore, 3:36:10 c.t.; 3. Wizard, Les Toeplitz, Pasadena, 3:38:13 c.t.
PHRF Nonspinnaker (1 starter): 1. Alize, Chris Chamberlin, Washington, 3:30:09 c.t.
Cruising Class (6 starters): 1. Min Van IV, John Lund, Severna Park, 2:55:12 c.t.; 2. Magic Dragon, Joseph Jackins, Severna Park, 2:58:46 c.t.; 3. Seascape, John Jacobs, Annapolis, 3:06:25 c.t.
Eastport Yacht Club's first-ever PHRF Level Regatta last Saturday offered several groups of sailors who normally compete on a single-race-per-day, handicap basis an unusual chance to try their skills in a multiple-race, short-course, boat-for-boat, non-handicapped format similar to one-design racing.
With competition consisting of one Olympic and two windward-leeward races in exciting 15- to 20-knot breezes, the three-race series drew 31 teams in four classes ranged tightly around common nodes in PHRF ratings -- 84, 99, 114 and 132. The regatta featured extremely tight competition, although winners of the two biggest classes, the 114 group of Class 3 and the 132 group of Class 4, with 10 and 12 entrants, respectively, aced each of their three races for perfect scores of 2.25 points.
"We won one race by 10 feet, and another by a boatlength," said Class 3 winner Larry Kumins, skipper of PollyWannaCracka? and an organizer of the event. "The scores are a little deceptive as an indication of how close a lot of the racing really was. It was really exciting, a good event."
In Class 4, Columbia sailor Jervis Dorton and his crew on his Pearson Flyer Flying Circus also had some close contests while racking up their own perfect score. Kumins said he and his crew witnessed "the mark-rounding from hell" in one race between the top two Class 2 boats, Albert Holt's Olson 30 Think Fast and Steve Schaub's Farr 33 Contraire.
"Contraire tried to slam the door around the mark on Think Fast," Kumins said, "but he left about 10 feet open, and Think Fast, which is only about eight feet wide, just got through. It was fun to watch."
The event was so successful, and interest from other portions of the PHRF scale is running so high, Kumins said, that EYC will plan another such event. It hopes to include a start for boats rated around 168, another large membership node on the scale.
EYC LEVEL Regatta results
Class 1, PHRF 84+ (4 entries): 1. Bam, John Lynch, [address unavailable], 3.5 pts.; 2. Witch, William Heffner, Baltimore, 4.75 pts.
Class 2, PHRF 99+ (5 entries): 1. Think Fast, Albert Holt, Annapolis, 4.5 pts.; 2. Contraire, Stephen Schaub, Eldersburg, 4.75 pts.
Class 3, PHRF 114+ (10 entries): 1. PollyWannaCracka?, Larry Kumins, Annapolis, 2.25 pts.; 2. Shuger Blitz, Marty Hublitz, Springfield, Va., 7 pts.; 3. Mischief, Bruce Bingman/Taran Teague, Arlington, Va., 11 pts.
Class 4, PHRF 132+ (12 entries): 1. Flying Circus, Jervis Dorton, Columbia, 2.25 pts.; 2. Teaser II, Steven Von Christierson, Arlington, Va., 10 pts.; 3. Fierce Pride, Van Holsten, [address unavailable], 13 pts.
One of the things Naval Academy sailing coach Gary Bodie enjoys most each year is serving as host to the InterScholastic Yacht Racing Association's High School National Championships.
Last weekend's event, featuring A and B division double-handed teams from 20 high schools from across the country facing off for the Mallory Trophy, and 30 individual sailors fighting to earn the single-handed Cressy Trophy, was one of the best, Bodie said.
"We've run this regatta for 12 years now, and this year we had the best weather ever, the most races and the best-quality races, on nice, long courses," Bodie said.
The Mallory fleet worked through eight pairs of races in 10- to 15-knot breezes on Saturday, and completed the regatta with another five pairs of Mallory contests and six more Cressy races on Sunday in breeze ranging from 5 to 12 knots.
Both regattas were close contests, with several lead changes marking the Mallory competition. There was excellent work on Sunday especially by Annapolitan John Torgerson, sailing in the Cressy for Avon Old Farm School in Connecticut, who fought hard to overcome three-time Cressy winner Brett Davis of Florida, beating him four of six times on Sunday, but still settling for second overall when the regatta ended.
"Torgerson came really close," Bodie said. "He put up quite a fight against Davis. Neither one of them made a major mistake, and it really was a good battle."
"It was a good regatta, but it was tough," Torgerson said. "Brett is the greatest, and he is really hard to beat."
Local sailors in the Mallory competition included Andrew Scott, sailing on the Naval Academy Preparatory School's A team to fourth in division and overall; Rob Deane sailing in A to 10th and an overall 18th for Hill School in Pottstown, Pa.; and Annapolis' own St. Mary's High School team of Karen Coe, Carolyn Manion, Chris Raponi, Liza Hughes, Eric Dwight and Myles and Tracy Conway, 18th in A Division and 14th in B, to finish 17th overall.
ISYRA Mallory Trophy Regatta results
Overall: 1. Hotchkiss School, Lakeville, Conn., 176 pts.; 2. Tabor Academy, Marion, Mass., 186 pts.; 3. Ransom Everglades H.S., Miami, Fla., 201 pts.; 4. Naval Academy Prep, Newport, R.I., 204 pts.; 5. St. Stanislaus School, Bay St. Louis, Mo., 215pts.
A Division: 1. Coronado H.S., Coronado, Calif., David Houser/Justin Bingham, Bingham, 78 pts.; 2. Univ. San Diego H.S., San Diego, Calif., Scott Quan/Ashley Kurtz, 94 pts; 3. Hotchkiss School, Rob Lawrence/Jasper Pirasteh, 100 pts; 4. Naval Academy Prep, Andrew Scott/Ann Saenz, 104 pts.; 5. Belmont Hill School, Belmont, Mass., Michael Huang/Jeff Cohan, 110 pts.
B Division: 1. Tabor Academy, Mike Callahan, Andy Herlihy/Ashley Ewenson, Teri Moore, 70 pts.; 2. Hotchkiss School, Chris Goodwin, Mike Head/Brianne Dalton, Dave Reynolds, Will James, 76 pts; 3. Ransom Everglades H.S., Chris Gaffney/John Miki, 84 pts.; 4. St. George's School, Newport, R.I., Morgan Connor/Carter Pate, 90 pts.; 5. St. Stanislaus School, Eugene Schmitt/Gilly Chamberlain, 93 pts.
ISYRA Cressy Trophy Regatta results
1. Brett Davis, Largo H.S., 23 pts.; 2. John Torgerson, Avon Old Farm School, 31 pts.; 3. Mike Hare, La Porte H.S., 74 pts.; 4. Senet Bischoff, Coral Gables H.S., 78 pts.; 5. Will Stout, Clear Lake H.S., 96 pts.
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 Arundel County Sun.