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On and off the water, Annapolis Race Week to toast the end of summer


Heads up, everybody -- the deadline for entries for Annapolis Race Week, set for Labor Day Weekend (Sept. 5-7), is fast approaching.

Those who snooze will lose $10 in the form of the late fee that will be tagged on for entries hand-delivered or postmarked after Thursday afternoon.

This will be the 26th annual Annapolis Race Week, managed under the aegis of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association.

The event, which drew a record 219 boats last year, has a couple of important new features this year, as part of an ongoing process of improving the regatta and responding to the wishes of the racers.

First, the competitors will be divided into three fleets this year rather than the two overall divisions found in years past.

Fleet 1 will consist of IMS I and II, PHRF A-1 and A-2, and the J/35s.

Included in Fleet 2 will be IMS III, PHRF B, MORC and the J/29s and J/30s.

That leaves the PHRF C and Nonspinnaker sailors, and the J/24s, Cal 25s, Catalina 27s and Pearson 30s to race in Fleet 3.

Each fleet will sail in a different area of the bay, with courses to be found all the way from Baltimore Light to Poplar Island.

The fleets will rotate through the course areas as the event goes on so that, for example, Fleet 2 will move from south to north with a rendezvous at the mouth of the South River on Saturday, at R'2' in the mouth of the Severn on Sunday, and at Sandy Point Light on Monday.

Also new this year, the race managers will try to get in two races each day, wind permitting, and will let the sailors know of their intent to start a second race by flying code flag "R" (Romeo) at the finish of the first race.

A number of popular and successful features of the event haven't changed, though.

Party central, where daily awards will be presented each evening, is again at Bert Jabin's Yacht Yard, which also has been undergoing its own steady process of improvement, on Edgewood Road in Annapolis.

The business headquarters for registration, official notices, protests and so on, is once more the lower-level Skipjack Lounge at Annapolis Yacht Club.

Sponsoring yacht clubs providing the race management again include some of the most capable race committees on the bay: Annapolis Yacht Club, Eastport Yacht Club, Gibson Island Yacht Squadron, the Magothy River Sailing Association, the Naval Academy Sailing Squadron, the Sailing Club of the Chesapeake, Shearwater Sailing Club and the West River Sailing Club.

And the same team of people, who have proven repeatedly in the past that they are up to the task, are serving as chairmen.

Bob Jett, as Race Week Chairman, is in charge of the shoreside activities, with Mark Murphy once again serving as On-The-Water Chairman, and Bob Mewhinney as the Protest/Rules Chairman.

Katcef Brothers and Michelob, long-time friends of Annapolis Race Week and other CBYRA events, are on hand again as sponsors, while additional sponsorship for the event is coming from Sailing World, which prepared the official program/special sailing instructions, available now from CBYRA.

Murphy said he was excited about the new on-water features, including the three-fleet division to reduce the length of the starting sequences, and the possibility of two races each day.

"It's basically the same format that's worked for us in the past," he said, "but these two changes, which were made in response to input from the sailors, should be real improvements to the event."

On the social side of things, Jett explained that a similar format to the successful ones of the past is being used, but with some improvements there, too.

"We'll have bigger and better bands -- Fat Ammon's Band on Saturday and Mama Jama on Sunday -- and the parties will start a little earlier, at 5:30, with food available starting then," he said.

Jett explained that the Watermen's Co-op will be on hand to provide a variety of seafood dishes for sale, while the Texas Grill will

be peddling hot dogs, hamburgers, steaks and fries. A cash bar will handle soft drinks and dollar beers.

"The bands will start about 7, and we'll do the awards around 9," Jett said. "But the parties will go on until 11, or until 10 on Monday."

Jett was enthusiastic about the upcoming event.

"The weather will be perfect, the sailing will be perfect, and everybody will have a wonderful time," he said. "Seriously, though, it's going to be a super event, on

the water and off. It's a chance to toast the end of summer with a three-day celebration."

In past years, racers have come from the length of the Chesapeake (and from farther afield, too) to share the excitement of Annapolis Race Week, and there's every reason to expect the same type of turnout this time. This adds to the fun, because it gives local sailors a chance to test themselves against familiar as well as new rivals.

Even though the event is scored overall as a series, each day's racing counts separately for High Point, so with the big fleets that can be expected a good day -- or two or three -- can mean a lot to overall standings for the year.

If you haven't already signed up your best crew for Race Week, start calling them today and get commitments for this big event, before somebody else does.

Then get your application, with the $75 entry fee, delivered in

person or postmarked by Thursday at

5 p.m. to CBYRA, 612 Third St., Suite 201, Annapolis, Md. 21403.

See you out there.

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.

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