This year's Cedar Point Race, one of the Gibson Island Yacht Squadron's longest-running big-boat events, drew 68 PHRF, IMS, and MORC crews out to the line at R'2' Saturday morning for the spinnaker start of a 53.5-mile haul.
It went down to R'78' off the mouth of the Choptank and the long beat back up the bay to a finish line set at Baltimore Light.
In winds that varied through the day from a low of less than 5 knots in midafternoon to a high in the upper teens as the sun went down, the fleet spread out and converged again and again while some sailors followed their own personal breezes and others bobbed in frustrating light-air holes.
With boats entered in four of the nine classes competing, the Naval Academy's Varsity Offshore Team sailors racked up an impressive package of aces in three classes -- PHRF A-1, A-2 and B.
"Going down the bay we stayed as low as we could sail toward the Eastern Shore," said Mid. Mark Vannoy, executive officer of Navy's New York 36 Thunderbolt, of his crew's PHRF A-2 winning race.
"We were all pretty spread out," he said of his fleet's first 20-plus-mile leg, "and we rounded the mark in fourth, when there was kind of a pileup at the mark and the boats all came together again."
Continuing to sail their own race, Vannoy and Mid. 1/C Oliver Vietor, Thunderbolt's skipper, decided to break away from their competition after rounding and headed west, while the rest sailed up the middle of the bay or off to the east.
"We got a pretty good lift over there," Vannoy explained, "but we were a little worried because we were on the outside of it, so we tacked back then, all the way over to the Eastern Shore, and we made out then.
"We were close-tacking all the way up the Eastern Shore. We saw a lot of boats center to west sitting in lulls."
According to Mid. 1/C Matt Arnold, skipper of PHRF A-1 winner Morning Light, a Frers 48, "We did basically the opposite [of Thunderbolt's race plan]. We stayed east of the rhumb line going down, but still in the deep water because the current was ebbing and we were getting a fairly good kick."
After first working east coming back upwind, Arnold said, "We didn't figure we were making out so well, so we tacked to cross the channel.
"The current was supposed to be with us, but it was still against us, so we went west, and once we got settled in we rode the lift on the Western Shore.
"The wind behind us died, and it was light and flukey from Tolley Point to the finish, and we came in in the middle of the IMS I class."
For 2nd Lt. Kyle Weaver, sailing the academy's Mariah 27 Smoke with a crew from Navy's J/24 team, along with Annapolitan Rob Kyle as back-up navigator, an excellent second leg made up for early difficulties.
It gave his crew the gun as well as the corrected-time victory in PHRF B after passing second-placer Drew Dowling's J/30 and )) Richard Altman's third-place J/27 Vitality.
Weaver was the first Naval Academy skipper ever to win the prestigious Bermuda Lighthouse Trophy for Constellation's best overall in the Newport to Bermuda Race earlier this year.
Cedar Point Race
IMS I (5 starters): 1. Gaucho, Peter Gordon, Annapolis, 5:53:17 c.t.; 2. Immigrant, Marc McAteer, Annapolis, 6:03:47 c.t.; 3. Dancer, Bill Steitz, Pittsburgh, Pa., 6:06:05 c.t.
IMS II (5 starters): 1. Privateer, Dave Dodge, Annapolis, 5:52:50 c.t.; 2. Yellow Jacket, BS&W; Syndicate, Annapolis, 6:15:35 c.t.; 3. Windborne, Kevin & Mary McLaughlin, Annapolis, 6:22:42 c.t.
IMS III (7 starters): 1. Moonshine, Jim Schneider, Salisbury, 6:01:28 c.t.; 2. Blew Magic, Frank Costanzi, Ruxton, 6:02:35 c.t.; 3. Scrimshaw, Charles Deakyne, Severna Park, 6:03:14 c.t.
MORC (4 starters): 1. Plum Fun, Gary Meyer, Severn, 7:39:28 c.t.; Slick, Dean Mulder, Bowie, 7:46:51 c.t.; 3. Flying Circus, Jervis Dorton, Columbia, 7:47:58 c.t.
PHRF A-1 (14 starters): 1. Morning Light, Mid. 1/C Matt Arnold, USNA, 8:02:27 c.t.; 2. Wings, Richard Taylor, Lutherville, 8:12:44 c.t.; 3. Madam X, Jerry Dowling, Gladwyne, Pa., 8:13:58 c.t.
PHRF A-2 (14 starters): 1. Thunderbolt, Mid. 1/C Oliver Vietor, USNA, 7:46:34 c.t.; 2. Think Fast, Albert Holt, Annapolis, 7:56:10 c.t.; 3. Terrific, Olaf tom Felde, Annapolis, 7:57:28 c.t.
PHRF B (9 starters): 1. Smoke, 2nd Lt. Kyle Weaver, USNA, 7:48:00 c.t.; 2. Encounter, Drew Dowling, Arnold, 7:51:13 c.t.; 3. Vitality, Richard Altman, Baltimore, 7:57:18 c.t.
PHRF C (8 starters): 1. Early Bird, Robert Seidel, Bel Air, 7:29:57 c.t.; 2. Sure Cure, Craig Decker, Pasadena, 7:35:01 c.t.; 3. Serendipity, Dave Ellerbrake, Severna Park, 7:39:42 c.t.
PHRF Nonspinnaker (2 starters): 1. Anser, Jim Troutman, Bethesda, 8:35:05 c.t.
* It's not the usual thing to review a movie in this column, but I'm making an exception in the case of director Carroll Ballard's new Tri-Star release, "Wind," which opened Friday at several area theaters.
For sailing fans, sailors and racing sailors in particular, this is definitely in the Don't Wait For The Video category.
Other reviewers, clearly non-sailors, have panned the movie for poor acting by stars Jennifer Grey, Matthew Modine and Cliff Robertson, and the banalities and omissions of the story line, and I'll concede they have a point.
What they have missed, however, is the excitement, power and beauty of the incredible sailing footage that makes up nearly half of the two-hour running time and is definitely worth the price of admission.
On the big screen, this is sensational stuff that slammed me back in my seat and left me gasping in awe, from the thrills of a hell-bent-for-leather International 14 regatta in the first few minutes of the film to the overwhelming power of several first-rate, heart-pounding 12-meter encounters.
And you thought ESPN's America's Cup coverage was exciting.
The implausibilities of its plot line and some less-than-convincing acting don't hurt that much because the strength of the sailing more than makes up for those weaknesses.
"Wind" is a remarkable production, with a lot of finely detailed, technically accurate, true-to-life sailing -- thanks no doubt to Sailing Master Peter Gilmour and his crew of sailing professionals -- presented in a larger-than-life, cinematically gorgeous and totally electrifying manner.
Nancy Noyes is a member of the Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racin 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.