The Annapolis Yacht Club played host over the weekend to 28 IMS-racing teams in the IMS East Coast Championships.
Regatta organizers had hoped for a substantial contingent of out-of-town racers, but although the Southern Bay was represented by several Southern Virginians in the fleet -- including IMS II second-placer Sledd Shelhorse and his crew on Promises -- other out-of-towners who had been invited stayed away.
Though there was some of the coldest, wettest weather of the season, there was a good breeze for some exciting and heated competition.
The series went to its full schedule of five races, with three contests on Saturday and two on Sunday.
Winning the largest class, IMS II, by the narrowest possible margin of a quarter-point over Shelhorse's Promises, was the team of Will Keyworth and Skip Purcell and the crew aboard Imp, a Tripp 33, which has been collecting an impressive record locally since its first bay-area appearance at Yachting Race Week in Solomons in early August.
"It was a tight one," Keyworth said. "We kind of went back and forth with them in every race."
Keyworth's record of 1-3-1-3-1 seesawed opposite Shelhorse's 2-1-2-1-3 so that the Imp team knew it would have a hard time beating Promises for the series as it went into the final race.
"Those guys were sailing very well, going very fast," Keyworth said, explaining that Promises' rating puts her at the top of the handicap list for the class, while Imp's is near the bottom. "We had to stay within about two minutes of them to correct ahead, and it wasn't easy."
Keyworth described the weekend's northeasterly winds as gradually lightening from a high of 16 to 18 knots on Saturday morning to Sunday's 12 to 14 with holes of six knots or less, providing challenging competitive conditions.
"Typical nor'easter with the short courses," he said. "You had to get a good start and hit the shifts right."
Keyworth was enthusiastic about the format of the regatta, which used four-legged windward-leeward courses of about 6 miles each through all five contests.
"I think that whole concept of several short-course races is the way to run races these days," he said. "AYC did a really great job."
Peter Gordon and his crew on his Farr 44 Moxie topped the IMS I class by nearly eight points, but in Sunday's first race, their victory over George Collins and his Moxie crew was by a mere two seconds, while Shelhorse beat Annapolitan Jim Scott and his Uptown Girl team in the same race by 14 seconds.
IMS East Coast Championship IMS I (9 starters): 1. Gaucho, Peter Gordon, Annapolis, 5 (2-1-1-1-1); 2. Moxie, George Collins, Gibson Island, 12.75 (1-3-2-3-4); 3. Full Cry, Robert Crompton, Coatesville, Pa., 16 (3-2-3-5-3).
IMS II (14 starters): 1. Imp, Purcell/Keyworth, Palm Beach, Fla./Annapolis, 8.25 (1-3-1-3-1); 2. Promises, Sledd Shelhorse, Virginia Beach, Va., 8.5 (2-1-2-1-3); 3. Uptown Girl, Jim Scott, Annapolis, 17 (4-2-4-2-5).
IMS III (5 starters): 1. Good Times, Bill Schwarz, Randallstown, 5 (1-2-1-1-1); 2. Fast Track, Yeigh/McFadden, Annapolis, 9.75 (3-1-2-2-2); 3. Shahrazad, John Wenzel, Annapolis, 21 (4-DNF-3-4-4).
SSA wins award
A local sailing club has been distinguished with an important U.S. SAILING award, which many at the nation's governing body of sailing agreed was overdue.
Severn Sailing Association was the recipient of the One-Design Club Award at U.S. SAILING's annual general meeting in New Orleans, on Oct. 22.
The award recognizes the year's most outstanding one-design program in terms of member fleet growth and development, for managing sailing events, and for supporting one-design activity outside the club.
SSA boasts 11 active one-design classes, including Comet, Flying Dutchman, International 14, Interclub, J/24, Lightning, Snipe, Soling, Tempest, Laser and Thistle, and is widely known in the region for excellent race management.
The club's property on First Street in Eastport, fronting on Spa Creek and the Severn River, is devoted largely to drysail functions, and members are required to help maintain it and perform race committee duties.
Active as a small-boat racing club since its founding some 30 years ago, SSA plays host to several major events each year, including last year's Lightning Worlds and this year's J/24 World Championships, currently running in conjunction with Eastport Yacht Club next door.
SSA is home to many champion sailors, as well as leading lights in the sport such as Sam Merrick, Gary Jobson and Stuart Walker. Many of its members today are graduates of the highly regarded SSA Junior Program, and several are the sons and daughters of founding members -- a number of whom still remain involved in the association.
"I'm very proud of the club for having earned this award," said SSA Commodore Steve Palmer. "It confirms a lot of what we've been trying to do for the past two, four, six or even 30 years, and it confirms that we're doing what we're supposed to be doing for one-design sailing."
Accepting the award for SSA was Phil Richmond of Annapolis, a member of SSA's standing Race Committee who serves U.S. SAILING as Area Race Officer for this region, Area C.