Many of the area's most competitive sailors have headed -- or are about to head -- south to warmer waters for winter competition.
They will compete in several one-design class associations' midwinter championships, as well as the always popular Yachting Key West Race Week.
In its traditional position early in the lineup was the 1993 J/24 Midwinter Championship, with the Coral Reef Yacht Club in Coral Gables, Fla., as host, last week.
This year's fleet of 73 competitors came from across the United States and also included teams from Canada, Great Britain, France, Italy, Japan, Greece and Mexico.
The Annapolis area was well-represented, with Chris Larson and Jim Brady in fourth and fifth in the championship fleet, respectively, and Mike Hobson 25th.
Part-time Annapolitan and Harwood native Terry Hutchinson finished seventh in the championship fleet, and former Annapolitans Charlie Ogletree and Chris Snow were 17th in the championship fleet and first in the designer fleet, respectively.
J/24 Midwinter Championship
Championship fleet (36 qualifiers): 1. Ken Read, Newport, R.I., 20.5 (8-2-1-3-1-6); 2. John Kostecki, San Francisco, 31.5 (2-1-10*-1-9-2); 3. Dave Curtis, Marblehead, Mass., 33 (3-4-9- 6-8-3); 4. Chris Larson, Annapolis, 42 (13-9-5-2-2-11); 5. Jim Brady, Annapolis, 43.75 (4-10-16-8-7-1).
Designer fleet (37 starters): 1. Chris Snow, San Diego, 32.5 (4-1-3-3-3**-1); 2. Roberto Martinez, Italy, 32.75 (5-7*-7- 2-1-4); 3. D. Ashcroft, England, 46.5 (3-2-1-1-PMS-2); 4. George Andreadis, Greece, 63 (12-14-6-8-4-19); 5. Kobuh Kuramichi, Japan, 66 (2-3-2-13-DSQ-8).
Heading for Race Week
Tomorrow morning will begin events that will culminate in Key West a week from Friday, when the Fort Lauderdale to Key West Race sets forth as a feeder event leading up to Monday's start of Yachting Race Week.
Many of the top IMS racers headed for Race Week are sure to take part in the feeder race from Fort Lauderdale, because it counts along with the Race Week scores toward determining the winner of the four-venue Champagne Mumm World Cup Tour.
About 110 boats ranging in length from 24 to 70 feet are signed on to take part in Race Week itself, sailing in several IMS and PHRF divisions, as well as a couple of one-design splits.
With the steady switch in popularity away from long-distance ocean races to day-racing round-the-buoys competition, Yachting Race Week at Key West is the jewel in the organization's six-event crown, which also includes an annual event on the Chesapeake at Solomons.
It routinely draws big-name boats and sailors from all across the nation, as well as some high-octane foreign competition.
This year's fleet will include winning America's Cup teammates Bill Koch and Buddy Melges racing against each other in the high-tech IMS Class A Open Racing division.
Koch has chartered Dr. Oliver Grin's Nelson/Marek 46 Collaboration, which took class and overall honors at the 1991 Yachting Race Week series in Key West, and in July 1992 was part of the winning three-boat team at the Rolex Commodore's Cup in Cowes, England.
Melges will helm Deep Powder, a new Tripp 47 owned by Victor Chigas of Chicago, which took first in class at the 1992 Sailing World NOOD Regatta in Chicago and was third in the Chicago-Mackinac Race.
Also racing in this elite group will be the Annapolis-based team, including defending Key West Race Week champion Geoff Staff of Annapolis, skippering Peter Gordon's Farr 44 Gaucho with North Sails' America's Cup veteran Tom Whidden as tactician.
Further representation from this area will include Robert Crompton's team aboard his new Farr 50 Full Cry, fresh out of the box from its Argentine builder, with Annapolis' Olympic silver medalist Jim Brady in the afterguard.
Bill Steitz and his Dancer crew, the Zinn family and their Infringer team, Pendleton Alexander and his crew aboard Short Story, Jack King and his Merrythought band, Seward Lawlor and his Chesapeake crew, hot J/29 sailor Paul Andersen -- now living in Urbanna, Va. -- and his crew on Posse, and Will Keyworth, in a repeat of his successful partnership with Floridian Skip Purcell with Imp, all will be on hand in Key West to show what Chesapeake Bay sailors can do.
Jervis Dorton and his refurbished Flying Circus are also on their way to try again after a trailer accident last year at this time prevented them from reaching the regatta. He and his crew deserve good luck this time, for sure.
From the Baltimore area, a new J/92, Killer Puppy, owned by Charlie Powell, also will be in the fleet, handled by crew including sailmaker Max Skelley and several local sailors.