This year's St. Brendan Cup Regatta, Shearwater Sailing Club's 12th such event, was a challenge nearly equal to that faced by its legendary namesake St. Brendan the Navigator.
In light air and a strong ebb current, there were plenty of problems for the 71-boat PHRF, MORC and cruising one-design fleet on last Saturday's 14-mile course back and forth across the bay around government marks.
"It was very easy to get in trouble by not watching the current," said PHRF A-2 winner Scott Allan, who sailed Jerry and Nancy Cann's new Melges 24 Crusader Rabbit to a 4 1/2 -minute victory in the 18-boat PHRF A-2 class.
The start alone was disastrous for many sailors as a vicious ebb current paralleling the starting line pulled boats well beyond the pin end of the line and left them stranded and unable to start without sailing back against the current in the light air. Seeing this happening in the class ahead of him, Allan said his strategy was to park near the line and wait for the gun before trying to accelerate in the weak breeze.
"For the first two legs the wind was pretty light, with lots of current," he said, describing first sailing from the start at R'2' across the bay to the southern end of the measured mile, then northward on a downwind leg to R'90' near the Bay Bridge.
"That leg was pretty tactical, because you had to decide whether to go out into more current where there seemed to be more wind, or whether to stay in [along the Eastern Shore] with less current and less wind."
Opting for the deeper water with more wind, Allan said the breeze had filled in by that point to a nice southerly. After a follow-the-leader leg back to Hackett's Point, the course took the fleet on a clean beat to R'2' before they had to head back across the bay -- and the still-raging current -- on a close reach to the measured mile, followed by a spinnaker reach back to finish at R'2'.
The new little pocket-rocket was one of three confirmed victims of dismasting -- including a fairly substantial J/40 -- in the violent thunderstorm that hit the Annapolis Yacht Club's Wednesday Night racing fleet shortly after the end of the starting sequence a few days later, bringing winds that were measured at 60 knots near Kent Island.
Other than a broken mast, however, damage to Crusader Rabbit was minimal despite being hit with gale-force wind, and no serious injuries were reported, so the boat should be back in action soon.
Sunday's format, a new one for the St. Brendan Cup, featured three short Olympic course races of three or four miles each for two IMS classes and the J/30s.
Protests still are pending in the five-boat IMS I, or grand prix, division, although preliminary results show a clean sweep for Skip Purcell's Tripp 26 Imp.
In a four-boat division made up of both IMS II and IMS III competitors, the Yeigh/Tullman team on Fast Track also came up all aces. For J/30 division winner Steve Bardelman and the crew on Valhalla, the day started off with a second-place finish behind the Cullen/Engle/Johnson team on Jackrabbit before the Valhalla team was able to go on to get the guns in both of the subsequent contests.
The St. Brendan Cup was created as a means of raising money for the club's non-profit Brendan Corporation to operate an annual summer sailing program for learning disabled children.
The prize for the top navigator for Fleet 1, made up of the IMS classes, will not be awarded until the protests in IMS I are resolved. But the Fleet 2 winner, navigator aboard the best finisher in the overall PHRF and PHRF Nonspinnaker division, was Jim Brickell, sailing aboard Richard Altman's PHRF B-winning Vitality. For Fleet 3, made up of the MORC, Catalina 27 and Triton sailors, the
winner was Fred Rector, part of Francis Wright's Catalina 27 winning team on Cheshire Cat.
St. Brendan Cup Regatta
Saturday, May 8
PHRF A-1 (17 starters): 1. Sundog, Paul & Kathy Parks, Shady Side, 2:56:07 c.t.; 2. Aunt Jean, F.N. Sagerholm, Ocean City, N.J., 3:00:51 c.t.; 3. Infringer, Donald Zinn, Annapolis, 3:03:28 c.t.
PHRF A-2 (18 starters): 1. Crusader Rabbit, Scott Allan, Annapolis, 2:51:17 c.t.; 2. Fast Track, Yeigh/Tullman, Annapolis, 2:56:44 c.t.; 3. Tops Optional, Steve Olinger, Annapolis, 2:57:15 c.t.
PHRF B (11 starters): 1. Vitality, Richard Altman, Baltimore, 2:49:39 c.t.; 2. Better Mousetrap, Bob Putnam, Greenbelt, 2:55:04 c.t.; 3. Blue Moon, Jim Ellis, Arnold, 2:58:13 c.t.
PHRF C (3 starters, protest pending): 1. Babe, Michael Bay, Edgewater, 2:57:29 c.t.; 2. Pendragon, John Hadley, Arlington, Va., 3:03:24 c.t.
PHRF Nonspinnaker (1 starter): 1. King Nummy, Don Breder, Dresher, Pa., 3:08:48 c.t.
MORC (6 starters): 1. Skylarkn, Bob Dunning, Easton, 2:47:10 c.t.; 2. Azure, Dave Prucnal, Pasadena, 2:52:29 c.t.; 3. Stingray, Robert Muller, Annapolis, 2:55:12 c.t.
Catalina 27 (10 starters, protest pending): 1. Cheshire Cat, Francis Wright, Annapolis, 3:22:58 e.t.; 2. Swell, Derick Lynch, Arnold, 3:23:43 e.t.; 3. Finesse, Baxter/Becker, Bowie, 3:23:49 e.t.
Triton (6 starters): 1. Overdraft, David Hoyt, Glen Burnie, 3:33:38 e.t.; 2. Sandpiper, Chris Gordon, Chevy Chase, 3:35:24 e.t.; 3. Pylasteki, Leb Brown, Silver Spring, 3:36:30 e.t.
Sunday, May 9
IMS I (5 starters, protests pending): 1. Imp, Purcell/Keyworth, Annapolis, 2.25 (1-1-1); 2. Gaucho, Peter Gordon, Annapolis, 6 (2-2-2).
IMS II & III (4 starters): 1. Fast Track, Yeigh/Tullman, Annapolis, 2.25 (1-1-1); 2. Contraire, Steve Schaub, Eldersburg, 8 (4-2-2).
J/30 (14 starters): 1. Valhalla, Steve Bardelman, Sherwood Forest, 3.5 (2-1-1); 2. Jackrabbit, Cullen/Engle/Johnson, Annapolis, 4.75 (1-2-2); 3) no respect, Harrison Syndicate, 16 (4-3-9); 4. Turbo Duck, Bodo von der Wense, Gulph Mills, Pa., 16 (5-7-4).
Conner to speak at academy
Four-time America's Cup winner, Olympic medalist and two-time Star world champion Dennis Conner will be the speaker for this year's Naval Academy Forrestal Lecture, set for 7 p.m. Monday at Alumni Hall. The lecture is free and open to the public on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority seating reserved for midshipmen.