Hot competition kept things hopping on the Choptank last weekend at the MORC East Coast Championship, sailed by 35 contenders from the Chesapeake and other Eastern Seaboard ports out of the Tred Avon Yacht Club.
The fleet was divided into four sub-classes -- Custom for the hottest one-offs and other high-tech racing machines, two Production boat divisions and a J/29 one-design class. Everyone, including the J/29 sailors, was scored using his MORC rating for overall fleet position in each race and in the series.
Courses for the three-day, five-race regatta were five-legged windward-leewards of about 7.5 to 7.75 miles in length, with two races sailed Friday, two more on Saturday and a single series-closing contest Sunday.
Winner overall and of the Custom class was Justin Segel of Milwaukee, Wis., with the crew including Annapolis sailmaker Dave Flynn, aboard his newly renovated Andrews 30 Mad Planet.
"It was shifty, tricky stuff," Flynn said. "We had a little boat-speed advantage, and we were lucky to be the biggest boat in our class so we could get out and do what we wanted."
Winds Friday began in the 12-knot range from the northwest and faded to around 6 by the end of the day's second race, with several significant wind shifts. A variable and very shifty northeasterly breeze challenged the competitors the rest of the weekend.
Flynn said Saturday's and Sunday's racing was "some of the most difficult I've seen" as each contest was won and lost numerous times before finishing.
"It was the kind of racing you come back to the dock and your brain feels like scrambled eggs," he said.
For Annapolitan Bob Muller, who skippered Stingray to second in Custom behind Mad Planet, however, Friday was the most difficult.
"Outside of having one of the worst days of sailboat racing in my life the first day, everything went great," he said.
"It was shifty, and I was always on the wrong side of everything. But then on Saturday, we got two firsts in class and in fleet."
Winning the Production A class with his Laser 28 A Train, Bob Reeves of Annapolis had a very consistent regatta, with no finish worse than second in class.
"We had good boat speed, we were hitting the shifts, and we had good crew work," he said.
MORC East Coast Championship
Overall (35 starters): 1. Mad Planet, Justin Segel, Milwaukee, Wis., 15.75 (4-3-3-5-1); 2. Unfun, Robert Hobbs, (address unavailable), 44.75 (2-1-9-24-9); 3. Mirage, Lewis/Salvesen, Annapolis/Edgewater, 47 (24-6-4-11-2); 4. Stingray, Robert Muller, Annapolis, 49.5 (16-28-1-1-4); 5. A Train, Robert Reeves, Annapolis, 50 (10-12-14-4-10).
Custom (9 starters): 1. Mad Planet, Segel, 7.25 (1-1-2-3-1); 2. Stingray, Muller, 10.5 (6-9-1-1-2); 3. Rude Awakening, Chuck O'Malley, Annapolis, 22 (2-2-5-5-8).
Production A (7 starters): 1. A Train, Reeves, 6.25 (1-1-2-1- 2); 2. Slick, Dean Mulder, Upper Marlboro, 13.5 (3-4-1-5-1); 3. Buster, Michael deRoche, Arlington, Va., 17 (5-2-4-2-4).
Production B (8 starters): 1. Unfun, Hobbs, 6.25 (2-1-1-2-1); 2. Bang, David Gendell, Arnold, 10.75 (1-3-2-3-2); 3. Azure, David Prucnal, Pasadena, 20.75 (5-4-3-1-8).
J/29 (11 starters): 1. Mirage, Lewis/Salvesen, 11.5 (5-1-2-3- 1); 2. Posse, Paul Andersen, Irvington, Va., 18 (3-3-4-4-4); 3. Tops Optional, Steve Olinger, Annapolis, 19.75 (1-2-9-5-3).
Lincoln Cup Race
Last Saturday the Round Bay Sailing Association sent a fleet of 20 boats on a down-river chase from the Linstead community pier on Round Bay to the Route 50 bridge over the Severn and back in the second annual Lincoln Cup race.
The race, named for and sponsored by club member Rich Morton's Glen Burnie Lincoln Mercury, uses a pursuit starting system based on PHRF handicap, with the smallest boats starting first.
Morton said the wind speed at the start was steady, but as the race progressed down the river the wind began to vary widely in speed and direction.
First to turn around the bridge piling was RBSA commodore Jim Mullervy and his crew aboard El Dorado and it wasn't long before a closely contested race among the top six boats developed while the rest of the fleet dropped far behind, Morton said.
As this knot of boats worked upriver, Jake Jacomini, sailing his C&C; 40 Expectation with only his wife, Cass, for crew, pulled out in front, and with the lead once gained, held it to the finish gun.