Level format draws racers to regatta Wind picks up for good competition


The racing fleets spent long mornings last weekend bobbing around, sweltering and waiting for wind, at the Annapolis Level Regatta, but when steady light southerlies finally filled in each afternoon, the regatta provided good competition in a unique format.

The regatta was co-managed by the Severn River Yacht Club -- which manned the race committee for Fleet 1 and was the host for the Saturday evening party -- and the Eastport Yacht Club, doing the race committee for Fleets 2 and 3 and conducting the awards presentations on Sunday.

The regatta drew more than 80 boats for one-design racing or its equivalent for those who normally race in handicap classes.

It was a combination of EYC's former J/Jamboree for many different J/boat one-designs and its newer PHRF Level Regatta, begun last year. Thus, because each group was either truly one-design or limited to a very narrow handicap band, in each class the racers competed boat-for-boat, with the first over the finish line the winner and no time corrections.

In Fleet 1, starts were given for J/22s, Catalina 27s and Tritons, and three races were completed Saturday with an additional two on Sunday -- meaning this group was the only one to get to the five-race point and get a worst-race throwout.

Fleet 2, including the J/30s, J/24s and PHRF boats grouped around the 129 rating level, raced twice on Saturday, with only a single contest on Sunday before the 3 p.m. drop-dead time.

The J/30 series was truncated to two races, however, after a competitor's request for redress based on the sailing instructions forced post-competition abandonment of Saturday's second contest.

Fleet 3 sailors, competing in J/29s, PHRF level 60, PHRF level 96 and PHRF level 111, had only a single contest on Saturday after the day's first race had to be abandoned in an extreme wind shift. But they got in two more on Sunday.

Winning the one-design division overall was the Lewis/Salvesen team on Mirage, best in the J/29 class in Fleet 3 with straight bullets.

Dave Lewis, brothers Scott and Fred Salvesen, and their crew are no strangers to winning, having won numerous competitions with their sailing and handling skills.

Best in the PHRF level division was level 129 winner Mel Tockman and his crew on his S-2 9.1 Stat, also with the best score in Fleet 2 with an unbroken string of aces. "I think a successful PHRF racer needs to have good sails and good crew, and I had both," Tockman said.

As a handicap-division sailor, Tockman said he enjoyed the level racing of the regatta and hopes to see the format copied by more clubs.

"I think the concept of level racing for cruising boats is an ideal one for club racing," he said. "I'd really like to give glowing praise to the race committee, who did a superb job laying out the structure of the whole weekend.

"They could have started races earlier before the wind really came in, but we would have had to abandon it, so their patience in waiting for good wind was a real key to the regatta's success."

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