A strong ebb current, a heavy chop, and gusty breeze from the north added up to a real challenge for the 67 starters in Saturday's Magothy River Sailing Association 17th Annual Race to Baltimore.
Some sailors coming up the bay from Annapolis to the starting area north of Baltimore Light found just getting there on time to be more of a challenge than they could manage, in fact, and were so late for their starts they went on to the Inner Harbor finish rendezvous without sailing the 14.3-mile race.
For one crew, headed by Bill Wallop of Annapolis aboard his J/30 Cannonball, however, being four minutes late to start didn't hurt a bit. It won the 11-boat PHRF B class and the overall fleet trophy.
"It was a fun, beautiful day," said Wallop, explaining that he is more used to one-design sailing with the J/30, and with his previous boat, an Alberg 30 of the same name, and doesn't often race in PHRF.
Wallop said winds were generally northerly, first in the 12-to-15 knot range, then turning puffy and fluky with holes and gusts before going light. "It was puffing up better on the right side, out where there was more tide," he said.
"The chop and tide against us were ferocious," Wallop said, describing both the rush to get to the starting line and the start itself.
"We started, and just headed left for Bodkin Point," he said. "The other boats went out into the bay, where there was more wind, so we really weren't sure how well [splitting with the fleet] would pay off, but by the time we got up to the Craighill Channel Range mark we looked pretty good."
Wallop said two PHRF B boats crossed the finish line ahead of Cannonball, and because he was unfamiliar with their ratings he initially wasn't sure he had won. "My crew was delighted, and worked hard," he said. "We really sailed well, and we had some lucky wind."
Wallop's luck held through the next day, too, in the Rock Creek Racing Association's reciprocal 7.48-mile Baltimore Harbor Race Back for 43 starters, when Cannonball placed second by about a minute behind Chuck O'Malley and his crew on Rude Awakening in a flip-flop of finishing positions from the previous day.
In this class, an unusual situation of an elapsed and corrected time tie for third also occurred between identically rated boats sailed by Baltimore skippers David Wiemer and Richard Altman.
"It was very interesting racing out of Baltimore Harbor," Wallop said. "We started near Fells Point and went back and forth across the river, and finished below Key Bridge -- it was a treat."
That day's breeze was more easterly and had a lot of holes, making navigation an interesting test of a variety of skills, he said.
"I really had no idea how we'd do," he said of the paired weekend events. "We would have enjoyed it even if we hadn't done as well."
MRSA Race to Baltimore
PHRF A (20 starters): 1. Airwaves, Robert Michel, Baltimore, 3:23:37 c.t.; 2. Duckbill Charlie, Moran/Ratcliff, Gaithersburg, 3:25:52 c.t.; 3. Infringer, Donald Zinn, Annapolis, 3:28:03 c.t.; 4. Albatrossi, David Rossi, Severna Park, 3:31:42 c.t.; 5. Bonfire, Bonfire Syndicate, Bethesda, 3:32:03 c.t.
PHRF B (11 starters): 1. Cannonball, Bill Wallop, Annapolis, 3:28:01 c.t.; 2. Rude Awakening, Chuck O'Malley, Annapolis, 3:30:13 c.t.; 3. Vitality, Richard Altman, Baltimore, 3:31:09 c.t.
PHRF C-1 (11 starters): 1. Cold Duck, Schoolden/Wright, Columbia, 3:47:08 c.t.; 2. Cheeks, Tom Awalt, [address unavailable], 3:54:19 c.t.; 3. Blue J, Dan Breen, Arnold, 4:03:13 c.t.
PHRF C-2 (4 starters): 1. Desperado, Frank Courtwright, Columbia, 3:19:23 c.t.; 2. Aguichant, Bob Stevenson, Chalfont, Pa., 3:23:53 c.t.
PHRF Nonspinnaker (8 starters): 1. Endorphin, Nicholas Malakis, Bethesda, 2:52:14 c.t.; 2. Spike, Richard Persynski, Westminster, 2:56:01 c.t.; 3. Rong Bay, Allen Keiser, Towson, 3:02:14 c.t.
Multihull (6 starters): 1. Katmandu, Charles Olsen, [address unavailable], 3:04:39 c.t.; 2. Kimberly Ann, Chris Adams, Chester Springs, Pa., 3:30:49 c.t.; 3. Gemini, Jere Glover, Washington, DC, 3:37:59 c.t.
Alberg 30 (7 starters): 1. Tern Two, Susan Barrett, Annapolis, 3:56:59 e.t.; 2. Winter's Beat, Lee Leonard, Dayton, 4:15:56 e.t.; 3. Kittiwake, Cy Fishburn, Baltimore, 4:16:21 e.t.
RCRA Baltimore Harbor Race Back
PHRF A (13 starters): 1. Endorphin, Malakis, 1:27:59 c.t.; 2. Evolution, Steve Taylor, Burtonsville, 1:58:49 c.t.; 3. White Lie, Glenn Robbins, Severna Park, 2:01:53 c.t.; 4. Albatrossi, Rossi, 2:03:11 c.t.
PHRF B (12 starters): 1. Rude Awakening, O'Malley, 1:52:33 c.t.; 2. Cannonball, Wallop, 1:53:44 c.t.; 3. [TIE] Air Waves, David Wiemer, Baltimore, 1:56:09 c.t.; and Vitality, Altman, 1:56:09 c.t.
PHRF C (8 starters): 1. Finnegan's Wake, John O'Brien, Pasadena, 2:01:07 c.t.; 2. Wizard, Les Toeplitz, Pasadena, 2:05:34 c.t.; 3. Sure Cure, Craig Decker, Pasadena, 2:05:42 c.t.
PHRF Nonspinnaker (3 starters): 1. Rong Bay, Keiser, 1:59:47 c.t. Multihull (7 starters, times not available): 1. The Karis, Michael Ivy, Arlington, Va., 2. Gemini, Glover; 3. Katmandu, Olsen.