Veteran Chesapeake Bay sail racers have expressed concern over the fact that entry requirements for this year's Governor's Cup Race from Annapolis to St. Mary's City Aug. 6 have been relaxed and no longer include experience restrictions.
Instead, this year's entrants are required only to be members of a Chesapeake Bay Yacht Racing Association-sanctioned club or of CBYRA itself, according to information from host St. Mary's College.
A release from St. Mary's reads in part: "A number of special restrictions have been dropped this year which should enable more yachts to enter this 20th annual event."
Already there were three hundred or more yachts all crowding down the bay in the dark. Wasn't that enough?
The previous experience restrictions included having raced three times in the current season, or having done Governor's Cup races twice before, or having qualified for a CBYRA High Point score by sailing six races in a season within the past five years. The restrictions were created for good reason a few years ago when an enormous fleet of over 400 -- some without so much as a sail number to identify them or running lights to make them visible -- became too big and too difficult to manage safely.
Registration contact Dave Raley of the Southern Maryland Sailing Association, organizers of the race, said that number of participants has fallen off to slightly below 300 in recent years. The goal was to boost the fleet back up to around 320 or 325, rather than to inflate it to that previous level, when it was beyond the bounds of safety and practicality.
He explained that because of tighter PHRF requirements this time, the boats have to be better equipped for safety, and he said that the same number of inexperienced people already were doing the race by registering their boats under the name and resume of someone more experienced. Also sailors who were ineligible for the race typically were sailing along anyway, outside the control of the race and its managers.
Some racers already have said they'll stay home this year because of the lifted restrictions, and it's hard to blame them.
It's not snobbery to say that an already crowded 70-mile overnight race with the added complication of August's well-known potential for suddenly severe weather, is a potentially dangerous place to invite the inexperienced.
Kids race like the big guys
Junior sailors are invited to take part in the next Soda Can Series, the second this year, at Eastport Yacht Club Friday evening.
Open to Optimists and 420s sailed by members and guests of members of Annapolis Yacht Club, Severn Sailing Association, and EYC, the tri-club event promises fun for all with cases of soda as trophies.
The previous event, held over the Fourth of July weekend, was a big hit, and organizers say they hope this one will be even better.
Registration is before racing at EYC, with starts at approximately 6:30 p.m. Junior sailors from any of the three clubs who are not planning to race are invited to help with Race Committee.
For information, call Helene Raven, (410) 263-8935.
Up the ladder
Severn Sailing Association and Annapolis Yacht Club conducted the CBYRA ladder elimination series for junior sailors earlier this month.
Headed for the next step, regional competition for U.S. Sailing Area C over Aug. 2-3 at Island Heights, N.J., will be Myles Conway of AYC, winner of the 13-boat single-handed Smythe competition in Lasers; SSA teammates Ian Burman and Trevor Shattuck, first in the eight-boat double-handed Bemis series raced in 420s; and Stephen Hunt of Hampton YC, who bested AYC's Tim Libby in a very close two-boat match race in J/22s for the Sears.
In separate competition at the same time, Matt Schubert of Annapolis won the four-boat 420 class in CBYRA midget competition, while Alistair James of Tred Avon YC topped the midget regatta's five-boat Optimist class.