Larson sails to J/22 East Coast victory


The second annual J/22 East Coast Championship, sailed out of Annapolis Yacht Club last weekend, was a first-class test of skill in moderate to heavy air.

Solid breeze ranging from 12-18 knots most of the time and building up over 20 the last day put boat handling and crew work at a premium.

Annapolis sailmaker Chris Larson finished first overall in the 30-boat fleet after a string of seven bullets in a row let him sit out the final contest in the eight-race, one-throw-out series.

Sailors came from as far away as Youngstown, N.Y., and Atlanta for the event, which was billed as a precursor to next year's Internationals, at AYC in September.

Larson, the reigning J/22 world champion who also holds the class title in the North Americans and the Midwinters, sailed with Pete McChesney and Mike Devlin.

"The level of difficulty in heavy air tends to spread the fleet out a little more," Larson said. "We had a good week. We had good starts, and everything else pretty much fell into place."

Larson said most of the courses used in the regatta were windward-leeward, with a triangle course used the first day and another the last. Three races a day were sailed Friday and Saturday, before the series ended with two final races Sunday.

Keelboat Regatta

West River Sailing Club's annual Keelboat Regatta last weekend was awild and woolly one, as heavy air challenged the Star and Melges 24 sailors.

The regatta marked the first Chesapeake Bay one-design racing for the Melges 24s, who made their debut with a three-boat fleet, while 12 Star crews braved gusty winds and headed for the course off the mouth of the West River.

Winds were in the 20s with higher gusts, northwesterly on Saturday and southeasterly on Sunday, producing steep, short chop on Saturday and larger waves on Sunday.

Proving to be the most consistent of the Star sailors, Kevin McNeil posted finishes of 1-2-2-1-2 to win his class' five-race series by a five-point margin.

Naval Academy competition

The Naval Academy played host last weekend to the Laser Opener and Fall Windsurfing Invite regattas, while other members of the Varsity Intercollegiate Sailing Team went to Norfolk, Va., for the Riley Cup regatta at Old Dominion University.

Laser ace Eric Naranjo, a Navy senior, came away with a win in the Laser opener, but not without some serious challenges from second-placer Bob Oberg of St. Mary's College and Annapolitan John Torgerson, now a freshman at Old Dominion.

Torgerson's regatta was hampered by a withdrawal and a breakdown in the 16-race regatta.

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