Light air, heat can't detract from charitable spirit of Boatyard Regatta
By Nancy Noyes
Aug 26, 2017 | 4:05 PM
Determination. Stamina. Perseverance. Sweat.
That can be a winning formula for running a marathon. Or sometimes for winning a 5-mile sailboat race.
Perseverance and sweat, anyway – and a little bit of luck – all helped the team on Doug Stryker's J/30 TOTALed MAYHEM stick it out to win the 19-boat, non-spinnaker division in this year's Boatyard Bar & Grill Regatta to Benefit CRAB.
"Yeah, we survived four hours of drifting in the sun," Stryker said. "When the wind's that light, there's a lot of luck involved."
Over the years, the popular annual fundraising race in support of Chesapeake Region Accessible Boating (CRAB) has weathered a full range of wind conditions – from a sidelong blow due to a hurricane to dead calm, and pretty much everything in between.
Last Saturday's 2017 iteration almost didn't come off when the sailors arrived at the rendezvous point to find mere zephyrs from the northwest working against a wicked ebb current from the previous night's torrential rains.
A 20-minute postponement did the trick, however, allowing the fleets of 63 pursuit-start racers and 14 Harbor 20s to get off the line and headed around their respective courses.
This year, regatta organizers gave themselves some options and designated two possible courses, the usual 7.5-mile version, and a 5-mile short course option. Because of the pursuit-start format, a course choice had to be made the day before in order to circulate the start times to the racers.
With a less-than-promising forecast, principal race officer Dan Kral from host Eastport Yacht Club chose the new short course – probably the only reason that 41 of the starters were able to finish within the time limit.
"It was tough to hit the line at speed," Stryker said, "but we were the first boat to the first mark."
That meant his team, which included Amanda Gates, Heather Ersts, and JuneRose Futcher, were still ahead of the fast boats who started last and had already sailed past everyone who started before they did.
"That first leg was crazy," Stryker said. "We pointed the boat at the foot of the bridge and never tacked. The current brought us right up to the mark."
Ultimately, sailing downwind in the light stuff meant ceding the overall fleet leadership to boats racing with spinnakers. "Going wing-on-wing without a spinnaker was a little tough," Stryker said, "but we hung in."
TOTALed MAYHEM finished first in the non-spinnaker division by a comfortable four-minute margin over their nearest PHRF N competition, Irv Buck's Beneteau First 36.7 Cheap Sunglasses, but were 44 minutes behind the overall fleet winner the Farr 30 Blockade Runner.
Blockade Runner, Bruce Bingman's and Taran Teague's light-air racehorse, topped the 2-boat PHRF A0/A1 class as well. Taran Teague skippered for this regatta and steered the boat. She had a solid crew that featured several Blockade runner veterans, such as tactician Matt Beck, headsail trimmer Scott Dodge and main trimmer Andy Hughes.
Bingman was aboard as navigator, Jackie Rollier assisted with trimming while newcomer Jamie Gardner did the foredeck.
"It takes special tactics and strategy to win these pursuit races. In this particular race, it was important to play the current and not the wind," Teague said. "I've sailed with most of these folks since the 1990s and this was a great opportunity to get teh gang back together. It's a great regatta for a great cause."
Other spinnaker-equipped racers also intervened by the time the course was run, so that Stryker's team crossed the finish line 15th overall but still ahead of all other non-spinnaker class entries.
Meantime, a two-class fleet of Harbor 20s were sailing 6-mile course up the Severn River from the rendezvous point at R'2' to a Spa Creek finish off the EYC clubhouse.
Once again taking the win in the Single-handed class was Garth Hichens aboard H2O, while Brian Wiersema and his Elixir team topped the Full Crew division.
Here again, there were some dropouts due to the heat, light air, and choppy conditions, but the majority of both classes came in to the finish line within a 17-minute time span.
Despite the light air, heat, and humidity, the bottom line was another successful event for the folks at CRAB, who were the beneficiaries of record-breaking donations and event sponsorships. CRAB's fleet of shiny new Beneteau First 22As, equipped for accessibility for disabled sailors, was on display both on the race course and ashore as part of the post-race festivities for about 600 friends and supporters.
Chief among those supporters at this regatta was Brian McEwing's New Jersey-based Team Hooligan out of the Corinthian Yacht Club of Cape May, who finished first on the water in PHRF A2 as well as first in the shore-side Skipper's Challenge to raise funds for CRAB.
Full results can be found at eastportyc.org/bbg-crab.